Next Visual Studio Team System to target all SDLC roles

The next Visual Studio Team System -- that is, beyond VS 2008 -- will place greater emphasis on all roles and responsibilities of the software development life cycle, the VSTS group indicated at DevConnections.

LAS VEGAS -- While the features of Visual Studio 2008 garnered much attention at the recent DevConnections conference, the Visual Studio Team System group was devoting equal energy to Rosario, the VSTS version that will follow VS 2008.

The primary goal is to bring together the three main stakeholders of a software project -- business and IT governance, IT operations and development -- said Doug Seven, senior product manager for VSTS.

"They all have processes that work for them [now], but their work is pretty disconnected," he said. With Rosario, application development is aligned with business value, Seven continued; using the analogy of a set of gears, he noted, "The idea behind Team System is that it's the tool that gets them all to spin in the same direction."

Specifically, Seven said, the VSTS group aims to address the needs of the following software development life cycle roles and questions:

  • Project management -- How "done" is everything?
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  • Software requirements -- Do we have a system to look into project and show stakeholders?
  • Architecture -- Can we take it from conceptual model to actual implementation?
  • Development -- Do we have the right tools, do they integrate well and are they productive?
  • Testing and QA -- Is the code good, and does it encompass the right feature set?
  • Releasing operations -- How can we get this project from development to deployment?

In particular, Seven and Matt Nunn, group product manager for VSTS (and Seven's boss), showed off several tools in the works for Rosario.

Project managers, for example, can view charts that track activities, deadlines and resource allocation. Requirements can be traced in terms of both quality and progress, and work items can be organized in a hierarchical manner, so that one parent task cannot be marked as finished until all child tasks are done.

Two features in particular piqued the interest of the software testers in the crowd.

One was test prioritization. This boosts the performance of code coverage by assuming that chunks of code that passed the last test and have not changed since then need not be tested this time around, Nunn said.

The other was Microsoft Test Runner (which is not affiliated with the tool of the same name that is included with ReSharper). This is a standalone application that sits on a user's machine and has the ability to record tests as users run them. The resulting .wmv file can then be played back on a development machine running Visual Studio.

The TiVo-ness of Microsoft Test Runner allows for what Nunn described as "historical debugging." Not only does it address the inability to reproduce in the development environment the bugs upon which end users stumbled, but it also creates a debugging process where there had not been one.

As Nunn put it, "It's everything you would see as if you were in Visual Studio on the machine that was broken…without actually having to be on the machine."

Other areas of improvement on which the Visual Studio Team System group is focused include the following:

  • Better project server integration, to address that the fact that the existing iteration on CodePlex was designed with a single client in mind
  • A better means of hosting VSTS -- perhaps on a logical server as opposed to a physical server
  • A more granular approach to version control, so that teams have the option to limit it to lead developers

On the advice of an audience member, Seven and Nunn said their group would consider a tray utility or other mechanism that could notify relevant team members when, say, a build was finished or code was checked in.

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