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Microsoft's Cross-Platform Tools Aim for Mac, OS X

Redmond's release of several tools for developing apps on Apple platforms during the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference couldn't have been timed any better.

Last week, during the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft announced a bevy of tooling updates within the Visual Studio suite for developing apps on Apple platforms.

The announcements consisted mainly of a roundup of tools that allow development within the Apple ecosystem, rather than new news, though, as some of the tools have been in development and in developers' hands for a while. The announcements last week included a few subtle updates.

If there was any news of significance, it was Microsoft highlighting the capability to develop iOS apps through its refinement of tools for using JavaScript and Apache Cordova. The most recent Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova CTP 3.1 has been in development for the last year.

What's new, in particular, is the addition of templates for Monaca and Ionic UI frameworks, which allow developers to create UIs that conform nicely to iOS devices or allow something that looks branded.

Also new: a cross-platform agent that allows developers to use Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2015 in conjunction with OS X builds using Cordova or native Xcode projects. That means that developers can use TFS or Visual Studio Online to build and preview projects from a Mac or a dedicated Mac hosting provider.

Times have changed, and here's something you probably would never have whispered within 25 feet of the Microsoft campus: "Within the TypeScript team, many of us have Macs that we use for development." That's Jonathan Turner, Microsoft program manager for the TypeScript team, who wrote on his blog last week on expanding TypeScript 1.5 support to work with Mac tools, and in this case the popular Sublime text editor, which means capabilities such as tooltips are enabled fully.

Microsoft weeks ago announced Visual Studio Code, which is capable of running on Macs natively. Also, Visual Studio Online is capable of connecting to a number of private Git repositories, as well as the Apple Xcode IDE as if it were a native environment.

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