Newest Visual Studio to push life-cycle collaboration

Due in a year, the revised Team System will add new roles, rethink existing roles, and drop the separate database developer role

Under the banner of "democratizing" application life-cycle management (ALM), Microsoft is unveiling this week the next major release of its Visual Studio Team System platform. Visual Studio Team System 2010, which has been code-named "Rosario," focuses on collaboration between the different persons involved in the software development process. The company also is revealing "pillars" of Visual Studio 2010, which is the next version of the company's development environment, and the accompanying .Net Framework 4.0 programming model. Visual Studio 2010 recently had been referred to as Visual Studio 10.

In ALM, integration of roles is key for the 2010 release. Microsoft's goal in the planned release is to "enable a collaboration between those roles," which include lead developer, architect, a combined architect/lead developer role, general purpose developer, database developer, and tester, said Dave Mendlen, director of developer marketing at Microsoft.

Previous versions of the Visual Studio Team System has featured role-based products for testers, architects, developers, and database developers. With the 2010 edition, Microsoft is recognizing a blurring of roles between developer and database developer and thus is eliminating the database-specific product, which has been called Team System 2008 Database Edition. Capabilities for both general-purpose and database developers will be featured.

To boost the lead developer or architect, Visual Studio Team System 2010 will feature simplified installation and configuration in the TFS (Team Foundation Server) collaboration and source code control tool, Microsoft claimed. Also, the new versions of Team System and TFS promise to bolster continuous build processes to ensure that an application's architecture is maintained. When code is checked into the TFS, the software makes sure the code will not invalidate the architecture. "In the past, we were checking for bad code. Now, we're checking for bad architecture," Mendlen said. Workflow to catch errors also is incorporated in TFS.

Additionally, Visual Studio Team System 2010 will offer functionality to accommodate teams using agile programming methods, including enablement of preconfigured Excel workbooks for use by agile development teams.

For architects and developers, the Architecture tool in Visual Studio Team System 2010 will enable representations of what is going on with code through a feature called Architect Explorer. "The tool will integrate your source code and build a graphical model of that code," providing details on relationships and dependencies between different pieces of code, Mendlen said.

For testers, Microsoft plans to help developers and testers work better together via a new video capability in the Test product. "What we're doing with this release is we've been able to record a video of the tester while they're testing the application so that when a crash occurs, the video is sent to the developer," said Mendlen. Screen activities are captured to assist the developer, who can see whether or not there is a bug.

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