Microsoft's forthcoming Visual Studio Team System release is placing an emphasis on collaboration and productivity, all in an effort to help build software enhanced by services, company officials said.
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In a discussion with SearchVB.com, three Microsoft development managers -- Soma Somasegar, corporate vice president of the developer division, Prashant Sridharan, group product manager of the developer division, and Amanda Silver, program manager for Visual Basic -- discussed the company's plans for the next version of VSTS, code-named Rosario.
Rosario is based on Visual Studio Orcas, the successor to Visual Studio 2005, but will not be released at the same time as Orcas. A beta version of Orcas is now available. The product's general release is expected to occur in late 2007 or early 2008.
At this point, Somasegar said, Rosario is in the feedback and prototype stage, though Microsoft has identified a few objectives for the product.
- The company aims to beef up the testing and quality assurance tools within VSTS so that they incorporate test case management, code coverage analysis, and load and stress testing, he said.
- An effort is being made to create "a better line of sight" between the goals and requirements of a project and what actually gets done. This requirements tracking process will, by and large, use Domain Specific Language techniques, Somasegar said. The idea here is to eliminate the "telephone game" that so often plagues this process, Sridharan added.
- Microsoft is embarking on what it calls a "dynamic systems initiative" that looks to remove the barriers between the development groups that build applications and the operations departments that deploy them. For example, in such a system help desk tickets would be fed into Team Foundation Server and forwarded to the development group. Project management requirements would be stored on TFS as well.
- Finally, the company is looking to improve Team Foundation Server's scalability. In this regard Microsoft is eating the dog food, as both its developer division, with roughly 800 developers, and its SQL development division are using TFS to build Orcas and Katmai, the SQL Server 2005 successor.
Additional information on Rosario is available on the Visual Studio Team System Futures Releases page.
(For what it's worth, Rosario is a resort on Orcas Island, the Washington state island from which the new Visual Studio gets its code name.)
More developers, all working together
Somasegar said the developer division bases its present and future work on two philosophies.
The first is that today's developers are creating applications that run on a variety of platforms -- clients, servers, Web services, browsers and mobile devices. If developers have a single, consistent programming model like the .NET Framework, then they will be much more productive, Somasegar said.
The second philosophy is that the user interface, long an afterthought in the development life cycle, is now a "true business differentiator."
At a user level, it means that some of the millions of social networking site visitors will want custom pages. .NET can provide these beginning programmers with a good model for getting started, Somasegar said.
At an enterprise level, the importance of UI brings more stakeholders into development projects than ever before. This means Microsoft's tools must cater not only to groups that collaborate constantly but to groups that constitute a broad skill set -- developers, testers, architects and project managers who possess various levels of Visual Studio experience.