Another new devops tool is a new version of Visual Studio's IntelliTrace for operations. IntelliTrace is a live debugging aid introduced in the Ultimate edition of Visual Studio 2010. Previously, IntelliTrace could only be used from within Visual Studio. This version of Visual Studio, however, includes IntelliTrace agents that can be planted with the operational program itself. So when a program crashes on a production server, a summary of actions leading up to that crash can be captured even if Visual Studio is not on the server, Somasegar said.
Such agents would be particularly useful in debugging hard-to-find problems, ones that could cause a program to crash only after working fine for days, weeks or months. After a crash, an administrator can use Microsoft PowerShell to start IntelliTrace, which then can generate a trace log around the program crash. The resulting file then can be analyzed by developers in Visual Studio.
In addition to espousing the devops philosophy, Microsoft itself has been using devops techniques itself to help build Visual Studio itself, Somasegar said. For the past year, about 3,000 Microsoft developers have been using Visual Studio 2011 as the IDE to finish their work on Visual Studio 2011. This allows developers to understand on a first-hand basis what features and performance improvements that the IDE still needs.
"Our own people are some of our harshest critics. They make it very clear when something is not working. That feedback is helpful in prioritizing issues, " Somasegar said.
Along with the beta release of Visual Studio 2011, Microsoft also announced that it will be releasing a free Express edition of Team Foundation Server, Microsoft's code management software. The express edition is designed for small development teams of around five participants or so.
Microsoft did not divulge the final release date for Visual Studio 2011, though it is widely expected to occur sometime this year. The new version will feature a simpler user interface, as well as support for building Windows 8 Metro applications.