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Saturday, January 28, 2006

VSTS Experience: Part 2

I'm a youngin. I'm in my mid-20s and I have not had much experience outside a Microsoft environment. It's what I grew-up in, it's what I know. However, I've learned a lot in the past 2 years alone about the importance of communication among a team and its members, as well as between the team and the customer. Facilitating this communication becomes essential to the success - or failure - of a project. And I believe that its the responsibility of every member of the team to ensure an open, communicative environment for team.

I honestly believe one of the best features of Team Foundation Server (TFS) is the incorporation of SharePoint. Before installing TFS, the most I knew about SharePoint was that I thought it was too often confused for a content management system instead of its actual purpose: a collaboration system. Sure, you can argue that there's very little difference between the two as collaboration systems will, most likely, manage various forms of content but the content is not the focus of the system's users; it's the communication.

With this in mind, it makes me wonder what kind of observation labs Microsoft - if any - held during the development of Visual Studio Team System as it is evident that they kept collaboration in the front of their mind throughout the development of the product. By incorporating TFS Version Control, Work Item Tracking, and general reporting functionality together in the Visual Studio IDE, essential information can be collected by developers while working in their "comfort zone". And the exposure and openness that SharePoint provides for the visibility of this information help to facilitate a collaborative environment for teams of all sizes.

Personally, I'm really excited to see how my team utilizes these collaboration tools on our future projects. Already, we've started using SharePoint as our central document repository instead of VSS. I'm anxious to see how we can extend the SharePoint environment to non-Team System projects to provide a similar environment for our "legacy" projects; incorporating FogBugz and other tools will help ease the adoption of the environment. All-in-all, I'm hoping that TFS and its related products will help change the way my team approaches our projects.

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