Microsoft airs Orcas, Rosario dev tools visions

Major upgrades to the Visual Studio development platform due to roll out over the next few years

Microsoft not only plans to release Orcas, a major upgrade to its Visual Studio software development platform, by the end of the year but also plans to follow up Orcas with the Rosario release of the platform a year later, a Microsoft official said on Monday.

Speaking at the VSLive conference in San Francisco, Prashant Sridharan, Microsoft group product manager for Visual Studio, noted Rosario's emphasis on application lifecycle management. "It's a Team System-focused release," Sridharan said. Visual Studio 2005 Team System is Microsoft's client-based ALM portfolio with Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server complementing that with server capabilities.

"We're building a bunch of tools to help you make sense out of everybody's work," Sridharan said. Testing tools and quality assurance capabilities will be focuses of Rosario, as will advanced code analysis, he said.

Rosario is being developed in parallel with Orcas, Sridharan said. Of particular importance to Rosario will be its inclusion of such groups as a user's IT personnel and business analysts in the application development mix.

"Rosario will help integrate the larger business," said Michael Leworthy, Microsoft Visual Studio product manager.

A community technology preview of Rosario is due around the same time as the general-release version of Orcas. A beta release of Orcas is planned for the May timeframe; a community technology preview shipped this month. Orcas features innovations like the additions of Language Integrated Query technology and the ability to use refactoring with Visual Basic for improved developer productivity.

LINQ brings data programming and data access closer to the programming, Sridharan said. "It makes it a lot easier to programmatically access data."

With the Orcas release of Team Foundation Server, developers can annotate code and share comments inside code with other developers, who can see who edited which code.

An attendee said he expects Microsoft's Orcas and Rosario projects to provide for integration with third-party platforms.

"It seems like a great new suite of tools that will allow developers to quickly develop applications that allow the end-users to really focus on their business needs and hopefully will allow fantastic integration opportunities with APIs from PayPal, eBay, Skype, and any other similar development platforms out there," said attendee Damon Williams, manager of the PayPal Developer Program.

Microsoft also announced on Monday its acquisition of Istanbul-based toolmaker devBiz Business Solutions, which provides a Web interface for Team Foundation Server called TeamPlain Web Access for Team System. A Web client for Team System to link to Team Foundation Server was something that had been lacking in the Microsoft ALM portfolio.

"What they do is build a product that we really wish we could have gotten into the first version of Team System" said Sridharan.

Microsoft will offer the product for free on the TeamPlain Web site to Team Foundation Server users. It also is to be added to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN). Eventually, it will be offered as one of Microsoft's Power Tools collection of applications that extend Team Foundation Server.

Microsoft did not release the financial terms of the transaction.

The company is using VSlive to cite the 10th anniversary of the Visual Studio platform. Sridharan also noted Microsoft's efforts to entice developers to its platform.

"There's a shortage of IT talent in our industry," Sridharan said. India and China will graduate an estimated 2 million software developers, but the number of qualified software developers with needed skills on the latest platforms is low, he said.

Microsoft with its Visual Studio Express products seeks to lure the next generation of software talent, said Sridharan.

The issue of software development jobs is an emotional one with many in the U.S. IT industry saying they have lost their jobs to overseas competition.

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