TechDays 2014, The Netherlands

4/24/2014 By Marco Kesseler 0 comments

The Hague has seen some interesting events lately. First, the World Forum centre hosted the Nuclear Summit, which Obama called ‘gezellig’ (cozy). And last week, the Microsoft TechDays 2014 flooded it with Microsoft developers. Since we are located in the Netherlands, the TallComponents engineering team took two days off from support and development and headed towards The Hague. As one of the members of this team, I am sharing my thoughts with you.

Since Metro came out, I have had some doubts about the direction that Microsoft is taking with .Net, and in particular C#. It appeared a bit as though Microsoft started to promote C++ development a bit more, and it appeared as if it started to loose its commitment to businesses, pushing out a desktop environment that was basically a step back for doing serious work.

But being at the tech days takes you far away from these concerns. First of all because there are so many developments in terms of .Net and C# that it is impossible to talk about all of them here. Secondly, because there were so many developers there that it is hard to consider Windows as a platform that is in trouble.

Going to the TechDays is not specifically about hearing stuff that you never heard about. In that sense I have no real news here. Instead, it is mainly about getting some deeper understanding about various technologies, some of which only linger in the back of your head because you only read about them once or twice.

Just a few highlights:

  • We learned a bit more about ability to create universal applications for both windows 8.1, and windows phone 8.1. The gap between these has become quite small so it appears. And this is great news for those wishing to target both.
  • We saw developments in terms of compiler technology. Not only is Microsoft's step to open source a lot of code interesting, but also the efforts they are doing to generate faster code (RyuJIT for example). No sign of lack of interest in C# at all.
  • We have seen some very informative presentations about intricate implementation details behind some constructs like async/await, closures in lambda’s and more.
  • TypeScript developments, and Microsofts apparent commitment in general to supporting javascript-based solutions (based on node.js and other popular frameworks). In essence, this is a move away from solutions that are completely centered around Microsoft technologies like Silverlight. And while this might appear to be a move away from C#, I cannot see this as a bad move at all. It is basically a sign that Microsoft is acknowledging that JavaScript complements the .Net platform. Apart from that, Microsoft is probably keen on attracting and keeping additional developers. Or at least on not loosing existing ones. In the end, it is not about the languages, it is about the platform they are offering. There is place for JavaScript next to C#.
  • Microsoft's partnership with Xamarin. Like the interest in JavaScript, this shows that Microsoft is no longer focusing on its ‘own’ hardware, and apparently not even exclusively on their own OS. I doubt that they really wanted to do this, but if Microsoft can offer a platform that is able to target all these devices, including Windows Phone, the better it is for developers. No doubt they are going to try and make their own platform just a little bit more attractive than the rest. Or – and that is not entirely unlikely either –, they aim at offering the best backend for all these devices. A connected portable device is after all, often nothing more than a fancy peripheral for the actual computer system.

All this together does give confidence that .Net is going to stay an extremely competent platform for offering serious business solutions.