The annual “Microsoft Build” conference took place from May 25-27, 2021. Build is one of the most exciting conferences for developers in the Microsoft environment. You can sit back in your armchair with pizza and mate and celebrate your inner nerd.
Fans of summaries can get an overview of the event in the “Book of News.”
It would be easy to write about all the topics around AI and ML now, because Microsoft is making considerable progress here from year to year. Around the so-called Cognitive Services, in the examination and handling of images, language or text, there is regular progress, which makes the integration of such features into the own software a breeze.
Here, for example, the improvements to the Bot Service, the Video Analyzer, which can independently search through videos, transcribe and highlight speaking persons, as well as the improvements to the text analyses in the health area were mentioned at Build.
If, by the way, Bot Services should be an issue for you, we naturally not only offer help with the integration of Microsoft services, but are also a Cognigy partner from the very beginning.
It continued with a whole load of security features (e.g.: Continuous Access Evaluation (CAE)), analytics (e.g. Azure Synapse), an extension to the free version of the powerful Cosmos database that can be a big help in globally distributed database scenarios, a simplified language called Bicep (to flex the muscle) that can be used for infrastructure-as-code and give the aging ARM templates a leg up, and large-scale improvements to Kubernetes services to support companies that have opted for hosting in containers.
I would like to point out a few personal highlights…
Unfortunately, my long anticipated feature was not announced at Build, but unfortunately pushed back. With Shared Channels, there will finally be a way to run channels across the board at the end of the year, so you don’t have to keep switching tenants. Nevertheless, there were some announcements that already invite you to try them out:
TOGETHER MODE EXTENSIBILITY
Some of you may already be familiar with the Together mode, having changed the view in larger calls. This mode allows up to 49 people to be displayed on a common view. These are then sitting in a virtual auditorium – the clue: The people are cut off from the teams, so that you can no longer see the background. This results in a much calmer picture than with all the small individual boxes. The extensibility of this mode will be rolled out to all Teams clients by the end of July and will also allow you to create your own scenes.
OPENING OF THE INTERFACES
In addition to this small visual feature, more and more entry points, APIs, etc. have been announced for Teams developers, which should make it possible in the near future to enrich all sorts of applications with Teams features and to be able to evaluate and enrich the data from group calls/events themselves.
Already presented as a tech demo at the last Build, the so-called Fluid framework is now being used more and more in Microsoft programs. Fluid makes it possible to integrate quasi-real-time communication in controls (similar to the well-known “edit together” features).
Here, developers can fall back on existing components or use the technology behind the Fluid framework to provide their own components with it. Perhaps one or the other has already noticed that something has suddenly changed in an e-mail that reported a status report in Teams. This will be supported by Microsoft in various environments in the future.
OFFICE OUT? SHOP IN? VIVA?
There will be a lot more changes in Teams in the coming months! At Build it was announced that Teams will get a store for third-party applications. This will make it more and more interesting for developers to choose Teams as the basis for their applications.
In the days following the build, it was also announced that there would be an “end to Office as we know it“. I will only believe that when it really happens – but integration and editing of Office documents, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, is already possible in Teams and will definitely be expanded.
And Viva? Heard of it? With this name Microsoft will provide an “Employee Experience & Engagement” platform. In other words, an intranet enriched with features from Yammer, Cognitive Services, Learn, the Q&A Maker, Teams itself and many other sources. I’m really looking forward to that and I’m excited to see what you can do with it.
Now that we are part of Macaw since March, many new colleagues have welcomed us. An important part of Macaw’s strategy here is the expansion of Sitecore, but also Power Platform development. While we are just picking up speed here, our colleagues are already showing us interesting insights into their projects.
That we are on the right track with this was impressively demonstrated by Microsoft at Build with their demonstrations of PowerBI, Automate and Apps.
Since I personally like to deal with AI and ML (although, unlike some colleagues, I am only scratching the surface here), I have known for some time what a special achievement the so-called GPT-3 language model is. GPT-3 is best known for its generated articles, which only needed a few words or example sentences to generate a complete text.
Microsoft secured rights to this model at the end of last year in order to improve AI capabilities in its own products. At Build, Microsoft showed a PowerApps editor in which someone entered a sentence into a field in plain English, GPT-3 evaluated the content of this sentence, and based on that, offered snippets of the Power Platform’s own language PowerFx for selection. Thus, it would be possible for so-called “Citizen Developers” (i.e. users with sufficient technical understanding, but not necessarily with a developer background) to work on Power apps with natural language without extensive programming knowledge.
And of course, the latest updates to our development framework “.NET” were published again. It’s been known for a while what new features .NET 6 would bring, but seeing the latest version in action together with a preview version of Visual Studio is always fun.
What would a version update of .NET be without the obligatory charts with doubled and tripled performance? In laboratory scenarios, some may say, it is of course always possible to create optimal conditions for one’s own environment. But if you take a look at the attention to detail with which the development teams squeeze the milliseconds out of important operations and even try to undercut each other on Twitter, you won’t be able to avoid the realization that something is happening here.
In the field of “Application Modernization” alone, it is therefore worth considering upgrading your own .NET application to the latest version for better use of resources. And of course we are happy to support you in this.
netzkern already develops mobile apps with ReactNative and Flutter. The framework from Microsoft, Xamarin, has often been left out. With MAUI (Multi-platform App-UI), however, Microsoft is now delivering the successor and also supports the development of desktop (WinUI 3) applications. If you take a look at the sessions of the MAUI team, you will learn a lot about the lessons learned and things they took away from the work on Xamarin. Besides Blazor, MAUI was also allowed to arouse the interest of .NET-savvy developers.
One feature that the .NET development team is visibly proud of is the so-called “Hot Reload”. This should make it possible in the future to test code changes in larger projects without restarting the environment. Anyone who has ever held a Visual Studio in their hands knows that we are talking about a few minutes here, which you can possibly save per change in the future.
Those interested in a complete list of .NET 6 updates will find it here.