Announcing ALM Roadmap in Visual Studio vNext at Teched


I get a lot of questions about the future of Visual Studio; while I can’t talk about everything we’re doing I am excited because today at Teched North America, I announced our vision for Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) in the next version of Visual Studio. Our vision for ALM can be broken down into three main themes:

When we asked people what the biggest problem they faced in successfully delivering software, they identified the need for better collaboration. We know that building software takes a team of people including developers, testers, architects, project planners, and more. Out of this observation, we created the strategy for our ALM offering which focuses on helping people collaborate in very tightly integrated ways:

  • Collaboration – focus on the flow of value between team members no matter what role.
  • Actionable Feedback – when feedback is required between team members, it should be in a form which is directly applicable to solving the problem at hand.  For example when a tester communicates a defect to development it should include videos, screen shots, configuration information, and even an IntelliTrace log making it easier to find and fix the root problem.
  • Diverse Work Styles – provide the best possible tool for each team member whether that is the Visual Studio IDE, the web browser, SharePoint, Office, or dedicated tooling.
  • Transparent Agile Processes – Enable all of the above to work on a “single source of truth” from engineering tasks through project status.  TFS provides this core that brings together all team members and their tools.

VS2005, VS2008, and VS2010 have all delivered new value following this path.  For example VS2010 added deep Architect <-> Developer and Test <-> Developer interaction through solutions like architectural discovery, layering enforcement, automated testing, and IntelliTrace.

In the keynote today, I talked about how we have continued on this path by incorporating two additional important roles: stakeholders and operations. Even though this diagram greatly simplifies the flows throughout the application lifecycle, it captures the essence of planning, building, and managing software:

There are a number of scenarios that span the next version of Visual Studio for ALM. These scenarios improve the creation, maintenance and support of software solutions by focusing on improving the workflow across the entire team as well as across the entire lifecycle.

  • Agile Planning Tools – create transparency across the planning process and full team participation through solutions like the new backlog and task board.
  • Lightweight Requirements – a natural way to capture and receive feedback on requirements early in the process.
  • Stakeholder Feedback – working code which matches the expectations of stakeholders.
  • Continuous Testing – unit test coverage ensures quality in the final product.
  • Agile Quality Assurance – increased code quality with code review support, enhanced unit testing frameworks and new exploratory testing support.
  • Enhanced User Experience – more time ‘in the zone’, through improved experiences for day-to-day tasks.
  • Aligning Development with Operations – increased connections and insight between the operations and development teams lowering the time it takes to fix a bug in production.

Here are just a few of the screenshots from the demos today – a link to my keynote is below. 

Agile Planning
Planning a successful release requires making a lot of tradeoffs.  We need to decide what core customer problems we want to solve and in what priority (product backlog).  We only have so many resources available to us which must be factored in (capacity planning).  Once we’ve determined what comes next we actually have to plan out the work (sprint planning).  Finally we need to track our progress against the plan and make adjustments as we go (managing tasks).  With Visual Studio vNext we have introduced a new web based interface that implements the scrum model providing solutions for all of these issues.  Because the solution is built on TFS, the data is easily accessed in your favorite tool of choice.  You can see some examples here: 

Lightweight Requirements
How often have you built exactly what the customer asked for but not what they wanted?  In general customers are working hard to provide their requests and the engineering team is working equally hard to make them happy.  At the same time there are a lot of steps involved and each point can introduce the potential to diverge between the stakedholder and the engineering team.  Visual Studio vNext provides a natural way to work through stakeholder feedback using something we are all familiar with, PowerPoint.  Using the Storyboarding plug-in for PowerPoint the product owner can quickly mock up the solution and get feedback directly from the customer before impelmentation begins.  Because the solution leverages PowerPoint, you can show linking between screens in your application, demonstrate user actions (like touch), and easily share your proposal.  The following screen shots demonstrate some of these concepts:

Stakeholder Feedback
The longer the time between a user asking for a feature and the team delivering, the more likely we are to see disconnects.  Ideally we would get feedback on a regular basis to make sure what is being built is what was asked for.  To help with this, Visual Studio vNext introduces a new feedback tool (based on the Test Professional support VS2010) which allows a product owner to use the new features and provide actionable feedback.  The tool collects video and audio of the feedback session as well as the action logs (which can be turned into test cases).  This kind of rich feedback done in a timely way keeps everyone in sync.

Continuous Testing
Having great unit test coverage is one of the best ways to ensure quality in the final product.  With Visual Studio vNext we are enabling you to use your favorite unit testing framework integrated deeply into the IDE.  We will support MS Test, xunit, and nunit with vNext.  You will also be able to target both .NET and native C++ code.  Adding test frameworks is an extensibility point as well so if you don’t see your favorite one listed here, you can easily add it.

Agile Quality Assurance
Once our new software has been finished by the development team we need to do our quality assurance passes.  This will include a set of functional tests that can utilize the manual and coded testing features of VS2010. For Visual Studio vNext we also wanted to provide a way for a QA professional to explore the product and look for additional issues. The new Exploratory Testing tool provides a great way to do this.  As you explore the product the tool records the entire session (audio and video), the action log of steps taken, etc. From the tool you can create a new test case, bug, take snapshots, and take detailed notes. The filtering tool also allows you to select the steps that led to finding a defect. All of these are examples of providing actionable feedback.

System Center and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010

The relationship between the application development and the IT operations teams is critical.  We’ve just released a CTP of the new connector between System Center and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2010 that facilitates the alignment between development and operations. The connector enables an operations team to assign application performance monitoring and diagnostic information gathered by System Center to TFS for immediate attention and application incident triage by the engineering team. Using this support, the operations team can easily capture key data (like call stacks) and automatically deliver them to the engineering team (another example of actionable feedback). Microsoft will deliver a CTP of the new connector later today.  Be sure to check it out and let us know what you think!

 

Find Out More

The “Visual Studio vNext: Application Lifecycle Management” whitepaper is available today.  This is a comprehensive whitepaper that covers these topics in much more detail.  I recommend you check it out, along with the Visual Studio Roadmap.

The best way to take advantage of the benefits of ALM is to start using Visual Studio 2010 today and obtain an MSDN subscription.   Additional helpful links to get you started can be found on our websites:

A video of my keynote will be available later on the Teched North America site:

Check out Cameron Skinner, Brian Harry, and Amit Chatterjee’s blogs over the next couple of months for more details on ALM in Visual Studio vNext.

Enjoy!

Comments (27)

  1. Dave Mendel says:

    I see the Agile Planning stuff and I'm curious…where is the excel integration? We work in TFS 2010 and LOVE the excel integration and workbooks…is the excel integration still going to be there?

  2. Gregg Boer - TFS Product Group says:

    Hey Dave, thanks for the comment. This is Gregg Boer, and I'm on the product team of the web-based Agile planning tools. Integration with Excel will still be available, however, now that we have a complete web-based solution for planning, we don't plan to release the Excel-based Agile planning workbooks with vNext. You can however, still use Excel to do Agile planning, and the web-based tools will work with that. I'm very interested in your feedback. I invite you to email directly. My email is: firstname.lastname@microsoft.com.

    Thanks,

    Gregg Boer, TFS Product Group

  3. Pavel Voronov says:

    TFS specific – will we be able to rename TFS Team Projects? connect.microsoft.com/…/cant-rename-a-team-project-in-tfs-2010

  4. stoffi says:

    in vnext will be a word integration like teamspec?

  5. RichB says:

    > When we asked people what the biggest problem they faced in successfully

    > delivering software, they identified the need for better collaboration

    erm, no. The biggest problem is TFS.

    Which Dilberts were in your focus group?

  6. Michiel says:

    "With Visual Studio vNext we are enabling you to use your favorite unit testing framework integrated deeply into the IDE.  We will support MS Test, xunit, and nunit with vNext."

    Thank you!!

  7. Jasonz says:

    @stoffi – we have not built word integration in vNext at this time, but there are partner solutions for this

    @RichB – I'm happy to hear your concrete feedback; what kind of project(s) do you have in TFS?  What specific issues are you seeing?

    @Michiel – your welcome :)

  8. Johan says:

    This is all great, but unless an architect can guide the team down the correct path, the project is going to fail anyways. So I would stress for better architect tools (in line with Sparx Enterprice Architect) and at a price that makes it viable. It needs to have multi-user support (hence one of many reasons Visio is a failure in this space). Also, the full version of VS Studio is just prohibitive expensive. It has to be at a valid price point.

  9. Jasonz says:

    @Johan – have you looked at the architect features we introduced with VS2010?  We have the ability to reverse compile what you already have, creating and enforce layering, etc.  Here are some links to some of those features:

    blogs.msdn.com/…/favorite-vs2010-features-dependency-graphs-and-dgml.aspx

    blogs.msdn.com/…/favorite-vs2010-features-layer-validation.aspx

    blogs.msdn.com/…/announcing-vs2010-productivity-power-tools-and-modeling-feature-packs.aspx

    @Pavel – unfortunately we do not yet have rename, sorry :(

  10. Zsolt says:

    Great stuff !

    One more area where TFS migth needs some improvement is making it more "white box", since still most of its functionality is either working or not as one would expect, but its really hard to see the inner workings, or troubleshoot issues. Just take a look at builds. Setting up a build definition is not an easy task if the solution requires more than simply building a .sln file. WF is a really good idea in build process templates, however since the important steps are implemented as "black box" activities (without proper documentation or source code), usually you end up writing your own activities rather than using the OOB ones if you want to create custom build templates.

    What i like the most are the testing improvements. I hope this will include some redesign of the current testing support in VS, making it practically usable.

    I'm glad to see that you are moving to a direction that will improve our ALM process.

    Thanks for the TFS team for their job.

  11. RichB says:

    @Zander Working offline is a pain. Merging is a pain. Way too many error dialogs and Pending Changes getting itself into a corrupt state, that I end up copying my whole directory tree to a temp location, then undoing all changes and attempting to manually get back to a point that I can check in. I hope that none of this is news to you – the 'TFS is dangerous' meme is well entrenched.

  12. JimLamb says:

    @Zsolt have you seen the MSDN documentation on our build activities?

    msdn.microsoft.com/…/gg265783.aspx

    What other areas would you like to see covered?

  13. Ed Glas - TFS Product Group says:

    @RichB – we've heard your feedback loud and clear. We didn't have time to show everything at TechEd, and VC was one area that was left out. I can't disclose specifics to you yet, but you can be sure we are working hard to address your feedback.

  14. stoffi says:

    Does the new Web App for TFS better support other browser then IE?

  15. RichB says:

    @EdGlas That's great to hear. I totally understand your silence around new features – but customers always want to know everything, even if you're not ready to share it yet :-)

  16. Ben Maddox says:

    I really hope the large solution (many projects) performance can be improved too.  Even without any 3rd party plugins, response time can quickly slow to a crawl.

  17. Joshua says:

    The unit testing looks great, beyond that can you guys seriously just focus on performance? VS2010 is still way slower than 2008 which, in my opinion, is still slower than the benchmark you should be aiming for.

  18. Mike Mozhaev says:

    A big problem is source control. Merging is weak. No rollback (TFPT doesn't solve it, since rolling back one changeset at a time and no rollback for adds/deletes is not a good solution). Workspaces. No links to files/folders (branching is not always good for this). Keeping bindings in sln files. Working with labels (and the fact that they are deleted when the build is deleted)

    No easy search in workitems (you have to create a query for that).

  19. buckh says:

    Mike, thanks for your feedback on TFS.  I'd like to understand more about problems merge causes you.

    In TFS 2010, we do have real support for rollback.  It is only available from the command line.  It is high on our backlog to put it in the GUI.  Rollback in 2010 is done on the server, handles all change types, and rolls back merge history when a merge is rolled back.  msdn.microsoft.com/…/dd380776.aspx

    Also in TFS 2010, you can control what is deleted when a build is deleted, including both for retention policies and when you manually delete a build.  Options for what to delete are the build details, drop, test results, label, and symbols.

    I'd also be interested in learning more about the pain workspaces cause you.

    I agree that the bindings in solutions are problematic.  We've experienced the pain ourselves, and we do have it on our backlog to change how that works.

    Search for work items is also on our backlog, and we've received that feedback loud and clear from customers.

    Buck

  20. Martin Moe says:

    Yay for performance and hurray if/when stability is put on the agenda (stability and performance (or the lack thereof) is a joke in VS2010, at least in our scenario). An intercourse between SharpDevelop (ease of install + performance) and VS (feature set) with produced offspring is what I am looking for. I think, today, if SharpDevelop had TFS integration and ReSharper addin I would defintely make the recommendation to switch (would save us a bundle in lics too). The message is clear from our POV. No more features, make the darn thing spin, pur and roar like a tiger, not yielp and bark like a frightened little dog every time you go "fetch!" (don't know if the analogy is perfect, but you get my point ;-)).

  21. Dean says:

    @Martin: I agree.  If you say that new features makes the sales (of VS), not fixing/tuning what's there, then I say you've got a self-confidence problem.  The product will continue to sell well if you stop and do the tuning/fixing.  Please don't just march forward to v.next…please issue a SP2 for VS2010.

  22. What about the User Experience says:

    Does this mean that Microsoft will hire some decent UX designers, so that the product does not appear to be designed by techies from inside out? Only a mother could love the current work item management interface.

  23. buckh says:

    On the user experience, you can see the new work item interface pages 24 (web) and 25 (VS) in the ALM whitepaper Jason references (go.microsoft.com).

    Buck

  24. aaronbjork says:

    @stoffi – Yes, TFS Web Access will support IE, Firefox, Chrome, etc.  All major browsers are supported.

  25. Ram Shah says:

    I really hope the large solution (many projects) performance can be improved too.  Even without any 3rd party plugins, response time can quickly slow to a crawl.

  26. John Murdock says:

    Will Coded UI be in this version of Visual Studio?

  27. Jasonz says:

    @John Murdock – we have coded UI in VS2010 today; if threre is a specific issue/feature you are looking for please let me know…