SCM Visual Studio plug-in offers updated interface

Software configuration management tool maker AccuRev used newly available Microsoft APIs to create its AccuBridge for Visual Studio 2005 plug-in. A user at a major airline credits the product for a highly graphical view into a software project's assets.

Software configuration management (SCM) tool maker AccuRev Inc. recently enhanced its AccuBridge for Visual Studio product, tapping into newly available Microsoft APIs to produce the AccuBridge for Visual Studio 2005 plug-in.

The company said new SCC provider interfaces that are part of the Visual Studio package improve usability over the previous integration based on the Microsoft Common Source Code Control Interface.

Users can now interact with Visual Studio while AccuRev commands run in the background. The company's offering is notable for a StreamBrowser interface that provides a graphical view on project assets. Recent updates to the 'plugability' of Visual Studio help third-party software makers integrate their tools in Visual Studio settings, putting Visual Studio more on par with the Eclipse IDE and its many plug-ins increasingly popular in non-Microsoft shops.

''We want the developer to work natively within the IDE, without regard to the SCM,'' said Cliff Utstein, vice president of marketing, AccuRev. ''With this [Visual Studio] 2005 interface we can provide more transparency. Now we support uninterrupted execution during command execution. We can interact with Visual Studio as commands run in the background. '' In the past, individuals had to wait for these tasks to run through.

After reviewing a number of alternatives, including open-source software, a development group at a major airline selected AccuRev for SCM needs, said Chris Barnes, senior system analyst, Alaska Airlines. ''It has features such as 'atomic commits' that we didn't see in all [the alternatives],'' said Barnes. With this feature, a team member can check in 100 or 1,000 files at a time.

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Moreover, Barnes found AccuRev's graphical stream representation of a project's branching hierarchy unique and useful. This allows dynamic changes, he indicated and leads to improved modeling of the development process.

Barnes classifies his operation as a Microsoft shop. "Most of our developers like to interface via Visual Studio." In terms of ease of interfacing, "this latest AccuRev release is very good," he said.

''Microsoft built the new team system API for its own SCM tool. AccuRev took advantage of it'' for its Visual Studio plug-in, said Barnes.

Of course, although Visual Studio 2005 is still a more widely used offering, as this AccuRev release comes to light, Microsoft is busy releasing Visual Studio 2008. AccuRev's Utstein said his firm is working on VS 2008 in house. ''We don't preannounce release dates, but I can tell you that it is coming shortly,'' he said. ''We have just begun to hear it is important to the customers.''

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