Thursday, November 13, 2008

Microsoft porting Visual Studio to Linux

As a long time Windows developer, I've come to love Microsoft developer tools. Nothing is more satisfying that firing up a copy of Visual Studio and almost immediately being productive. The tool gets out of your way. It helps you where you need help and stays pretty silent and in the corner otherwise. Development tools like Visual Studio are definitely one of the many things Microsoft does very right.

There are times, like now for example, where I need to be cross-platform. I want to not only develop cross-platform code but I want the ability to work on any platform I choose: Windows now, Linux tonight. Unfortunately, the minute I step out of the Windows world, I wave a sad goodbye to my old friend Visual Studio and my productivity goes sharply down.

Don't get me wrong, I can code C# and VB.NET by hand if I have to as easily as I can hand code HTML when I have to so the problem isn't that I don't understand the technology. The problem is that Visual Studio takes the headache out of the trivial stuff like UI design, and allows the developer to focus on creating the solution and banging out the business logic.

Visual Studio has it.
MonoDevelop, SharpDevelop, etc don't.

I don't expect Microsoft to do a full port of Visual Studio complete with compilers, linkers, and all the bells and whistles to Linux. They don't have to. Mono provides all those things and they are just as easy to use. What I would like to see is Microsoft port the Visual Studio designer to Linux, thereby allowing developers to walk between both worlds with ease and no lost productivity.

Don't get me wrong, I understand their reasons for not doing this but I think it would not only be an incredible new revenue stream for the company but final proof that Microsoft really wants to change the tech landscape for the better, regardless of what your platform is. It would be a proverbial olive branch that would go a long way in uniting the Windows and Linux worlds under the common Microsoft flag.

It would totally kick ass too.


I'm just sayin'


Cade said...

When Psion first came out with EPOC32, you used Visual Studio to compile and debug for the EPOC32 emulator on Windows, then used GCC to cross-compile the same code for the actual ARM target.