As it rolled out tools and features for coders at its Build developer conference Thursday, Microsoft showed that it is ready to embrace technologies and platforms not invented within its walls.
Rather than relying solely on internal tools, the Azure cloud services platform has incorporated a number of non-Microsoft technologies, including popular open source tools such as the Chef and Puppet configuration management software, the OAuth authorization standard, and the Hadoop data processing platform.
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"Clearly Microsoft's message is its support of multi-platform. It will take any part of your stack, it doesn't have to be just Microsoft software," said Al Hilwa, IDC research program director for software development. "This is good for Microsoft and good for the ecosystem."
Microsoft's Azure strategy is to "enable developers to use the best of Windows ecosystem and the best of the Linux ecosystem together ... and one that enables you to build great applications and services that work on every device," Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's new executive vice president overseeing the cloud and enterprise group, told the audience of developers and IT professionals.
The company also released Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 Release Candidate, which features two-way communication between the Visual Studio IDE and browsers. Typically, when developers write code for a Web application in Visual Studio, they can check to see if it runs correctly by running it in a browser. Now, using a technology known as Browser Link, developers can edit the source code directly in the browser. Browser Link will write the changes back to the source code file in Visual Studio. If a file such as a related style sheet is not open, Visual Studio can open the file and make the change as well.
Browser Link works on "any open browser," in Microsoft's words; the company named Google Chrome and Firefox, in addition to Internet Explorer.
Also on the Visual Studio front, Microsoft announced the general availability of Visual Studio Online, a hosted version of the IDE that works within Azure and is incorporated into Microsoft Team Foundation Service to enable rapid DevOps-styled development.
On the cloud side of operations, Azure has incorporated two of the industry's leading open source configuration management tools, Chef and Puppet. Users can deploy these technologies to quickly boot up, configure or reconfigure large numbers of virtual machines.