'Rosario' Comes Out for a First Look
Developers say the first pieces of Microsoft’s next-generation ALM
suite look promising.
After releasing beta 2 in July, Microsoft is putting the final polish on Visual Studio (VS) 2008. The new IDE introduces a wide range of tooling and development technologies, but only incremental improvements to Visual Studio Team System (VSTS).
In August, Microsoft quietly delivered the first community technology preview (CTP) of VSTS "Rosario." The "true" sequel to VSTS, Rosario is expected to RTM about a year after VS2008, although Microsoft hasn't committed to a public release date.
A Microsoft spokesperson declined to schedule interviews in relation to the Rosario CTP, saying the company is focusing on the VS2008 launch. Early comments from Developer Division head S. Soma Somasegar, however, paint Rosario as an attempt to break down "Chinese walls" within organizations and better align development teams, IT workers and their business-side masters.
MVPs who are working with Microsoft to provide feedback on the CTP tell RDN that for an early product, Rosario is impressive. Michael Ruminer, principal consultant for Magenic Technologies Inc., calls it "a huge step forward."
Let's Go to Work
The first CTP focuses on three feature areas: development scheduling and work-item tracking; business-requirements testing and manual testing; and dependency management.
Early looks at the Rosario CTP indicate that Microsoft has listened to developers and greatly improved work-item tracking. Rosario offers parent-child style work-item tracking through integration with Microsoft Excel or through Visual Studio Team Explorer.
"The work-item links are automatically created and maintained through Excel so that when these changes are published to the TFS [Team Foundation Server], the relationships are preserved for everyone to query and report on," explains Team System Chief of Staff Jeff Beehler in a blog post. "In addition, using these relationships, the Work Breakdown spreadsheet can roll up completed and remaining work values from Tasks to their associated features and requirements to show high-level status."
Ruminer praises the new functionality. "The parent-child relationship is something people have wanted all along," he says.
Canberra, Australia-based MVP Grant Holliday echoes Ruminer. "One of the current shortcomings of TFS is the ability to 'roll up' estimated and completed work information from fine-grained tasks to broader objectives," he writes in an e-mail to RDN. "It's possible in the current versions of the product; however, it's more a convention than something that's baked in. Hierarchical work items in the Rosario release appeal to me because of the Excel integration, and it makes these parent-child relationships explicit and queryable."
Holliday, who is tracking the CTP on his blog (www.holliday.com.au), points out one area within work-item tracking that could use improvement. "I think there's still a little way to go behind the 'Links & Attachments' button in Excel. Selecting 'Open Work Item' opens up a read-only view of the work item in a browser. It would be much more useful if it opened the actual work item form, or even the new Team System Web Access view of the work item."
The CTP also offers a system for tracking multiple team members' work items and monitoring the dependencies among them. This capability should help team managers and members prioritize and schedule tasks more effectively, asserts Beehler. Rosario enables users to view these dependencies simply by running a work-item query, and the information can be generated as reports.
Put to the Test
Another major emphasis in the first CTP is on testing against business requirements. According to Microsoft, developers can view requirements based on test coverage and use that view to spot shortcomings.
It's then possible to link test cases to requirements without enough test coverage; a new standalone test runner allows this to be done independent of Visual Studio, Microsoft says.
The manual tester also has new capabilities for tracking bugs. "When running the manual test, a video recording of the screen can be made in case a bug is found during testing. If a step fails, the tester can file a bug directly from the manual test runner which will prepopulate the bug form with the test steps, a copy of the video recording and a link to the test case, making it much easier for testers to create actionable bugs for developers," Beehler writes on his blog.
Microsoft officials are expected to deliver another Rosario CTP in about three months.
Ruminer, for one, is pleased with the new functionality in Redmond's first go-round. "I'm definitely impressed with the approach and the aggressiveness of the implementation of things people have desired," he says.
Chris Kanaracus is the news editor for Redmond Developer News.