Visual Studio smartens up about Cordova mobile plug-ins

The latest version of Visual Studio Taco also gives developers more guidance in starting their first project

The latest version of Microsoft's Visual Studio Taco (Tools for Apache Cordova) makes it easier to use plug-ins that access native device capabilities when building mobile apps.

Cordova is an open source framework for building multiplatform mobile apps via Web technologies like HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, providing one code base. Applications execute within wrappers for each targeted platform. Update 9 saves developers trips to the command line through its plug-in capability and provides more guidance in getting started, said Ricardo Minguez, Microsoft's senior program manager for the tools platform. 

"When building apps with Apache Cordova, you're going to use plug-ins to access native device capabilities (e.g. the camera). Visual Studio Taco has always had tools to help you manage these plug-ins," Minguez said. "It provides several ways to install common and custom plug-ins and now we've added a new option that lets you simply add a plug-in by using its ID."

Developers may want to install a custom plug-in from the Cordova Plug-in Repository via its ID. "You could do this with the Cordova command-line interface," Minguez noted. "We wanted to save you that trip over to the command line so that you can stay focused on your code. Now, just go to the Custom tab of the configuration designer, enter your plug-in ID, and go."

Update 9 also features a redesigned startup page. "The layout and content was rearranged so that you can quickly read over the important steps for getting started," said Minguez, "and all of our links on this page were updated to point at the latest and best information."

In the bug fixes realm, update 9 mends a situation involving deployment to iOS devices where crashes would occur upon deployment when iTunes was not configured properly.

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