What's Microsoft's father of C#'s next trick?

Microsoft Technical Fellow Anders Hejlsberg is working on something to do with JavaScript tools. Here are a few clues about his latest project.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Anders Hejlsberg is best known as the father of Microsoft's C# language. He's been working lately on Roslyn, Microsoft's so-called "compiler as a service" project. But it turns out that's not all Hejlsberg is working on.


Some eagle-eyed folks (hello, Felix9!) over on Microsoft's Channel 9 spotted a mention of an upcoming Hejlsberg appearance at the goto Aarhus software development conference in early October. Hejlsberg is slated to deliver a closing keynote on a "yet to be disclosed project in the Development Tools Space."

There's another interesting tidbit the Channel 9ers saw. Heilsberg's updated biography includes something that wasn't there before:

Anders Hejlsberg is a Technical Fellow in the Developer Division at Microsoft Corporation and works on Microsoft’s .NET and JavaScript development tools.

Wait... JavaScript development tools?

Microsoft has been working on its own set of JavaScript tools for a while. Microsoft offers various HTML5, CSS and JavaScript tools as part of Internet Explorer. JScript is Microsoft's implementation of the ECMAscript standard. And Chakra is the codename of Microsoft's JScript engine at the heart of IE 9.

But Hejlsberg hasn't been part of that effort. He's involved in something else, it seems.

This week, I asked Soma Somasegar, the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's Developer Division, what Hejlsberg is doing for Microsoft in the JavaScript space. I didn't really expect an answer, but Somasegar provided a few clues nonetheless.

Microsoft could potentially add some new, interesting features to the JavaScript standard, Somasegar noted.

"Anders is thinking about this more from the language and tools perspective," Somasegar said. "In the past two years, we've been (thinking about) and working on this."

Another possible clue: Earlier this year, Hejlsberg was quoted by eWEEK as saying it was possible to write large JavaScript programs but not possible to maintain them.

Don't expect to see a brand-new "Microsoft JavaScript" implementation any time soon; that would make no sense, Somasegar stressed when I asked about this possibility.

"The JavaScript runtime is up-to-par now," Somasegar noted. "Now we're thinking about what can be done in the language."

(In spite of Somasegar's statement about the status of the JavaScript runtime, I noticed in a recent Microsoft job description a call for a senior engineer to help develop a "fast, standards-compliant JavaScript runtime.")

Somasegar said he believes Visual Studio 2012 and Blend 4.0 provide developers with "industry-leading" HTML and JavaScript tooling. Microsoft will enhance HTML and JavaScript support further in the Update 1 to Visual Studio 2012 release that is coming by the end of this year, he said.

What do you think Hejlsberg's "big reveal" will be in early October? Any guesses?

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