Lots of big changes for Visual Studio and .NET were announced today.
The biggest items are:
- .NET becoming open source
- Microsoft work to help move .NET onto Linux and Mac
- Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition
- Visual Studio 2015 Preview available
- Lots of integration for Xamarin developers including Xamarin install from within Visual Studio
The one that I like most here is the Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition. We've had Visual Studio Express for some time but it was very limited. In particular, it blocked any attempt to extend it with plug-ins. Plug-ins are where the real creativity with the product can appear. The new community edition is full-featured and free for all except enterprise application development.
Full details from Soma are here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/somasegar/archive/2014/11/12/opening-up-visual-studio-and-net-to-every-developer-any-application-net-server-core-open-source-and-cross-platform-visual-studio-community-2013-and-preview-of-visual-studio-2015-and-net-2015.aspx
I do hope the SQL Server team are watching this. I like Jamie's suggestion here about doing the same with SQL Server Developer Edition. As Jamie points out, it barely adds to revenue. Making it free would seem a good idea.
Cost is one thing but extensibility is another. Whenever there are MVP meetings on campus, I always feel like I'm the one in the room endlessly asking about extensibility when each new feature is shown. And the answer from the SQL Server team is invariably "we haven't allowed for extensibility in this version but might in the future". But that almost never happens.
So many new features fall short of the mark when they are first released but if there were extensibility points, others could contribute to make them more useful. Without those extensibility points, new incomplete features can just flounder. There have been many examples of this over the years. (As an example, ask where the UI for Service Broker is. Klaus had some wonderful work done on building one that he showed us back in 2006 but there's no supported way to make add-ins for SQL Server Management Studio either. You can hack it but then you need to worry about it being broken by every new update or release that comes out).
I think this is the difference between shipping a product, and building an ecosystem around a product. I'd love to see SQL Server morph into something that has an ecosystem.