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What's New in F#?

Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4, released in April, brought a number of critical changes to mainstream managed languages like C# and Visual Basic. But the latest version of Microsoft's integrated development environment and managed framework also shifted the playing field for dynamic and functional languages, like F# and IronRuby.

We posed three questions to Mark Hoban, Microsoft senior program manager for F#. Here's what he had to say:

Visual Studio Magazine: How significant an update is the version of F# appearing with Visual Studio 2010? What key features or capabilities should developers be looking for in the new version?

Mark Hoban: Visual Studio 2010 includes the F# 2.0 version of the F# language. This is a major release of the F# language, and includes important new features and brings F# to its first supported release.

Key features of this release include simple and succinct functional syntax, rich .NET Framework object-oriented programming model, integrated parallel and asynchronous programming features, units of measure and the F# Interactive. (Details on these features can be found here.) Note that this same version of the F# language will also continue to be made available in CTP form for developers using Visual Studio 2008.

VSM: Why is F# not being fully integrated into .NET Framework 4? What must developers do to enable the F# core libraries and compiler?

MH: We view F# as a true first class member of Visual Studio and the .NET Framework, but due to the development process we are releasing this version as an additional runtime that customers will need to install on the target machines. We will review that with our next release.

VSM: Who is Microsoft looking to serve with the F# language? Has the original scope of F# expanded over time?

MH: F# extends the .NET Framework by offering a productive language for developers working in technical, algorithmic, parallel and data-rich areas. This has included applications in domains such as financial services, data analytics, games, sciences and machine learning. This is largely the same audience we’ve historically targeted with F#, though the scope has expanded slightly in response to the breadth of adoption we’ve seen over the last 2 years.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 06/14/2010 at 1:15 PM

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