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Last I attended a TFS User Group meeting in Minneapolis. Bill Maurer explained how Microsoft used Team Foundation Server to build the next release of Visual Studio.

It was really interesting to hear how the development team used TFS to track their own work. The most interesting thing to me was to hear about how TFS is being used to manage Java projects (Not at Microsoft of course!) Previously it had not occurred to me to consider TFS as anything other than a .NET development tool. But, of, course, data is data, and it makes perfect sense now that TFS would be used to track any type of project.

Bill mentioned that quite frequently, the software development team doesn't want management to have this detailed kind of visibility into the process. "If they knew how bad things really were, we would get fired!" Ten years ago I started putting Manufacturing Execution Systems into factories in my previous life as a Chemical Engineer. The operators nearly staged a mutiny over the fact that their actions would be tracked down to every operation they performed on every item. One plant was a union plant and the union was looking into whether or not the contract even allowed this type of data to be tracked! Management was also unsure... they were spending millions to dollars to implement systems that had no direct affect on the product.

Now, of course, you cannot imagine a manufacturing plant that does not have traceability down through the process for each unit produced. The operators work in an environment of reasonable expectations and an optimized process. No one thinks twice about logging into a system and then scanning each unit as it comes down the line.

Similarly, I think that one day no one will believe that we actually tried to build software without tracking this kind of data. The value of the data will be many times the cost of purchasing and implementing the system that supports it. Bill's comment to the teams that are concerned about giving management an actual picture of what is going on is that management will finally understand what can actually be accomplished, and remove bottlenecks if performance is unsatisfactory. "The working environment for the software team will actually improve", Bill says.

I do believe in the promised of optimized performance through Defining metrics, measuring what matters, analyzing the data, and improving and controlling the process. I have lived it in my years as a manufacturing engineer. TFS promises to be a huge asset to the teams that choose to use it for this purpose. I am anxious for Microsoft to give us a hint as to what Rosario will do. Perhaps at the upcoming PDC. I guess we will just have to wait.

Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2008 7:35 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Everything old is new again

# re: Everything old is new again
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This is a great post. You're not the only one who never considered TFS being used for other than .NET.
Left by chris williams on Aug 21, 2008 10:01 PM

# re: Everything old is new again
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Teamprise is an excellent product that integrates TFS for non-Visual Studio IDE (particularly Eclipse). Additionally they support Unix and Mac platforms.
Left by Dan Sniderman on Aug 25, 2008 1:30 PM

# re: Everything old is new again
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I feel bad. I ran into you in the elevator on the way out of that VSTS demo with a blinding headache (you know how those days go) and I wanted to shoot the technical breeze (seemed like most of the people there were manager types and was hoping for something more in-depth) but probably managed to turn it into a typically awkward elevator ride.

Anyways, keep up the good work on the blog.
Left by Josh on Sep 04, 2008 3:01 PM

# re: Everything old is new again
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Josh, no worries! You are being too hard on yourself. I look forward to "shooting the technical breeze" with you in a future meeting!
Left by KirstinJ on Sep 04, 2008 3:09 PM

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