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Visual Studio vNext Will Bring More Agility and DevOps Integration

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Microsoft has unveiled at TechEd North America 2011 some of the new features coming in Visual Studio: more Agile tools for project planning and collecting stakeholder feedback, a connector for providing operations feedback to developers, plus architecture diagrams and unit testing for VC++.

Microsoft pursues two major directions for Visual Studio with regard to Application Lifecycle Management (ALM): Agile tooling and Development-Operations integration, according to Jason Zander, Corporate VP of Visual Studio, who spoke at TechEd North America. Some of the new VS features targeting Agile development and previewed were:

  • Agile Planning Tools – Planning tools such as backlog and task board using a web-based interface built on top of TFS
  • Lightweight Requirements – Creating solution mock-ups with PowerPoint to get early feedback from the customer
  • Stakeholder Feedback – A tool for stakeholders to provide feedback at any time, including audio and video. (screenshot)
  • Continuous Testing – Unit test support for .NET and C++ code. VS will integrate MS Test, xUnit, and NUnit. (screenshot)
  • Agile Quality Assurance – A new exploratory testing tool for the QA department that records an entire testing session, and logs all actions performed and their outcome.

Zander demoed the Operations Manager Connector for Microsoft Visual Studio TFS 2010, a connector linking System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 – a tool for monitoring servers and hypervisors across data centers - and VS TFS 2010. The connector, currently a Community Technology Preview, links the operations team back to the development one by providing application performance monitoring and diagnostic information collected by System Center to TFS.

According to Visual Studio vNext: Application Lifecycle Management whitepaper (PDF), which details all these features planned for Visual Studio, modern development tools must provide support for:

  • 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

On the ALM front, Microsoft has also previewed two major VS improvements for VC++ developers: Architecture Diagrams – a tool for generating visual representations of the code based on the binaries or the source, and unit testing support. Since that session is not online yet, a way of getting more details is to watch a video recorded before TechEd and explaining these new features.

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