As the Microsoft developer world turns: Guidance for the perplexed

Looking for .Net platform guidance in developing apps for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Windows Server 2012 and other Microsoft platforms? Here's a starting point.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is in the midst of launching a host of new operating systems and tools this summer/fall. So what's a developer to choose to build apps and services for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Windows Server 2012 and/or Windows Azure?

There are familiar, legacy .NET tools and frameworks available, like Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation. There are newer and less familiar (to many Microsoft developers) options including XAML and HTML5/JavaScript. And on the server side, there's ASP.Net for building server-based Web applications.

Microsoft tools vendor Telerik has delivered a new version of its Platform Guidance document that aims to help developers sort through the myriad choices, based on the type of application they are developing. The eight-page Platform Guidance PDF is a free download, available as of September 18.

The document doesn't advocate abandonning tried but true platforms like Silverlight, even though Microsoft seems to be trying to wean developers from that platform by downplaying it and declining to comment on its future, beyond committing to support Silverlight 5 through 2021. (Ditto with WinForms, which Telerik notes isn't the best choice for "greenfield" development, but which still has its place.)

Here's the Cliff Notes version of what the Telerik principals are recommending for development of each type of app:

Desktop Applications – WPF
Dashboard/Reporting Applications – ASP.NET MVC (Model View Controller) with HTML5
Data-Driven Websites – ASP.NET MVC and Web API
Interactive Web Applications (Forms over Data) – ASP.NET WebForms
Mobile Website – ASP.NET MVC HTML5
Tablet Applications – XAML and .NET

The Platform Guidance document includes a chart to help developers evaluate whether XAML or HTML is a better choice for building a Metro-Style -- now know officially as "Windows Store" -- application:


At only eight pages, the Guidance document isn't meant to be a be-all/end-all work. But it's a starting point, which offers some much-needed suggestions for those attempting to navigate the rapidly changing Microsoft development waters.

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