Preview of Visual Studio 11: Agile Support, Group Collaboration, and Clone Detection
Microsoft intends for the upcoming Visual Studio 11 to improve the development process for all stakeholders involved with a software project. The demands placed on developers, testers, and the operations group are complex and ever-changing. To address these challenges Microsoft has developed the “Application Lifecycle Management" (PDF) process intended to improve “the productivity and predictability of software construction”.
ALM focuses on the following priorities:
• Collaboration through integration across all roles in the team
• Timely and actionable feedback to reduce wasted effort
• Leveraging natural and appropriate tools for the task at hand
• Transparent and agile best practices to be adopted at will
Microsoft Vice President S.Somasegar has recently described how some new features of the upcoming VS11 will support this process.
Exploratory Testing and Unit Tests
For communication between developers, the Team Explorer window has been significantly revised. Software testers can write bug reports that include multimedia (“video, audio annotations, screenshots...”) as necessary to illustrate their report. VS11 can maintain a full log of a tester's interaction with an application allowing the exact steps needed to reproduce a bug to be saved and included in the report to developers.
Unit testing will benefit from a new Unit Test Runner which is able to continuously run unit tests in the background, so developers will know which tests are successful in real-time. This saves developers time as they do not have to wait for tests to complete.
Detecting Code Clones
Developers of C# and Visual Basic applications will benefit from the new ability to detect Code Clones. These are “common code blocks that should be refactored out into a shared block of code.” This detection technology originally developed by Microsoft Research utilizes a semantic search-- it is not just literal. (The search is looking at the meaning of the code as well its appearance.)
Improved Team Collaboration and Agile Development
Increased support for agile development and related methodologies will be included with VS11. The Product Owner (voice of the customer in the Scrum software development methodology) is able to use the Product Backlog to dynamically group and prioritize the list of features that are to be incorporated into the product.
After features are prioritized they can be assigned to the next sprint (basic time unit of product development). VS11 tracks both total development team capacity and the capacity of each developer assigned to the team. This allows for easy identification of developers that are over- or under- utilized so production can be optimized.
Feedback from product stakeholders (customers/testers/end-users/etc) can be routed by the Product Owner to the appropriate developer. Centralized tracking of feedback allows this information to also be used to guide the next sprint as features are created or modified.