What's new for developers in 2015?

The beginning of a new year signals the start of a new release cycle for software vendors. So I thought I'd give my personal view of what I'm looking forward to and hoping to see this year. This is all public information, but I admit some is guess work and rumor.

What's new for developers in 2015?

.NET vNext (ASP.NET 5)

Pencilled in for early release in 2015, the new version of Microsoft .NET is not just an incremental change, it's a complete reimagining from the ground up. Perhaps the most significant part of this is a new compiler codenamed Roslyn. Previous .NET compilers were written in C++, and as such were limited by that language. By building a new compiler the Microsoft team has been able to create new features and take .NET in directions not previously possible. The full feature list is not complete, but we expect to see:

  1. A single controller that returns both MVC views and formatted Web API responses, on the same HTTP verb.
  2. A completely modular ASP.NET framework; you pick the pieces you need and get them through NuGet.
  3. Multiple CLR versions – Full, Core (Cloud-Optimized) and Cross-platform. Full is the entire framework and provides backward compatibility. Cloud-Optimized is a cut down module version. The Core .NET CLR is about 11MB, compared to roughly 200MB for the full version and can be deployed with your application providing all it requires. Cross platform is the same as the Core CLR, but targeted at Linux and MacOS and is Mono based.
  4. HTTP 2: New HTTP processing pipeline.
  5. TagHelpers that let you better control the HTML output of the Razor code.

Oh and if you missed it .NET vNext is now Open Source so you can see it develop and change in front of your eyes. If you're brave enough you can even contribute!

Visual Studio 2015

The new version of Visual Studio, due to be released alongside .NET vNext, is more of an incremental release but integrates the new Roslyn compiler and enables the new language features detailed above. Visual Studio will continue to have incremental updates made throughout the year via its service pack like "Updates", therefore we should expect smaller incremental changes to Visual Studio unlike previous tri or bi-yearly releases. Some stand out features that are expected include:

  1. Visual Studio Emulator for Android
  2. Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova
  3. Shared Projects
  4. Touch support in the Visual Studio editor

The above are in addition to rolling in all the latest versions of Entity Framework, SignalR, MVC, Web Pages and ASP.NET. The roadmap and features can be tracked on the Visual Studio site.

Office 365

Microsoft will continue its push to the cloud with enhancements and changes to the Office 365 platform. Some such as the removal of the Public Website feature from SharePoint Online are already known, others we can only guess at. I personally would expect to see further integration with existing services such as Yammer and Skype, alongside new propositions such as the SharePoint Video Portal coming out of Beta – it's definitely worth tracking the public roadmap. What I hope Microsoft focus on is continuing to improve the stability and performance of the platform – perhaps some geo-replication thrown in for good measure? Expect to see more Office Graph and Delve driven features (Exciting stuff!). For developers I would expect to see the Office 365 API expand to take advantage of new and existing features, many of which are only currently available through the web based user interfaces. With a 3 week release cadence though, the platform could change greatly over the coming year.

SharePoint vNext

Given the 3 year release cycle for SharePoint we are due for a new version of SharePoint in 2016. As such we should see a Technical Preview and maybe a Beta towards the end of the year. At this point it's anyone's guess as to what may be included. A safe bet would be to assume that SharePoint Online features will be pushed down into the On-Premises version to restore feature parity. Beyond that I think the focus will be on strengthening the hybrid configuration story and supporting the latest raft of associated technologies such as Microsoft SQL 2014 R2 and Microsoft Server vNext. Other crowd pleasers including updated support for the latest browsers and a more modern device focused user interface are sure to be part of the picture. I’d like to see SharePoint follow .NET and go Open Source, but I think that's a pipe dream. But you never know you may see a library or two go that route.

Azure, Azure, Azure

Microsoft Azure is already an amazing platform and it will only go from strength to strength in 2015. I would expect to see their NoSQL offering DocumentDB evolve and be pushed hard along with support for other non-Microsoft technologies. More for less – the battle to drive the cost of cloud down whilst offering more will continue; I wouldn't be surprised to see another increase in key storage areas such as OneDrive, Exchange Online Mailboxes and SharePoint Online Site Collections backed by Azure infrastructure. Scott Guthrie has a fantastic team so expect exciting changes in 2015 on Azure.

JavaScript and the framework wars

Love it or hate it JavaScript is here to stay. What many may not realize is that we're due for the next version. The ECMAScript 6 standard (code-name Harmony), the standard JavaScript implements, has been feature frozen by its oversight committee therefore browser vendors and library maintainers will begin to implement it. As for the so called JavaScript wars there should be a drop off in the use of JQuery as browsers become more compliant and older browsers are finally retired; therefore removing the need for JQuery. Whilst JQuery should decline, there is no doubt AngularJS is on the rise. AngularJS has won – there I said it! We'll hopefully see two releases from the Angular team this year version 1.4 (March 2015) which is an incremental release and 2.0 (release date to be announced). AngularJS Version 2.0 is a complete rewrite and implements much of ECMAScript 6.0 along with being modular in design. Angular 2.0 can be tracked and contributed to via its GitHub repository.

A new browser from Microsoft

One of the key takeaways from Microsoft's Window 10 event was that Windows 10 will not only come with Internet Explorer 11, but also a new browser with a rendering engine built from the ground up and more similar to Google Chrome. The new browser code named Spartan will, like Windows 10, run on all devices using a single code base. This will help Microsoft regain lost ground in the mobile browser battle, and for us developers will help us to deliver more consistent user experiences. Other features include Cortana integration and offline reading, and in-page annotations. If you couple the new browser and base of IE11 in Windows 10, along with the announcement that Windows 10 will be a free, yes free, upgrade, we should see a lot of enterprises upgrading and the demise of older versions of IE.

As stated a lot of this is public knowledge, but some is fact based assumption and a bit of guess work. Either way it's an exciting year to be a developer and to be involved in this rapidly evolving landscape. At BrightStarr we believe that to deliver the best solutions you have to remain abreast of the latest technology!

Michael Draisey Head of Development

Michael is BrightStarr’s Head of Development, although in reality, he does a lot more than that! He is ultimately responsible for the delivery of solutions to clients but also functions as a Product Manager for Unily. Michael is excited about new technology and also has an internal role as a new technology evangelist, spreading the word about hot new software to his colleagues all over the world. Michael was part of the award winning Linklaters project team and has a particular knack for translating complex business requirements into neat technical solutions.

Michael plays 5 a side football and enjoys kung fu in his spare time and is a big fan of the outdoors!

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