NETMF has always been a great way to bring the power of .NET and Visual Studio to embedded devices. It allows businesses and makers to use their existing developers and skills to quickly bring their embedded idea to life. This was a technology with many big names and partners involved. The future looked bright.
Now, though, NETMF’s future does not seem as bright as it once was. Most involved in the project before have moved on. Issues remain unfixed, progress is slow to non-existent, the difference between modern .NET and Visual Studio grows every day, and there is no clear and official messaging about the future of the project. For a long time, our hands were tied. We only maintained ports to our hardware and added key features for our customers. The important .NET and Visual Studio bits were in the part of the stack maintained by other parties. With no clear messaging about where the project was going and who was supporting it, we were unsure about what we could do or where we could help, so we waited to see what would happen.
This long period of confusion and waiting has hurt what is most important to us: our customers. Now we have decided that we will no longer wait on others. We want to make sure that we deliver a great end user experience. We are taking responsibility to ensure that the entire NETMF experience from install to development and deployment is Fast-and-Easy (FEZ) for our customers. Nothing is off limits and everything is on the table. We want to hear what you think needs to happen to make our new NETMF a compelling and popular platform.
We have our own ideas on what we want to see in our new NETMF too: modern and complete Visual Studio support; consistent and clear versioning and updates; networking, graphics, and native programming that work right; a development workflow that is familiar to modern .NET developers; support for modern .NET constructs like generics, async, and nuget; compelling features and support for embedded targets; and much more. Of course, while we can’t promise anything specific today, we do plan to actively engage our corporate customers and the community as we go along.
It’s just not NETMF either. The recent changes to the community in the Task Tracker, Codeshare, and forums are part of this too. They’re the beginning of improvements coming to the catalog, website, support, documentation, and more. It’s still very early and we’re hard at work laying the groundwork for what is to come, so stay tuned for more updates and details. We’re going to bring the FEZ back into GHI Electronics.