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Microsoft Releases Development Tools Connector

Microsoft is releasing version 1.0 of a Visual Studio Team System add-in today that connects Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 and Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server (TFS). The connector beefs up the integration capabilities between the two servers, allowing project managers and developers to synchronize project, resource and work item data, according to Microsoft.

Users of Project Server 2003 currently can connect to Visual Studio 2005 TFS and pull data. However, project manager teams don't have the ability to collaborate because the synchronization is done on the backend.

"Project has continued to evolve to be more server-oriented and to be kind of a full-out project portfolio management tool as opposed to a project management tool," observed Tom Murphy, a Gartner analyst. "This is one of those fundamental things where Microsoft products need to support the Microsoft product line; I just think of it as a basic blocking and tackling thing."

The new connector is built on the Project Server 2003-Visual Studio Team System 2005 (VSTS) connector, which is available on GotDotNet.com. (Microsoft is phasing out GotDotNet.com this summer, and recommending that developers join CodePlex.com.)

The Project Server 2007-VSTS link started as a skunkworks project that got spun out to Microsoft partners, and then the source code was put on Codeplex, explained Prashant Sridharan, Microsoft's product manager for Visual Studio. The CodePlex community added "a rich set of functionality" to the connector, he said.

"We actually took the code back, polished it up and made it go through security testing," Sridharan explained.

The Project Server 2007-VS 2005 TFS connector will "likely be revved" for Visual Studio 2008.

The server integration is part of Microsoft's Dynamic IT strategy. It will be supported by "Rosario," the version of Visual Studio Team System, which is expected to arrive about a year after the Visual Studio 2008 release.

"What we'd like to do going forward is to begin to expand the roles that Team System touches, folks like business analysts, project managers, operations managers," Sridharan said. "And we'd also like to bubble up that information and look at the health of an entire organization."

In Rosario, the tooling will provide metrics on multiple projects, so that companies can view resource allocation and other project information across their IT organizations. The plan, according to Sridharan, is to link TFS with several other Microsoft products, as well as offer an extension model for third party plug-ins.

The Project Server 2007 VSTS Connector is available for download here. The source code is hosted on CodePlex, so that the open source community can continue to work on new functionality.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards (krichards@1105media.com) is the editor of RedDevNews.com and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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