In-Depth

Data Dude and Visual Studio Team Development

Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals, also known by the code name Data Dude, changes the picture for those who have to work with data.

Database developers and database administrators have always been second-class citizens in the Microsoft world. Yet the vast majority of applications use data and work with databases in some way. Microsoft has taken some steps in correcting that imbalance within Visual Studio, but working with SQL Server and other databases still requires proficiency in database foundations and technology, and intimate knowledge of the database itself.

And using databases is in many ways foreign to the way developers work. They have not been well-integrated into the development processes, and access is given grudgingly and incompletely. Even test databases reside on servers to be accessed by many developers, and performing activities and tests that might be destructive require significant forethought and preparation. Source control of databases happens outside the context of code source control, and code and database structures are often not in sync.

The integration of the .NET Framework into SQL Server 2005 marked a step in the right direction. While managed code doesn't replace T-SQL, it does enable developers to run ADO.NET processes on the database server, potentially saving some processing time.

But the database is still a foreign environment for many development teams. Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals, also known by the code name Data Dude, changes that picture for those who have to work with data. (Data Dude will be featured in the upcoming keynote at VSLive! New York, " Data Explosion: The Last and Next Decade in Data Management.") This version of Team System integrates those who work closer to the database with the development team through similar tools and communications mechanisms. And database administrators and developers who work closely with the database can become first-class citizens in the application development lifecycle.

Team Edition for Database Professionals accomplishes this by enabling database professionals to control and track versioning of the database, test the database more thoroughly and in conjunction with the application, and communicate seamlessly with the rest of the development team. These capabilities have the potential to make Data Dude an essential part of the tool set of a team building data-driven applications.

Database versioning, when done at all, is typically haphazard and inexact. Team Edition for Database Professionals lets admins define a baseline database schema and make changes as needed based on that definition, just as you would with a source code base. Further, tools in this Team System product let you take changes and consistently flow them through the entire database, ensuring that nothing is left out. And you can compare the source controlled version of the schema with that on the test and production servers, ensuring correctness through testing and deployment.

You also have unparalleled flexibility in versioning, comparing versions, and bringing versions into sync with one another. You can use new editors to script database changes and flow them across entire databases, ensuring that database versions have fully implemented the latest changes. There is no longer any question about what database version is in use and what its parameters are.

Database testing has always lagged behind application testing, but Team Edition for Database Professionals brings it up to par. Database professionals can create unit tests for database use, including both T-SQL and managed code, and execute those independently or in conjunction with application unit tests. This capability enables much fuller coverage of tests for data-driven applications, and lets database professionals work more closely with developers in identifying and resolving problems found during testing.

Database professionals also become full-fledged members of the development team through the use of Team System's facilities for team communication and collaboration. Database administrators and developers use the same application portal and repository as Team System developers, ensuring that all information is available across both application and database. Worklists and event notifications can be applied to application developers, database developers and administrators, or both groups.

Team Edition for Database Professionals provides a similar level of database control and configuration features that have already been available for application developers. And by tying application developers together with database developers at the team level, Data Dude makes database professionals equal partners in the development of any data-driven application.

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.

comments powered by Disqus
Upcoming Events

.NET Insight

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.