Microsoft, Google cosy up in the Skia lodge: 2D lib added to build tools

Plus: C# Mac development bunged into Visual Studio

Microsoft's Miguel de Icaza, who joined the Windows giant earlier this year with the Xamarin acquisition, has announced new features for cross-platform development using Visual Studio, Xamarin Studio and C#.

Xamarin brought a set of C# libraries, tools and compilers to Microsoft, enabling developers to target iOS, Android and Mac using shared code. Xamarin's original concept was that only non-visual code should be shared, with the GUI (graphical user interface) layer created separately for each platform.

All that changed in May 2014, when Xamarin Forms was announced. Xamarin Forms uses a flavor of XAML, an XML language also used by Microsoft, to define a GUI that works on all target platforms. Xamarin Forms wraps native controls in order to retain the look and feel of each platform, but enables more code to be shared.

Today at Microsoft's virtual .NET event, dotnetconf, de Icaza announced plans to use SkiaSharp, a cross-platform C# library for 2D graphics based on Skia, an open-source project sponsored by Google and used for Android, Chrome and Chrome OS, as well as Mozilla Firefox.

SkiaSharp targets Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and UWP (the Windows 10 Universal Windows Platform), as well as Apple's tvOS. It is a better and more robust solution than .NET's System.Drawing graphics API, said de Icaza.

Microsoft will use Google

Microsoft will use Google's Skia project as the basis for its cross-platform C# graphics library

Microsoft also plans to extend Xamarin in Visual Studio to support desktop Mac applications as well as iOS and Android. Currently Xamarin.Mac can only be used when developing on the Mac.

At the same time, de Icaza announced plans to extend Xamarin Studio, a Mac IDE (integrated development environment), to better support ASP.NET Core, Microsoft's open source web application framework. This means developers working on a Mac with C# will be able to create, test and debug a server backend for mobile applications as well as the mobile app itself.

Microsoft now has three IDEs, observed de Icaza: Visual Studio on Windows, Visual Studio Code which runs cross-platform, and Xamarin Studio on the Mac. The company is trying to figure out how to share its own tooling code in order to avoid writing everything three times. There are plans to use the same language services as Visual Studio Code for rich editing support for languages such as TypeScript, JavaScript, Go and Python, and to use the same debug protocol. In addition, MSBuild will be used on the Mac as well as on Windows for configuring and executing the build process.

Along with these future plans, de Icaza announced the release of Xamarin Studio 6.0, the first release to use Roslyn, Microsoft's .NET compiler platform, for features like code completion and refactoring. Xamarin Studio has been revamped as a Mac-only IDE, with a new dark theme, support for C# 6.0 and F# 4.0, F# templates for Xamarin Forms, and tvOS support. Xamarin Studio is now a 64-bit application.

Although Microsoft's primary purpose in acquiring Xamarin was to support cross-platform development, a side-effect is better support for developers working on the Mac but using C# and, Microsoft hopes, deploying to its Azure cloud platform or integrating with cloud services like Office 365. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Google: How we tackled this iPhone, Android spyware
    Watching people's every move and collecting their info – not on our watch, says web ads giant

    Spyware developed by Italian firm RCS Labs was used to target cellphones in Italy and Kazakhstan — in some cases with an assist from the victims' cellular network providers, according to Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG).

    RCS Labs customers include law-enforcement agencies worldwide, according to the vendor's website. It's one of more than 30 outfits Google researchers are tracking that sell exploits or surveillance capabilities to government-backed groups. And we're told this particular spyware runs on both iOS and Android phones.

    We understand this particular campaign of espionage involving RCS's spyware was documented last week by Lookout, which dubbed the toolkit "Hermit." We're told it is potentially capable of spying on the victims' chat apps, camera and microphone, contacts book and calendars, browser, and clipboard, and beam that info back to base. It's said that Italian authorities have used this tool in tackling corruption cases, and the Kazakh government has had its hands on it, too.

    Continue reading
  • It's a crime to use Google Analytics, watchdog tells Italian website
    Because data flows into the United States, not because of that user interface

    Updated Another kicking has been leveled at American tech giants by EU regulators as Italy's data protection authority ruled against transfers of data to the US using Google Analytics.

    The ruling by the Garante was made yesterday as regulators took a close look at a website operator who was using Google Analytics. The regulators found that the site collected all manner of information.

    So far, so normal. Google Analytics is commonly used by websites to analyze traffic. Others exist, but Google's is very much the big beast. It also performs its analysis in the USA, which is what EU regulators have taken exception to. The place is, after all, "a country without an adequate level of data protection," according to the regulator.

    Continue reading
  • Hangouts hangs up: Google chat app shuts this year
    How many messaging services does this web giant need? It's gotta be over 9,000

    Google is winding down its messaging app Hangouts before it officially shuts in November, the web giant announced on Monday.

    Users of the mobile app will see a pop-up asking them to move their conversations onto Google Chat, which is yet another one of its online services. It can be accessed via Gmail as well as its own standalone application. Next month, conversations in the web version of Hangouts will be ported over to Chat in Gmail. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022