My take on Visual Studio Team Suite

My “trainer/coach view” on Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite just went round the world (EMEA actually) in the Beta Experience newsletter #3.

Some interesting things to notice:

  • Published September, 5th (yep, that’s when I handed the piece in)
  • Mis-spelled my name 😦 to Alex Thyssen
    Update: Microsoft hot-fixed that. Great.

I’ll include the piece of text below.

Visual Studio Team System: One size fits all
Visual Studio 2005 offers so many new features in so many areas of software development that it is split into 3 different flavors: Architect, Developer and Tester. Each of these versions is obviously targeted at the corresponding role within a software development team. With the integrated tools architects, developers and testers come closer to the one-stop-shopping experience for their line of work. For large development teams this is a great step forward. The different roles will have their own specific subset of tools. The members of the team can benefit from the communication facilities that Visual Studio in combination with Team Foundation Server has to offer. I am pretty sure that you have read these benefits before.

As a trainer and coach I also visit companies with considerably smaller development teams. These typically range from less than ten to a single person involved in creating new applications. As such the roles of architect, developer and testers are often combined. You might wonder what the added value of Visual Studio Team System is for such small teams (if you can call one person a team). Would a Professional version of Visual Studio 2005 not suffice? My take on it that even for this audience Visual Studio Team System offers the same potential as it does for a full-fledged team.

Small companies often run projects that are tiny compared to the average project that VSTS seems designed for. The projects involve just a few members of the team. There is little time for architecting and testing, and most time is spent on writing code. Also, the members of teams from small companies do not always have the notion of what is involved in architecting and testing an application. Driven forward by the small budgets and short time spans of projects they hardly have time to figure out what to do, let alone research which tools are best suited for those jobs. Using VSTS they will come across the integrated tools for architecting and testing.

I bet that for a lot of them this might also mean a first contact with the concepts and methodologies that lay behind these tools. Even at this point the next version of Visual Studio will bring some guidance. It also comes with templates for development processes, such as the Microsoft Solution Framework (MSF) for Agile Development. Certainly any software development team will benefit from choosing a clear methodology to streamline their software development process. Visual Studio Team System offers most of the tools that are needed to fill this in technically. It is up to the user of it to acquire the knowledge to work with it in a smart way.

So, my guess is that not only will VSTS bring a set of extra tools, but will also introduce some developers and teams to new methodologies of software development. The full-fledged Visual Studio Team System Suite might just be the perfect tool for even the smallest of development teams. It is definitely a great thing that VSTS will bring the tools and concepts for proper software development to the masses.

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