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Microsoft has announced that with Visual Studio 2015 – Apache Cordova tools will be integrated within the main install bundle. Using Apache Cordova Tools for Visual Studio you will be able to develop cross-platform mobile applications using single codebase for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

With support for native device capabilities (e.g. camera, accelerometer, contact), offline scenarios and popular JavaScript frameworks (e.g. Angular, React and Backbone), the Tools for Apache Cordova contain everything web developers need for building cross-platform mobile apps using Visual Studio.

What’s new in Apache Cordova Tools for VS2015-RC

  • Grunt, Gulp, Bower and Node-based Workflows –  Starting with the RC release, it’s also much easier for you to build Cordova apps using tools familiar to many web developers.
  • New Templates from Ionic and Onsen UI – Ionic and Onsen UI templates are provided as optional to enable developers to try out the new frameworks. Each framework provides a variety of starting points to suit the most common project types. 
  • Fresh Samples, Tutorials and Documentation

Read more from Visual Studio team blog on Apache Cordova Tools for Visual Studio 2015 RC

If you are using Visual Studio 2013, then you will have to rely on Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova CTP3.1 (Add On) to enable cross platform mobile development using Visual Studio 2013 Update 4.

This preview release for Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 and Visual Studio 2015 RC supports building apps for the following device targets:

  • Android 4+
  • iOS 6, iOS 7, iOS 8
  • Windows 8.0 and Windows 8.1 Store
  • Windows Phone 8.0 and Windows Phone 8.1

Benefits of using Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova:

When you develop apps using Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova, Visual Studio provides these benefits:

  • Easy installation. Manual installation of Cordova involves a lot of work to find, install, and maintain the correct version of all the third-party software required to support native platforms. Visual Studio handles all that for you by including a third-party dependency installer that gets you up and running in the first hour.

  • Plugin management. Cordova plugins provide access to native APIs using a JavaScript interface. Support for custom plugins like those that turn a mobile phone into a barcode scanner are critical to an app’s success. Visual Studio makes it easy to add plugins of all kinds, including core Cordova and custom plugins. You also benefit from IntelliSense for plugins in Visual Studio.

  • Unified debugging experience. Cross-platform development often requires a different tool for debugging each device, emulator, or simulator. Different tools mean different workflows and lost productivity every time you switch devices. With Visual Studio, you can use the same world-class debugging tools for all deployment targets, including iOS devices and emulators, Android devices and emulators, Windows, and the Apache Ripple emulator.

  • Write once, deploy everywhere. The common JavaScript and plugin APIs in Cordova make it easy to write an app using a single code base that deploys to all target platforms—iOS, Android, and Windows. Of course, you can always write platform-specific code if and when you need it.

  • Command line interoperability. The Visual Studio solution directly reflects the file system and is updated in real time. This means that it is easier than ever to use your favorite command line tool with Visual Studio.

  • Multi-Version Cordova support. The Visual Studio solution allows you to select different versions of Cordova at the project level.

Quoting from MSDN Article – Getting Started with Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova

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