April 2016

Volume 31 Number 4

[Editor's Note]

Build's Bold Direction

By Michael Desmond | April 2016

Michael DesmondOn March 30 Microsoft holds its annual Build conference in San Francisco, providing updates and guidance on a host of development technologies, platforms and strategies. In a sense, it’s the first day of the new year on the Microsoft developer calendar.

No surprise, Xamarin and its pending acquisition by Microsoft are top topics at Build. Developers can expect to learn more about Microsoft’s plans to improve cross-platform mobile development by leveraging and integrating Xamarin’s expansive suite of technologies. As Forrester Research Inc. Vice President and Principal Analyst Jeffrey Hammond noted after the announcement, Microsoft has developed a robust portfolio of mobile infrastructure services that tie into the Microsoft Azure public cloud. With the addition of Xamarin, Microsoft now has a front-end mobile app dev story to match (see bit.ly/1oW6CQC).

In fact, the Xamarin buy is just the latest in a parade of cross-platform-minded efforts from Microsoft. Prominent among them: .NET Core, which is comprised of a modular and cross-platform runtime and set of APIs that allow you to build cross-platform Web apps, libraries and console apps. You can expect Microsoft to have plenty to say about .NET Core at Build. As authors Phillip Carter and Zlatko Knezevic describe in their feature article this month, .NET Core opens new opportunities for developers, enabling scenarios where apps and services can be deployed and run across Windows, Mac and Linux machines.

“Developers are genuinely excited about being able to develop and deploy on their OS of choice,” says Carter, a program manager on the .NET Team at Microsoft. “Many places have a need to support more than just Windows as a deploy target. Furthermore, we believe .NET Core is an attractive offering to developers who aren’t traditionally focused on Windows and .NET.”

Microsoft has also been busy supporting cross-platform hybrid app development, by way of Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova (aka TACO). In his article, “Using Ionic and TACO to Create Cross-Platform Mobile Apps,” Adam Tuliper describes how devel­opers can create compelling UIs for their hybrid apps. He also looks at the new Cordova Tools extensions for IntelliSense and debugging in Visual Studio Code.

Finally, Eugene Chuvyrov, a cloud solutions architect at Microsoft, offers a glimpse at how Microsoft is reaching across platforms in the Big Data space. His feature, “Data Processing and Machine Learning on Spark,” explores how the Linux-based, open source Spark framework powers cutting-edge analytics and machine learning in Azure and Visual Studio.

This is kind of amazing when you think about it. As Chuvyrov noted to me, “I think the overlooked fact is that an open source project (Hadoop, Spark) is running as a managed service in Azure with SLAs and enterprise support.”

Microsoft has come a long way over the last 10 years. It’ll be inter­esting to see how much further the company goes before Build 2017 rolls around.

Michael Desmond is the Editor-in-Chief of MSDN Magazine.

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