Connect(); 2017

Volume 32 Number 13

[Editor's Note]

The Way Forward

By Michael Desmond; 2017

Any developer, any application, any platform. It’s been a rallying cry of the Microsoft Connect(); conference for years. From open sourcing key technologies like .NET Core, to unveiling important cross-platform tools like Visual Studio for Mac, to enabling platform-agnostic DevOps with Visual Studio App Center, the message has been as powerful as it has been consistent.

At Connect(); 2017 in November, Microsoft took its anyone, anyway, anywhere strategy and applied it to the fast-moving world of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). At the event, Microsoft Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie offered a preview of the Visual Studio Tools for AI extension, which enables developers and data scientists to create, train, manage, and deploy AI models that support deep learning frameworks like Cognitive Services, TensorFlow, and Caffe. He also previewed Azure IoT Edge, a service that deploys cloud intelligence to Internet of Things (IoT) devices via containers. Developers can build and test container-based workloads using C, Java, .NET, Node.js, and Python to leverage resources like Azure Machine Learning (Azure ML), Azure Functions, and Azure Stream Analytics.

That focus on AI has shaped our coverage in this special issue of MSDN Magazine focused on the Connect(); 2017 conference. The issue opens with a feature article written by Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of the Cloud AI Platform at Microsoft, and Wee Hyong Tok, principal data scientist manager of the Cloud AI Platform. Titled “Getting Started with Microsoft AI,” the article offers a great overview of Microsoft’s effort to help developers and data scientists leverage large-scale data flows and manage powerful computational models to spot trends, predict outcomes and speed decision making. Larry O’Brien follows with “Deliver On-Device Machine Learning Solutions,” where he explores how AI and ML can be leveraged in the field on smartphones and devices.

Even as Connect(); 2017 explored the burgeoning AI space, it’s remained grounded in the concepts that defined it from the beginning in 2014—developer productivity and open, cross-platform development. At these earlier events we’ve seen Microsoft announce open source initiatives and support; unveil tooling for Mac, Linux, Android and iOS; and provide integrated solutions to streamline, automate and improve DevOps.

This year’s conference showcased these same themes, and our coverage reflects that. The feature by Matt Gibbs, “Introducing App Center,” looks at the newly released suite of cloud services that acts as “mission control” for DevOps. App Center enables beta distribution and crash analytics, app testing on physical devices, and cloud build services for continuous integration. Willy Peter Schaub then dives further into the process of DevOps with his article, “The Road to Continuous Delivery with Visual Studio Team Services.”

Developer productivity is highlighted in our coverage of C# and .NET. Immo Landwerth pens “Introducing the Windows Compatibility Pack for .NET Core,” while Stephen Toub plumbs the new Span feature in C# 7.2 in “All About Span: Exploring a New .NET Mainstay,” which appears as a Web feature for the special issue.

There’s lots more, including explorations of Microsoft Graph, Azure Functions and the new SQL Operations Studio. In addition to the seven feature articles in the print issue of the magazine, check out the bonus articles that appear as part of the issue at

Michael Desmond is the Editor-in-Chief of MSDN Magazine.