Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Visual Studio Community Edition, .NET Core for Linux, Mac OSX

Everyone covering the Microsoft Connect event (on Nov 12th and 13th, 2014. Videos are available here: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Visual-Studio/Connect-event-2014) will start with the title "OpenSourcing .NET", but I think there are two other announcements that are the real deal. They got subdued by the phrase "open source". Here is what I think are important.

Visual Studio Community Edition: This should have been celebrated with fire works. Until now, small businesses and startups were using the various "Express" editions of Visual Studio. Developers have to use one edition for web development, use a different edition for desktop development, and yet another edition for Windows 8 development. This was really silly. Finally someone in Microsoft realized it and came out with a single full-featured community edition that can be used for any type of development. Take a look at the features here: http://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/products/visual-studio-community-vs It includes support for Python, Node.js, and Apache Cordova (for writing cross-platform mobile applications). What more can we ask for? This free edition will surely bring joy to millions of Microsoft developers, especially the ones living outside the US, where paying money for software is considered anathema. Now everyone can enjoy the world's best Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

.NET Core for Linux, Mac OSX: This is yet another underplayed, but significant announcement. Of course, Java did this in 1995! Though .NET is late by 20 years, I'm sure it will beat every other technology stack on Linux to a pulp. What exactly is Core, only Microsoft knows it. For e.g., ASP.NET MVC framework is NOT part of Core in Windows, does it mean it won't be available for Linux? That would be a deal breaker. Vast majority of .NET applications are based on frameworks and components that are available through the "nuget" package manager. These frameworks and components that are not part of the Core should be made available to Linux/Mac OSX as well. I'm sure there will be a lot of two-way traffic between http://www.mono-project.com/ and the Microsoft .NET team, portending to good times ahead.

The only thing left to do is to come up with a Visual Studio Community Edition for Linux, Mac OSX that will complete the ecosystem. If there can be an Office for iPad, why not a Visual Studio for Linux?

OpenSourcing .NET Source Code: This is the least impressive of all, but garnered the most attention. The only business value is the "marketing hype" generated by the phrase "open source". No one can deny it, that hype is actually huge. Non-Microsoft developers get a sense of security, the warm fuzzies, when they hear the phrase "open source", and Microsoft Marketing knows it. As long as the required tools and the runtime are provided, the availability of source code will have little effect on the development of applications. Anyway, that's a debate for another day.

Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for reading!


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