Microsoft launched its 2013 suite of development tools today and it made me think over the evolution of development environments, from tools focused on making individuals productive to tools that enable teams to work together effectively. Now as we move into a world focused on devices and services, Microsoft has advanced the art of the IDE by playing a common theme: blend the development world with the target environment. This means creating tools that not only make it easy to target a wide variety of clients but also that pull the cloud directly into the development experience.
The cloud has been part of the experience since VS2012 with the ability to utilize TFS running on Azure and including Azure credits in MSDN. Microsoft has continued to expand this offering and continues to add services to the Visual Studio Azure experience. Microsoft announce preview support for a new service called AppInsights which provides a variety of correlative data on how your services and applications are being accessed, performance, etc. They also announced project Monaco which is a light weight IDE running in a browser primarily targeted at editing Azure web apps. They have also integrated SignalR into Azure and leverage in the development tools. This enables a great edit/update experience while debugging and prototyping applications and aids in the ability to test applications across a variety of browsers.
As you run through the scenarios that VS and TFS enable you can see continued steps toward developers being able to work as effective teams not in a traditional world of isolation and a compile/thrash/debug loop but a continuous collaborative experience. This also includes support for improved management level views of projects with “roll-up” reports across the portfolio as well as integration of the recently acquired InRelease release management assets.
Lab management continues to be a common question in my calls, not everything is here, but the 2013 release is making a nice step for those who are targetting Azure cloud apps. Microsoft has always been about making it easy to deliver applications to their platform and while they are certainly battling hard to drive adoption of Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone, you can see that maybe the biggest prize is not the client but the services.
If you have investments in Microsoft development, this is a solid upgrade and Microsoft continues to add good value to MSDN. However, users need to make sure they make use of these benefits.