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Team Foundation Server for Telecommuters

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Back when Visual SourceSafe was the de facto version control for Windows developers, remote access was a major problem. Products like SourceOffSite were a necessity for anyone not working in the corporate headquarters. While a combination of globalization and unstable fuel prices continue to drive increases in telecommuting, Microsoft is still neglecting this sector.

For the next generation, Teamprise's Remote Accelerator addresses this need. Edward Thomson of Teamprise talks about how it all got started.

I spend most of my time telecommuting; my girlfriend is in Chicago working on her PhD, and Teamprise was kind enough to allow me to join her here. Microsoft's version control proxy is an excellent tool for remote offices with several developers, but it is overkill for a single developer. Remote Accelerator is aimed at single users, and has many features aimed at the telecommuter.

InfoQ: Can you explain how Remote Accelerator works?

Remote Accelerator acts as a standard Team Foundation Server version control proxy. Whenever a TFS client -- Microsoft Visual Studio or a Teamprise client -- requests a file from the server, it will be requested from a version control proxy.

A traditional version control proxy gets its speed from the many developers using it: when the first developer requests a specific file, the proxy server will download it from the server and then cache it so that subsequent requests are faster. While that's beneficial to larger workgroups, it's less beneficial to smaller groups, since any particular developer is more likely to be the first to download the file. And telecommuters will see little advantage at all.

Remote Accelerator gets its performance from a technique we call "cache seeding", which involves periodically polling the Team Foundation Server to determine what new files have been added. Remote Accelerator will download these files transparently and place them in the cache so that when the developer is ready for them, they're already on disk and served quickly from the local computer's cache instead of from the Team Foundation Server.

InfoQ: How has working on this project shaped your opinion of Team Foundation Server?

I continue to be impressed with Team Foundation Server. On the whole, it's well architected and remarkably flexible. We were able to architect and develop Teamprise Remote Accelerator very quickly thanks to Team Foundation Server's open architecture.

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