Microsoft has a vision to make Windows 10 the platform for developers, giving them the ability to cover phone, tablet, PC, hybrid and console. As there is a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 users to Windows 10, the company has an ambitious goal to reach 1 billion users on the Windows 10 family within 3 years of launch.
Microsoft announced their effort to bring developers and their apps to Windows in 4 steps.
Make it easy for web developers to present their sites as apps. It was already announced at Mobile World Congress earlier in the year. More specifications can be found here.
Allow developers to specially prepare existing Windows apps, whether Win32, .NET WinForms, .NET WPF, or any other Windows development technology and sell them through the Windows Store. The difference between the traditional installation and Store apps installation is that it will be installed, updated and uninstalled in a clean way to motivate users to try out new apps without the fear of too much of a hassle.
Give the opportunity to Android and iOS developers to take their iOS apps and build them for windows. Microsoft has developed an Objective C toolchain and middleware layer that provide the operating system APIs that iOS apps expect. (As an example King’s Candy Crush Saga for Windows Phone being one of the first apps built this way – only a few percent of the code had to be changed in order to fully port it in Windows phone.)
Allow Android apps to run in Windows Mobile, which is an official name for Windows on phones and sub-8 inch tablets. It will include an Android runtime layer that will let them run existing Android apps (both Java and C++) unmodified. Unlike Islandwood, which will require developers themselves to recompile their software to bring it to Windows, Astoria will in principle work with any old APK, without requiring the developer to do anything but publish the app in the store, as long as the APK sticks to the APIs that Astoria will provide.
There are two aspects to Android:
- Android Open Source Project (AOSP) – a mix of GPL and BSD-licensed open source code that anyone can take and fork
- Google Mobile Services (GMS) – an ever expanding closed-source set of applications and APIs that Google develops.
Microsoft did confirm that the supported proportion of AOSP and GSM would not be 100% in Astoria, however it will offer some integration points so that developers can with minor alterations support features like Cortana (personal digital assistant on PC and smartphone). The strategy is to allow developers to use the code they already have and encourage them to make Windows apps.
Visual Studio Code is a lightweight cross-platform code editor for writing web and cloud applications run under OS X, Linux and Windows. It is currently still in preview but it shows Microsoft’s commitment to support other platforms than Windows only.
Even though Windows is the most used development environment for .NET applications, Microsoft is trying to approach other environments as well instead of forcing the people to convert to Windows.
This new editor is partly based on Monaco editor for Visual Studio Online, with some features from Visual Studio language, including Roslyn project and .NET compiler platform.
Visual Studio code offers:
- Built-in support for multiple languages
- Rich code assistance
- Set of additional tools
Standard tools of Visual Studio code:
- Modern code editor
- Syntax highlighting
- Customizable keyboard bindings
- Bracket matching
Visual Studio Code will be available in other editors as well, including Sublime Text, Vi and Atom.
Visual Studio Code is available on OS X, Windows and Linux (both 32bit and 64bit) and can be downloaded for free here.
JetBrains, the creators of many amazing tools for software developers released a new IDE called CLion.
The main features of CLion consist of:
CMake – a build system that is used as a project model, which takes the information about your project from CMake files. All the changes are handled automatically and can be configured in Preferences.
An editor and one-click navigation to help you code easily:
- Smart auto completion filters the suggestions to match the left value type.
- Multiple cursors handle several editing tasks at a time.
- Code auto formatting takes care of the preferred coding style guidelines.
- Keyboard shortcuts help you select, rearrange and comment your code quickly.
Parameter info feature – can be used if you are unsure which function to use. It consists of all possible function signatures and parameters.
Fast project navigation – a very helpful feature which is included, as well as search abilities.
Code analysis – allows you to simply do even far-reaching changes, like renaming a symbol.
Integrated debugger – used for in-depth look into the execution of the code, providing a built-in debugger, able to add watches, evaluate expressions, change values and many more.
CLion integrates with popular version control systems, including Subversion, Git, GitHub, Mercurial, CVS, Perforce, and TFS.
If you are interested in learning more about CLion you can check out the guides and videos at https://www.jetbrains.com/clion/quickstart/.
Epic Games has announced on their blog that they decided to provide Unreal Engine 4 for free to all people, without any limitations of its features.
There is something you will need to keep in mind if you plan on using the Unreal Engine 4 for commercial reasons. In Epic Games’s blog post is clearly states that: “When you ship a game or application, you pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter.”
Depending on your needs this might be a deal breaker.
The current latest version for Unreal Engine 4 is version 4.7. This version comes with various new features, such as:
- Realistic Foliage Lighting
- Foliage Rendering for Large Worlds
- In-World Component Editing
- Placeable Empty Actors
- Blueprintable Components
- Automatic Asset Importing
- Blueprint Editor UI
- HTML5 and WebGL Support (Windows Only)
- OpenEXR: High Dynamic Range Textures
- Android Development on Mac
- Virtual Reality Support
- Leap Motion Plugin *Beta*
- Morph Target Exaggeration
- Animation Editing System
- Instant Bone Controller Preview
- Creating Animations from Physics
- Git Source Control Plugin (Beta!)
- AI Perception System: Blueprint Scripting
and a lot more ! For a more detailed explanation of the features, visit https://www.unrealengine.com/blog/unreal-engine-47-released
Unreal Engine 4 Recommended System Specifications
- Windows 7 64-bit or a Mac with Mac OS X 10.9.2 or later
- 8 GB RAM
- Quad-core Intel or AMD processor
- DX11 compatible video card
Unreal Engine 4 will run on hardware below what is shown above but you might experience issues with the performance.
If you would like to download Unreal Engine 4 please visit unrealengine.com and click the link on the top right where it says “Get Unreal”. Registration is required.
Unity is a cross-platform game creation system developed by Unity Technologies, including a game engine and integrated development environment which is used to develop video games for web sites, desktop platforms, consoles, and mobile devices. Unity has been extended to target more than fifteen platforms and is now the default software development kit for the Wii U.
This release brings forth a lot of new sought out features like:
- The Physically-based Standard Shader to make your materials look consistent in any lighting environment, cross platform.
- Real-time Global Illumination, built on Geomerics Enlighten technology.
- The Audio Mixer, to massively improve audio in your game.
- HDR Reflection Probes to enhance visual fidelity.
- PhysX 3.3 to bring massive performance improvements to 3D physics.
- Major updates to the animation system.
- WebGL preview.
If you would like to take a closer look at the new features Unity 5 comes with head out to Unity’s Blog post which has all the details.
There are two main versions of the Unity engine, personal edition and professional edition. Unity 5 personal edition comes with all the features the engine has. The main difference between the two versions is that the personal edition does not have the following features:
- Customizable Splash Screen
- Access to Unity Cloud Build Pro
- Unity Analytics Pro
- Team License
- Prioritized bug handling
- Game Performance Reporting
- Beta access
- Windows XP SP2+, 7 SP1+, 8; Mac OS X 10.8+.
- GPU: Graphics card with DX9 (shader model 2.0) capabilities. Anything made since 2004 should work.
If you would like to download the Unity 5 game engine, click the link below.