Looking for a better way to build and test your code and for your team to be productive? Team Foundation Service from Microsoft is a Cloud based source control service to providing enterprise-style ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) but at lower and smaller level to developers who could still benefit from ALM-centric tools and services to manage their projects. What better way to use the cloud… or Microsoft. Right now it’s free to sign-up. Microsoft is offering this free service for a limited time, they begin charging for it in 2013.
The features include:
• Works with your current tools and languages, C#, Java, HTML or C++.
• Source code management on- and off-line. Cloud or Local workspace.
• Continuous Unit Testing, alerting you to bad code before you integrate it.
• Team collaboration for Agile planning by creating a customized dashboard for the team.
• Team can review changes and feedback using real-time features in Visual Studio.
• Checking for Conflicts with Code Merging with 3-way editing tools.
• Management of Context with multiple task switching.
• Utilizing familiar PowerPoint tool for Story-board mock-ups during design phase.
• Easy two-click publishing to platform of choice.
The Cloud allows for the best type of code management with the code reviews and team feedback being very quick and seamless. Resolving conflicts in this cloud environment allows for the team to make informed decisions when merging complex or difficult sets of changes with the 3-way editing tools. Moving between tasks while preserving your open windows, layout and modified code preserves the team member’s focus. Local storage for copies of your code is essential for off-line work.
When the team works collaboratively with agile planning using the built-in task board, backlog management with its hierarchy, stack ranking, and complexity estimates their work is more streamlined. Integrated issues and bug tracking is a very convenient feature. Rich feedback requests with video, screen-share easy with a Windows Live ID from the dashboard, increasing communication with the stakeholder, and the whole team. Tracking team and individual capacity and activity levels allows for workload balance across releases. PowerPoint can be used to story-board mock-ups for the planning process, and since everyone is familiar with this tool it is very effective.
This cloud environment will allow for the most efficient use of a “Build, Test, Deploy!” process. Building projects using the cloud-hosted service helps to validate changes across the team, by the regular interval build method. Keeping your team on the same page with every iteration, and when the project is ready to deploy, you can publish it to the platform of choice, or deploy to Windows Azure with two clicks from Visual Studio.
If you are a .NET shop this is a great way to move forward on team development. This can also
be an excellent alternative for smaller development shops that want to try a cloud hosted source control solution such as TFS. Since the pricing has not been set by Microsoft yet, the true value and adoption rate for Team Foundation Service in the longer term remains to be seen.