Drinking the M$FT juice – using Agile!?

Like most 30-something techies, I grew up with Microsoft.  I earned my stripes in the NT 3.5 days, moving from token ring to ethernet and installing/creating drivers the old fashioned way.  Those days are gone, thank god.  Today I hang my hat in a more developer-centric capacity.  In late 2005 we moved to Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) and Team Foundation Sever (TFS).  First, let me say TFS/VSTS offers vast improvements to the old visual interdev/source safe days – namely, it works.

VSTS (Team Edition) offers distinct “roles” representing the contributors on a typical development team, project management, dev’s, testers, db folks, etc.  We got exposure to the suite using a go-live license late in beta.  We had a large project which required our team to ramp up to about 15 DEVs for about 9 months with quite a few being overseas.  We immediately put VSTS through the wringer, and I’m happy to say looking back, I believe we made a good choice.  VS has long been known for its rich IDE and its latest iteration (vs2008) can now even target multiple .net frameworks (back to 2.0) and even has javascript debugging, which is a first for me. 

Fast forward to today – we’ve now moving forward with TFS 2008 and I’m very anxious to put it’s MSF for Agile stuff to the test.  Next week I’ll be attending CodeMash (my first) which looks to be a great event covering several items on my current “to do” list, namely AGILE!  Our DEV team has loosely followed an Agile-like approach (meaning not waterfall, with short interations) however, I’m excited to now take it to the next level implementing a more formal adoption, from project management through TDD & CI. 

The challenge now becomes embracing Agile using our current VSTS/TFS investment (which hasnt been small.)  It’s all there on the surface; code-coverage, automated testing, stress/load testing, automated builds – but, part of what I’m looking to get out of CodeMash is some REAL WORLD exposure.  Now, its safe to assume, M$FT isn’t going to necessarily provide the best tools for Agile purests – but my hopes are they’ll get us a step closer to supporting (and promoting) what I have come to believe is the right direction for our development efforts .

Our team is currently small, some say thats good.  However pair-programming may become a challenge for us, and I’m still interested to evaluate if TDD becomes a 100% requirement?  Needless to say, I’ve got more questions than answers – but I’m hopeful to get some assumptions validated next week @ CodeMash.  Hopefully I’ll see you there!

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