Microsoft has announced a new service for developers, independent software vendors (ISVs) and programming language vendors which allows these partners to integrate their third-party tools and applications with the Visual Studio.NET development environment.
Named the "Open Tools Platform", the initiative enables partners to customise the Visual Studio.NET tool to their own needs, integrate the development environment of third-party tools with the Visual Studio.NET development environment, or extend the functions of this environment to other applications. The scheme draws parallels with how the vendor extended the functionality and look and feel of the popular Microsoft Office product to its partner's applications.
For around $US25,000, ISV partners and other programming language vendors can join the Visual Studio Integration Program (VSIP). Included in this program is access to a software development kit that enables them to integrate their products and services directly into the Visual Studio.NET development environment.
Partners are then able to capitalise on the popularity of the Visual Studio development tool, which has a high penetration among application developers. The initiative promises these partners the ability to build applications faster, as many of their developers will already be familiar with the functionality of the Visual Studio tool.
Over 30 ISVs and language vendors have already paid up to join the VSIP program, including Compuware, Rational Software, Fujitsu software and Crystal Decisions (formerly Seagate).
Visiting Sydney for the VSLive developer conference, Dave Mendlen, lead product manager for Visual Studio.NET at Microsoft, said the announcement was part of an ongoing process to open up the Microsoft platform to partners. As for the $US25,000 price tag, Mendlen said it was primarily charged to fund support services around the integration.
Photograph: Microsoft's Dave Mendlen