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Microsoft trickles down on support for its Node.js server

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March 27, 2015

Microsoft said earlier today that it has doubled down on the support for its Node.js server-side JavaScript project with a new set of tools that transform Visual Studio into a full-fledged Node.js integrated development environment.

The Node.js Tools for Visual Studio (NTVS) have already been in development for some time as an open source project, but this week's version 1.0 release marks them ready for production use.

Furthermore, the add-ons enable all the usual features developers expect from an integrated development environment, including syntax highlighting, automatic formatting, brace matching, and so on.

The new IDE also offer code completions, despite JavaScript being a loosely typed language. Microsoft's IntelliSense technology analyzes existing code to infer the correct types for specific variables before inserting the completions.

Naturally, an IDE wouldn't be of much use without rich debugging capabilities, something Microsoft engineer Sara Itani has been notably lacking in the Node.js community so far.

"We're always puzzled to hear how many people are relying on print-line statements to debug their Node.js code," Itani said while announcing the NTVS release.

With NTVS, MS Node.js developers can simply step through their code at their will and apply breakpoints just like with other languages.

They can also easily profile their code and set up unit testing using Visual Studio's test explorer. Remote debugging to Windows, Linux, and OS X is also supported.

The tools work with Visual Studio 2012 or later, including the free Visual Studio Express for Web and the free Visual Studio Community 2013 edition that Microsoft launched in November 2014.

To be sure, Microsoft has grown increasingly vocal about its support for Node.js and other open source technologies ever since MS CEO Satya Nadella announced the company's love for Linux at an event in San Francisco last October.

And it makes a bit of sense when you think about it, given that most customers of the software behemoth's Azure public cloud are using open source, and, given the fact that NTVS is fully integrated with Azure is also an added bonus to some people.

In the case of Node.js, which has been growing in popularity among developers working in a wide variety of segments, Microsoft went as far as to join Joyent's newly created Node.js Foundation in February, along with Fidelity, IBM, the Linux Foundation and PayPal.

"Overall, Microsoft has been a long-time participant within the Node.js community," the company's Gianugo Rabellino blogged at the time, "and we take pride in the fact that our contributions have influenced successful advancements that are now being leveraged across established development platforms to support innovations in mobility, robotics and other areas."

The NTVS are available for download from Microsoft's CodePlex code hosting site. We'll keep you updated on these and other developments.

Source: Microsoft.

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