Microsoft ups its DevOps game with a raft of new tools

Visual Studio Code hits beta as open source, meanwhile, with a full gallery of extensions

It would be tough for Microsoft to top the seismic waves it created at last year's Connect developer conference when it announced the open-sourcing of its .Net application framework, but this year the software giant has plenty up its sleeve.

The company on Wednesday is making a boatload of announcements, all dedicated to providing a development environment that serves any developer working on any application and on any device or platform.

From an enterprise perspective, some of the key highlights focus on DevOps.

"Every enterprise is struggling" with DevOps, said Brian Harry, a corporate vice president with the company, in an interview before the show.

Aiming to make DevOps easier, Microsoft will debut a newly renamed Visual Studio Team Services, formerly known as Visual Studio Online.

"Everyone thinks it's an online IDE, but it's not -- it's a set of DevOps services," Harry said.

Included in the renamed and updated offering are features such as a new Team Foundation plugin for IntelliJ IDEA and previews of extensions for code search, package management and release management. A new customizable build service and dashboards reflecting team progress are part of the package as well.

A new extension to Microsoft's HockeyApp platform, meanwhile, enables developers to extend their existing DevOps workflow to their mobile apps, Harry pointed out.

Microsoft is announcing that Team Foundation Server 2015 Update 1 will become available on November 30, featuring a raft of new features, including dashboards that provide visibility into a team’s progress on work, code, tests and builds along with Git and Team Foundation Version Control in the same team project.

Azure Service Fabric and Azure Dev/Test Labs are both now in public preview, while release candidates for .NET Core 5 and ASP.NET 5 are now available for Linux, Windows and OS X.

Also of particular note for enterprises is that Microsoft is releasing a new, open-source beta version of Visual Studio Code, an advanced code editor that runs on Linux, OS X and Windows. Along with it comes a new extension model, including a gallery of extensions that add extra features, themes and language support.

For example, "someone has built a full Go development environment around Visual Studio Code," Harry said. "It's a full edit-compile-debug loop inside Visual Studio Code."

Visual Studio Code has been already downloaded more than 1 million times in preview, Microsoft said. It's now available on GitHub.

Visual Studio 2015 Update 1 is also expected become available at the end of this month with a variety of new features, but meanwhile a new online marketplace is making its debut this week.

The Visual Studio Marketplace offers a central place for developers to find, acquire and install extensions for Visual Studio Enterprise, Visual Studio Professional and Visual Studio Community along with Visual Studio Team Services and Visual Studio Code.

The new HockeyApp extension is available there, and so are Microsoft's new Visual Studio cloud subscriptions -- another offering being announced this week, with pricing on a monthly or annual basis.

Last but not least among the highlights from Connect, Microsoft is introducing the free Visual Studio Dev Essentials program, which serves as a portal to help developers find the Microsoft tools they need.

"We have a lot of free stuff for developers, but it's hard to find -- there's been no central way to find it all," Harry explained. "This is designed to solve that."

The program includes access to Visual Studio Community, Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio Team Services, Parallels Desktop for Mac and training services; a $25 Azure credit is coming in early 2016.

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