Microsoft is extending the cloud to the developer’s laptop

Microsoft’s shift towards the cloud under CEO Satya Nadella has already paid major dividends to the developer community, mainly in the form of new functionality for its hugely popular Visual Studio. But one upcoming addition is set to raise the bar even higher.

Tucked away among the latest batch of patent applications from Redmond to have reached their disclosure date is a detailed specification for enabling the local execution and testing of services through the development platform. And in particular, microservices, which many perceive as the next evolution of the cloud.

The approach involves breaking up applications into smaller components – hence the “micro” prefix – that are easier to manage individually. It’s exciting because that convenience is enabling developers at companies like Google and Spotify to roll out features that would have once taken months to release in days, productivity that the system detailed above could help bring to the rest of the  community.

The illustration shows how Microsoft plans to build a reverse proxy into Visual Studio that will allow microservices running on a local machine to communicate with parts of the application already deployed in the cloud. Redmond’s own Azure infrastructure-as-a-service platform will serve as the remote host in that setup.

Once everything is up and running on both ends, developers will be able to start testing their microservices using the native debugging feature of Visual Studio without having to pay any special attention to the fact that the code is distributed across multiple geographies.  The filling demonstrates the typical workflow as following:

The ability to see how a new feature fits with a service before rolling out to the production cloud, where debugging the code is a lot less convenient and can potentially interfere with other processes, could prove as a major boon. With Microsoft’s shift towards microservices kicking into full swing, the feature should arrive to Visual Studio any day now.

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