Microsoft Driving to Cross Platform .NET Standard 2.0

Microsoft has had evolving variations of the .NET framework over the years targeting specific platforms.  Even within Windows, there were multiple .NET framework platforms depending on whether you were targeting ASP.NET, Windows Desktop, or Windows Phone. 

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When Microsoft bought Xamarin, they also inherited MONO, the UNIX implementation of the .NET framework. 

Microsoft is now going to standardize the .NET framework across these variations in a new framework called .NET Standard.

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This will provide a core set of libraries, APIs, etc. across platforms and workloads. 

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Using this approach, Microsoft is targeting library developers who want to create libraries that will work equally well across devices and operating systems through a common standard.

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Microsoft Releases .NET Core for Windows, OSX and Linux

For the first time, Microsoft has released its .NET framework as open source with support for Windows, OS X and Linux.  Microsoft first released a preview version of this version of the framework in 2014 – today is the first official release.

Microsoft has also released SQL Server 2016 for Linux and is now claiming that 30% of the servers running in Microsoft Azure are Linux as well.

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New Microsoft Integration Stencils Pack for Visio Available for Download

Microsoft has released a new set of Visio Stencils for creating diagrams in Visio 2013/2016.  The symbols include services such as:

  • BizTalk
  • Azure App Service
  • Flow
  • Azure
  • Infrastructure
  • Power BI
  • Power Shell
  • Service Fabric
  • IOT

To install, just download the file and go to your My Documents –> My Shapes folder and extract the shape files.

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Integrated Power BI Visualizations for Applications Coming Soon with Power BI Embedded

Microsoft announced that they will provide a version of Power BI that allows for integration of the Power BI service with custom applications.  The service will be called Power BI Embedded and will enable scenarios where application developers would like to harness the Power BI visualization service within their application stack. 

Power BI Embedded

Unlike the current subscription model which charges per user, Power BI Embedded will be charged on a per usage basis to enable application developers to manage their own users and to ease integration with Power BI as a pure service.  Pricing has not been released yet.

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Microsoft Introduces new Virtual Assistant Bot Framework

Microsoft has announced a new “bot framework” for building virtual assistants available via text message, Skype, Slack, and other services.  Bots are software driven virtual assistants that use natural language recognition to allow customers or users to interact with applications for scenarios such as obtaining customer service, ordering food, or finding information.

The bot framework is available in Node.JS and C# and can be written and deployed to a specific channel, e.g. your Office 365 account to receive requests.

Bot Framework Diagram

Bot Connector Diagram

The SDK is open source and available on GitHub

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Microsoft Acquires Cross-Platform Mobile Framework Xamarin

Xamarin is a cross-platform development framework for mobile applications.  You write your applications in C# and the framework publishes your app to native IOS, Android or Windows Phone.

Microsoft announced yesterday that they have now acquired the Xamarin team and will be integrating the framework into Azure, TFS, Visual Studio and Office 365 development tools in the future.

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Conflict between Latest NUnit Framework and NUnitTestAdapter

I was working with Visual Studio 2015 today, and ran into an issue running NUnit tests.  The basic process to integrate NUnit into Visual Studio is to use the NuGet package manager and install the NUnit framework and the NUnit Test Adapter.

However, if you install the latest version (currently 3.0.1) the NUnit Test Adapter doesn’t discover your tests.  I did a bit of research and the latest version isn’t supported.

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If you run into this problem, uninstall NUnit Framework 3.0.1 and instead install version 2.6.4.

imageThen the NUnit Test Adapter works as expected.

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Visio Stencil for Microsoft Azure, Cloud and Enterprise

Microsoft has published a visio stencil you can download here that contains symbols for Microsoft Azure, Cloud and Enterprise.  

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The stencil has some neat things in including a colour chart to guide you on Microsoft branding colours:

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There is also an existing Office 365 Visio Stencil with symbols for all the various components that you can download here.


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Microsoft is Consolidating Microsoft Account and Azure AD Authentication Models

In the current Microsoft cloud world, there are two core identity management systems – 1) the Microsoft account and 2) the Azure AD account.  As a user, you are continually asked to choose whether you are a business user or a personal user and then you login using one of these two paths.image

For developers building applications against these identity stores, there are two separate APIs to contend with to authenticate the user, enforcing the same forking of the authentication workflow and making it more complex to build applications.

Microsoft has announced that they are working on a consolidated authentication flow and API that will provide a consolidated user experience and API for developers.  The App Model v2.0 is now in preview.

  

Instead of forcing the user to tell us what type of account they are using, the API will figure it out under the covers and authenticate using either account type in a single flow.  In addition, the API for authenticate either Microsoft personal accounts or AD Azure accounts will be the same to make it easier for developers to build external applications that use these accounts as identities.

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Visual Studio 2015 and .NET 4.6 Just Released

Visual Studio 2015 and .NET 4.6 have just gone general availability and are now available for download.

Key feature improvements include:

  • Unified debugging and profiling
  • Proactive refactoring and code optimization tools
  • New XAML editor
  • Support for the latest language frameworks including updated versions of C#, VB, C++, TypeScript, F#, ASP.NET, etc.
  • Improved JSON editor
  • Cross-platform mobile development for both HTML and native clients

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