May 28, 2020

Microsoft Build 2020: Microsoft Announces Numerous Initiatives to Help Developers

Microsoft continues to make developers’ lives easier, introducing new ways to collaborate on projects.
Source: Unsplash

Microsoft Build 2020, like many conferences in 2020, was virtual as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the unusual circumstances, Microsoft delivered a number of important announcements and releases aimed at improving developers’ lives and helping them collaborate even more.

Visual Studio Codespaces

One of the biggest announcements was Visual Studio Codespaces, a cloud-based dev environment.

“Developers often spend endless hours configuring dev machines for new projects: cloning source code, installing runtimes, setting up linters and debuggers, configuring extensions—just to do it all again for the next project, the next bug, or the next code review,” writes Amanda Silver Corporate Vice President of Product, Developer Division. “The challenge is even more prevalent in times of remote work, where you might not have access to your preferred development machine. Visual Studio Codespaces, available in preview, enables you to create a cloud-hosted development environment that’s ready to code, in seconds. You can access it from Visual Studio Code or Visual Studio and it also includes a full web-based editor you can use to edit, run, and debug your applications from any device. We recently announced that Codespaces is coming to GitHub in preview, so you can also easily code from any repo.”

As an added benefit, Visual Studio Codespaces syncs a developer’s Git identity, dotfiles, settings and themes, so their workspace and development environment is the same regardless of where they log in from.

Visual Studio Live Share

Closely related was Microsoft’s announcement regarding Visual Studio Live Share. As more and more developers have been working remotely, collaboration on projects has become more crucial than ever.

Visual Studio Live Share addresses some of these challenges by enabling shared coding sessions, where developers can co-edit and co-debug projects, regardless of location.

With the latest improvements, as part of Microsoft Build 2020, the company announced that Visual Studio Live Share will include text and voice chat collaboration features, making communication that much easier.

Web Application Development

Along with Visual Studio Codespaces, Microsoft released .NET 5 Preview 4, aimed at unifying code sharing across desktop, mobile and web applications. The company also released Blazor WebAssembly, a full-stack web application development framework.

It’s clear Microsoft is taking aim at JavaScript, endeavoring to making .NET and C# an appealing alternative for web development.

“Blazor is an open source and cross-platform web UI framework for building single-page apps using .NET and C# instead of JavaScript,” writes Daniel Roth Principal Program Manager, ASP.NET. “Blazor is based on a powerful and flexible component model for building rich interactive web UI. You implement Blazor UI components using a combination of .NET code and Razor syntax: an elegant melding of HTML and C#. Blazor components can seamlessly handle UI events, bind to user input, and efficiently render UI updates.”

At the same time, for developers who want to build JavaScript-based single-page applications, Microsoft released Static Web Apps, part of the Azure App Service.

“With Static Web Apps, developers can use modular and extensible patterns to deploy apps in minutes while taking advantage of the built-in scaling and cost-savings offered by serverless technologies,” writes DariaGrigoriu in a Microsoft Tech Community post. “Pre-rendering static content (including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and image files) and leveraging global content distribution to serve this content removes the need for traditional web servers generating the content with every request. Moving dynamic logic to serverless APIs unlocks dynamic scale that can adjust to demand in real time and can empower developers to access the benefits of microservices as they evolve and extend individual app components. The service is designed for developers using frameworks like Angular, React, Svelte, and Vue or static site generators like Gatsby looking for a simple interface to deploy the cloud resources.”

Terminal 1.0 and Improved Linux Support

As part of Windows 10, Microsoft announced the general availability of Windows Terminal 1.0, providing “a modern, fast terminal application for users of command-line tools and shells like Command Prompt, PowerShell, WSL, and Azure Cloud Shell.”

Similarly, the company also announced that the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) will soon provide the ability to run Linux GUI apps directly without needing a third-party X Server. At the same time, Linux apps will also benefit from GPU acceleration. This will be a boon to developers who want to run Linux apps or development tools within Windows, while at the same time benefiting from the full power of their workstation.

Microsoft Build 2020: Exciting Times to Be a Developer

As evidenced by the announcements made in conjunction with Microsoft Build 2020, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a Microsoft developer. Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has embraced open-source and cross-platform collaboration, opening up new doors and opportunities for developers. The announcements at this year’s Build conference are just the latest example.

Tags Microsoft Developers Microsoft Build
Matt Milano
Technical Writer
Matt is a tech journalist and writer with a background in web and software development.

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