Microsoft's Visual Studio Live Share to improve developer collaboration

Microsoft plans to debut a new developer collaboration service in early 2018 that could make it easier for developers to work in tandem even when located remotely.

Microsoft is offering a sneak peek today, November 15, of a coming Visual Studio service aimed to make developer collaboration more seamless.

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That service, known as Visual Studio Live Share, is expected to be one of the highlights of Day 1 of the company's Connect(); developer conference in New York City.

Microsoft won't be making a preview of Visual Studio Live Share available for testing until early 2018. But officials are promising that developers will be able to use it to share projects with teammates or other developers, while maintaining full project context in a secure way.

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Visual Studio Live Share will allow developers who aren't in the same physical location to edit and debug the same code simultaneously in their personalized editor or integrated development environments. The service won't provide just simple screen sharing; they will allow developers to sync repos to collaborate; edit and debug in real-time; and do pair programming on the fly.

What technologies does Visual Studio Live Share use on the back-end?

"While elements of the design were informed by great functionality in Office, technology such as sharing workspaces, collaborative editing and collaborative debugging for multi-file development workflows are new and built from the ground up in the context of Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code," said a company spokesperson.

Visual Studio Live Share lets two developers using the same language collaborate. Microsoft initially is optimizing Visual Studio Live Code for C# and JavaScript/Typescript files. However, according to a spokesperson, "any file can be opened with collaborative editing, and edited by collaborators.

In other developer tool-related news, Microsoft also announced today general availability of its Visual Studio App Center -- the Azure service formerly known as the Mobile Center. VS App Center is designed for developers of apps targeting iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. The service is meant to be a one-stop-shop for building, testing, deploying, and monitoring apps.

"From a platform and collaborative debugging perspective, Microsoft is optimizing for ASP.NET, ASP.NET Core, and Node.js based web applications and services to start. "We expect to add support for more as devs provide feedback on Visual Studio Live Share," the spokesperson added.

Microsoft officials aren't yet saying when they expect Visual Studio Live Share to be generally available. They also are not yet commenting on whether it ultimately will be a paid subscription service.

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