Microsoft Launches Plugin for IntelliJ Java IDE and Android Studio

The Microsoft Open Technologies group (MS Open Tech) has released an initial preview of a new plugin for JetBrains' IntelliJ IDEA  Java IDE and the open-source Android Studio IDE, which is based on the IntelliJ dev environment.

The bulkily named "MS Open Tech Tools Plugin for Microsoft Servicesis designed to allows Android developers to connect their apps to Office 365 services and Azure Mobile Services, and to allow developers of Java middleware to connect to Azure compute services.

 MS Open Tech, an independent subsidiary of the Redmond software giant focused on open source, unveiled the new plugin at the Microsoft TechEd Europeconference in Barcelona. MS Open Tech president Jean Paoli blogged about the release, saying that it was developed in close collaboration with "our partners in the Office 365 and Azure engineering teams, as well ass members of the broader open source community." The plugin was released an as initial preview in open source, Paoli said, "to encourage feedback and contributions from the developer community."

The new plugin makes it possible to build Android apps that integrate Office 365 services, including email, calendar, and contacts, and to read and write files stored in Office 365 OneDrive accounts. It also uses the full functionality of the Office 365 SDK for Android, also just released by MS Open Tech, Paoli said. The new plugin comes with Server Explorer functionality in both Android Studio and IntelliJ IDEA that allows developers to manage Azure Mobile Services through the IDEs. "[N]o need to go to the Azure management portal for common tasks," Paoli said. The plugin also uses the Azure Active Directory Graph API (AAD Graph) to provide programmatic access to Azure Active Director through REST API endpoints.

The Java middleware development piece of the plugin is currently in alpha, and is a subset of the Azure Toolkit for Eclipse with Java, which MS Open Tech launched  in September. That toolkit was aimed at Java developers building, testing, and deploying Azure apps using the Eclipse IDE. Earlier this year, MS Open Tech announced two new open source SDKs designed to give Android users access to Office 365 data and to use SignalR for real-time Web connectivity between clients and servers.

Microsoft plans to extend the plugin to more Microsoft services in the future. "Our initial offering in this preview release includes the specific services that Android and Java developers have told us are most important to them," Paoli said.

IntelliJ IDEA is the Prague-based JetBrains' popular, code-centric Java IDE. IntelliJ IDEA 13 was released last December with full support for Java EE 7, a new Spring tool window, and features from the company's collaboration with Google. Version 13.1 shipped in the spring with support for Java 8. IntelliJ IDEA 14, currently in preview, is the next big release of the IDE. RC3 was released on October 31.

Launched in in 2012, MS Open Tech has been billed by the company as "one more way Microsoft will engage with the open source and standards communities." Paoli has strong open source credentials as one of the creators of the XML specification (with Tim Bray and Michael Sperberg-McQueen). The Microsoft Interoperability Strategy team, which Paoli managed, became the group's "nucleus." 

The preview release of the MS Open Tech Tools Plugin for Microsoft Services can be downloaded  now. Paoli warns that "it is not perfect in any way," and calls for feedback, bug reports and code contributions.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].