Sometimes Microsoft can keep a secret
Microsoft proved at the Tech Ed keynote address on Monday that sometimes the
company can keep a big project secret until fairly late in the game. The new
Visual Studio 2005 Team System (let's just call it VS2K5TS, OK?) is obviously a
substantial development effort, yet
beyond vague hints nothing leaked before the keynote. Over the next several days
you should expect all of the industry magazines and Web sites to come up with
their take on this new product.
As for me, I want to get my hands on the bits before coming up with a final
opinion, and that will take a while; although this month's Community Technical
Preview build is on MSDN ready for download by subscribers, it's also 2.53GB of
software and would take around a week to trickle over my slow rural connection.
So rather than tell you what to think, I'm just going to use this column to
locate a few initial landmarks.
If you haven't looked at what Microsoft has to say about the new software
yet, MSDN has pulled together a page of
resources to get you started. VS2K5TS, like Visual Studio, is actually
broken up into a set of editions that together work across the software
development lifecycle. Here's how MSDN describes the editions:
- Visual Studio 2005 Team Architect Edition, visual designers that enable
architects and lead developers to design service-oriented solutions that can be
validated against their operational environments.
- Visual Studio 2005 Team Developer Edition, advanced development tools that
enable teams to incorporate quality, early, and often throughout the lifecycle.
- Visual Studio 2005 Team Test Edition, advanced load testing tools that
enable teams to verify the performance of applications prior to deployment.
- Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation, server-based team collaboration tools
enable organizations to effortlessly manage and track the progress and health of
With that set of descriptions, VS2K5TS sure looks like a reactive move rather
than a proactive one: specifically, this looks like a reaction to IBM's
acquisition of Rational in late 2002. That suggests it may have a price tag
in line with Rational's tools, which will push it out of reach of some
organizations. Of course, the new software is also in line with
Microsoft's continuing push to get their software taken seriously in larger and
larger organizations; having a good story for the life cycle is an important part
of being used by serious developers. And there's certainly a good story being
told here. In addition to what you see in the description of editions, the new
product also includes the "Whitehorse" modeling framework (which is apparently
an innovative alternative to UML), and the new "Hatteras" source code control
system (based on SQL Server and apparently much more competitive than Visual
SourceSafe, which almost no one takes seriously).
On first glance, it looks like VS2K5TS ought to be a threat to ISVs, since it
incorporates so much functionality that most organizations are used to going
outside of Microsoft for. And indeed, some companies and open source projects
are likely to take a heavy blow when this software is released. One wonders, for
example, whether the open-source NUnit unit-testing framework will survive
having Microsoft ship a direct competitor. But one of the key selling points of
the new system appears to be its extensibility; there's a whole white paper up
on MSDN detailing the project's extensibility points.
Finally, there's one sentence in the FAQ that I find encouraging: "Microsoft
already has plans to use Visual Studio 2005 Team System for product
development." If they're really planning to seriously dogfood VS2K5TS to build
cash cow products, we can expect them to drive it to a high quality standard
very quickly. That can only benefit the rest of us.
In sum: right now I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this one. If
nothing else, Microsoft has certainly created a nice buzz the first time they've
talked publicly about this software.
Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.