Microsoft is well aware that developers are more platform agnostic these days, which explains why the company is reaching out to the Mac community — something that would have seemed unheard of just a few years ago with the PC-centric Visual Studio suite. Based on the app development platform Xamarin Studio (which Microsoft acquired last year), Visual Studio for Mac retains all of the core traits of its Windows counterpart, while at the same time features a “UX [that] is inspired by Visual Studio, yet designed to look and feel like a native citizen of macOS."
Interestingly, Mikayla Hutchinson, Senior Program Manager for the Xamarin Platform, takes a page from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s playbook by stating that this marks “true mobile-first, cloud-first development tool for .NET and C#”.
Microsoft developed this Mac-centric version of Visual studio to use the same building blocks as its PC counterpart, while at the same time maximizing compatibility between Mac and PC platforms:
Its IntelliSense and refactoring use the Roslyn Compiler Platform; its project system and build engine use MSBuild; and its source editor supports TextMate bundles. It uses the same debugger engines for Xamarin and .NET Core apps, and the same designers for Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android...
Although it’s a new product and doesn’t support all of the Visual Studio project types, for those it does have in common it uses the same MSBuild solution and project format. If you have team members on macOS and Windows, or switch between the two OSes yourself, you can seamlessly share your projects across platforms.
Given that this news was leaked out early, the software preview isn’t quite ready yet for developers to download and try out. You’ll have to wait until later this week when Visual Studio for Mac is officially announced.