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.Net on the Rise

If you watched any of the news coming out of Microsoft’s Build 2014 developer conference April 2, 2014 through April 4, the direction of Microsoft’s development division should have you excited. From open sourcing a ton of .Net code (including the C# compiler, Rosyln!!) to announcing that any Windows app will now also run on any Microsoft platform (PC, Phone, Tablet, Xbox…), there was no shortage of developer friendly information unveiled. If all the dev related announcements weren’t enough, those who actually attended the conference were not only treated to some great presentations, but also were given Xbox Ones and credit for a new device at the Microsoft store. I’ve got to buy a ticket next year.

By open sourcing their compiler, Microsoft has given developers the keys to the kingdom, so to speak. This allows coders to dig in as deep as they wish. The language spec is definitely great for describing how things work but sometimes it just isn’t enough. Being able to look at the code, see how all the pieces fit together, takes the whole C# development experience to another level. This also has some implications for the open source community and the Mono project. By releasing the production code used for their compiler, Microsoft is likely improving the .Net experience on platforms such as Linux and OS X. Which is always a good thing, the more machines that can run my code the better.

Another huge announcement at Build 2014 was the One Microsoft tools that allows .Net users to use a single Visual Studio solution to deploy Windows apps across the entire Microsoft platform. The code can be pushed to Windows 8 on PC, on phone, tablets, and even on your Xbox One. This is huge because it bridges all of the platform gaps in the Microsoft world. A number, 90%, has been floated around as the total amount of code that can be reused across all platforms. Fortifying the idea developing code across all platforms, Microsoft is now giving away its Windows 8 OS to users with devices smaller than 9 inches allowing for more accessibility of the OS and easier testing for developers.

With all the great stuff already coming to the .Net development world, there are still a couple of things that developers are clamoring for. Chief among them being either a Microsoft purchase of Xamarin or MS developing an in-house product that does the same thing. If you’re unfamiliar with what Xamarin does, it’s an amazing tool that developers can use to build apps using C# on Mono and deploy the same code base as a native app on all three major mobile platforms: iOS, Android, and Windows. There’s been lots of speculation lately about MS buying Xamarin but unfortunately we didn’t get an announcement at Build 2014. If MS were to lock up this platform bridging technology, C#, and moreover the .Net framework since F# and others can utilize it too, would be awfully hard to ignore for any developer. By buying this technology, MS could license it to the MSDN community and the Windows App store could possibly thrive at the levels that Apple and Google’s respective stores are currently. This is a truly game changing technology as it’d be beneficial to both Microsoft and its development community, and also Windows users.

With these announcements and the more open environment, Microsoft is gaining a lot of positive momentum. A year ago I was starting to doubt the capabilities and future of .Net. Now things are looking as bright as ever. That’s not even touching the further Azure integration that that is coming to Visual Studio and the JavaScript/Typescript news and so many other things that were covered at Build 2014. It’s time for Microsoft to steal their marking slogan from the Xbox 360, because there’s never been a better time for developers to “jump in” to .Net.

Published on 4/14/2014 9:24:52 PM

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