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Silver Demos Visual Studio's Multi-Device Dev Capabilities

Microsoft's Amanda Silver addressed the challenges of developing for a widening spectrum of devices infiltrating the enterprise, and demonstrated a few tools that have been added to the Visual Studio suite for tackling those challenges head on.

Visual Studio Live! kicked off Wednesday with a keynote address that covered techniques for developing apps for multiple devices. Microsoft's Amanda Silver, director of program management for the Visual Studio team, delivered the keynote on August 20 to an eager and enthusiastic crowd. Visual Studio Live! on the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, Wash. ran the week of August 18-22.

Developing apps for mobile devices is an entirely new challenge, and Silver addressed the many aspects of that challenge. "Mobile devices are now at the center of the technology ecosystem. While we might think of this as primarily a consumer trend, even enterprise developers who have historically written client-server applications have to adjust to embrace this reality," she says. "Developers building customer-facing apps need to reach the breadth of devices in the consumer market. And developers building internal-facing business applications are being asked to target the same breadth of personal devices that employees bring into the workplace."

Silver described several features of Visual Studio that facilitate developing apps for multiple devices. "Visual Studio with Xamarin lets developers extend their reach to native iOS and Android devices, while leveraging their skill sets and even .NET code assets they've built for the Windows ecosystem. The new Visual Studio extension that supports creating applications based on Apache Cordova helps developers build a cross-platform packaged application with Web standards technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, CSS -- while giving their app access native device capabilities."

Silver backed up her assertions with several live demonstrations. She first demonstrated Browser Link, a feature of the Visual Studio Web Essentials Extension that simplifies live editing and tweaking of mobile-optimized Web sites. She also showed a mobile-optimized Web app and packaged it as an App for Android and iOS with the preview of the Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova. She then showed how to use Xamarin to optimize the look and feel of an application for iOS and Android to better match the native user experiences of those devices.

She concluded the demos by creating a Windows Universal App and running that app on the Windows Desktop simulator and the Windows Phone emulator. The app Silver created used 90 percent of the same code across Windows and Windows Phone. It also used Shared Projects to support the code reuse.

She emphasized that true multi-device apps need to be built that way from the ground up. "In the end, it's all about how the app is architected. To achieve that, it's important to have a clean separation between the business logic and the user interaction," says Silver.

"Everyone has to start thinking about their strategy for building mobile apps," she says. "Be clear about the priorities for the app and your teams' skill set. Is it more important to hit the maximum breadth of devices or to provide a really rich experience?"

Live! 360 Coming to Orlando
Live! 360 combines Visual Studio Live! with events covering collaboration, data dev/management, Modern App dev, and IT into a single confab -- all for one price -- this November 18-22 in Orlando, Florida. Expand your .NET skills and build the best apps with tips and tricks from industry experts and Microsoft insiders. Find out more at http://live360events.com/.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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