Last month, Microsoft announced the release of Visual Studio for Mac: a full-featured development environment to help developers on the Mac create apps, games, and services for mobile, cloud, and web. It’s natively designed for macOS, so both the design – from the toolbar to the file dialogs – and the developer workflow should feel right at home to Mac users. It is also a best-in-class advanced C# code editor – with IntelliSense and a refactoring experience that includes a preview of the proposed code changes. 

Mobile and web developers working on the Mac will appreciate the additional features that Visual Studio for Mac provides C# developers, and developers that have used Visual Studio on Windows will feel instantly at home with the familiar solution explorer and menu options. Visual Studio for Mac features first-class support for NuGet – the .NET package manager – which provides access to thousands of prepackaged code libraries; you can also code in F#, and yes, C# 7 features are fully supported!

Cross-platform capabilities don’t end there – Visual Studio for Mac shares the same solution format as its Windows counterpart. Teams with developers on both Mac and Windows can open and work on the same projects, sharing code across platforms and apps. Built-in version control makes it easy to work with small or large teams, on local and remote Git repositories (including GitHub and BitBucket).

Mobile Development

Visual Studio for Mac has a heritage in Xamarin Studio, and thus supports cross-platform application development for iOS, Android, and macOS with Xamarin. By installing the iOS and Android SDKs, you can build cross-platform mobile apps using C#, with complete access to the underlying native APIs (including tvOS and watchOS).

It includes drag-and-drop user interface designers for both iOS and Android, giving you the ability to interactively create native iOS Storyboards and Android XML layouts. Or, if you prefer, you can use Xamarin.Forms XAML to create a re-usable cross-platform user-interface (with a real-time preview option). Whichever option you end up choosing, apps using Xamarin always render native controls and run at native speed.

To make getting started with mobile development easy – we also announced the preview of Xamarin Live Players for iOS and Android, enabling you to start experimenting in seconds. Just pair the app on your phone with Visual Studio for Mac using a QR code and instantly see your app running and you can make live edits along the way. When you want to build complete apps, you can use the simulators and emulators available or test on real phones. Visual Studio for Mac can even help you build and deploy your finished apps to the App Store and Google Play–the archive for publishing build option will guide you through the code-signing and uploading process.   

Web and Cloud

Visual Studio for Mac isn’t just for mobile, however. The web editing experience on Visual Studio for Mac comes directly from code ported from Visual Studio (on Windows). It includes support for developing .NET Core apps and ASP.NET Core back-ends, which can be deployed to Windows, Linux, or on Microsoft Azure. The editor also supports full HTML, CSS, and JavaScript syntax highlighting and IntelliSense for your web app’s front-end.

To build for the cloud, the Connected Services feature helps add Azure functionality to mobile apps without leaving the IDE, and .NET Core web apps can be published directly to Microsoft Azure. There’s more cool stuff in the pipeline, including Azure Functions support and the ability to deploy using Docker containers, both of which are currently available in preview. 

Games too

Additionally, Visual Studio for Mac includes the ability to build games using Unity, the most popular gaming engine around. You can directly edit your Unity scripts with the same world-class C# editing experience, including full syntax highlighting and IntelliSense. Debugging is also just a button away, with full debugger support for Unity games. For mobile games, you can also use Xamarin for access to native gaming APIs like SpriteKit, or cross-platform options like CocosSharp and UrhoSharp.

Try it and let us know what you think

Get started by downloading the Community edition of Visual Studio for Mac for free to begin developing ASP.NET Core web apps, Unity games, and Android and iOS mobile apps, all in C#!

We’re very proud of this release and we want to hear what you think – please, send us your feedback! Leave a comment below, use Visual Studio for Mac’s “Report a Problem” or “Provide a Suggestion” dialog (within the Help menu) to provide feedback, or join the conversation in the Visual Studio for Mac community forums.