Thursday, August 06, 2015

Microsoft open-sources Windows Bridge for iOS

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Written by G.Я     8/06/2015 12:01:00 pm  No comments

Microsoft open-sources Windows Bridge for iOS. Last week, Microsoft released Windows 10 as a free upgrade in over 190 markets, taking the first big step toward upgrading 1 billion devices to Windows 10 and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Alongside Windows, Microsoft also delivered the Windows SDK and accompanying tools that developers will use to build and submit Universal Windows apps. Windows 10 introduced new APIs and built a platform that does much of the work to make apps more personal through adaptive UX, natural user inputs and cloud-based services. Microsoft also introduced a series of "bridging" technologies to enable developers to bring their existing iOS, Android, Web and desktop code and skillsets to the Windows Store.
Microsoft open-sources Windows Bridge for iOS
Microsoft open-sources Windows Bridge for iOS
Today, Microsoft releasing an early look at the Windows Bridge for iOS (previously known as 'Project Islandwood'). While the final release will happen later this fall (allowing the bridge to take advantage of new tooling capabilities that will ship with the upcoming Visual Studio 2015 Update), Microsoft making the bridge available to the open-source community now in its current state.

Microsoft releasing the iOS bridge as an open-source project under the MIT license. Given the ambition of the project, making it easy for iOS developers to build and run apps on Windows, it is important to note that today's release is clearly a work-in-progress - some of the features demonstrated at Build are not yet ready or still in an early state.

The source code for the iOS bridge is live on GitHub right now. The iOS bridge supports both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 apps built for x86 and x64 processor architectures, and soon we will add compiler optimizations and support for ARM, which adds mobile support. The Windows Bridge for web apps, 'Project Westminster,' is live and available with the release of Windows 10 and Visual Studio 2015.

The Windows Bridge for Android, or 'Project Astoria', is currently available as a technical preview by invitation only. Microsoft have been gradually inviting more developers each week and will continue to expand this preview program. Microsoft's goal is to have everyone currently on the early access waitlist in the program by the end of August; and Microsoft aiming to release the Windows Bridge for Android as a public beta in the fall. To get on the waitlist for early access, you can use the sign up form.

Microsoft also contributing to open-source projects used by its Android bridge community and  submitted changes to help improve ANGLE. For those who haven't hear of ANGLE, ANGLE provides translation of OpenGL to DirectX. These changes have been accepted by Google and improved ANGLE's performance and compatibility with DX feature level 9.3.

The Windows Bridge for Classic Windows apps, 'Project Centennial,' that will make it possible to package and publish your current .NET and Win32-based Windows applications to the Windows Store, will be ready for public testing next year.

The Windows Bridge for iOS is intended to enable iOS developers to create Windows apps using your existing Objective-C code and skills. To accomplish this, this bridge is comprised of four components:
1.Objective-C compiler: To enable most of the heavy lifting, Visual Studio will include a compiler that knows how to take Objective-C code and compile it into a native Universal Windows app. For now, Microsoft will provide early drops of the compiler binary via GitHub (Microsoft not open sourcing the compiler). The compiler will ultimately ship as part of a Visual Studio 2015 update scheduled in the fall.
2.Objective-C runtime: Additionally, Microsoft's Objective-C runtime will provide you with language features like message dispatch, delegation and automatic reference counting.
3.iOS API headers/libs: Building upon the Objective-C base APIs, Microsoft provide fairly broad iOS API compatibility. As you begin working with the bridge, and as you find an API that isn't yet supported or could be improved, we welcome your contributions and comments.
4.Visual Studio IDE integration: Finally, Microsoft provide tooling that imports your Xcode project and ties into the Windows developer tools (Visual Studio 2015) and SDK.

Why the bridge is not a port
Microsoft's goal with the iOS bridge has never been simply to run iOS apps on Windows. Rather, Microsoft's goal is to help you write great Windows apps that use as much of your existing code and knowledge as possible. Microsoft will, of course, continue to work to expand our iOS compatibility, but it's important to note that there is much more you can do with the bridge.

Behind this goal are three core principles that drove the architecture and design of the bridge:
1.Full Windows API access: Making it easy to use Windows APIs within Objective-C code
2.iOS compatibility: Empower developers to reuse as much existing iOS code as reasonably possible
3.No sandboxing: iOS and Windows APIs should be able to work together

Microsoft's first principle is especially important because Windows has a rich and fully functional API set that continues to grow and evolve. If the current release of the bridge doesn't support a particular feature that you need, then Microsoft don't want you to feel "stuck" until the next update; instead, Microsoft'd much rather make it simple for you to use the corresponding Windows API and integrate everything seamlessly into your code.

The third and first principles are thereby linked - the ability to call and use the full Windows API surface would be severely restricted if the API sets were sandboxed from one another, limiting your ability to build good Windows apps in Objective-C.

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G.R (prince) జి.ఆర్ जि.आर™.
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