Build, Day 2: Microsoft Focuses on Developers
Today's lengthy day-two Build 2013 Conference keynote in San Francisco focused broadly on Windows Azure and was aimed right at developers.
The session was led by Satya Nadella, president of the Server and Tools Business, and included presentations by Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president in the Server and Tools Busines, Scott Hanselman, principal product manager for Microsoft Developer Division and Steven Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Developer Platform Evangelism.
Nadella during his remarks announced the general availability of both Windows Azure Mobile Services -- enabling development of cloud-connected apps for Android, iOS and Windows -- and Windows Azure Web sites (read more on the Azure announcements here).
Code Level Demos
Unlike the Wednesday keynote, which focused largely on visible improvements to Windows 8 and compelling demos around the Bing development platform, today's address featured a lot of code-level demos. Hanselman drew repeated and enthusiastic applause as he walked through the creation of a cloud-connected, One ASP.NET comprised of multiple ASP.NET APIs.
Hanselman's demo showed off several improvements in Visual Studio 2013, including a streamlined project selection for ASP.NET-style apps and the ability to define multiple default browsers in Visual Studio when building a Web app. Hanselman's demo used SignalR to enable real-time interaction between Visual Studio and multiple browser targets.
"There is a fundamental, two directional link now between any browser, including mobile browsers and simulators, and Visual Studio," Hanselman said.
The demo also showed off some of the welcome new tweaks to the user experience in Visual Studio 2013. The new Map Mode feature lets developers scrub quickly through large pages of code, making it easy to track down a particular element. Hanselman also showed off the rewritten HTML editor in Visual Studio, and showed how Visual Studio can display live, visual trace log data to help assess application behavior in real time.
Commitment to .NET Developer Support
The lengthy keynote closed with Steven Guggenheimer, who took a moment to talk about Microsoft's efforts to support and encourage current .NET developers.
"One of the things I don't think we've done as good a job as we can is sort of giving people the guidance on how to think about.NET and what we are doing going forward and how to plug into that, etc," Guggenheimer said. "So Going out of the session today you'll see set of new whitepapers and guidance documents coming out specifically on .NET."
Guggenheimer drove into an exploration of Microsoft's efforts to leverage devices and services across Windows 8, Windows Phone and Windows Azure. He was joined by Microsoft Technical Fellow John Shewchcuk, who showed off the improved WebView control in Windows 8, and the updated F12 debug tool in Internet Explorer 11.
Guggenheimer's presentation also highlighted the role of Microsoft partners in the ecosystem, and included demos around the Unity gaming graphics engine, a SAP Windows Phone application, and a visually-intensive, WPF-based operations application from energy firm Acciona. That last demo also highlighted some intriguing new Intellisense features around XAML code in Visual Studio 2013, including autocompletion for databinding and removal of extra closing tags.
Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.