Microsoft is offering a first look at the next version of its Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE) and platform, which will be named Visual Studio 2010 and the .Net Framework 4.0.
There’s a lot promised in the new release (expected to ship, duh, in 2010), from improved software testing tools to software engineering modeling capabilities to integrated development and database functions for the application lifecycle management (ALM).
Microsoft is putting its attention on improving Visual Studio for the benefit of every one of its users—from the CIO to the software architect to the enterprise developer to the software testing team.
A key goal in VSTS 2010, says Microsoft, is to help democratize ALM by bringing all members of a development organization into the application development lifecycle, and remove many of the existing barriers to integration.
One way that Visual Studio 2010 will do this is to break down the ALM roles, from the business decision maker (who needs a project overview but doesn’t want to be bogged down in details) to the lead developer or system architect (who enables the software infrastructure and draws the blueprint), to the developer who writes the code and the database administrator (DBA) who integrates it with the company database to the testers (who make sure the software is of high quality).
For the IT manager or CIO, says Mendlen, VSTS will give clarity and visibility into the state of the project throughout the lifecycle, using Team Foundation Server-enabled dashboards customized for her role. The dashboard can answer high level questions such as ongoing project cost or project status.
Agile Tools, Built-In
Visual Studio 2010 also will sport features to integrate Agile methodologies into the tech stack using Team Foundation Server. Skinner explains, “We’ll include in the [VSTS] box an Excel workbook for teams that are leveraging, say, the Scrum process so they can get burndown from their project.” These features, he says, will let Agile teams track daily progress, see projects broken down into iterations and use sprints.
Putting Quality Earlier in the Development Lifecycle
One sometimes-stressful interaction in the application development lifecycle is the tension between developers and testers. Developers have to do a better job of testing their code before they send it off to the software testers. Developers don’t always know which unit tests they have to run, and often they don’t have the time or inclination (your own cynicism-meter can determine which) to run the tests anyway.
Merging of Developer, DBA Roles
Most of these changes are a ways off, though you can expect to see some of this functionality demonstrated at the upcoming Microsoft Professional Developers’ Conference. One item, however, takes effect immediately.
As Microsoft sees it, the roles of the database-centric developer and “regular” developer are less distinct than they once were, so the company is merging its VSTS database and development products. As of October 1, those who belong to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and currently own Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition or Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition will receive for free the Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition, Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition, Visual Studio 2005 Team System for Software Developers and Visual Studio 2005 Team System for Database Professionals.