Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Introduction to Visual Studio Dev Essentials - Dev Tools and Services for Everyone

TL;DR; Enroll here to get free stuff to dev on any platform for any type of developer - all from one portal

At Microsoft, I work with a lot of developer types. Cross Platform developers, web developers, app developers, game developers, and more. One of the challenges I see is in just getting the various tools and services  a developer needs to do a task. They are never in one place. Take Apache Cordova. It's an awesome tech for cross platform development but there's like 12 different installs to get a complete tool set. This extends across every developer type. Enter in Visual Studio Dev Essentials.

Visual Studio Dev Essentials is a program and portal that gives you access to software, services, free training from industry leaders on virtually any tech, and priority support.

Who can benefit?

If you touch any of these techs, then yes - you. It's free.
  • iOS 
  • Android
  • Node.js
  • Python
  • Windows (Raspberry Pi, Phone, Desktop, Server, HoloLens, XBox, SurfaceHub, Laptop, Data)
  • IoT (Internet of Things)
  • Data Scientist - Machine Learning 
  • Web (HTML, JavaScript, PHP, ASP.NET, ie all of you web devs)
  • Anyone doing cross platform development either writing native apps or Apache Cordova apps

Free Software

  • Visual Studio Community Edition
  • Visual Studio Code
  • Windows VM for Windows Universal Development for 60 days
  • Parallels & Parallels Access - 90 day trial (only 14 on their site)

PS - If you don't develop for Microsoft Tech, that's OK - read below for how this can help you on other tech. Our dev tools are some of the best on the planet for other tech too - like any web developer, Node.js, Python, Android, and cross platform development with Apache Cordova and Xamarin.

Free Services

  • Visual Studio Team Services for five users (exclusive)
  • App Service Free Tier- Backend data and auth services for mobile and web (used by NBC, 3M and even used for the Super Bowl)
  • HockeyApp Free Tier (Haven't heard of this? Cross platform beta/feedback/crash reporting - more below though!)
  • Coming Soon - Azure $25 Credit (exclusive)
  • There are presently many free Azure services available too

Free Learning

  • Pluralsight for three months (if you activated by Dec 31st its 6 months while supplies last)
    • PS ever hear of or They are all part of Pluralsight 
  • HackHands $25 credit with expert live help for coding via video conf and screenshare 
    • Psps This is also a Pluralsight company :)
  • Xamarin University (coming very soon) - Classes and Certification for one of the best cross-platform technologies on the planet
  • WintellectNOW for three months
  • Priority support in MSDN Forums
    • No community reply after 48 hours? A Microsoft Engineer will address

If you use Microsoft Technologies, you likely already know a lot of the above and are probably happy right now seeing it all on one place with extra free offerings. What about those that don't use our tech?

Highlights for devs that don't use Microsoft Tech

We have the IMHO best Android emulator around for Windows. Available as part of Visual Studio or a direct download. We use our own virtualization technology built into Windows to deliver performance that can be faster than being on an Android device. Python developers can benefit from Visual Studio to develop and remote debug Python scripts even on on MacOS & Linux.

Microsoft or not - Cross Platform Developers 

HockeyApp - The name may be misleading. Hockey you say? Nope. Even better (and I like Hockey). This service provides cross platform beta distribution, crash logging, and live real user feedback capturing in your app for - get this - Android, iOS, OSX, Windows, Unity, and Xamarin. There's also mobile dev-ops and team management to round out an enticing service for near any app dev. You may have heard of TestFlight, which killed Android support over a year ago. No worries there's a solution for all platforms - try HockeyApp!

Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova - I cannot stress how well this tech can work for cross platform app developers. If you've heard of PhoneGap.

The Good Web Peoples

Are you one of those old school but well learned web developers that don't like change or do you classify yourself as a new renegade developer that likes to change frameworks three times in a project because its new and compelling - or maybe brand new to web development? No problem either way. Visual Studio and Azure can help any of your projects get done faster and with fewer bugs. How so? Oh...

  • IDE integration with any JavaScript library
  • Integrated support for Grunt, Gulp, NPN, and Bower
  • Live JavaScript Debugging
  • Integrated GIT support
  • Live Cloud debugging on Azure (yes - a cloud deployed web app can be debugged locally)
    • Ps on a mildly related note, ever check out vorlon.js for remote JavaScript debugging?

Azure also has cool features to deploy web apps like

  • Automatic deploy when you commit to GitHub
  • DropBox deployment
  • Data storage/retrieval from any web app with about three lines of code (including script reference!)
  • Multi platform push notifications (iOS, Android, Windows)
  • Integrate automatically with many providers like Twitter, Facebook, Office 365, SalesForce, Dynamics, OneDrive, Box, DropBox, Twilio, Facebook, Marketo, and more

If using VS with Bower, NPM. Grunt, or Gulp piques your interested, check out my recent MSDN articles on using Bower, Grunt, and Gulp integrated right into Visual Studio
Visual Studio - Bower: Modern Tools for Web Development

Modern Tools for Web Development: Grunt and Gulp

Go. For. It. 

Understand some of these services are available piecemeal. For example I can get Visual Studio 2015 Community by direct download. What's the catch then? Why use this? The advantage here is you have much more available - exclusive offers, but it also combines everything you need in one place so you don't have to go searching for the tools and services. It is a complete offering for your development.

Hopefully something caught your eye as we really have something for near every developer type - even if Microsoft isn't your development platform (like using Visual Studio Code on OSX!).

If you haven't yet - head right on over to enroll for free now.

Any questions? Reach out to me @AdamTuliper 


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