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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

VSTS and Process

Saw a great session today by Lori Lamkin, Group Program Manager Visual Studio Team System. VSTS will ship with at least MSF 4.0 Agile and MSFT 4.0 Formal. The following is an excerpt from Keith Rowe's blog:

"One process can't work for every project - so we're restructuring MSF with a base definition layer and a series of instantiations. In the first release, we will have two:

1. MSF Formal - aimed at larger scale, traditional projects that need and want a lot of 'ceremony' around handing off work products from group to group and phase to phase.

2. MSF Agile - aimed at smaller iterative development projects. We are very lucky to have hired Randy Miller, one of the big thinkers in the Agile movement, to help us design this version of MSF. It's still in development so I'll describe this in more detail in future postings.

Second, methodologies can drive the tools. We are introducing 'methodology templates' to the toolset. At project inception, you can select one of the methodology templates stored on your VS Team System server. This template describes:

a) the work item types ('bug', 'scenario', 'risk', etc) and their state transitions - this implements project workflow
b) predefined work item instances ('gather all user stories') to guide the work
c) check in rules that enforce policy around what a legal check-in looks like (e.g. 'all check-ins must be run through a buddy build')
d) report layouts used by the data warehouse to show project status
e) help files that describe how the methodology works

Thus, you can shape the behavior of the tools so that all team members can easily follow the prescribed methodology.

But, don't fear. We aren't shoving this down your throat. The templates are all editable. You can create your own or elect to not use one at all. We're already working with a number of third parties who plan to create their own methodology templates and I expect that there will be lots of them available from industrious individuals who want to show their own techniques. In my talks with customers so far, I expect everyone will end up editing these templates for their own use."

The real strength of what Team System offers here is illustrated when a task is created by a Project Manager in Excel or MS Project, the task (work item) is automatically added to the developer’s queue that they then see in their IDE. As developers then update the task with costing information or completion data the PM’s view of the data in their spreadsheet or Project document is updated automatically. Essentially, this kind of integration automates the transitions between the tools and the people enabling a more friction-free flow of information. As Lori said in her talk: No status meetings, no logjams, no copy and paste.

Lori’s session also made clear that there will likely be some limitations in the first release (single ownership of work items, no parent/child relationships) these tools will go a long way towards helping teams

If you’d like to get some more information on MSF 4.0 Agile take a look at GotDotNet here.

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