Microsoft Connect (); // 2015 Developer Event Set for November 18-19

Connect2015

Microsoft is a developer company, so there’s nothing we love more than connecting with developers to share our latest tools, technologies and plans for the future. I therefore invite you to set your calendar November 18-19 for Connect (); // 2015 – when Microsoft hosts its premier fall developer event, streamed live from New York City to developers around the world.

Keynotes and technical sessions will feature news, demos and insights that illustrate how developers are working with Microsoft to capitalize on their evolving roles with powerful and flexible tools that embrace today’s open environments to target Android, iOS, Linux, Windows and more.

This year’s event will demonstrate the tremendous progress we’ve made on the journey toward a new Microsoft for developers that began last year with the announcements of a cross-platform .NET for Linux and OSX available as open source and the new Visual Studio Community edition for targeting nearly every major device and OS, available for free.

Connect(); will feature a marquee lineup of speakers joining Scott Guthrie to talk code, including; Brian Harry, Scott Hanselman, Amanda Silver, Anders Hejlsberg and Beth Massi alongside many of the customers, partners and industry luminaries who are leading the shift toward mobile first, cloud first computing scenarios.

We encourage you to save the date and tune in November 18th and 19th. Additional details on the event and broadcast event can be found at http://www.visualstudio.com/connect2015.

Outlook API is Available Now

Microsoft is very serious about the Office Store and as announced earlier, Office Outlook Apps have already started making their ways to the store.

Today, in a blog post by the Outlook team announced that Outlook add-ins or apps are already being added to Outlook and Uber, Boomerang, LinkedIn, Salesforce, and PayPal are among the first companies to jump on building Outlook add-ins. By building Outlook add-ins, the apps now can access and integrate with Outlook.com, desktop Outlook, and Office 365. For example, you want to book an Uber ride and set a reminder your Outlook calendar, you can do that.

Today, announced at Build, Outlook API that allows developers to build Outlook add-ins using open source technologies such as HTML 5, CSS3, JavaScript, OAuth, and REST API. Outlook API support most of the platforms such as Windows, iOS, Android, NodeJS, and Ruby.

Outlook API is divided into two categories – API to connect to the Outlook Service, and API to build add-ins to extend Outlook.

Outlook API to connect to the Outlook Service

Outlook REST APIs bring features like mail, calendars, and contacts for Office 365 and Outlook.

Outlook API to extend Outlook

Mail add-ins use HTML and JavaScript to bring your features right into the user's Outlook experience on phones, tablets, desktops, and the web. Start with a Hello World example, or dig into the reference.

The add-ins and other functionality is expected to release for Office 2016 as well.

To learn more and download Outlook API, visit dev.outlook.com. 

The Rise of Mobile C#

Microsoft have been struggling to get traction with their mobile computing efforts, with Windows Phone stuck at around 3% share of the smartphone market. Windows 8 is doing a little better in the tablet market but is still a distant third to iOS and Android. Despite losing in the platform wars, Microsoft’s developer ecosystem is still strong and they’re not showing much sign of wanting to give up their tools. The latest Developer Economics survey showed that 38% of mobile developers were using C# for some of their work and 16% use it as their main language. Those developers are not all focused on Microsoft platforms by a long way. They’re not all building games with Unity either. So what are they doing?

Not just Windows Phone, particularly not for pros

Whilst 30% of all developers in the survey were targeting Windows Phone, that doesn’t quite account for the majority of those whose main language is C#. Also, more than half of the developers targeting Windows Phone are Hobbyists and Explorers – i.e. those not working on mobile apps full time. If we focus on full time professional mobile developers, as we will for the rest of this article, then just 50% of those that use C# as their main language are primarily targeting Microsoft platforms. Apple’s iOS (with 23% of developers) and Google’s Android (14%) are in fact more popular targets than Windows 8 (10%). So, how do developers use C# on other platforms? With cross-platform tools, particularly Unity and Xamarin.

A flexible cross-platform approach

A lot of popular cross-platform tools for mobile development only support iOS and Android. As such, for those also wanting support for Windows Phone and possibly desktop Windows and Mac too, Xamarin is one of very few serious options. That said, it’s not just a default choice. Using Xamarin.Forms, developers can get the write-once-run-anywhere efficiency that drives many decisions to use a cross-platform approach. The downside to this approach is that it can give a lowest common denominator of functionality; not allowing developers to really optimise for the unique features of each platform. However, Xamarin also directly wraps the native platform APIs, allowing developers to call anything in the native SDKs. They can even automatically create bindings for popular third party libraries on each platform. The other key reason developers often go with a native rather than cross-platform approach is performance. However, a recent independent performance test (by an early Google engineer) showed Xamarin’s compiler produces raw performance that’s comparable to native on iOS and Android. Raw performance isn’t the only thing that counts of course – a garbage collection pause causing a stutter in your animation is jarring, however fast the the code is executing otherwise. Enterprises customers will usually put up with mild inconveniences of that nature to get the cost savings and maintenance benefits of a single code base across platforms though.

Better revenues

Possibly the best measure of the success of C# on mobile devices is the revenues of the developers using it. Whether you believe the same level of smoothness in the user experience can be achieved or not, it only matters if it costs users and revenue. Here there is no room for debate. The revenues of full time professional developers whose main language is C# are comparable to, or better than, those of other developers targeting the same primary platform with the native language. For example, the revenue distribution for C# developers on iOS is extremely similar to that for Objective-C developers and the average revenues are higher. This is both because there are more C# developers earning more than $10K (46% vs 36%) per month and while there are slightly fewer earning more than $100K per month (16% vs 17%), a significantly greater fraction of those using C# earn more than $500K per month (14% vs 6%).

This is not to suggest that C# is somehow a better language for targeting iOS than Objective-C. This is correlation and not causation. The cause of the better revenues is that the C# developers are much more likely to be targeting enterprises than the Objective-C developers and that’s where the higher revenues are most likely to be found. There’s an enormous pool of developers trained in C# and related Microsoft technologies. A lot of them are working on desktop enterprise apps or the server side. As it becomes increasingly clear that C# is a viable language for successfully delivering cross-platform mobile solutions, C#’s rise on mobile looks set to continue for several years yet.

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