As standardized HTML5 ascends to Web development dominance, developers all across the spectrum are looking for ways to leverage the markup language. Now, a free extension for Visual Studio gives C# and XAML developers a way to code HTML5 apps from the comfort of Microsoft’s IDE.

CSHTML5 (also known as C#/XAML for HTML5), a free extension from software company Userware (creator of the Wiki-OS.org software development encyclopedia and repository), recently entered its third beta, adding support for Windows Communication Foundation, SOAP and REST APIs. According to Userware CEO Giovanni Albani, the company’s goal was for C#/XAML developers to be able to build their first HTML5 apps without a steep learning curve.

“CSHTML5 is like Silverlight for HTML5,” said Albani. “It is a free Visual Studio extension that allows developers to build client-only rich Web or ‘single-page’ apps completely in C# and XAML, without having to write any JavaScript, HTML, or CSS.

“When you create a new CSHTML5 project, you get the same source files as in a Silverlight or WPF project, such as ‘App.xaml’ and ‘MainPage.xaml.’ You can then take advantage of the same familiar features of Visual Studio, including IntelliSense, refactoring, debugging, source control, and more. When you click ‘Start,’ the app starts natively in the Web browser.”

CSHTML5 allows developers to port their Silverlight or desktop apps to the Web and to mobile devices, with target platforms including Android, Chrome OS, iOS, Linux, OS X and Windows. As platforms and tools such as Flash and Microsoft Silverlight have given way to HTML5 for cross-platform development, the idea for CSHTML5 grew out of Userware’s own desire to port its C#/XAML-based apps to Android, iOS and the Web without abandoning its investments in Microsoft’s client-side technologies.

(Related: Why 2015 will be a pivotal year for HTML5)

“Those who spent many years learning Silverlight and other C#/XAML technologies did not want to throw away their know-how to move to Objective-C, JavaScript or other technologies,” said Albani. “We think that C#/XAML developers should be able to reach all platforms without sacrificing the languages and tools they like.”

CSHTML5 is a free extension based largely on the JSIL open-source library, which it uses to compile C# to JavaScript. Currently the extension also relies on non-open-source components, particularly in regards to its Visual Studio integration.

About Rob Marvin

Rob Marvin has covered the software development and technology industry as Online & Social Media Editor at SD Times since July 2013. He is a 2013 graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with dual degrees in Magazine Journalism and Psychology. Rob enjoys writing about everything from features, entertainment, news and culture to his current work covering the software development industry. Reach him on Twitter at @rjmarvin1.