Happy new year.
Over the last several months since //BUILD/, I’ve published multiple blog posts outlining advancements made in Visual Studio 11, from languages to the .NET Framework to IDE productivity to platform-specific tooling. I’m concluding this five-post series with a look at some of the work that’s gone into making Visual Studio 11 a premier system for Application Lifecycle Management (ALM). Since many of these features were first announced at TechEd North America 2011, many individuals from my division have spoken and blogged quite eloquently about the new capabilities, so I’ll use this opportunity simply to highlight a few of these new features and to point you to the other resources they’ve created to describe them in more depth.
The ALM offering in Visual Studio 11 was designed to enable improved collaboration amongst team members, accelerate the adoption of agile processes, and improve the cycle that links development and operations. I’ll take a look at a few examples of how Visual Studio 11 achieves this.
A good example how Visual Studio 11 improves collaboration between developers is the new code review support. Visual Studio 11 includes a significantly overhauled Team Explorer tool window, which includes the new My Work pane that provides a central location for you to see what work you currently have in progress and what other work is assigned to you. As part of this experience, developers are able to request code reviews from teammates (easily shelving the current state of their work), respond to others’ requests, dialog with teammates about reviews, annotate “diffs” for requested code reviews within the Visual Studio editor, and much more.
Collaboration isn’t just about communications between developers, of course. There are many other roles in a software team, and Visual Studio supports collaboration with and between all of those roles. For example, Visual Studio 11 includes a new exploratory testing experience. With formal testing practices, you author your test cases up front and then execute them against your iterative builds. Sometimes, however, you can find additional problems while going “off road” with unscripted testing, problems for which you wouldn’t necessarily have thought to write test cases. In those instances, you still want to be able to capture rich, actionable bug reports – possibly featuring video, audio annotations, screenshots, and the like. And when you do find a bug, you want to be able to automatically turn the repro steps into a test case so that you can formally test it moving forward. This is at the heart of the exploratory testing experience.
This exploratory testing example also serves as a glimpse into the aforementioned work we’ve done to better enable agile processes in Visual Studio 11. Another such area of investment is our work to improve agile project management. This has been a big focus for Visual Studio 11, and in particular for Team Foundation Server 11. Some of the experiences that are enabled include:
- Managing your product backlog
- Engaging in sprint planning
- Driving your daily stand-ups
Work in Visual Studio on agile processes goes beyond product management and testing; support has also been added to improve requirements and feedback gathering. For example, the new PowerPoint Storyboarding tool helps you to quickly prototype interfaces:
And the new feedback client makes it easy to get critical input from your stakeholders on your iterative builds:
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve only scratched the surface of what is coming in Visual Studio 11 for ALM, and there’s a whole slew of advancements I’ve not touched on, such as support for IntelliTrace use in production, support for continuous testing, and of course the Windows Azure-based Visual Studio Team Foundation Service. I’ve simply highlighted a few features that are more fully explored in other posts, articles, and videos. Here are a few I recommend:
- Brian Keller and Cameron Skinner’s //BUILD/ talk “What's new in Visual Studio 11 for Application Lifecycle Management”.
- This Visual Studio 11 ALM whitepaper, which provides a great tour through what’s available in this release.
- These Visual Studio 11 ALM hands-on labs, which enable you to get first-hand experience with this new functionality.
- Brian Harry’s blog, containing many posts that detail Team Foundation Server 11 improvements.
Of course, all of this discussion, and in general everything I’ve covered in this series, is based on the Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview. Since the Developer Preview release at //BUILD/, we’ve been working on further improvements to Visual Studio 11 that we hope to share with you in the near future.