Microsoft Embraces Git in Visual Studio, Team Foundation Service

For the first time, Git support and integration are baked in.

  • Related News: Microsoft Releases New Visual Studio 2012 CTP
  • Microsoft took its strongest step ever toward embracing open-source software (OSS) today when it announced that two of its most important development products -- Visual Studio and Team Foundation Service (TFS) -- will fully support, and integrate with, Git source control.

    Microsoft Technical Fellow Brian Harry made the announcement at the ALM Summit on Wednesday during a keynote presentation. TFS will host Git repositories, and Community Technology Preview (CTP) 2 of Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 -- which Harry also announced during the keynote -- has full Git support, starting with a CTP of a Visual Studio extension (VSIX) plugin.

    That doesn't mean, though, that Microsoft's abandoning the source control in Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC), Harry wrote in a blog entry explaining at length the decision to integrate Git. "Not for a second," he stated. Microsoft instead sees TFVC as its centralized source control system, while Git becomes the supplier for Distributed Version Control Systems (DVCS).

    Harry took pains to point out that this isn't a Redmond version of Git, with all that might imply: "This is not Microsoft Git, it's just Git," he said, adding that "It's just your TFS ... but version control is Git."

    On his blog, Harry explained in detail the reasoning behind choosing Git rather than a competitor, or building it in-house:

    "When we made the decision that we were going to take the DVCS plunge, we looked at many options. Should we build something? Buy something? Adopt OSS? We looked at Git, Mercurial and others. It didn't take long to realize that Git was quickly taking over the DVCS space and, in fact, is virtually synonymous with DVCS. We thought hard about building something. Git hasn't been as friendly for Windows developers as on other platforms. By building on Git, we can take all the time we might spend just "catching up" and spend that effort on something where we can add more distinctive value. Choosing Git just made sense."

    Microsoft's Scott Hanselman was more blunt about the prevalence of Git: "Git isn't just source control either. Git has become effectively FTP for code," he wrote on his blog.

    Microsoft has made overtures to the open source community for years, along with numerous code contributions. Despite that, many developers still view the company with suspicion. Much of the animosity stems from the fact that Microsoft has charged often in the past that open source software has violated its patents, including a famous case from 2007 claiming that Linux and other open source software infringe on 235 Microsoft patents.

    The ice that once characterized that relationship has been slowly thawing, however. And today's announcements are likely to melt even more of the animosity between Microsoft and the OSS community. As Harry wrote:

    "...this is a pretty big milestone for us. This is certainly the first time that my team has engaged so deeply in an existing OSS project. Our Git implementation is based on LibGit2 and related projects. We started contributing to LibGit2 a few months ago and have been very active."

    There are two versions of TFS: Team Foundation Services, and Team Foundation Server. Team Foundation Services, the cloud-enabled version of Team Foundation Server, has immediate support for hosting Git repositories. Team Foundation Server, the on-premises product, doesn't yet have Git capabilities, but Harry said that it's coming: "Our plan is to include Git support in the next major release of TFS. No date has yet been announced."

    About the Author

    Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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