By Dann Anthony Mourno
Recall Microsoft’s February acquisition of Xamarin, a cross-platform provider for mobile app development, reportedly used by more than 1.3 million developers. Microsoft is already making Xamarin capabilities available to developers – good news for those companies which subscribed to Xamarin for development of mobile applications.
Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise Group, announced at Build 2016 that Microsoft is including Xamarin capabilities in Visual Studio Community – itself a free, fully-featured, extensible IDE for creating modern applications for Windows, Android, and iOS, as well as web applications and cloud services. Already the Visual Studio Community webpage declares “Now with Xamarin: Deliver great mobile apps.
Further, Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers will have access to Xamarin’s advanced enterprise capabilities at no cost.
Microsoft is also making Xamarin Studio for OS X free as a community edition. This, says Microsoft, “Is helping developers more easily build native cross-platform mobile applications.”
Finally, Microsoft announced its commitment in the coming months to open source the Xamarin SDK (including its runtime, libraries and command line tools) as part of the .NET Foundation.
With these announcements, Microsoft claims it:
Extends its commitment to offering choice and flexibility to every customer across every platform and device – merging the .NET and Xamarin ecosystems together to provide an unmatched mobile development and DevOps experience. Now developers can deliver fully native cross-platform mobile app experiences to all major devices, including iOS, Android and Windows.
Four new Azure services for developers
Guthrie further announced new Azure services aimed at helping developers to both address operational realities and get ahead of emerging trends – chiefly the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices.
These four new services are “designed to make Azure the best platform to build the next intelligent app,” said Microsoft in a statement, and are available on Linux or Windows, using any language. The new services include:
- Azure Service Fabric, now generally available, is a microservice based architecture for creating born-in-the-cloud, always-on, massively scalable applications. Microsoft claims to have “battle-tested” Azure Service Fabric by using it to support Microsoft cloud services. Microsoft further announced previews of Service Fabric for Windows Server (both on-premise and cloud) and Service Fabric for Linux and Java APIs. Microsoft has pledged to open-source the programming frameworks of Service Fabric for Linux later in 2016.
- A preview of Azure Functions extending Azure platform services to serverless compute for event-driven solutions (Web and mobile apps, IoT and big-data scenarios). Functions scales out to meet demand, charging only for the time that functions run. Given its open-source runtime, developers can host Functions anywhere (e.g., on Azure, in their datacenters or on other clouds).
- New Azure IoT Starter Kits, available immediately and running from $50 to $160, which enable anyone with Windows or Linux experience to quickly build IoT prototypes leveraging all of Azure’s IoT offerings. Also, the Azure IoT Gateway SDK enables legacy devices and sensors to connect to the Internet without replacing existing infrastructures, as well as device management in Azure IoT Hub to maintain and manage IoT devices at cloud scale.
Of course, these easily-built, cloud-scale cross-platform apps must provide business utility, and they can. Guthrie further announced a preview of Power BI Embedded, enabling developers to embed fully interactive reports and visualizations in any application and on any device. Finally, Guthrie announced that applications can now communicate with the fully-managed Azure DocumentDB NoSQL service, using existing Apache License MongoDB APIs and drivers.