In the run-up to its Professional Developers Conference, Microsoft on Friday has launched yet another hybrid product-research lab -- a new initiative to empower the developer community hear about and experience early developer tools that the software giant is working on.
The newly formed DevLabs joins Microsoft’s growing list of online portal where Microsoft plans to share some “early thinking,” which includes Live Labs, Office Labs, adCenter Labs, Startup Labs and allow developers help shape the direction of projects, wrote S. “Soma” Somasegar, the senior vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division, blogged about the new initiative, which focuses on innovation in the developer ranks.
Developers will also get to use some early versions of tools. DevLabs is launching with four existing projects, and Microsoft says it hopes to get feedback from the developer community on new projects that could possibly make it into future Microsoft products.
Like the other Microsoft setups, DevLabs is about getting Microsoft deliver new technologies in a more agile way. From the DevLabs “about us” page:
“Many of these are projects that are not as solid in exact deliverables yet, started with people who work in Microsoft’s developer division. Some of these projects will turn into features in our existing shipping products, some we will open-source for the community, others we will decide to not pursue. You are the ones that can help us determine what best suits your needs.”
“Some innovations take a very long time to get just right before we know that they will truly cause a shift in software development,” Somasegar said. He added that the DevLabs site is “a portal where we can share not just some early thinking, but early bits, and let you play with them and help us determine the direction that these projects should eventually head. While many of these projects will come from teams within Developer Division, this is an outlet for all innovations coming from Microsoft focused on you, the developer.”
For now, DevLabs is featuring four projects, including Small Basic, first unveiled on Thursday.
Small Basic: Small Basic is a simplified programming language and environment to help teach programming to beginners.
PEX: PEX (Program EXploration) is an intelligent assistant to the programmer. From a parameterized unit test, it automatically produces a traditional unit test suite with high code coverage. In addition, it suggests to the programmer how to fix the bugs.
Popfly: Microsoft Popfly is the fun, easy way to build and share mashups, gadgets, games, Web pages and applications.
Finally, another project on the DevLabs site is CHESS. Developers can get involved with the creation of Chess, another software testing tool that Microsoft has been developing for a couple years and that it plans to reveal more about next week at its Professional Developers Conference.
Ending his blog post, Somasegar said:
As we have new innovations to share with you, we will host them here. Sometimes there will be a few at once; sometimes it will be longer in between seeing new releases. I hope that you will keep coming back to see what is new and if there is an area we are looking into that interests you that you will give us feedback and input.