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'Visual Studio Live Share' Preview Does Real-Time Collaboration

At last week's Connect conference, Microsoft introduced Visual Studio Live Share to allow dev teams to interactively collaborate via sharing code for editing/debugging, troubleshooting, iteration or optimizing apps -- among a host of other preview tools.

The new capability, demonstrated at New York show and streamed online, works with both the Visual Studio IDE and it's little cousin, the lightweight, multi-platform Visual Studio Code editor.

Visual Studio Live Share is among several new capabilities the company is adding to its tooling portfolio and suite of Azure services focused on making it easier for organizations to shift to DevOps management and methodologies, support for continuous integration-continuous deployment release cycles and to target multiple platforms and frameworks.

Based in Azure, the new Visual Studio Live Share lets remotely distributed developers create live sessions in which they can interactively share code projects to troubleshoot problems and iterate in real time, while working in their preferred environment and setup. Visual Studio Live Share aims to do away with the current practice by many remote development teams of exchanging screen images with one another via email or chat sessions using Slack or Teams, instead enabling live code sharing sessions.

The core Visual Studio Live Share service runs in Azure and allows for sharing of code among developers using both the full Visual Studio IDE or the newer lightweight Visual Studio Code editor. It allows developers to share code between the two tools and they don’t have to be using the same client platform, or even using all of the same programming environments or languages.

“We really think this is a game changer in terms of enabling real-time collaboration and development,” said Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s executive VP for cloud and enterprise, speaking during the Connect keynote. “Rather than just screen sharing, Visual Studio Live Share lets developers share their full project context with a bi-directional, instant and familiar way to jump into opportunistic, collaborative programming” he added in a blog post, outlining all of the Connect announcements.

As Chris Dias, Microsoft’s Visual Studio group product manager demonstrated VS Live Share during the keynote, numerous developers shared their approval on Twitter, which Guthrie remarked on as the demo concluded. Laura Liuson, Microsoft’s corporate VP for Visual Studio, in an interview at Connect, said the reaction on Twitter mapped with the frustration developers typically encounter with the limitation of sharing screen grabs or relying on chat sessions or phone conversations. “It’s painful, we hear this all the time, even in our own day interactions,” she said.

The company released a limited private preview of the new VS Live Share capability yesterday, but did not disclose how it will be offered, or whether it might be extended to other development environments over time. “We’re going to make sure we have the right offering first and will talk later about the business model,” Liuson said, adding that some sort of free iteration is planned.

Among other new features coming to Visual Studio that were introduced at Connect:

  • Azure DevOps Projects: A complete DevOps pipeline running on Visual Studio Team Services, Azure DevOps Projects is available in the Azure Portal in preview. It’s aimed at making DevOps the “foundation” for all new projects, supporting multiple frameworks, languages and Azure-hosed deployment targets.
  • Visual Studio Connected Environment for Azure Container Service (AKS): Building on Microsoft’s new AKS offering, Microsoft Principle Program Manager Scott Hanselman demonstrated how developers can edit and debug modern, or cloud native, apps running in Kubernetes clusters using Visual Studio, VS Code or using a command line interface. Hanselman demonstrated how developers can switch between .NET Core/C# and Node, Visual Studio and VS Code. The service is also in preview.
  • Visual Studio App Center:  The app lifecycle platform that lets developers build, test, deploy, monitor and iterate based on live usage based on crash analytics telemetry, is now general available. Microsoft describes Visual Studio App Center as a shared environment for multiplatform mobile, Windows and Mac apps, supporting Objective-C, Swift, Java, Xamarin and React Native, connected to any code repository.
  • Visual Studio Tools for AI: A new modeling capability for Visual Studio is now in preview will give developers and data scientists debugging and editing for key deep learning frameworks including Microsoft’s Cognitive Toolkit, as well as TensorFlow and Caffe to build, train, manage and deploy their models locally and scale to Azure.
  • Azure IoT Edge: A service to deploy cloud intelligence to IoT devices via containers that run with the company’s Azure IoT Edge, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Functions and Azure Stream Analytics is now in preview.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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