Choose your client. But choose wisely…

As you may know, Team System is not just for developers, but for all members of a software development team - testers, project managers, and architects, as well as developers (and, if you look at XNA, artists, sound engineers, modelers...the list goes on).

Not all of those folks want to install/use Visual Studio, of course. So we're providing a couple of alternatives. The main "out of the box" choice is simplly called 'Team Explorer' (we also call this 'TFC' internally - Team Foundation Client). If installed on a machine with VS2005, it integrates with VS and provides a great integrated experience for developers.

But, you can also install it on any old machine (hardware requirements aside, of course), and still get a pretty big chunk of the Team Foundation functionality (using only a Client Access License in terms of 'deployment cost'). For example, you get the Source Control Explorer and command line client for version control, all the Work Item Tracking features (at least, all the ones I've ever tried to use - I'm not a WIT expert), etc. So, your PMs can review and manipulate work items(in the TFC client, or in Project and Excel, for example). Your branch admin can perform a merge. Your testers can get access to the bug database on a box sitting in the test lab. I'm sure there are other scenarios I haven't thought of.

That leads to my question: How do you think your organization will use the TFC? Only in VS? Will you only install it on PM machines to get access to Office Integration, or would they likely use the client itself as well?

On a related note, what number (or percent) of your team do you think would use "only" TFC, as opposed to installing it to integrate with one of the VS SKUs (VSPro, VSTS, VSTA, etc.).

Comments (5)

  1. Wow, great post! This is just the kind of information I was looking for. I had wondered about this exact thing, but never looked too deeply into it.

    Now that I know this, on my team the DBA, testers and some of the documentation contributors will only use the Team Explorer client, whereas all the developers will use it with VS.

  2. In my old company, they had a lot of .NET 1.1 (and some .NET 1.0 projects would you believe). It is unlikely that many of them will ever get migrated to .NET 2.0 so the dev and support teams using those will probably only using the Team Foundation Client capabilities for VSTS for a good while.

    In that company the dev and test staff take up approx 50% of the total project resource. The rest were made up of customers, dev support teams (DBA, Infrastructure, Operations etc), Business Analysts, and then several layers of management (most of which will be interested in the reports).

    I would guestimate that of the team that need access write access to TFS, about 40% would be using the TFS Client with Office Integration only.

    Hope that helps,


  3. First, and maybe off topic, I would like a shell extension that would integrate source control into the file system, much like TortoiseCVS ( does for CVS. That way we wouldn’t have to install TFC, and it would immediately work for our Java-folks. (I am aware that for instance SourceGear is putting together an Eclipse client, but still)

    As we have SharePoint and BizTalk we will still have to keep a large chunk of code at 1.1 level, which means TFC-only (or a VS.NET 2003 add-in :-).

    And those working with business analysis, requirements and other high level artificats will just use the project portal. Unfortunately any document put on the portal is outside the scope of any type of "baselining" in SCM, but that is a genuine change request that I already filed a while back.

  4. slee says:

    Within my current project we pretty much have the following breakdown:

    5 users – VS Team Suite Edition

    12 users – VS Team Developer Edition

    5 users – VS Team Test Edition

    So a total of 22 users of some role edition of VS and 15 users with just the Team Foundation Client.

    Hope this helps.


  5. CRathjen says:

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

    Niels, we’re not including an explorer shell extension for v1 (we didn’t have the resources to spend on it in the v1 schedule), but I believe there’s several projects in the partner ecosystem underway (at least one on SourceForge) to provide just such an extension. It’s something we’re also considering for a future release or powertoy.

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