Microsoft to Focus on Collaboration, ALM in Visual Studio vNext

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-05-16

Microsoft to Focus on Collaboration, ALM in Visual Studio vNext

ATLANTA-At its TechEd North America 2011 conference here, Microsoft demonstrated new capabilities for managing and developing applications for the cloud and devices.

Indeed, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Robert Wahbe, who kicked off the keynote address for the event, said the keynote would focus on the cloud and devices, and how the Microsoft applications and platforms work across the cloud and the myriad devices cropping up for use by consumers and businesses.

Wahbe split the keynote responsibilities with Jason Zander. Zander is the corporate vice president for the Visual Studio team in the Developer Division who at Microsoft who talked about new features in Visual Studio to support the overall ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) process. Zander also set out to show how developers could use Microsoft's Visual Studio tools to build apps for the public and private cloud as well as for devices that leverage the strength of Microsoft's management tools for operations.

Moreover, with organizations facing increased pressure to build, deliver and run applications across a variety of devices and deployment scenarios, Zander announced Microsoft's vision for ALM in the next version of Visual Studio, which he referred to as Visual Studio vNext. With Visual Studio vNext, Zander said, "We want to pull in even more people, from stakeholders to operations staff." Though Microsoft has not acknowledged whether the next version of Visual Studio will be officially known and vNext or Visual Studio 2012, ALM clearly will play a bigger part in the next release. See the latest Visual Studio roadmap here. Zander and Cameron Skinner, general manager of Microsoft's Visual Studio Ultimate team, described how Microsoft's ALM offering builds on the strong track record of previous Visual Studio releases, and helps improve the flow of information between key stakeholders involved in planning, building and managing applications.

Zander also demonstrated a connector that links Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 to improve the interaction between the development and operations teams. The connector enables an operations team to send application performance monitoring and diagnostic information immediately to the engineering team. Microsoft delivered a community technology preview of the new connector today, available for download at

In a portion of his May 16 blog post on the new connector, Zander said:

"The relationship between the application development and the IT operations teams is critical. We've just released a CTP of the new connector between System Center and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2010 that facilitates the alignment between development and operations. The connector enables an operations team to assign application performance monitoring and diagnostic information gathered by System Center to TFS for immediate attention and application incident triage by the engineering team. Using this support, the operations team can easily capture key data (like call stacks) and automatically deliver them to the engineering team (another example of actionable feedback)."

Microsoft to Focus on Collaboration, ALM in Visual Studio vNext

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Sander's post delves into the issue of ALM and the need for collaboration. He said: "Our vision for ALM can be broken down into three main themes:

He added that when Microsoft asked people what the biggest problem they faced in successfully delivering software, they identified the need for better collaboration. We know that building software takes a team of people including developers, testers, architects, project planners, and more.

Zander added that out of the observation that its customers wanted more collaboration, "we created the strategy for our ALM offering which focuses on helping people collaborate in very tightly integrated ways:

  • Collaboration - focus on the flow of value between team members no matter what role.

  • Actionable Feedback - when feedback is required between team members, it should be in a form which is directly applicable to solving the problem at hand.  For example when a tester communicates a defect to development it should include videos, screen shots, configuration information, and even an IntelliTrace log making it easier to find and fix the root problem.

  • Diverse Work Styles - provide the best possible tool for each team member whether that is the Visual Studio IDE, the web browser, SharePoint, Office, or dedicated tooling.

  • Transparent Agile Processes - Enable all of the above to work on a "single source of truth" from engineering tasks through project status.  TFS provides this core that brings together all team members and their tools."

Moreover, Zander noted that there are a number of scenarios that span the next version of Visual Studio for ALM. These scenarios improve the creation, maintenance and support of software solutions by focusing on improving the workflow across the entire team as well as across the entire lifecycle.

As such, Zander said Microsoft Visual Studio vNext will support:

  • Agile Planning Tools - create transparency across the planning process and full team participation through solutions like the new backlog and task board.

  • Lightweight Requirements - a natural way to capture and receive feedback on requirements early in the process.

  • Stakeholder Feedback - working code which matches the expectations of stakeholders.

  • Continuous Testing - unit test coverage ensures quality in the final product.

  • Agile Quality Assurance - increased code quality with code review support, enhanced unit testing frameworks and new exploratory testing support.

  • Enhanced User Experience - more time -in the zone', through improved experiences for day-to-day tasks.

  • Aligning Development with Operations - increased connections and insight between the operations and development teams lowering the time it takes to fix a bug in production.

Meanwhile, in a separate TechEd related announcement for developers, Microsoft announced a new Java software development kit (SDK) for TFS.


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