Mobile app development tools: A buyer's guide
A collection of articles that takes you from defining technology needs to purchasing options
Microsoft's Visual Studio is a mature and rich integrated development environment (IDE). There are three main versions of Visual Studio IDE: Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio Online (VSO).
Code development for Windows 10 -- which includes mobile, desktop, Xbox and other supported platforms -- is done in Visual Studio. Within the Visual Studio IDE, there are five versions: Visual Studio Community, Visual Studio Professional, Visual Studio Enterprise, Visual Studio Test Professional and MSDN Platforms.
The goal of each version of Visual Studio is to provide rich development tools to all developers globally on any platform. Development teams will be able to develop software for Web, mobile, server and desktop with Visual Studio.
The size and scope of the development team determines which version of Visual Studio organizations use. Visual Studio Community edition is good for a small team, or if a team is new to Visual Studio. Visual Studio Community is free. Larger teams will require either a Professional or Enterprise Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN) license that costs either $1,199 or $5,999.
Visual Studio Code is a basic development tool that gives developers the ability to build cloud and Web applications for free. VS Code is available for download on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
VSO is the most interesting tool for mobile developers. Microsoft now includes Build Services for iOS, Windows and Android all in the cloud with VSO. VSO gives development teams a one-stop suite of tools to build apps, manage small to large teams, manage version control and build services.
Visual Studio Online is a set of tools that makes it much easier for continuous integration across different platforms. For instance, Apple's Xcode, Google's Android Studio and desktop versions of Microsoft's Visual Studio can be connected to VSO. The focus of VSO is to make it is easy for teams to collaborate with each other to deliver apps much faster using agile tools, such as Kanban boards. There is support for version control repositories that support Team Foundation Version Control for Windows, Git for Xcode and even scalable repo. VSO starts as a free tool, with limited features. Basic support, which costs $20 per month, will likely meet the needs of many teams. Additional levels of access can be found on Visual Studio Online's pricing information page.
Microsoft has strong support tools. Like Apple's Xcode and Google's Android Studio, there are online support forums, but you also have the option to call Microsoft and open a support ticket -- there is a charge. Finally, there are many training centers globally that offer authorized Visual Studio training.
The current release version of Visual Studio is 2015.
Is developing in Windows natively right for your enterprise?
The key features you need to know about when selecting mobile application development platforms
Find out more about the latest features in Visual Studio 2015.