A new extension for Visual Studio lets you use Visual Studio to create Android apps in the Microsoft IDE.
Android++ is a freely distributed extension that comes with MSBuild scripts that enable Android application development within Visual Studio.
It is aimed primarily at NDK based C/C++ applications, though it also incorporates customisable deployment, resource management, and integrated Java source compilation.
Justin Webb, who created Android++, is an Android programmer at game company NaturalMotion of Oxford, England. In a blog post about the new extension, he says that Android++ augments Visual Studio to support NDK-based “native” development, continuing:
“If you are unfamiliar or confused as to what I mean by ‘native’, it essentially means projects that are targeting applications with predominantly C or C++ sources. In short, it’s intended to support applications where performance is paramount – like a Game or Simulation. It also manages the debugging of those native applications via GDB, which is controllable within the Visual Studio IDE as if you were debugging a Windows application. There is no support for C# or .NET, if you are interested in those please look toward Xamarin or Mono.”
Android ++ requires a Premium, Professional or Ultimate edition of Visual Studio 2010, 2012 or 2013 - it doesn't support the free Express versions. It allows you to debug on the majority of devices – there are no hardware or vendor restrictions, and no license checks.
You have a choice of LLVM/Clang or GCC-based source compilation and it includes multi-process (parallel) compilation and Pre-Compiled Header (PCH) support and the custom-built MSBuild scripts support C/C++, Java, and resource generation and provide dependency tracking and minimal rebuilds on every stage of deployment.
The extension is currently in closed beta, and while Webb is still accepting applications he says he will prioritise anyone who has existing Android experience to minimize the support needed. Rollout to registered testers will occur in a staggered fashion over the next few weeks.
If you’re interested in taking part in the beta, visit the Download page to send a request email.