Microsoft Reveals More About Rosario
- By John K. Waters
VSTS Group Manager Stephanie Saad
This week, Microsoft offered its first public glimpse of the next release of
Visual Studio Team System (VSTS), Redmond's next-generation integrated application
lifecycle management (ALM) suite, though the company is still not committing to
Stephanie Saad, a group manager for VSTS at Microsoft, showcased the next version
of VSTS -- codenamed "Rosario" -- at this week's VSLive!
conference in San Francisco. (VSLive! is an event held by RDN publisher 1105 Media.) Her presentation highlighted what developers
might expect in the version after VSTS 2008, which shipped last November. Microsoft
first released a limited
CTP of Rosario last summer.
While Saad's presentation outlined what's on the agenda for Rosario, she warned
that the features demonstrated may not be in the final release.
"I can't talk about ship dates, and I certainly can't promise anything
you're seeing today," she said. "But everything that I'm showing you
here we're already dog-fooding up in Redmond as production quality across a
Among the considered capabilities demonstrated were integration with Microsoft
Office Project Server and some lightweight project management and reporting
tools in Excel; new testing capabilities, such as historical debugging, test-impact
analysis and standalone debugging; and a set of administrative and operations
improvements and source-control enhancements. Although the company had talked
about much of this functionality during its final push to release Visual Studio
2008 last fall, it was demonstrated at VSLive! for the first time. Microsoft
may also offer its Team Foundation Server (TFS) -- a source control, data collection,
reporting and project tracking toolset -- as a hosted service.
The focus on aligning application development with business requirements and
project management in the next version of VSTS is "dead on," said
Forrester senior analyst Jeffrey Hammond.
"In my experience, turning business needs into applications that do the
'right' thing the first time is still a challenge for most software teams,"
Hammond said. "I also don't think any business user is going to be unhappy
about higher-quality applications with fewer defects."
The demo was a coming-out for Saad, who recently launched a blog
at the request of VSTS users.
"This is the first time the marketing team has allowed me to give this
talk outside of Redmond," she told the VSLive! audience. "I'm going
to gauge which features you guys think are cool by how much you applaud for
VSTS combines a set of tools, processes and "guidance" to support
dev-team collaboration, software quality assurance and project management. Improvements
in the next version will rest on three "pillars," Saad explained.
The first centers around aligning application development with business.
"The idea is, when you get to the end of the cycle, you've built what
the business wants," she said.
The second pillar is application quality and testing, and the third is continuous
improvement in the ALM core.
Saad's team is currently taking a careful look at report authoring, a move
the audience welcomed because it continues to be an especially challenging task.
To lower the barrier to authoring reports, the team is working on a relational
version of the TFS data warehouse, which will allow report authors to do their
work in SQL.
Manual Testing First
She also revealed an unexpected twist in Microsoft's plan to integrate testing
tools into a future version of VSTS: Rather than emphasize automated testing (the approach taken by most standalone testing tool providers), the VSTS team
is focusing on manual testing capabilities.
"We've gotten a ton of feedback around the need for better testing tools,"
Saad said. "And we thought we'd be building this fantastic automated testing
system, because everyone was doing it. But we talked to a lot of testers, and
what we found was that 80 percent of the testing people do today is manual testing.
They told us, 'What you guys really need to do first is to think about building
a great system for manual testing. Then you can think about automated tests.'
So that's what we're doing."
Also, look for a mobile debugger that can be carried in a USB drive. This proposed
offering, which Saad called a "debugger on a thumb drive," elicited
the biggest applause of the session.
One attendee asked whether the Team System Web Access (TSWA) tool would ever
be integrated with SharePoint Server. Saad disclosed that Microsoft is
looking at the possibility of merging Team System Web Access and the VSTS
SharePoint portal to provide a single point of access.
"We want to make it so that you only have a single place to go to get all
the Web information," she said. "Our long-term goal is having a single point
of access for everything on the Web." Much of TSWA would become Web parts,
Saad admitted that many of these additions might not be best-of-breed the first
time they're provided. The selling point, she said, is that they're integrated.
"We see development being interconnected with business, project management
and operations," she said. "Our job is to figure out how to use Team
System to connect those pieces. Our long-term vision for VSTS is to bring all
of these pieces together so that you can plan a project effectively, run a development
team, and deploy it into operations and manage it using a unified set of tools."
Despite not commenting on a release date, Saad suggested that given Microsoft's
typical tools release cycle, it would likely be available approximately 18 to
24 months from the last release.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached