Friday, July 5, 2013

Microsoft Build 2013 for Web Developers

Build 2013 was a whole lot of fun!

The big reveals at Build 2013 was Windows 8.1 and Visual Studio 2013. Admittedly Microsoft's big focus was on the Windows 8 store, but that does not mean that they are not delivering great tools for the fastest growing development environment in the world: the web!

Before we discuss web development, let's first take a moment to talk about Windows.

Windows 8.1 actually looks really good! Like all Microsoft products, the first major patch manages to iron out most of the kinks. The new UI updates and inclusion of the start button make the modern UI and desktop seem much less polarizing. Additionally, I am very optimistic about seeing Windows 8 applications come to PC, table, and phone. Microsoft has always had great potential for creating a homogeneous ecosystem consumer devices, and I am finally getting excited about the product line up that they are delivering.

New Editors in Visual Studio 2013

The Visual Studio Team has completely rewritten the HTML and JavaScript editors from scratch in Visual Studio 2013. This is great news; not only are the new editors faster, more responsive, and have much better intellisense, but they also come with a set of fun new features.

  • The overall Razor experience has been greatly improved.
  • Intellisense now include expandable groups to keep drop downs from getting cluttered.
  • CSS intellisense now displays browser compatibility for each rule.
  • New shift alt keys allows you to select content from tree structures.

Microsoft has yet to announce how they will charge for Visual Studio 2013. Will it be a stand alone install, will it be full price, we just do not know yet. Personally, I would love to see Visual Studio more to incremental update system, but obviously there would be lot of technical limitation to doing so...but hey, a dev can dream!

HTML Editing Features in Visual Studio 2013 Preview

Browser Link

Visual Studio 2013 comes with a built in feature called Browser Link. This is where Visual Studio opens a socket connection directly to your browsers (yes, plural) via SignalR that allows your IDE to send commands directly to the browser itself. The most basic use of this a simple refresh button that allows you to refresh all your browser windows on command.

The potential of this feature is fun to think about! Right now the Visual Studio team is intentionally keeping their default feature set for Browser link very simple, but also open source; as they want to see what us developers come up with. Remember that this is a two way channel of communication between the browser and the IDE, so sending error messages back to Visual Studio is just the first thing that comes to my mind.

A cool demo that they showed us at Build was keeping multiple browser windows in sync, this included form elements and page navigation. The cool part was that these browsers included Chrome, Firefox, and IE running on a virtualized windows phone. It was a very compelling demo!

Browser Link feature in Visual Studio Preview 2013

Web API 2.0

Web API was a great addition to Microsoft's web development library, and 2.0 looks like a great incrimental update to that framework. Forgive me if it seems that I do not have much to say about Web API 2, it just seems like a very simple but very welcome update to the framework; but don't let that fool you, I am stoked!

  • Attribute based routing.
  • Integrated OAuth 2 authentication.
  • OWIN Web hosting (run your APIs outside of IIS)
  • Cross-Origin Resource Sharing


TypeScript 0.9

I am SO excited about TypeScript!

TypeScript is a development language that is a super set of JavaScript. It adds type checking, interfaces, and inheritance to JavaScript. The idea is that you develop in TypeScript and then compile that language down to JavaScript for deployment on the web. The key here is that TypeScript is a super set of JavaScript, so all JavaScript code is already valid TypeScript, making it very easy for you to start your migration from language to the other.

There are essentially two ways that you could choose to use TypeScript:

  1. Use TypeScript for simple type checking and enhanced refactoring.

This is probably the more ideal use of TypeScript, or at least the simplest. The idea being that you can constrain your function parameters by type and interface, and make use of TypeScripts more strick declarations for easier refactoring. You would also get significantly improved intellisense both for your code and other frameworks, as a very active open source community has been creating interface wrappers for everything from JQuery to Knockout.

  1. Go full monty, and make your JavaScript completely Object Oriented.

Using TypeScript would allow you to define and extend both classes and interfaces, just as you would a language like C#. This opens the possibility for polymorphism, dependency injection, mocking, testing, the whole object oriented play book. While this does go against many principals of a very functional programming language like JavaScript, it also enables a lot of best practices that help simplify large scale application development. far you want to go using TypeScript is up to you, but regardless of which side of the fence you are on, I definitely feel that TypeScript is worth looking into!

Shout it

The future looks bright,

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