If you have doubts, then hosting your development environment on Azure is not a great idea. However, there are real advantages to the cloud option for running Visual Studio 2013. If being connected is not an issue, then having your development systems running on a virtual environment managed by Microsoft on Azure can eliminate a lot of trouble.

The really good part of this cloud option is that it removes the issue of your development environment becoming unstable and leading to the dreaded full reinstall. You can also spin up multiple development environments, even one per project, which will be useful separation for consultants.

More cloud stuff
As mentioned earlier, the cloud is a big part of Microsoft’s strategy going forward and is a cornerstone for making its new Devices and Services Strategy work. It is no wonder then that Microsoft has molded Visual Studio 2013 in numerous ways that enable development for Azure and for the Windows Store. The breadcrumbs are getting bigger and bigger as Microsoft tries to lead developers into making Azure the platform replacement for Windows Desktop.

In that vein, another new capability of Visual Studio 2013 is represented by the new Office/SharePoint App templates, including the Cloud Business App. This template allows you to integrate the Office 365 and Azure platform into a cross-platform business app. The template consists of four projects, including an app for SharePoint Project 2013 projects that helps with communicating with Office 365; an HTML client project for the user interface (hence the cross-platform targeting capability); an ASP.NET project to bring the data into the solution; and a Cloud Business App project that brings the other projects together. This is not a magic cloud/cross-platform pill, but an attempt to provide developers a road map with some of the architectural bits filled in.

If you do not do HTML5 and JavaScript, or have no idea about which end is up with SharePoint development, the learning curve will still be steep.

The November 2013 issue of MSDN has a walkthrough at that shows how to use this template to build a sample recruiting application. To get through it you will need a SharePoint site, and the examples assume you will use one from dev.office.com. Again, the theme is to lead developers to MSDN and to the online services provided from Microsoft.

This is already a big audience in the enterprise developer space. If that is where your organization is going or where you want to go, then this is great, but for some this is another feature that will not speak to their needs and may fail to drive a need for Visual Studio 2013 in their environment.
#!The TFS connection
Team Foundation Server is a real lifeline to organizations with larger development teams working in the Microsoft world. Barry Gervin, Microsoft regional director and director of solutions delivery for Navantis (one of Canada’s largest Microsoft partners), runs a globally distributed team that spans three continents and 18 time zones.

When talking about Visual Studio 2013, he said, “It has new features that have a tangible impact on the day-to-day life of my team as they are building enterprise applications.” In elaborating, he said, “From a team collaboration perspective, we are excited to leverage the new interactive discussion capabilities in TFS and VS 2013.

“Although I like the idea of Team Rooms for having threaded discussions within Team System, I am most excited about being able to comment and have a discussion attached contextually to a change set. This moves a lot of what we often do with e-mail across distributed teams, right into TFS and next to the code. This is invaluable for people coming back and looking at code later on in a project. Being able to reference hyperlinks to work items fluidly by using # is very natural to what we do in e-mail (‘@bgervin, this change has caused a few problems with story #101 and bug #122’).”