Microsoft leaked a bit of announcement ahead of their upcoming connect(); developer conference. Visual Studio is coming to Mac OS! While getting a bit long in the tooth, Visual Studio is perhaps the best IDE available today – it’s certainly leagues better than Xcode. Then again, writing your code using Morse code is better than Xcode. As someone who does a fair bit of cross platform development, I was pretty stoked by this development.
Sadly the announcement is nowhere near as good as it at first sounds. Turns out it isn’t Visual Studio they are bringing to MacOS. Instead they have simply rebranded Xamarin Studio (which they acquired earlier this year) as Visual Studio for Mac. Boo.
Although Microsoft took down the premature release, it is available via Google cache:
Below the surface, Visual Studio for Mac also has a lot in common with its siblings in the Visual Studio family. Its IntelliSense and refactoring use the Roslyn Compiler Platform; its project system and build engine use MSBuild; and its source editor supports TextMate bundles. It uses the same debugger engines for Xamarin and .NET Core apps, and the same designers for Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android.
Compatibility is a key focus of Visual Studio for Mac. Although it’s a new product and doesn’t support all of the Visual Studio project types, for those it does have in common it uses the same MSBuild solution and project format. If you have team members on macOS and Windows, or switch between the two OSes yourself, you can seamlessly share your projects across platforms. There’s no need for any conversion or migration.
Sadly this means no C++ support. I think the worst part of this release is it basically guarantees that the “real” Visual Studio is never coming to OS X. Perhaps more worrying… perhaps the future of Visual Studio on Windows is this rebranded Xamarin Studio. Given that they just released Visual Studio 15 preview 5 this seems unlikely.