Microsoft Brings Visual Studio To The Mac (Sort Of)

Many developers prefer to use Apple Mac devices for their coding needs and up until this point, Microsoft’s flagship integrated development environment (IDE) was only available on Windows. Now the company has announced that it will be releasing a preview of Visual Studio for Mac, which will run natively on macOS. The preview will launch at Microsoft Connect() conference later this week. But despite the name, Visual Studio for Mac isn’t a direct port of the Windows version of the IDE. Here’s what you need to know.

Having bundled Xamarin Studio, a cross-platform mobile app development platform, with Visual Studio, the company now dubs the IDE as “a true mobile-first, cloud-first development tool for .NET and C#”.

Microsoft has been working hard to make its software appealing to developers for different platforms, especially in the mobile space, which is a big reason for its acquisition of Xamarin earlier this year. It has also recently released .NET Core and ASP.NET Core to make it easier for developers to create mobile, desktop and web applications for Windows machines across different platforms, including Linux and macOS.

This is a smart move for Microsoft, given that many developers prefer the graphical user interface (GUI) of macOS over Windows. Microsoft clearly wants a piece of that pie.

But Visual Studio for Mac is that it isn’t the full-strength version of Visual Studio that is used on the Windows platform. This is more of a re-branding of Xamarin Studio, as pointed out by Tim Anderson on ITWriting.

In a post which has now been pulled by Microsoft, the company’s senior program manager on Xamarin Platform Mikayla Hutchinson said this about Visual Studio for Mac: “If you enjoy the Visual Studio development experience, but need or want to use macOS, you should feel right at home. Its UX is inspired by Visual Studio, yet designed to look and feel like a native citizen on macOS.”

Here’s what Visual Studio for Mac has in common with its Windows counterpart:

  • IntelliSense and refactoring using the Roslyn Compiler platform
  • It uses MSBuild for project systems and build engine
  • Source editor supports TextMate bundles
  • Uses same debugger engine for Xamarin and .NET Core apps
  • Uses the same designers for Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android

While the Mac version of the IDE doesn’t support all Visual Stuod project types, by using the same MSBuild solution and project format, it means software development teams that use macOS and Windows can share their projects across platforms, according to Hutchinson.

Visual Studio for Mac also complements Visual Studio Code, an iOS web debugger that was launched in August to serve as a lightweight source editor.

Visual Studio for Mac might not be the full-blown Microsoft IDE that is available on Windows, but this is still good news for developers that prefer to use Apple macOS.

You can get Visual Studio for Mac here once it launches later this week.

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