Team Foundation Server shifts focus

Microsoft’s upcoming Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server represents a shift from a developer-centric focus in building software to a collaborative one, a Microsoft official said last month at the VSLive! Conference.

Set to ship in March, Team Foundation Server works with the company’s Visual Studio 2005 Team System platform to enable collaboration between multiple roles — such as project managers, architects and developers — in the development process.

“All of these people need to work together in a collaborative way,” said S. Somasegar, corporate vice-president of the Developer Division at Microsoft.

A release candidate, considered a prelude to the final, general release of the product, is available on the Microsoft Developer Network, Somasegar said.

During his keynote, Somasegar also touted the next version of the Visual Studio developer platform, code-named “Orcas.”

“I think about Orcas as being the best platform for [next-generation] Windows technology,” such as the upcoming Windows Vista OS and the Office 12 office applications suite, Somasegar said. No release date has yet been set for Orcas, although more CTPs (Community Technology Previews), serving as rough drafts of the technology, are anticipated this summer.

Somasegar and other Microsoft employees conducted several demonstrations of Team Foundation Server. The presentation also highlighted added value from third-party applications.

Microsoft’s Windows Workflow Foundation technology planned for Vista can be used with Team Foundation Server to promote workflow processes, based on Team Foundation Server events. Integration with the Serena ProcessView Composer product assists with utilizing business models in Team Foundation Server.

Sparx Systems will provide Unified Modeling Language support. Teamprise will make available cross-platform capabilities, in which developers can develop on a non-Windows platform but use Team Foundation Server as a back-end repository. Avicode will integrate Team Foundation Server with Microsoft Operations Manager.

Team Foundation Server also is integrated with Microsoft Solutions Framework guides for software development processes and principles. A “shelf” capability in Team Foundation Server safeguards changes made in the system.

Microsoft is on the right track with Team Foundation Server, said VSLive! attendee Todd Dickard, billing systems manager at TravelCenters of America.

“Visual SourceSafe doesn’t cut it,” Dickard said, referring to Microsoft’s earlier code management system. He added that he sees a need to bridge the duties of architects, developers and end-users.

TravelCenters will evaluate Team Foundation Server, he said.

Also, in the next couple of months, Microsoft will transition from the planning phase of Orcas to actual development, Somasegar said. Orcas will leverage technologies such as Atlas, providing AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript plus XML)-style programming.

Somasegar said Microsoft has had more than 10 million copies of its .Net Framework 2.0 runtime downloaded since the November release of Visual Studio 2005. “This is by far the fastest adoption of the .Net Framework that we’ve ever seen,” he said.

There have been more than 1.8 million downloads of Visual Studio Express products since then as well, he said.

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