Develop mobile apps

Today is the launch of something major.

I wouldn’t normally be excited about a new development environment, but this one includes some important features that are likely to change the face of software development for mobile, especially for small teams, startups and anyone wanting to write their own mobile app.

And it is a bit of master stroke for Microsoft.

I am talking about the full release of Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition. It is free for individual use or for small teams up to 5 people and includes the core of Xamarin, and it brings full integration with Cordova (formerly known as PhoneGap).

The addition of Xamarin and mobile deployment targets means that any individual can download it, learn to develop using it, and create apps for Android, iOS (this requires a Mac) and Windows Mobile, all using Microsoft’s full object orientated C# programming language.

This is important because it opens mobile development up to millions of C# programmers. There is a wealth of resource online that will help you learn C#. And when you create your killer mobile app, you may as well target Windows Mobile as well. That seems like a cunning plan Microsoft. It will also increase the number of C# developers too, getting them bought into the Microsoft development environment.

The second element, the addition of Cordova built in to Visual Studio, also brings a ready made environment for building apps using the combination of HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript. Which means those web designers can use their skills to build mobile apps too. Anyone who has used Cordova will know how much of pain it is to get all the right dependencies, and the right versions, installed and working together. And again, when you build your app, you may as well target Windows Mobile too.

What’s missing? It can’t be that good? Well, for Xamarin integration, you don’t get their graphical designer tools and some other pieces, but this is still fully functional. And if your team size increases beyond five, you will need to purchase the full product.

The product page is here.



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