Inside TFS

TFS Heads to the Clouds

Team Foundation Service takes what's good about TFS and cloud-enables it.

Team Foundation Server 2012 is going to be a huge step forward in the Microsoft Application Lifecycle Management story. As regular readers of this column know, there are a lot of great features in Team Foundation Server, from version control to work item tracking, all designed to help teams collaborate better to create great software. Just as with previous versions of TFS, you can install TFS 2012 on premise in your data center, and make use of all its features.

But with the 2012 release, Microsoft is adding a new way of consuming Team Foundation Server: through the cloud. This cloud-enabled version provides you access to the features you've come to expect with Team Foundation Server, but without having to install and manage the actual application on-site.

This new hosted version is referred to as Team Foundation Service, and the next several columns will focus on what it is and how it can be used. Currently it's still in "preview" mode, but during that time it's open and available to anyone, for free.

Version Control
Team Foundation Service provides the three major facets you need to help your team create better software. First is version control. Team Foundation Service allows you to work with your current tools and languages. You can check any kind of file you like in version control, and as you'd expect, there's tight integration with both Visual Studio and Eclipse. You also get the capability to work with your files on- and off-line.

Since Team Foundation Service is cloud based, all you need is an Internet connection to access your files. Absent an Internet connection, your files are stored in a local workspace so you can continue to work.

Agile Collaboration
Next, Team Foundation Service provides all the tools you need, in the cloud, to help with team collaboration and agile planning. Using any standard browser, you can create custom team dashboards for providing information, viewing work items, testing results, and building information. Make use of whatever process you want, with built in templates for scrum, agile or capability maturity model integration (CMMI).

Team Foundation Service provides a Task Board, which is a visual real-time capacity planning chart. This task board allows you to drag and drop work items, to show what is being worked on, and when. Using the capacity planning capabilities, you can balance your team's workload across the project. And you can even allow anyone with a Windows Live ID to use the feedback client to provide rich feedback, including screenshots and video.

Automated Builds
Finally, you can use Team Foundation Service to provide automated build processes in the cloud. Team Foundation Service can make use of Team Build to automate your build process. And you can use all the features of Team Build, including continuous integration, nightly builds, automatically running tests as part of the build process, and viewing build results.

Another strong feature of this cloud build service is the ability to deploy to production on Windows Azure as part of the build process.

Team Foundation Service provides most of the features of an  on-premise Team Foundation Server installation, but without the overhead of having to install and maintain the servers. That, coupled with cloud access, makes the latest version a must-have.

About the Author

Mickey Gousset spends his days as a principal consultant for Infront Consulting Group. Gousset is lead author of "Professional Application Lifecycle Management with Visual Studio 2012" (Wrox, 2012) and frequents the speaker circuit singing the praises of ALM and DevOps. He also blogs at ALM Rocks!. Gousset is one of the original Team System/ALM MVPs and has held the award since 2005.

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