Microsoft introduces the new Mac version of Visual Studio • The Register


Microsoft has released another preview of Visual Studio 2022 for Mac, saying it delivers a “truly native macOS experience.”

The Mac version, like its Windows cousin, is required to develop with the new .NET 6.0 SDK with C # 10, F # 6.0, etc. As such, it is late.

“We plan to release the GA version of Visual Studio 2022 for Mac v17.0 in the first half of 2022”, noted program director Jordan Matthiesen in a blog post. He attributed the delay to the fact that “this is a major architectural change” with the change being more native code in the user interface.

In a presentation at the virtual launch of VS 2022 yesterday, Matthiesen spoke of “a cross-platform toolkit that we used to use … just feels pretty good.”

The framework in question, we think, is mono / xwt, which wraps either the Mac’s Cocoa API or Gtk (GNOME Toolkit) via Gtk # (C # bindings) – a fact that hints at part of the story behind this IDE.

Its roots go back almost to the early days of .NET, when in 2000 developer Michael Kruger decided to create an IDE for .NET Framework 1.0 using .NET himself. He called his project SharpDevelop. It originally used Windows Forms, just like Windows only, but has been adapted for Mono and Gtk #, to become the cross-platform MonoDevelop on Windows, Mac and Linux.

MonoDevelop was taken over by Miguel de Icaza’s Xamarin team, who also created a commercial version called Xamarin Studio. After Microsoft acquired Xamarin in early 2016, Xamarin Studio became Visual Studio for Mac, first released during the Build event in early 2017. Unlike Xamarin Studio, VS Mac is Mac only and is now a closed source IDE.

The Mono framework remains a central element of VS Mac

The Mono framework remains an essential part of Visual Studio Mac

Name aside, the original VS Mac was quite different from Visual Studio on Windows, although Microsoft made efforts to unify the two. 2019 brought a major architectural change, with Microsoft explaining at the time that “the code editor in Visual Studio for Mac has been completely replaced with a new kernel-based editor shared with Visual Studio on Windows and with the native user interface of macOS.”

The new version is a continuation and possibly the completion of this work, but when we installed the new VS 2022 Preview 3 for Mac, we noticed that one of the first things downloaded is the Mono Framework, which is still used by Xamarin and its new variant MAUI (Cross-Platform Application User Interface). That said, MAUI support is not yet in this release, another clue showing how far it is from production ready. The release notes state: “This version is not ‘available’ and is not intended for use on production computers or for creating production code. “

Visual Studio 2022 for Mac installation options

Visual Studio 2022 for Mac installation options

What is VS Mac used for? Matthiesen said there are “three main types of projects you can work on,” namely .NET web apps, mobile apps using Xamarin, and game development scripts for Unity. The installer offers .NET, Android, iOS, and macOS as options.

The key question: why is Microsoft bothering with VS Mac when it has a more capable editor and IDE which, unlike VS Mac, is already widely used by developers? It is Visual Studio Code, by most estimates, the most popular coding tool.

On Windows, the existence of Visual Studio alongside VS Code makes perfect sense. Visual Studio is the native operating system IDE and supports C ++ and .NET languages; it occupies a position similar to that of Xcode on Mac. Despite some efforts at convergence, VS Mac remains quite different from Visual Studio on Windows, which has a more restricted purpose. It’s still needed for Xamarin development, but for web development with ASP.NET Core VS Code is arguably superior, thanks to its native JavaScript tools. Note that the documentation for the ASP.NET Razor pages, for example, offers tutorials for Visual Studio Windows, VS Code, and for VS Mac, which read, “We hope to have instructions for Visual Studio for Mac soon.” “

The issue may be related to some internal concern at Microsoft about Visual Studio’s competing free VS Code. A recent issue with the hot reload feature saw an attempt, soon to be reversed, to reserve it for Visual Studio.

If there was no VS Mac, Microsoft would have to invest more in open source tools for .NET in VS Code, as well as adding support for MAUI. It would be a great move for the .NET platform, but it might not suit the idea of ​​keeping Visual Studio as a premium offering.

We are hearing rumors that the .NET team is actively discouraged from investing too much time in .NET tools for VS Code, and while this remains true, VS Mac will continue to be needed, although it does. acts of a niche tool in relation to one of his relatives. ®

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