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Microsoft makes 'big' Rosario tools promise

ALM, take three

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Microsoft claims it will have "nailed" the application lifecycle management (ALM) companion to Visual Studio with the third iteration - Visual Studio Team System 2010, codenamed Rosario - when it ships.

Three years after Microsoft debuted VSTS - and was pounded for bugs - Microsoft has said the planned VSTS 2010 will deliver on workflow, modeling, and testing.

Microsoft has promised capabilities to ensure software projects follow an architect's model, provide deep visual drill down into minute areas of code for checking, and ensure bugs are not signed off without being solved because the test conditions can't be recreated.

Also, Microsoft has promised to pay more than mere lip service to Agile with plans for a series of Excel workbooks.

There's no date for VSTS 2010 yet and, oh, it's still not actually finished, so this counts as the first real look at what Microsoft is planning.

One thing that is tangible, though, is a plan to reduce the number of VSTS SKUs by merging VSTS Development and VSTS Database with the 2010 release. Microsoft is getting a head start on this by allowing those on its Software Assurance (SA) program with the 2005 or 2008 editions VSTS Development or VSTS Database to get the other for free from October 1.

Microsoft is getting its act together as it prepares to again go up against IBM's Rational - the ALM big daddy. Microsoft believes VSTS 2010 will have an edge over IBM Rational because the new features work in the background, and do not force you to switch to new tools.

We've heard this kind of thing before from ALM providers.

Cameron Skinner VSTS product unit manager told The Reg, though, that VSTS 2010 will have the advantage as it will have been built and integrated from the ground up - unlike the vast Rational portfolio. Naturally, the fact Microsoft owns the world's premier Windows development environment that VSTS works with, so can therefore engineer things into the background, helps in this regard.

"We are looking at the entire thing from the suite perspective," Skinner said. "When you talk about the Rational products, which are you talking about? As a development team, which are we talking about?".

Tivo your software

So what kind of money is Microsoft putting in the place of its mouth for VSTS 2010?

Something called "Tivo for debugging" will re-create the QA testing environment at the point of failure in a program on a developer's desktop, making it easier to find and solve bugs. The feature captures video of the tester's desktop - with things like mouse movements recorded - along with logs.

If there's a problem, these are bundled up and played back on the developer's machine. The developer won't run the application but the application state instead. The idea is that the developer doesn't need to manually recreate the desktop environment from scratch.

A feature called Architect Explorer will let you create a zoomable, graphical representation of code. The ideas is you can drill into find specific assembly dependencies, cluster and expand groups, and view classes and dependencies from any level of detail.

Workflow capabilities will have been added to provide what Microsoft's calling "architecture validation." Out of the box, you will be able to define constraints on code via the layer diagram and incorporate that using custom build tasks into the build workflow to make sure code that's checked in meets the requirements set down by the original model.

"This is the big release," Dave Mendlen director of developer tools said. "This is the typical Microsoft [third] release. This is where we feel we nailed it." ®

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