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At TechEd: Visual Studio 2005 Team System takes on IBM Rational suite

Despite plenty of pre-briefings and a measured rollup to launch, Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 (formerly Whidbey) packed a few surprises when it was formerly announced at Microsoft's TechEd conference this week in San Diego. While the company had already suggested that operations modeling would be part of the mix, the breadth of promised integration between different application life-cycle tools was notable.

The life-cycle toolset that fully showcases all this is Visual Studio 2005 Team System. Some will see the suite as a response to IBM Rational's various life-cycle offerings. Microsoft is not taking any open-source tactic as it adapts its Visual Studio IDE for enhanced extensions. But key tool vendors -- including Borland, Compuware and Telelogic -- quickly said they would build tools to hook into Visual Studio. Microsoft is taking a traditional route, forging marketing alliances and sharing API information, with third-party software providers.

The suite is intended to provide developers with feedback that shows how -- or if -- their programs will run efficiently on the configured hardware available. Project managers, as well, can tap into the suite to ensure that all code was actually tested. As described in earlier indications of the toolset, Team System modeling can span different IT groups.

All this places new emphasis on the idea that development should be seen as part of a life cycle that includes design, test and systems administration. Connecting developers with operations is not a new thing. Compuware, Rational, Borland and others have promoted this philosophy before. But -- pardon the obvious -- Microsoft is a major force in software.

"It opens up the market," said Theresa Lanowitz, a Gartner analyst. "Rational made this whole promise as well, but it stopped at deployment," she added.

As described by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Visual Studio 2005 Team System will include a unit tester and load-testing tools. These are reportedly home-brewed offerings created by Microsoft R&D as part of the company's effort to respond to security issues that continue to plague its products.

The product represents an expansion of Microsoft's Visual Studio Enterprise Architect, said Marie Huwe, general manager of Microsoft's Developer and Platform Evangelism Division.

"Our goal is to cover-off the entire life cycle through ourselves and our customers," Huwe said. "What we are trying to do is bring together the different life-cycle tools available today. What you are hopefully going to see -- if we can make it easier to take advantage of modeling, and if we can enable collaboration -- is that we will raise [the level of] the game for the ecosystem."

More reuse, and less coding, could come out of life-cycle efforts if tools and suites perform as promised. At TechEd, Shawn Smith, IT director at Menolo Worldwide, a CNF company servicing global logistics operations, said he sees Team System fitting in with his firm's development methods. It could play an important part in efforts, Smith said, "to actually have an end-to-end Visual Studio experience that will let us take components and reuse them."

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.

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