Tag Archives: Developer

Proposed Microsoft-GitHub buy confirms open source role in cloud

Microsoft has not always been about the developer. That is just its roots. At a time when software development was limited to people with access to mainframes, the company forged its early fortune on the backs of easily available developer tools.

Some would say the developer focus dimmed at Microsoft with the departure of co-founder Bill Gates — one of the most exemplary programmer nerds there ever was. With the ascendancy of Satya Nadella to CEO in 2014, the developer’s song is being heard again. And it’s being heard particularly loudly now, as Microsoft-GitHub nuptials loom; last week, the company agreed to buy GitHub for $7.5 billion in stock.

Microsoft is a well-established commercial presence. Its status with open source is less established, despite its much-reported cuddle-up to Linux. Because it has often been aggressive in pushing its own standards, its proposed acquisition of GitHub has naturally been met with rumblings of concern.

Satya Nadella, CEO of MicrosoftSatya Nadella

However, the Microsoft-GitHub pairing should not be unexpected, according to Warner Chaves, a long-time Microsoft data developer and principal consultant at technical services provider Pythian, based in Ottawa.

“People have strong memories of the anti-open-source Microsoft, but the fact is that Microsoft is the corporation with the largest number of [GitHub] open source contributors,” Chaves said. “It wants to keep attracting this type of developer to Azure as part of the ongoing war for cloud market share.”

‘Doubling down’ on open source

People have strong memories of the anti-open-source Microsoft, but the fact is that Microsoft is the corporation with the largest number of [GitHub] open source contributors.
Warner Chavesprincipal consultant at Pythian

If nothing else, the GitHub move confirms developers are foremost again at Microsoft and elsewhere. Data professionals don’t really need to be told that is the case. All the hallmark technologies of big data — NoSQL databases and machine learning, as well as Apache Hadoop and all its friends and family — have been driven by developers. Hadoop and its ilk have returned the developer role to prominence in decisions about data architecture — something they hadn’t enjoyed since the early days of the relational database.

In fact, GitHub has been home to important open source projects — many of the big data variety. As many as 1,500 Apache projects and over 500 Eclipse projects are hosted on GitHub. Much of the new machine learning activity reposes on GitHub, not the least of which is TensorFlow — the library of tools open-sourced by Google in 2015.

Merv Adrian, GartnerMerv Adrian

In recent years, the Microsoft Azure cloud has driven more openness in APIs at the company. Apache Hadoop, Hive and Spark are notable cases of open source support on the Azure cloud. The reality is, if Microsoft does not have a heaping helping of open source software on Azure, its cloud could lag in overall developer support. Buying GitHub means the company is “doubling down on open source,” said Gartner analyst Merv Adrian.

Microsoft’s move is “consistent with the need to attract developers to the Azure platform,” Adrian wrote in a blog post on the GitHub purchase. He said the company could increase the connection between GitHub and Azure, but noted its vow to maintain the openness of any such connection.

Home is where the GitHub is

Microsoft could very well be a good home for GitHub, according to Ian Skerrett, a technology marketing consultant and former Eclipse Foundation executive.

“Microsoft definitely understands developers and will be able to help push GitHub into the enterprise development world,” Skerrett said.

Still, open source is very much about choices, and the fact that so many of those choices came to reside on GitHub may give pause, Skerrett indicated.

“GitHub has a near monopoly on open source project hosting,” he said. “There aren’t many alternatives, and this is a problem.” Skerrett added that he hoped one side effect of this blockbuster purchase is competition will arise for GitHub.

Save the Date – July 25th – for the 2018 Imagine Cup World Finals!

This July, Microsoft will host bright student developer teams from across the world for the 16th annual Imagine Cup. Teams will travel to Redmond, Washington to showcase their technical innovations and compete for up to $100,000 USD, as well as a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. We are excited to announce the dates for the 2018 Imagine Cup World Finals!

Follow the action to learn more about the competing teams and tune in to see which teams will be announced as World Finalists!

July 23, 2018

The Imagine Cup World Finals kick-off at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington! The day starts with a Tech Showcase, where teams will pitch to multiple judges and the top-rated teams will move on to the next round. Imagine Cup Awards finalists in Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Mixed Reality are chosen to vie for $15,000 USD.

July 24, 2018

The top 15 teams are announced and will move forward as Imagine Cup semifinalists. There is good news for all other teams – they will get a second shot in the wildcard round! The students vote which wildcard teams will be saved and have the opportunity to join the semifinals. Semifinalists present their projects to the judges, and the final 3 teams are chosen to compete in the World Championships.

July 25, 2018

Imagine Cup World Championships – Streamed Live! Tune in at 9:00am PST to watch the top 3 teams pitch to the judges, coming to you live from the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Seattle. Who will win it all?

Save the date for the Imagine Cup World Finals to see who will win $100,000 and the glory of being the Imagine Cup champions!

Red Hat and Microsoft co-develop the first Red Hat OpenShift jointly managed service on a public cloud

Microsoft and Red Hat expand partnership around hybrid cloud, container management and developer productivity

SAN FRANCISCO — May 8, 2018 — Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq “MSFT”) and Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) on Tuesday expanded their alliance to empower enterprise developers to run container-based applications across Microsoft Azure and on-premises. With this collaboration, the companies will introduce the first jointly managed OpenShift offering in the public cloud, combining the power of Red Hat OpenShift, the industry’s most comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes platform, and Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud.

“Gartner predicts that, by 2020, more than 50% of global organizations will be running containerized applications in production, up from less than 20% today.”1

With organizations turning to containerized applications and Kubernetes to drive digital transformation and help address customer, competitive and market demands, they need solutions to easily orchestrate and manage these applications, across the public cloud and on-premises. Red Hat OpenShift on Azure will be jointly engineered and designed to reduce the complexity of container management for customers. As the companies’ preferred offering for hybrid container workflows for our joint customers, Red Hat and Microsoft will jointly manage the solution for customers, with support from both companies.

In addition to being a fully managed service, Red Hat OpenShift on Azure will bring enterprise developers:

  • Flexibility: Freely move applications between on-premises environments and Azure using OpenShift, which offers a consistent container platform across the hybrid cloud.
  • Speed: Connect faster, and with enhanced security, between Azure and on-premises OpenShift clusters with hybrid networking.
  • Productivity: Access Azure services like Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Machine Learning and Azure SQL DB, making developers more productive.

When customers choose Red Hat OpenShift on Azure, they will receive a managed service backed by operations and support services from both companies. Support extends across their containerized applications, operating systems, infrastructure and the orchestrator. Further, Red Hat’s and Microsoft’s sales organizations will work together to bring the companies’ extensive technology platforms to customers, equipping them to build more cloud-native applications and modernize existing applications.

Customers can more easily move their applications between on-premises environments and Microsoft Azure because they are leveraging a consistent container platform in OpenShift across both footprints of the hybrid cloud.

The expanded collaboration between Microsoft and Red Hat will also include:

  • Enabling the hybrid cloud with full support for Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform on-premises and on Microsoft Azure Stack, enabling a consistent on- and off-premises foundation for the development, deployment and management of cloud-native applications on Microsoft infrastructure. This provides a pathway for customers to pair the power of the Azure public cloud with the flexibility and control of OpenShift on-premises on Azure Stack.
  • Multiarchitecture container management that spans both Windows Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux containers. Red Hat OpenShift on Microsoft Azure will consistently support Windows containers alongside Red Hat Enterprise Linux containers, offering a uniform orchestration platform that spans the leading enterprise platform providers.
  • More ways to harness data with expanded integration of Microsoft SQL Server across the Red Hat OpenShift landscape. This will soon include SQL Server as a Red Hat certified container for deployment on Red Hat OpenShift on Azure and Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform across the hybrid cloud, including Azure Stack.
  • More ways for developers to use Microsoft tools with Red Hat as Visual Studio Enterprise and Visual Studio Professional subscribers will get Red Hat Enterprise Linux credits. For the first time, developers can work with .NET, Java, or the most popular open source frameworks on this single, and supported, platform.

Availability

Red Hat OpenShift on Azure is anticipated to be available in preview in the coming months. Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform and Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Azure and Azure Stack are currently available.

Supporting Quotes

Paul Cormier, president, Products and Technologies, Red Hat

“Very few organizations are able to fully silo their IT operations into a solely on-premises or public cloud footprint; instead, it’s a hybrid mixture of these environments that presents a path toward digital transformation. By extending our partnership with Microsoft, we’re able to offer the industry’s most comprehensive Kubernetes platform on a leading public cloud, providing the ability for customers to more easily harness innovation across the hybrid cloud without sacrificing production stability.”

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft

“Microsoft and Red Hat are aligned in our vision to deliver simplicity, choice and flexibility to enterprise developers building cloud-native applications. Today, we’re combining both companies’ leadership in Kubernetes, hybrid cloud and enterprise operating systems to simplify the complex process of container management, with an industry-first solution on Azure.”

About Red Hat Inc.

Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to provide reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As a connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, and open source communities, Red Hat helps create relevant, innovative technologies that liberate resources for growth and prepare customers for the future of IT. Learn more at http://www.redhat.com.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

1 Gartner Inc., Smarter with Gartner, “6 Best Practices for Creating a Container Platform Strategy,” Contributor: Christy Pettey, Oct. 31, 2017

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

 

 

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DJI and Microsoft partner to bring advanced drone technology to the enterprise

New developer tools for Windows and Azure IoT Edge Services enable real-time AI and machine learning for drones

REDMOND, Wash. — May 7, 2018 — DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, and Microsoft Corp. have announced a strategic partnership to bring advanced AI and machine learning capabilities to DJI drones, helping businesses harness the power of commercial drone technology and edge cloud computing.

Through this partnership, DJI is releasing a software development kit (SDK) for Windows that extends the power of commercial drone technology to the largest enterprise developer community in the world. Using applications written for Windows 10 PCs, DJI drones can be customized and controlled for a wide variety of industrial uses, with full flight control and real-time data transfer capabilities, making drone technology accessible to Windows 10 customers numbering nearly 700 million globally.

DJI logoDJI has also selected Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud computing partner, taking advantage of Azure’s industry-leading AI and machine learning capabilities to help turn vast quantities of aerial imagery and video data into actionable insights for thousands of businesses across the globe.

“As computing becomes ubiquitous, the intelligent edge is emerging as the next technology frontier,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft. “DJI is the leader in commercial drone technology, and Microsoft Azure is the preferred cloud for commercial businesses. Together, we are bringing unparalleled intelligent cloud and Azure IoT capabilities to devices on the edge, creating the potential to change the game for multiple industries spanning agriculture, public safety, construction and more.”

DJI’s new SDK for Windows empowers developers to build native Windows applications that can remotely control DJI drones including autonomous flight and real-time data streaming. The SDK will also allow the Windows developer community to integrate and control third-party payloads like multispectral sensors, robotic components like custom actuators, and more, exponentially increasing the ways drones can be used in the enterprise.

“DJI is excited to form this unique partnership with Microsoft to bring the power of DJI aerial platforms to the Microsoft developer ecosystem,” said Roger Luo, president at DJI. “Using our new SDK, Windows developers will soon be able to employ drones, AI and machine learning technologies to create intelligent flying robots that will save businesses time and money, and help make drone technology a mainstay in the workplace.”

In addition to the SDK for Windows, Microsoft and DJI are collaborating to develop commercial drone solutions using Azure IoT Edge and AI technologies for customers in key vertical segments such as agriculture, construction and public safety. Windows developers will be able to use DJI drones alongside Azure’s extensive cloud and IoT toolset to build AI solutions that are trained in the cloud and deployed down to drones in the field in real time, allowing businesses to quickly take advantage of learnings at one individual site and rapidly apply them across the organization.

DJI and Microsoft are already working together to advance technology for precision farming with Microsoft’s FarmBeats solution, which aggregates and analyzes data from aerial and ground sensors using AI models running on Azure IoT Edge. With DJI drones, the Microsoft FarmBeats solution can take advantage of advanced sensors to detect heat, light, moisture and more to provide unique visual insights into crops, animals and soil on the farm. Microsoft FarmBeats integrates DJI’s PC Ground Station Pro software and mapping algorithm to create real-time heatmaps on Azure IoT Edge, which enable farmers to quickly identify crop stress and disease, pest infestation, or other issues that may reduce yield.

With this partnership, DJI will have access to the Azure IP Advantage program, which provides industry protection for intellectual property risks in the cloud. For Microsoft, the partnership is an example of the important role IP plays in ensuring a healthy and vibrant technology ecosystem and builds upon existing partnerships in emerging sectors such as connected cars and personal wearables.

Availability

DJI’s SDK for Windows is available as a beta preview to attendees of the Microsoft Build conference today and will be broadly available in fall 2018. For more information on the Windows SDK and DJI’s full suite of developer solutions, visit: developer.dji.com.

About DJI

DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, was founded and is run by people with a passion for remote-controlled helicopters and experts in flight-control technology and camera stabilization. The company is dedicated to making aerial photography and filmmaking equipment and platforms more accessible, reliable and easier to use for creators and innovators around the world. DJI’s global operations currently span across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and its revolutionary products and solutions have been chosen by customers in over 100 countries for applications in filmmaking, construction, inspection, emergency response, agriculture, conservation and other industries.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For additional information, please contact:

Michael Oldenburg, DJI Senior Communication Manager, North America – michael.oldenburg@dji.com

Chelsea Pohl, Microsoft Commercial Communications Manager – chelp@microsoft.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

For more information, visit our:

Website: www.dji.com

Online Store: store.dji.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DJI

Instagram: www.instagram.com/DJIGlobal

Twitter: www.twitter.com/DJIGlobal
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/dji

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/DJI

 

 

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Microsoft empowers developers to build intelligent apps for where the world works

Microsoft announces new developer on-ramps to Microsoft 365

REDMOND, Wash. — May 7, 2018 — On Monday at Microsoft Build 2018, Microsoft Corp.’s annual developer conference, Microsoft called on developers to embrace Microsoft 365 as a rich development platform. Microsoft 365 brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security, delivering a complete, intelligent and secure solution to empower employees.

As the largest productivity platform in the world, it’s a vital part of the intelligent edge — enabling developers to reach Microsoft customers in a multisense, multidevice way.

“Microsoft 365 is where the world gets its best work done,” said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president, Microsoft. “With 135 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365 and nearly 700 million Windows 10 connected devices, Microsoft 365 helps developers reach people how and where they work.”

New developer opportunities with Microsoft 365

At Microsoft Build, Microsoft announced new opportunities that help developers create smarter ways for people to work, including new tools that give them the flexibility to design experiences in the languages and frameworks of their choice. Microsoft 365, combined with insights from the Microsoft Graph, empowers developers to build intelligent applications. New tools include the following:

  • New and updated Microsoft Teams APIs in the Microsoft Graph and support for organization-specific applications in Teams allows developers to create tailored, intelligent experiences based on the unique needs of a business or industry. Companies can also publish custom apps to the Teams app store.
  • Deeper SharePoint integration into Microsoft Teams enables people to pin a SharePoint page directly into channels to enable deeper collaboration. Developers can use modern script-based frameworks like React within their projects to add more pieces that can be organized within SharePoint pages.
  • New support for Power BI Visualizations in Excel makes it possible for developers to extend the custom visuals created for Power BI to Excel, giving them an opportunity to reach more users.
  • Updates to the Fluent Design System that help developers create immersive, deeply engaging experiences with Microsoft’s updated design language. Now every organization can make beautiful solutions that empower their customers to do more. With UWP XAML Islands, developers can access more capable, flexible, powerful XAML controls regardless of which UI stack they use — whether it’s Windows Forms, WPF or native Win32.
  • .NET Core 3.0, which allows developers to use the latest version of .NET and have their application run in a stand-alone .NET environment so they can build amazing app experiences that don’t impact their broader organizational infrastructure.
  • MSIX, a complete containerization solution providing a simple way to convert large catalogs of applications. It inherits all the great features from UWP including reliable, robust installation and updating, as well as a managed security model and support for both enterprise management and the Microsoft Store.
  • New Azure Machine Learning and JavaScript custom functions that let developers and organizations create their own powerful additions to the Excel catalog of formulas.
  • Windows Machine Learning, a new platform that enables developers to easily develop machine learning models in the intelligent cloud and then deploy them offline and in high performance to the PC platform.

New Microsoft 365 experiences empower customers to do more  

Microsoft introduced a set of technology experiences that addresses a more mobile workforce, including streamlining mobile Windows experiences across a variety of devices and platforms, as well as better blending web and app experiences. These new experiences include:

  • A new way to connect your phone to your PC with Windows 10 that enables instant access to text messages, photos and notifications. Imagine being able to quickly drag and drop your phone’s photos into a document on your PC in one swift movement — without having to take your phone out of your pocket. This new experience will begin to roll out in the Windows Insider Program soon.
  • The Microsoft Launcher app on Android will support enterprise customers including line-of-business app discovery and IT advisement on configuration. The Microsoft Launcher app will also support Timeline for cross-device app launching.
  • On an iPhone or iPad, Microsoft Edge browsing sessions are included in the Timeline experience on a Windows 10 PC. Now customers will be able to access Timeline on an iPhone with Microsoft Edge.
  • Microsoft is enabling any developer to reach and engage new audiences with Sets, an easier way to organize your information and get back to what you were doing. With Sets, what belongs together stays together, making it easier and faster to create and be productive. For developers, UWP will work with Sets from the start, helping to keep customers engaged.
  • Adaptive Cards now supported within Microsoft 365 enable developers to create rich, interactive content in messages coming from their apps, bots or services into Teams and Outlook. As a result, people can approve expense reports or comment on an issue in GitHub directly within a Teams chat, or even pay bills directly in email.

Microsoft 365 is a comprehensive development platform — with pen, ink, mobile, devices, cloud and developer tools — all with infused intelligence, bringing simplicity to customers and streamlining development.

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777,
rrt@we-worldwide.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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IOHIDeous is a macOS zero-day for the New Year

In a somewhat unorthodox New Year’s gift, a developer detailed a long-unpatched macOS zero-day flaw that could allow an attacker root access for full system compromise, although it cannot be exploited remotely.

Siguza, a hobbyist developer and hacker from Switzerland, described in great detail a zero-day vulnerability, dubbed IOHIDeous, which is said to affect all versions of macOS going back 15 years.

“This is the tale of a macOS-only vulnerability in IOHIDFamily that yields kernel [read and write] and can be exploited by any unprivileged user,” Siguza wrote in a Github post. “IOHIDFamily has been notorious in the past for the many race conditions it contained, which ultimately lead to large parts of it being rewritten to make use of command gates, as well as large parts being locked down by means of entitlements. I was originally looking through its source in the hope of finding a low-hanging fruit that would let me compromise an iOS kernel, but what I didn’t know it then [sic] is that some parts of IOHIDFamily exist only on macOS – specifically IOHIDSystem, which contains the vulnerability discussed herein.”

Siguza released proof-of-concept (PoC) exploit code for IOHIDeous but noted that not all of the parts have been tested across all versions of macOS. Part of the attack used “doesn’t work on High Sierra 10.13.2 anymore,” but Siguza said the vulnerability is still present and may be exploitable in different ways. Siguza successfully tested other portions of the PoC attack on High Sierra and assumed to work on other versions of macOS or stated to be easily adapted for other versions.

However, while exploiting the IOHIDeous macOS zero-day could allow for an attacker to escalate privilege, run arbitrary code and gain root access, Siguza said on Twitter that the risks are somewhat lessened because the flaw is not remotely exploitable and because “triggering [the] bug is pretty noticeable with the entire UI being torn down and whatnot…”

Siguza also commented on why IOHIDeous details were released publicly and not sold either on the dark web or to a bug bounty program.

“My primary goal was to get the write-up out for people to read. I wouldn’t sell to blackhats because I don’t wanna help their cause. I would’ve submitted to Apple if their bug bounty included macOS, or if the vuln was remotely exploitable,” Siguza wrote on Twitter. “Since neither of those were the case, I figured I’d just end 2017 with a bang because why not. But if I wanted to watch the world burn, I would be writing zero-day ransomware rather than write-ups ;)”

As of the time of this post, Apple has not responded to requests for comment or released information about any potential IOHIDeous patch.

CodeTalk: Rethinking accessibility for IDEs

By Suresh Parthasarathy, Senior Research Developer; Gopal Srinivasa, Senior Research Software Development Engineer

CodeTalk team members from left to right include: Priyan Vaithilingam, Suresh Parthasarathy, Venkatesh Potluri, Manohar Swaminathan and Gopal Srinivasa from Microsoft Research India.

Software programming productivity tools known as integrated development environments, or IDEs, are supposed to be a game changer for Venkatesh Potluri, a research fellow in Microsoft’s India research lab. Potluri is a computer scientist who regularly needs to write code efficiently and accurately for his research in human computer interaction and accessibility. Instead, IDEs are one more source of frustration for Potluri: he is blind and unable to see the features that make IDEs a boon to the productivity of sighted programmers, such as squiggly red lines that automatically appear beneath potential code errors.

Potluri uses a screen reader to hear the code that he types. He scrolls back and forth through the computer screen to maintain context. But using a screen reader with an IDE is incomplete since much of the information from these systems is conveyed visually. For example, code is syntax highlighted in bright colors, errors are automatically highlighted with squiggles and the debugger uses several windows to provide the full context of a running program. Performance analysis tools use charts and graphs to highlight bottlenecks and architecture analysis tools use graphical models to show code structure.

“IDEs provide a lot of relevant information while writing code; a lot of this information — such as the current state of the program being debugged, real-time error alerts and code refactoring suggestions, are not announced to screen reader users,” Potluri said. “As a developer using a screen reader, the augmentation IDEs provide is not of high value to me.”

Soon after Venkatesh joined Microsoft Research India in early 2017, he and his colleagues Priyan Vaithilingam and Saqib Shaikh launched Project CodeTalk to increase the value of IDE’s for the community of blind and low vision users. According to a recent survey posted on the developer community website Stack Overflow, users who self-identify as blind or low vision make up one percent of the programmer population, which is higher than the 0.4 percent of people in the general population. Team members realized that while a lot of work had gone into making IDEs more accessible, the efforts had fallen short of meeting the needs of blind and low vision developers.

As a first step, the team explored their personal experiences with IDE technologies. Potluri, for example, detailed frustrations such as trying to fix one last bug before the end of a long day, listening carefully to the screen reader and concentrating hard to retain in his mind the structures of the code file only to have the screen reader go silent a few seconds after program execution. Uncertain if the program completed successfully or terminated with an exception, he has to take extra steps to recheck the program that keep him at work late into the night.

[embedded content]

The CodeTalk team also drew insights from a survey of blind and low vision developers that was led by senior researcher Manohar Swaminathan. The effort generated ideas for the development of an extension that improves the experience of the blind and low vision community of developers who use Microsoft’s Visual Studio, a popular IDE that supports multiple programming languages and is customizable. The CodeTalk extension and source code are now available on GitHub.

Highlights of the extension include the ability to quickly access code constructs and functions that lead to faster coding, learn the context of where the cursor is in the code, navigate through chunks of code with simple keystrokes and hear auditory cues when the code has errors and while debugging. The extension also introduces a novel concept of Talkpoints, which can be thought of as audio-based breakpoints.

Together, these features make debugging and syntax checking—two critical features of IDEs—far more accessible to blind and low vision developers, according to a study the CodeTalk team conducted with blind and low vision programmers. Real-time error information and talk points were particularly appreciated as significant productivity boosters. The team also began using the extension for their own development, and discovered that the features were useful for sighted users, as well.

CodeTalk is one step in a long journey of exploring ways to make IDEs more accessible. Research is ongoing to define and meet the needs of blind and low vision developers. The source code is available on GitHub and contributors are invited. The Visual Studio extension is available for download.

You can read more about this story on Microsoft’s Research Blog.

CodeTalk team members include Suresh Parthasarathy, Gopal Srinivasa, Priyan Vaithilingam, Manohar Swaminathan and Venkatesh Potluri from Microsoft Research India and Saqib Shaikh from Microsoft Research Cambridge.

Managing Secrets Securely in the Cloud

You’ve probably heard some version of the story about a developer who mistakenly checked in his AWS S3 key to Github. He pulled the key within 5 minutes but still racked up a multi-thousand dollar bill from bots that crawl open source sites looking for secrets. As developers we all understand and care about keeping dev and production secrets safe but managing those secrets on your own or especially in a team can be cumbersome. We are pleased to announce several new features that together will make detecting secrets in code and working with secrets stored securely on Azure easier than it’s ever been before.

Safeguarding Secrets while building for Azure

Most of us know it’s a best practice to keep secret settings like connection strings, domain passwords, or other credentials as a runtime configuration and outside the source code. Azure Key Vault provides a security location to safeguard keys and other secrets used by cloud apps. Azure App services recently added support for Managed Service identity which means apps running on App Service can easily get authorized to access a Key Vault and other AAD-protected resources so you no longer need to store secrets visibility in environment variables.

If you do this though, getting your local dev environment setup with the right secrets can be a pain, especially if you work in a team. We hear many developers distribute secrets for shared dev services through email or just check them into source code. So we created the App Authentication Extension to make it easy to develop apps locally while keeping your secrets in Key Vault. With the extension installed, your locally running app uses the identity signed into Visual Studio to get secrets you are authorized to access directly from Key Vault. This works great in a team environment where you might have security group for the dev team with access to a dev environment Key Vault.

Azure key vault

Azure service authentication account selection setting in Tools Options

In ASP.NET applications the ASP.NET Key Vault and User Secret configuration builders with .NET 4.7.1 is a NuGet package that allows secret app settings to be saved in secure configuration stores instead of in web.config as plaintext, without changing application source code. In ASP.NET Core applications there is a small code change, to load Key Vault as a configuration provider and once you do this you are set. This change isn’t done yet, but we’re hoping to eliminate it soon.

App Settings

Here are a couple of walkthroughs that show you how everything works:

Credential Scanner (CredScan) Code Analyzer Preview

We also wanted to make it easier for devs to find secrets in their code to encourage moving secrets to more secure locations like User Secrets or Azure Key Vault. The Credential Scan Code Analyzer is a very early preview that can detect Storage access keys, SAS tokens, API management keys, Cosmos DB access keys, AAD Service principal keys, connection strings for SQL, Azure SQL, Service Bus, Azure Logic apps, BizTalk server, and various other credential types. As you edit your code the analyzer scans your code and immediately warns you about secrets it finds in any open documents with warnings in the error list and in the Build and Code Analysis at Commit time. It’s something we’ve been developing, utilizing, and improving within Microsoft for some time now.

The Credential Scan Code Analyzer is a preview and ships in the experimental DevLabs extension, Continuous Delivery Tools for Visual Studio. This is because we know this is an important area that goes beyond open documents and can stretch all the way into your CI environment. Rather than waiting, we released an experimental version now because we think it’s useful and we want your feedback on how you would use this in your environment.

Please install these extensions and give the walkthroughs a try to let us know what you think.

Catherine Wang, Program Manager, Azure Developer Experience Team
@cawa_cathy

Catherine is a Program Manager for Azure Developer Experience team in Microsoft. I worked on Azure security tooling, Azure diagnostics, Storage Explorer, Service Fabric and Docker tools. Interested in making development experience simple, smooth and productive.