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Since I was already in New York working with a client, I was very excited to get the opportunity to attend the Visual Studio 2013 launch in Manhattan. As I walked in to the Highline Stages building where the launch event was taking place I was immediately greeted and asked a question that most definitely started the day off on the right foot – “can I help you locate your tablet?” Why yes, yes you can, that would be great!

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Now armed with my new personalized Acer Iconia W510 tablet, I settled in on some pre-keynote breakfast and grabbed a front row seat.

S. Somasegar, Microsoft’s Corporate VP of the Developer Division was the first keynote speaker and started out by announcing the official launch of Visual Studio 2013 and .Net 4.5.1 which, of course, was no big surprise since it has been available for download for a month. However, Soma still had some surprises for us, such as the new partnership deal between Microsoft and Xamarin. If you haven’t heard of Xamarin, you probably don’t build mobile apps. Their tools enable the creation of fast powerful mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows using C#. Microsoft is getting serious about cross-platform development support and MSDN subscribers are reaping the benefits with big discounts on Xamarin tools and free Xamarin training.

 “Every company is a software company.” –S. Somasegar

Soma articulated Microsoft’s mission to provide higher value at a faster cadence. We love it when he uses the word “cadence”!  Two of the things he said during the introduction stuck with me. The first is that Microsoft has come to understand that every company is a software company. That’s exactly what we at Northwest Cadence have found as well. Very few of our customers build software as a primary line of business. They build it to support their internal processes. The second statement was that they have learned that most applications being built today will hit at lease three different platforms, maybe more. The need to support the development of cross platform applications is at an all time high and willl only increase. To show how Microsoft has improved the tools to support that mission Soma brought out some help in the form of Scott Hanselman, Orville McDonald, Jay Schmelzer  and Scott Guthrie to demo some of the cooler new features of Visual Studio 2013. Especially noteworthy was the demo of  Browser Link, a SignalR channel between the browser and Visual Studio. This new feature lets you run your app within multiple different browsers (including Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer) connected to Visual Studio, make live changes to the app and then simultaneously refresh all of them from the Visual Studio IDE. You can also connect mobile emulators as well. Developing for multiple platforms just got a bit easier.

The big announcement we were particularly waiting for was the official introduction of “Visual Studio Online.” Visual Studio Online was really the guest of honor since the focus of the launch was cloud-based development and hosting with Visual Studio Online and Azure. Team Foundation Service has been officially rebranded to Visual Studio Online, but there’s more, including the new “Monaco” web-based development environment. A coding environment “for the cloud, in the cloud.” Although Soma publically announced Monaco, it is still in private beta so is available by invitation only.

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The most exciting highlight of the event for me and the rest of the Northwest Cadence team was when Brian Harry showed a video featuring our friends at Dealogic. We are currently in New York working with them and seeing them featured followed by Brian interviewing Simon Mann, Dealogic’s Global Head of Software Development was truly awesome. Simon was a bit nervous, but he soon settled in and did an outstanding job describing how TFS and Visual Studio were key to the company’s drive toward sustainable agile development. Simon then tasked Brian with some key features Dealogic would need before moving more of their development projects to the cloud. Way to go Simon!

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Brian Harry continued, with help from Nicole Herskowitz with the announcement of  Release Management Service and Application Insights. Release Management Service is the result of Microsoft buying the InRelease application from InCycle, re-branding it and doing some significant work to make sure it tied in seamlessly to the Visual Studio platform. Release Management Service provides automated software deployment capabilities, including approval workflows which has been sorely missing before now.

Application Insights, which is very similar to Google’s Google Analytics is a new Visual Studio Online component that provides full application analytic capabilities for both web and on premise applications. Nicole’s demo went sideways when she couldn’t connect to the service.

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However, two minutes later Nicole learned that the network issue was resolved and she insisted on coming back on stage to finish the demo. She did a great job showing off the very cool, very new application. Like Monaco, it is still in “preview” and is available by invitation only, but we have used it here at Northwest Cadence and we are impressed.

The morning session wrapped up with another video, this time Toyota Racing Development took center stage profiling how they use TFS and Visual Studio to optimize collaboration and communication. The afternoon sessions were divided in two separate tracks. Those of us with purple tablets listened to Scott Guthrie and then Brian Harry on the “Create” track. Those with Blue tablets attended sessions with Brian Harry and then Scott Hanselman on the “Connect” track. The event was recorded and is available for online viewing.

Overall, the launch event was great, especially seeing our friends at Dealogic featured. While the public launch of Visual Studio 2013 doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal since it has been available for a while, the new product announcements and the message they send is a big deal. Soma ended the morning keynote with the message that it was a new era for Visual Studio. I believe him.

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