Microsoft's Roslyn 'compiler as a service' support unlikely to be in Visual Studio 2012

Roslyn, Microsoft's project to open up the VB and C# compilers to support 'compiler as a service' scenarios, looks to be a post-Visual Studio 2012 deliverable.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft execs have been tight-lipped when I've tried to pin a ship date on "Roslyn," the Microsoft "compiler as a service project."

But we now know that Roslyn most likely will be a post-Visual Studio 2012 thing, according to slides and a presentation from Microsoft's Build conference in September. (Yes, I'm still wading through all the Build information and presentations. There was a lot there.)

A quick Roslyn refresher: The Roslyn effort is about re-architecting the C# and VB compilers to support "compiler as a service" (CaaS) scenarios. Currently, a compiler is a black box; with Roslyn, Microsoft is working on opening it up so that all of the information processed via a compiler is available in application programming interface (API) form.

Here are few slides from the Build session that covered Roslyn, including one that shows an empty circle which seemingly designates the still-unannounced date when Roslyn will be delivered:

(click on the slide to enlarge)

(click on the slide to enlarge)

(If you're curious about the codename itself, Roslyn is named for a mining town outside of Seattle that is featured in "Northern Exposure," according to Microsoft Technical Fellow Anders Hejlsberg.)

Hejlsberg told Build attendees that Microsoft will release a Community Technology Preview (CTP) test build of Roslyn in mid-October this year. He demonstrated Visual Studio Roslyn during his session at Build, and showed off how Microsoft is building APIs -- including a syntax tree API, symbol API, binding and flow API and an emit API -- that mirror what its compiler pipeline offers. In addition to dogfooding these APIs itself, Microsoft also is going to make them publicly available, allowing others to build their own refactorings and tools using this information, Hejlsberg said.

(click on the slide to enlarge)

Microsoft recently made available to testers a developer preview build of its "Visual Studio 11" suite. (This is the product that will likely be named Visual Studio 2012 when it ships next year.) Microsoft officials are making enhancements to the core languages (VB, C++, C# and F#) in the suite, as well as making JavaScript a "first class citizen," now that JavaScript is key to writing apps for Windows 8)

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