Open-Source Project Offers Alternative to Visual Studio Team System

NTeam will use several existing open-source tools and applications and will cover various stages of the application development life cycle, just like Microsoft's Visual Studio Team System does.

A team of developers has started a project to create an open-source alternative to Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio Team System.

The project, known as NTeam, will use several existing open-source tools and applications, such as the NUnit and NAnt .Net unit testing and build tools, respectively, and will cover various stages of the application development life cycle, just like the upcoming VSTS does, said Jason Bentley, co-founder of the project, in Knoxville, Tenn.

NTeam, chiefly, will tie all open-source components as well as commercial software together, Bentley said.

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"This is not a competing product to VSTS," said Alan Stevens, NTeams co-founder, also in Knoxville. "This is a result of our enthusiasm for the idea of having integration between tasks, bugs, tests, specs and source control. We dont initially plan to implement all the functionality of VSTS."

Bentley said NTeam will target small and midsize developers that want the functionality of a VSTS-like product but cannot afford it or prefer not to pay high fees. Ever since Microsoft last month announced its pricing plans for VSTS, developers, particularly at smaller shops, have balked at the pricing.

Bentley said he and Stevens got the idea for NTeam after two Microsoft evangelists spoke to the East Tennessee .Net Users Group and made it clear that small development shops were not the target audience for Team System.

Building out NTeam will start later this month, Bentley said, and the team could produce its first release in about 75 days.

"I believe we are replicating the core idea of enabling development teams," Stevens said. "I dont personally have an interest in chasing Microsoft. I want to establish an identity for NTeam."

The project, hosted on Microsofts GotDotNet site, now has 20 developers, and Bentley said he has requested that an additional 30 developers be allowed to join, but he said he will make that the limit for the core team.

The team includes some names known in the .Net development community, Bentley said, including Scott Bellware, a Microsoft C# MVP (Most Valuable Professional), and Ryan Rinaldi, who co-runs the Web site.

"An open-source alternative to VSTS would be appealing to some developers," said Eric Sink, a software craftsman at SourceGear LLC, in Champaign, Ill. "But while VSTS is aimed at the enterprise, its open-source counterpart would certainly be aimed much lower. It is inconceivable that a community project could produce a Team System clone, which is truly suitable for enterprise use during this decade."

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