Once upon a time, when Windows was home to the vast majority of applications, and most of them were written in C++ or Visual Basic, Microsoft’s Visual Studio toolset was king. Most developers had an MSDN subscription and used a variety of Microsoft tools. The Visual Studio IDE (integrated development environment) became one of the most powerful ever built. Now that far more effort is being invested in non-Windows applications than previously, far more development is done using a wide-varieties of IDEs — many of them based on the open-source Eclipse system. Microsoft has now acknowledged and embraced this fact in a big way, by making Eclipse a full-fledged option for those developing for Microsoft’s Azure services or using Visual Studio’s team development features.
Microsoft’s Eclipse-based tools
Microsoft has been shipping a number of Eclipse-based tools already, including an Azure Toolkit for Eclipse and a Java SDK for Azure. Its Team Explorer Everywhere already allows Eclipse developers to access Visual Studio’s Team Services from within Eclipse — build, test, and source code control, for example. What’s new is Microsoft has now integrated its offering with Codeenvy’s tools — which are in turn built on the new Eclipse Che platform. Using Codenvy’s Visual Studio Team Services extension, developers using Microsoft’s tools will be able to create Codenvy workspaces. Microsoft is also adding a pre-configured Codenvy VM to its Azure offerings.
Microsoft and the Eclipse Foundation
Microsoft has worked with the Eclipse Foundation for a long time, but has now officially joined as a Solutions member — timed to coincide with EclipseCon. Even though this won’t mean that Microsoft is embracing the Eclipse IDE as its primary development environment, it is very much in line with Microsoft’s newish “embrace and extend” approach to other popular tools and environments. Ironically, perhaps, at the same time Google has moved to distance itself from Eclipse, by ending support for its Android development plug-in for Eclipse in favor of its own Android Studio offering.
As part of joining the Eclipse Foundation, Microsoft is open sourcing its Team Explorer Everywhere plugin for Eclipse through Github, as well as Azure IoT support through Kura, and Azure Java WebApp support through the Azure Toolkit for Eclipse.
What this means for developers
Microsoft doesn’t seem to be backing away from its commitment to the Visual Studio IDE — it just shipped R-language extensions for the Visual Studio IDE recently, for example — but is instead reaching out to allow those using the Eclipse IDE to be full members of Microsoft-centric development efforts. This is perhaps best typified by the title of one of the sessions Microsoft is giving at EclipseCon, “Integrating Different IDEs with a Common Set of Developer Services.”
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