Visual Studio Live! Keynote Wrap-Up: Cloud Build, ASP.NET Open Source, Natural UI

The Las Vegas edition of the 2012 Visual Studio Live! developer conference series wrapped up five days of .NET focused sessions and breaking news last week. If you didn't make it to the show, here are some highlights from the event's keynote presentations:

During his conference-opening keynote, Brian Harry, a Microsoft Technical Fellow in charge of Team Foundation Server, unveiled a new cloud-based build service for its upcoming Team Foundation Service. The new service allows developers to use a pool of build machines managed on its Windows Azure cloud computing platform. The service maintains a pool of Azure VM roles that can expand and shrink as needed.

"The build servers actually run in the cloud," Harry told attendees. "You don't have to install or configure any build servers. You just open Visual Studio, point it at the cloud, queue a build, and that build will be run in the cloud...The experience looks the same as managing an on-premise TFS."

The new cloud-based build service is "the next step in getting your project and your team started and productive in the shortest possible time," Harry said, adding that Microsoft would be delivering new capabilities to its cloud service every three weeks.

"This has been a journey for us that started a year ago," he said. "We're now at a point where new features are shipping literally every three weeks, so keep an eye out for that."

Microsoft's decision mid-week to welcome contributions from the open source community to its ASP.NET Web development framework generated big buzz among the 500+ attendees gathered at the Mirage Hotel and Casino for the event. Scott Hanselman, senior program manager in Microsoft's Developer Division, told attendees that the decision wasn't really about open source, but open development.

"What it means," Hanselman said, "is that you can fix a bug in your repository, and we'll set you up with a contributor agreement, and your code will be vetted the same way our product code is vetted."

Hanselman seemed especially delighted by the ASP.NET announcement. "I think open source makes Microsoft seem friendlier," he said, "less like the Death Star."

Tim Huckaby capped the event's keynotes with an entertaining and informative session focused on human interactions with computers in non-traditional "natural-type" ways -- sometimes referred to as the Natural User Interface, or NUI -- and how it will impact the lives of .NET developers.

"I'm old enough that I remember when using a mouse was an unnatural act!" Huckaby told a packed auditorium at the Mirage hotel. "Now it's second nature. I'd argue that some of this voice- and gesture-capable stuff will be just as natural in a few short years."

Huckaby's onstage demos of various gesture- and audio-based applications involved lots of arm flailing and command shouting, but he insisted that that multitouch is now cheap, consumer-grade technology that everyone already wants.

 "It's now cheap to do multitouch," Huckaby said. "And it improves usability, incredibly. You will see every computing device from here on in -- whether it's a smart phone or your desktop -- every one of them will be multitouch enabled."

Visual Studio Live! is one of the longest running developer conferences in the U.S. The New York edition of the conference is scheduled for May 14 through 17, 2012, at the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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