This week at OOPSLA 2004, we announced a framework and set of tools for delivering domain-specific visual designers that plug into Visual Studio Team System. In the press release that accompanied the announcement, I mentioned that customers are asking for a faster, cheaper and more reliable way to build applications tuned to their business in vertical markets like Healthcare and CRM. I also mentioned that the extensibility and customization built into the Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System coupled with the broader ecosystem’s domain expertise offer a more streamlined vision for application development as represented by Software Factories.
Back in May, we announced the Visual Studio Team System and at that time a number of partners also announced and demonstrated their intent to integrate their products with the Team System. This week at OOPSLA, we took another step for partners and released a CTP of the SDK for building new visual designers on top of the Team System. Using the SDK, customers, partners, and system integrators will all be able to build domain-specific modeling tools that plug into Team System.
With this announcement, we are making the “first down payment” on the Software Factory vision in Visual Studio Team System (VSTS). I’ve often heard Software Factories described as an assembly line approach to development. This is a common misconception given the “factory” metaphor. I think of a Software Factory as a customized software product that configures VSTS with packaged content like Domain Specific Languages, patterns, frameworks and guidance, based on recipes for building specific kinds of applications for vertical markets like healthcare and CRM. Off-the-shelf Software Factories are still a ways off, but the approach is still valid and what the industry is moving towards. In the meantime, we’re taking the first steps towards this vision today with VSTS and our SDK for visual designers.