PDC is over for another year, and despite not being there, thanks to the excellent video coverage I’ve managed to almost drink my fill of the waterfall of content that’s poured out. One of the highlights for me was all the new VSTS bits and pieces that have been demo’d as part of PDC and the new CTP that was released (here). There’s a ton of great stuff coming down the line from the VSTS guys and with a really serious focus on software quality things are going to get a whole lot better in the dev/test world.
My top 3 highlights from PDC are:
1. The no more ‘no repro’ features of the test tools. These include the historical debugging – which is amazing in it’s own right, the manual test video capture and the integration between these and the work items.
In my mind this is going to greatly enhance the relationship between developers and testers. It’s something I’ve seen bits of before, in suites like those provided by Mercury and the video alone is priceless. I mean, how many times have you got a bug as a dev (I know, you don’t write bugs ;)) and thought… How in the heck did they do that??
2. The branch/merge visualisations and branches as first class citizens. When giving an RDN last week in Melbourne the number one post-talk question was around branching and merging strategies. This is an area of pain for many a first time build manager, and can cause hours of frustration and confusion if not done well. There’s plenty of good guidance out there (see my last blog) but in my mind nothing beats a good visualisation. If I can see where my code has gone, both upstream and down I’m going to be able to isolate the integration bugs a lot faster and more reliably. No longer will I need to go see the branch owner (whoever that is) and say… “Did you merge from last nights changes?”.
3. TFS administration/install and scaling improvements. The big highlight here is the ability to do things like re-run the setup tool, built in best practices analysis on setup and the separation of the 1:1 application tier and data tier relationship. There’s a serious step towards efficient and effective hosted TFS instances here with the movement of the unit of isolation to the team project level, allowing each project on a TFS instance to be managed alone and visible only to people directly involved.
There’s plenty more stuff in the PDC video collection that I’m yet to get through. There’s lots of talk on our internal mailing list about the ‘cloud’ products and how we can make use of them to drive the future of applications. I’m yet to watch this content but there are a couple of ideas I’m kicking around. I’d like to get other people’s opinions on Microsoft’s cloud offerings. What do you think? Can you see an opportunity for innovation? Last but not least – what are your PDC highlights?