What it is: Visual Studio is Microsoft’s coding tool for writing Windows programs, and now it’s coming to the Macintosh.
For decades, every developer knew that if you wanted to make money, you learned how to write programs for Windows. While there are many programming tools available, most developers focus on Microsoft’s Visual Studio for writing programs in C#, Microsoft’s official programming language. C# is an improvement over C++ and meant to be safer than C++ while offering just as much flexibility.
Yet with so many programmers familiar with C#, the big problem was translating their coding skills to the mobile world of Android and iOS. Since Microsoft’s own Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile has faltered in the smartphone and tablet market, C# programmers had to either use Java to write Android apps or Objective-C/Swift to write iOS apps. By releasing Visual Studio for the Mac, Microsoft now brings the world of C# programming to Android and Apple products.
Visual Studio for the Mac is meant to keep programmers wedded to C# because then they’ll be able to use C# to write Windows programs, Android apps, or iOS apps. The more programmers who use C#, the more likely they’ll write Windows programs as well.
So if you’re thinking about writing a program, Microsoft’s solution is to offer you C# so you can write programs for all the major operating systems in the world. If you learn Swift, you’ll get the power to write iOS apps, but your Swift programming knowledge won’t translate into letting you write Windows programs. If you learn Java to write Android apps, you can’t write similar Windows or iOS/macOS programs. Only C# and Visual Studio for the Mac offers you the chance to learn one programming language and be able to write for every major operating system.
That’s the theory anyway. To play it safe, just learn C# and Swift. C# is Microsoft’s official programming language so you’ll be able to write Windows programs and if you also learn Swift, you’ll be able to write iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps. The way Apple rapidly updates their operating systems every year, the only language that will support all the latest features will be Swift. Rather than learn just C# and try to write programs for Apple products, learn C# and Swift to make sure you can write for Windows and the world of Apple products.
Visual Studio for the Mac is meant to keep C# relevant beyond the world of Windows. Swift is already relevant in the Apple world and because it’s open source, it’s spreading to other operating systems as well such as Linux and Windows. It may take time before Swift will let you write Android and Windows apps, but that’s what C# is for.
Trying to learn one programming language to let you write programs for multiple operating systems is a fantasy that programmers have been chasing for decades, and they always come close but there’s always lots of minor problems. One programming language can never be fully optimized for all operating systems so you’ll always risk locking yourself out of certain operating system features.
Visual Studio for the Mac is a great step forward for Microsoft since it brings C# programmers into the Apple world, which can only mean more software for Apple products. Just don’t expect Visual Studio for the Mac to be perfect for every operating system.