Today we released a new version of VSTS Web Access. This release is a Community Technology Preview (CTP) of what will ultimately be the 2008 version of of the VSTS Web Access Power Tool. See the bottom for details on the nuances of what all this terminology means.
You can download it here.
The big advances in this update include…
- Built against the TFS 2008 object model – In previous versions of Web Access you had to install Team Explorer 2005 on any machine you were installing Web Access on. With this version, you will now be installing Team Explorer 2008 instead. In some future version, we hope to remove the requirement to install any version of Team Explorer.
- Custom control support – We’ve added support for web based work item custom controls and have included a folder of documentation and samples on how to create them.
- Build queuing – We added UI for the new TFS 2008 feature of build queuing. You can start new queued builds and view the build queue (in addition to the preexisting abilities – like viewing build details).
- Localization support – We’ve added support for localizing the web interface and are preparing to hand off our text to the localization team so they can begin preparing localized versions for the final 2008 Power Tool release.
- Bug fixes & Performance improvements – We’ve received a number of reports and done more testing ourselves on the last version of the Power Tool that we shipped and we have fixed everything we know of.
This release (and the final 2008 release) can be used with either a TFS 2005 or a TFS 2008 server. In either case, you will need to install a TFS 2008 Team Explorer on the machine you install Web Access on. Since TFS 2005 did not support build queuing, that functionality will not be available when this and future versions of Web Access are used with a 2005 server.
We are nearly done with the “final” Web Access Power Tool release for VSTS 2008. The only things we know of left to do are publishing some documentation, producing the localized builds and going through the final release process. We’ll be finishing all of this up and releasing the final version about the same time we release VSTS 2008.
Thanks and let us know what you think,
A refresher on terminology – you can ignore you don’t care.
Power Tools are off cycle releases that are different from our “major” releases. A major release, like VS 2008 goes through an extensive release process, is supported by Microsoft Customer Support Services, is patched with Hot Fixes on request and periodic Service Packs, is supported for many years (you’d have to read the documents to get the details), etc. Power Tools, on the other hand, are less formal. Some are supported by CSS and some are not. None provide Hot Fixes, Service Packs, etc. And there’s no multi-year support guarantee. They still go through a pretty extensive release process.
Community Technology Previews (CTPs) are previews of a release. They are generally for early adopters to pick up and try and give feedback. They are generally only supported via forums, have a significantly abbreviated release process, etc.
Team System Web Access is a supported Power Tool. You can call CSS and they will help you with any issues you have. We don’t provide Hot Fixes or Service Packs but we do release updates that roll up fixes for all known issues periodically. This release is a CTP – which means the release process was less formal. This means less testing, no final security review and sign off, etc. We decided to go this route for this release because the changes are relatively small from the last version of the Power Tools we released (when we did go through the full release process) and the several week effort was not worth it when we plan to go through the whole thing again before the end of the year for the final VSTS 2008 Power Tool Release.
In our Rosario release, we do plan to incorporate VSTS Web Access as a part of the major release, with all of the benefits that come along with that.
Sorry for the long terminology lesson but I just always want to be very open about what we are doing and what you are stepping into. If I were in your shoes, I’d feel very comfortable installing this build on my server. In fact, we’ve done it internally. I firmly believe this is the best version we’ve released so far.