Developing Compact Framework App in Visual Studio 2013

A friend, colleague and fellow MVP, Pete Vickers, brought an interesting product to my attention this weekend.  iFactr has a Compact Framework plug-in for Studio 2013.  I’ve not tried the plug-in, so this isn’t an endorsement just a bit of information.  I also don’t know how they’re pulling it off.  It looks like they have WinMo 6.5 and emulator support, and it requires an MSDN subscription.  I suspect that it requires you to install Studio 2008 so you get the compilers, emulators and all of that goodness on your development system, and it then hooks into those pieces from Studio 2013.

It most certainly is not adding any new language features – you’re still going to be targeting CF 3.5 in all its glory – but the ability to use a newer toolset is a welcome addition.  If they somehow are pulling it off without requiring Visual Studio 2008 that will be really nice.  If you’ve tried the plug-in, let me know how it went in the comments.


  1. The iFactr Compact Framework plugin for Visual Studio does require VS2008. The compilers, emulators, and other miscellaneous toolsets are included with that install. The iFactr tool will deploy and launch the app in your WinMo 6.5 emulator. It’s generally pretty sweet.

    Writing Compact Framework code in VS2013 opens the door to using modern day code optimization & code mocking tools against .NET CF C# codebases. It also enables easier compatibility with Continuous Integration server build environments that are not compatible with VS2008. Unfortunately, bringing WinCE development to Visual Studio 2013 doesn’t enable utilization of current language improvements; it’s still the same C# compiler under the hood (only Microsoft can change that).

    This tool was primarily developed within the context of doing cross-platform mobile development. Using iFactr to approach cross-platform application development reduces the dependence on visual designers, as well as each platform’s debugger. While debugging on individual platforms can become necessary, the nature of cross platform development enables developers to ‘crush’ their cross-platform bugs on their favorite platform. And platform specific UI is critical to user experience, but using abstract UI in your cross-platform code dramatically increases you development time. While abstract UI is inherently crippling in the context of a single visual designer, simple APIs make UI layout in C# simple and quick.

  2. Hello. Install the plugin in VS 2013.4, followed the instructions, but the compile / build or debug the application, not the launch in the emulator or on a device physically connected by USB.

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