A third preview of Visual Studio 2017 15.9 made an appearance last night, along with teasers for what Microsoft has planned for its .NET Framework and Core products.
ARM64 for everyone and Siri Shortcuts in Visual Studio
It has been possible to build Arm apps in Visual Studio for some time, but building a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app targeted at ARM64 has been a trickier affair.
With Preview 3, Microsoft has extended support for UWP on ARM64 to all languages. Visual BASIC and C# programmers must target the Fall Creators Update or above and install the latest .NET Core Preview for UWP to enjoy the new facilities.
While Windows 10 on Arm has not been a thundering success for Microsoft yet, although speedier Snapdragon chips are apparently waiting in the wings to give the laggardly laptops a much need boost, new Xamarin toys will have broader appeal.
Xamarin support for Xcode 10 has arrived and allows devs to make use of new functionality in Apple's latest and greatest mobile operating system.
As ever, hardy developers need to get a copy of Xcode 10 from Apple's App Store and point Visual Studio 2017 at it to get access to the new iOS 12 bits. Once done, coders can inflict Siri shortcuts and custom intents on their apps to expose functions accessible through a tap of the screen or via Apple's awful assistant. Other iOS 12 tweaks are also accessible, such as improvements to notifications, a refreshed augmented reality framework in the form of ARKit 2 and access to health data via HealthKit.
Not to be outdone, Xamarin Android users will get their own dose of love in the form of markedly improved build times in the preview.
.NET Core 3.0 and .NET Framework 4.8 creep closer
Microsoft shared "a bit more detail" on what the future holds for its ageing .NET Framework and upstart .NET Core developer products, both of which are due a bump to v3.0 and v4.8 respectively in 2019. And the news isn't good for .NET Framework.
According to Microsoft, .NET Framework is installed on over a billion machines worldwide. This makes changing it fraught with risk – any fix could easily introduce all manner of incompatibilities (something with which developers are all too familiar). While there can be multiple versions of .NET Core on one computer, .NET Framework is not so fortunate, and Redmond knows it.
So it is time to start thinking about leading the old thing out to pasture. Microsoft is at pains to emphasise that .NET Framework is not actually going anywhere in the short term, but that it will continue to support and update it, just "at a slower pace". Oh, and there will be lots and lots of support for migrating over to the sunnier, open-source plains of .NET Core. And .NET Core will be getting features aplenty its old sibling will not see.
Is this the beginning of the end? Thus far, this is as close as we've got to a "Yes".
.NET Core 3 has already gained Entity Framework 6 support, along with WinForms and WPF and Microsoft intends to keep on shunting those APIs into the upstart framework. The ability to package up the framework with an application will also appeal and mitigate worries brought on by the fast-moving nature of the .NET Core.
Developers starting to worry about the whole migration process need not feel alone. As Scott Hunter, program management director for .NET, observed: "Even inside of Microsoft we have many large product lines that are based on .NET Framework and will remain on .NET Framework." ®