After Killing Visual Studio for Mac, Microsoft Reassures Fearful .NET MAUI Devs

Microsoft reassured .NET MAUI developers who were fearful of being "Silverlighted" after the company announced it was giving up on Visual Studio for Mac and will end support one year from today. The company also emphasized it wouldn't give up on the Visual Studio IDE altogether.

The retirement announcement published Aug. 30 drew much developer ire among a whopping 96 comments, along with those fears about .NET MAUI, which has itself faced many development problems and criticized as a half-baked product rushed out the door too soon.

"You would be wise to question MAUI," reads a reply to a comment from a developer who used .NET MAUI and was concerned about the sudden retirement of VS for Mac. "I once built a large enterprise Silverlight app and had to rewrite the entire thing when MS does what it always does."

In fact, Silverlight was mentioned multiple times in the comments section of yesterday's post in the context of being "Silverlighted," a term coined here to describe the experience of a developer investing time and effort into a project with Microsoft tech only to see that tech get sunsetted.

"I learned my lesson from Silverlight," one comment read.

Visual Studio 2022 for Mac v17.0
[Click on image for larger view.] Visual Studio 2022 for Mac v17.0 (source: Microsoft).

Microsoft, however, reassured the worried .NET MAUI developer, whose full comment read: "As somebody deep into making a complex MAUI app, this concerns me. VSCode is nice and all, but it's not a full IDE no matter how many extensions you install. The MAUI extension is far from being a replacement. While I primarily develop on Windows, this move makes me question if MAUI will survive."

Microsoft's Anthony Cangialosi, author of the retirement post, was quick to reply: "There is no change to our investment in MAUI. The .NET team is releasing many .NET MAUI updates in .NET 8. We understand the extension is not a replacement for a full IDE, but we are continuing to invest in making it a great experience."

Some developers, however, weren't having it.

"There is no change to our investment in MAUI yet. Your words mean nothing ..." read one reply.

"Seasoned developers know this means nothing," read another retort. "This is what MS does and always does. Invent a shiny new toy for developers, encourage all developers to use the new toy, maybe even make it difficult for developers to use the old toy, and then MS drops the new toy only to unveil another shiny new toy. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. And if a company invested $1M and two years developing a big MAUI project they will be left high and dry. It's the nature of MS."

.NET MAUI, for those who don't know, is Microsoft's "evolution" of Xamarin.Forms, enabling devs to create Windows desktop apps in addition to traditional mobile targets of Xamarin, iOS and Android. The project has experienced its own development problems and has been criticized by some as a "massive mistake" that was released prematurely. It also "slipped the schedule" and wasn't delivered with .NET 6 as planned. Those problems likely contributed to sunsetting fears being voiced after the VS for Mac retirement.

What About Visual Studio IDE for Windows Itself?
In addition to trying to placate fearful .NET MAUI devs, Microsoft's Cangialosi also sought to ease the concerns of a developer worried about the future of the Visual Studio IDE itself. Here's that comment:

This combined with that new C# Dev Kit extension for VSCode seems to be pointing to a planned decommissioning of Visual Studio itself. We were already in a situation where vendors were favoring VSCode for new extensions etc (things would be developed first for VSCode, and then later (or never) for Visual Studio).

Would be nice if Microsoft could share their plans with consumers and be more transparent about it. I don't want to waste more time with a product if said product is confirmed to become obsolete soon.

@Anthony, any thoughts you could share in this direction?

"The Visual Studio IDE is still our premier C# development tool that support all of our .NET workloads and project types and isn't going anywhere," Cangialosi replied. "VS 2022 has brought major improvements like a 64-bit IDE, an ARM64 version of VS, a completely new Git experience, a new semantic search experience, & perf enhancement to scale with the largest solutions in the world to name a few that I'm personally proud of and there is plenty more coming in 17.8 and beyond."

Today, a developer had a response to that: "Just the fact that it's taken this long to get Visual Studio fully into the 64 bit world tells us that you obviously have no intention of investing in it in any real sense. Lets just rip the band aid off and scrap it before customers make any further commitment to it."

Discussion on a Hacker News post indicates that wouldn't be a bad idea, with one reader saying: "Please discontinue Visual Studio in all platforms and improve C# support for VS Code."

Cangialosi, group product manager in Microsoft's DevDiv, was also asked about the company's plans for the C# Dev Kit, one of the alternatives Microsoft offered for disappointed Mac devs. A developer asked if requiring a Visual Studio license to use the kit was going to be the path forward for the next year or two. The dev also asked about addressing the C# extension issues backlog. The GitHub repo shows 1,367 open issues and 3,171 closed issues.

"It's pretty massive and indicative that not enough resources are dedicated to this extension," the commenter said of the backlog. "Working on a Blazor app in VS Code using the C# plugin is pretty abysmal right now."

As of this writing, Cangialosi had not responded to those questions.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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