Solution Provider Talks Up ALM Features Coming In VS 2010

San Francisco, Calif. -- Microsoft is adding some important ALM improvements to the next version of Visual Studio Team System (VSTS). That’s the take of independent solutions architect Mike Vincent, who spoke at this week's MSDN Developer Conference (MDC).

"They have spent a lot of time listening to people currently using Team System about how to make this product better and more useful, not only to architects and developers, but to the entire business profile for those who are trying to satisfy an application lifecycle management," Vincent said. "They really got it right this time."

VSTS 2010 is the third generation of Microsoft's integrated collaboration tool suite aimed at "multi-disciplined team members." VSTS combines a set of tools for architects, designers, developers, database builders and testers.

Vincent, the founder and CEO of MVA Software, a Southern Calif.-based, Microsoft-centric, application lifecycle management (ALM) consultancy that relies heavily on VSTS, gave his impressions at MDC.

The session was the pre-cursor to the demonstration of new features today at VSLive!, where Microsoft General Manager for Visual Studio Jason Zander showcased advances in the new VS 2010 user interface (UI) for the first time. Both conferences are co-located in San Francisco this week.

During his MDC session, "A Lap Around VSTS 2010," Vincent laid out the key advances from an ALM perspective  in this much-anticipated release.

At the heart of VSTS 2010 is what Microsoft calls "democratized ALM. "That means we are really reaching out to try to engage our business stakeholders," Vincent said, "and we're trying to manage complex enterprise applications -- to run everything through the design of our application, architecting, developing, testing, release and maintaining those application once they've been released."

"This release is about getting the application to align with the business, and keeping stakeholders an integral part of ALM," he added.

The two most important changes in this release, Vincent said in an interview following the session, are the refinement of the VSTS architecture tools and testing components. "These are huge," he said. "Microsoft has made a big investment in both. The architecture stuff is really usable now. It was focused on deployment and things that developers didn't deal with on a day-in and day-out basis."

"Now we have tools for things we're dealing with every day. It's the same thing with test: We're getting to some really robust testing, making our QA department a first-class citizen in the development process," he continued.

Joel Peterson, a software developer at Open Text, who attended Vincent's session, likes the direction Microsoft is going in with VSTS.

"Process is where developers can spend most of their time," Peterson said. "If you have your work item system is completely separate from your build system, you are going to have to switch contexts all day long. You really want to have a direct relationship with everything, doing your job in your code every day."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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