In-Depth

Microsoft's Fritz Describes .NET of Tomorrow

At Visual Studio Live! in Boston, Microsoft's senior program manager in the Developer Outreach Group showcases a number of features that will move .NET into a broader, more cross-platform-friendly future. Also, Fritz says to expect .NET on June 27.

There has been a lot of news about .NET lately -- mostly related to the new open source .NET Core and how it's fostering cross-platform development.  That's still the main story, but there are other enhancements on the horizon as well. That, according to Jeffrey Fritz, who kicked off Visual Studio Live! in Boston on June 14 with the Tuesday morning keynote presentation. Fritz is the senior program manager for the developers outreach group at Microsoft. He gave the eager crowd a look at where .NET is and where it's going, as well as a glimpse into some of Microsoft's other development tools.

"Now you can use .NET everywhere, from 64k to 64GB," said Fritz, quoting part of the title of his presentation, .NET and .NET Core in 2016 -- from 64b to 64GB. "You can run .NET on a Raspberry Pi and up to the cloud," he says. ".NET has come a long way from a long time ago, and by a long time ago I mean 2014 and 2015."

Bringing together the Windows, Linux and Mac platforms means helping them use many of the same components, said Fritz. ".NET has been fractured over the last few years; now we're bringing it together," he said. "Reusing code used to be a nightmare. Now, whether you're using .NET Framework, .NET Core or Xamarin, it's the same runtime components and the same runtime model."

This was basically in response to making coding easier, and speeding up certain operations.  "I need my tools to evolve at the same pace as the Internet. I need to evolve faster. Welcome to the .NET of tomorrow," he said. "The .NET library -- one library to rule them all."

What Fritz meant is Microsoft is making the .NET library easier to use and easier to share across platforms. "We're turning things around here. We'll reference the full implementations upon deployment. So you get to master just one library, not just a platform."

There is a new update for .NET Core coming soon as well. "We're about to ship .NET Core in June," he said. "The .NET Core RTM will ship on June 27," said Fritz. That includes .NET Core, ASP.NET Core, Entity Framework Core, and a tooling preview of Visual Studio 2015.

Fritz emphasized that even with the open source languages and libraries, all code contributed by the .NET community goes through the same rigorous testing as code generated internally by Microsoft engineers. That way Microsoft can continue to support it.

The current version of .NET Framework, 4.6.2, incorporates cryptography enhancements, one-click deployment, transport layer security (TLS), and XAML language service updates.

This will also be part of the forthcoming Visual Studio 15 -- not Visual Studio 2015, but Visual Studio 15. "You're not alone if that makes you say, 'What?'" said Fritz. Microsoft is not stopping updates to Visual Studio 2015, Fritz just wanted to differentiate between the Visual Studio 15 and Visual Studio 2015 releases. The latter will soon boast support for Hololens and Xbox development and smoother packaging.

Since Visual Studio 15 is the bigger news. Fritz spent more time on that. He covered some of the enhancements coming in Visual Studio 15. "You can edit web pages and see the change just by refreshing your browser," he says.

He went into a demo of Visual Studio 15 during which he showed off the debugging and compiling tools. "You can select elements in the app, and see in the XAML tree that is defined. Use Edit and Continue to change things and you'll see it live." He clicked on one of the buttons in a calculator app, went back into the code to change the point size, and it redisplayed immediately.

Besides the new Visual Studio 15 release, Microsoft is also improving its C# and F# languages. New to C# is a feature called pattern matching, in which you can perform checks on portions of code and use them in other patterns. Then he showed the crowd F#, which he used with the new .NET command-line tools. "All the cool developers use the command prompt," he said. He showed how you can use F# to restore packages, as well as compile and run them.

Fritz also demonstrated two analyzer tools, FxCop and C#Repl. While FxCop has been around for a while, Fritz said, Microsoft brought it back as a concept with the Roslyn analyzers. With C#Repl, you have an interactive window in which to test and verify your code before you put it into the app. "We've tried to help make code more reusable," said Fritz, "to be a good programming citizen."

The next Visual Studio Live! event happens in Redmond, WA at Microsoft Headquarters later this summer from August 8-12. For more information, go to https://vslive.com/events/redmond-2016/home.aspx.

About the Author

Lafe Low has been a technology editor and writer for more than 25 years. Most recently, he was the editor in chief of TechNet magazine. He has also held various editorial positions with Redmond magazine, CIO magazine and InfoWorld. He also launched his own magazine entitled Explore New England, and has published four editions of his guidebook The Best in Tent Camping: New England.

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