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Developers and ASP.NET: Whats Next?

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Scott Hanselman gave the keynote on the second day of aspConf 2012, providing a wide ranging talk describing where ASP.NET is today and what is in store for its future. Tighter integration with NuGet, editor enhancements in Visual Studio, and faster release schedule are just some of the new features in store.

Hanselman would like for the ASP.NET community to continue to grow and for Microsoft to be a significant contributor with the NuGet extension providing a way to integrate the various pieces. At a high level, this would enable a future where developers can mix and match approaches based on the ASP.NET foundation without being limited to a single strategy.

One ASP.NET Illustration

VS has historically been on an 18-month development cycle which has caused there to be a small window in which new features can be added. To broaden this window, Hanselman describes how the Visual Studio platform will be moving from a monolithic release schedule to one that allows out-of-band updates. Consequently new features can be proposed, developed, and released to developers quicker. As an example, templates for ASP.NET will now be supported by the ASP.NET team enabling them to take advantage of this new development and release cycle.

Hanselman speculates on the possibility a future VS allowing developers to build projects by choosing the necessary components via NuGet (and downloading them if not available locally).  The following is an example graphic illustrating a project utilizing WebPages, MVC, and WebForms:

Example of a future dialog box with Nuget

Moving along, Hanselman then covered some new features of VS. The first demo illustrated how the open source library DotNetOpenAuth can provide social logins for ASP.NET applications. This will easily allow developers to add support for Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft authentication sources. WebForms, MVC, and web pages can all utilize this library.

Next Hanselman demonstrated several ease-of-use features present in the editor for CSS. For example if a color is defined by it's hex value, a preview of the color appears in a thumbnail when the mouse hovers over the definition. Similarly a PNG encoded in base64 was able to be embedded directly into the CSS. A preview thumbnail was again available with mouse hovering over the definition.

Developers using JSON will appreciate a convenience in VS that makes boilerplate code easier to write. A new feature allows a snippet of a JSON instance to be selected, deleted, and then re-pasted as a class with methods generated based upon the instance used.

While some of these features are still proof-of-concepts and/or provided by extensions, the faster release cycle means that they should reach developers in a timely fashion (late 2012/early 2013 versus 2014).  Hanselman's presentation provides a good demonstration of all these features, and is worth viewing if you would like to see them in action.

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