Power Toys for Visual Studio, IronRuby advance .Net

Microsoft beefs up support and diagnostics with Shared Source tools, and IronRuby focuses on .Net interoperability

.Net is getting boosts with diagnostic tools and a version of the Ruby programming language for Microsoft's application development platform.

As part of its Shared Source program, Microsoft has released "Power Toys for Visual Studio" tools, which are intended to address developer pain points and diagnostics, according to a Microsoft blog this week.

"We released several new Shared Source tools that include source code to real-world tools and encourage customers to extend the tools as needed, essentially creating mini-communities for help and support for related tasks," said S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president for the Microsoft Developer Division, in his blog.

Three tools are available, including MSBee, which allows developers to build managed applications with MSBuild using Visual Studio 2005 projects targeting the 1.1. release of the .Net Framework.

Other tools include Team Foundation Server Admin tool, allowing administrators to add and modify user permissions on the company's Team Foundation Server offering, and Managed Stack Explorer, for monitoring .Net 2.0 managed processes and stacks.

"Already in the first week, there have been nearly 1,000 downloads of MSBee and almost 700 downloads" each of the other two offerings, Somasegar said. 

Shared Source is Microsoft's answer to open source, through which the company selectively shares source code.

Separately, a developer in The Netherlands is working on IronRuby, an implementation of the popular Ruby language for the .Net Framework.

"It's an interpreter which makes it possible to run Ruby code and re-use libraries written for .Net. It compiles Ruby code to MSIL (Microsoft Intermediate Language), the language to which all .Net languages compile," said developer Wilco Bauwer in an e-mailed response to questions.

"IronRuby is currently in its very early stages. The goal is to implement all features that Ruby provides and additionally provide seamless [integration] with the .Net framework. Currently IronRuby still lacks several language features and a large portion of the Base Class Library, but that will change over time," Bauwer said.

Interoperability is a key benefit of IronRuby, said Bauwer.

"People may love to use Ruby for their day-to-day tasks, but if it lacks integration with .Net, it may often not be an option to use Ruby at all. With IronRuby you can use Ruby instead of, for example, C# without throwing away an entire framework and everything that is ever built on top of it," Bauwer said.

.Net, meanwhile, gives Ruby developers benefits such as a Just-In-Time compiler, which could improve performance, garbage collection, and .Net debugger support, said Bauwer. IronRuby would be useful for prototyping, building front ends, and integrating existing Ruby scripts with .Net, Bauwer said.

"Whether you invested in Ruby or .Net, once IronRuby matures it should be possible to use the best of both worlds," said Bauwer, who hopes to build a community around IronRuby in the next two months.

More information on IronRuby can be found here.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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