I love hearing (or reading, in this case) Sam talking about his projects and how they are developing using agile methodologies. In his latest post, Sam talks about some of the tools he's using and the issues he has found with VS and VSTS.

A few things Sam mentioned worthwhile commenting on:

  • VSTS Architect and Unit Testing: Yes, I too agree this was a completely crucial piece missing from Visual Studio 2005 Team Architect. Most technical architects I've met (the good ones, at least) code, and code alongside their teammates. If they don't code, why would youy even bother shelling out $5000 for a developer's tool for them? makes no sense to me, at least.
  • Designers: Like Sam, I've found the existing whitehorse designers to be fairly limited in its use, and quite honestly, they only cover a very small subset of the kind of architectural views and diagrams needed sometimes to show your architecture. Also, like Sam, I prefer to use a whiteboard (and in my case blank paper sheets :)) to quickly realize and visualize the architecture (or parts of it) and work it with other team members. After that, I've been using Visio quite a bit for fleshing out the kind of diagrams and figures needed for formal documents, if they are needed.
  • NUnit vs. VSTS: I've talked about this in the past. The unit testing stuff in VSTS is cool, but it is somewhat on the slow side. While I liked very much what it provided and the integration with the IDE was good, I've come to the conclusion from using it quite a bit for a couple of months that it really could use some critical UI improvements and that it also slowed me down considerably. Running tests just takes too long versus how easy and fast it works with NUnit. Furthermore, the Test Lists, while good, just were too much of a drag to maintain.
  • Work Item Tracking: This is one of my favourite features in Team Foundation, and I'm sure with some customization it could be turned into something more usable for very agile teams like Sam. The one thing I really liked here was being able to relate work items to source control check-ins, as it certainly made finding some bugs easier sometimes, and does provide a very nice integrated view of some parts of the project.

Tomas Restrepo

Software developer located in Colombia. Sr. PFE at Microsoft.