Visual Studio Team System 2006 on Horizon

Updated: Support for agile development, including Scrum, is coming from Microsoft with the new version of its lifecycle tools suite.

Microsoft Corp. is working toward the release of the Team Foundation Server component of its lifecycle tools suite and is expected to release it later this quarter as part of the renamed Visual Studio Team System 2006, sources said.

Meanwhile, with the release of the new version of the lifecycle tools suite, Microsoft and some of its partners will provide support for agile development methodologies, including Scrum.

Microsoft released Beta 3 of TFS in September and a December CTP (Community Technology Preview) of the technology last month. And the company is slated to deliver a "release candidate" of TFS early in February, before making the commercial version of the technology available later this quarter, Microsoft officials said.

/zimages/2/28571.gifMicrosoft spins Visual Studio "Live" for developers. Click here to read more.

The current version of VSTS is known as Visual Studio 2005 Team System; however, upon the release of TFS Microsoft is expected to launch Visual Studio 2006 Team System, sources said.

In spite of claims by some sources, Prashant Sridharan, group product manager of Microsofts Developer Division, said late Friday: "Microsoft has no plans to change the branding of Visual Studio 2005 Team System, and we are on track to ship Team Foundation Server in Q1 2006 as expected."

TFS is a software lifecycle tool designed to improve software development team collaboration and increase productivity. Microsoft said TFS delivers version control, work item tracking, project management and build management capabilities.

In a blog post Thursday, Jeff Beehler, a developer working on TFS, said the team working on it has been "fixing tons of bugs (including many reported from you through the forums and Product Feedback center) as well as improving our installation experience especially around SharePoint configuration, running thousands of automated and manual tests," among other things leading up to the release candidate.

Beehler said when the TFS release candidate becomes available there will remain a few known issues that will have to be fixed. However, "we are still committed to releasing the final build of TFS in the first quarter of 2006," he said.

Microsoft launched Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 in November; however, observers decried the lack of the TFS component to round out the tools lineup. Now Microsoft is expected to hold launch events for VSTS 2006.

In a blog post last month, S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsofts developer division, said Microsoft has been self-hosting, "aka dogfooding which is the internal moniker for taking a bet on our own technology and product even before we ask our customers to do so on the latest and great lifecycle tools (Visual Studio Team Suite—Visual Studio Team System client tools and Team Foundation Server) that are a part of Visual Studio 2005."

Added Somasegar: "The team that is building the lifecycle tools is about 300-plus strong and is spread across three different locations geographically. This team has now been self-hosting on what they are building for their day to day development activities for more than 12 months now. This means that the source code that they have for these tools are now stored in their source control repository. This means they are using the issue tracking system for tracking issues in the project. This means they are using MS Build for building the tools. This means they are using reporting capabilities to get insight into the status of the project. Self-hosting is a key component in ensuring that our products are ready for use by our customers by the time we ship the products."

TFS has been tested supporting teams larger than 2,000 to as many as more than 3,500 users, Microsoft officials said.

Meanwhile, Conchango plc., of London, has thus far released two beta versions of an upcoming plug-in to support the Scrum development methodology in VSTS and is expected to release a commercial version soon.

Scrum is an agile method for management of software development projects.

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead more here about Scrum.

Robert Galen, principal consultant at RGalen Consulting Group LLC, of Cary, N.C., said Scrum "comes from the rugby notion of the scrum, which is to have the entire team get together and huddle, and then break" to do their individual tasks.

"We hit upon the idea to build the plug-in when we first looked at the VSTS platform and realized that the combination of Microsofts development tools and the growing popularity of Scrum would create an interesting proposition," said Colin Bird, chief technology officer at Conchango. "It seemed like an obvious thing that someone should build, and we thought that someone should be us, given our experience with Scrum project delivery and .Net development."

Howard Van Rooijen, a senior technology consultant at Conchango, said the companys Scrum Plug-in for VSTS is targeted at users running Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and a single-server installation of Team Foundation Server Beta 3 refresh.

Next Page: Agile methodology plug-in in the works.