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

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022