Visual Studio Team Foundation Server is the Way to Go For State-of-the-Art Project Tracking
Visual Studio Team Foundation Server is Microsoft’s package for project tracking, source control, and data collection and reporting. It is specially designed for software development projects in which there are many collaborating developers, even when these are located around the world. The basic unit in Team Foundation Server is the work item, which represents an individual unit of work which must be completed. A work item consists of fields which define e.g. Area, Assignee, Iteration, Reported By, file attachments and history, and many other possible variables. Each work item has control policy associated with it which determines who is permitted to access or change the item. It also possesses logging and notification capabilities which log the creation, access and change events, and can even notify specified users when particular events occur. A team project consists of user-defined work items, reports, and source branches which are managed by the TFS.
Team Foundation Server pricing includes templates to assist in the setup process, so that project roadmap and report definitions can be updated in real time to assist in ongoing management. TFS integrates with MS Excel to create and track project items which are created and edited in Excel, and then the resulting spreadsheet is exported to TFS where the data is integrated into the project manager. TFS employs a source control repository which stores code – as well as current checkouts and changes – in an SQL Server database. Unlike earlier, file-based source control, this capability quickly and easily enables simultaneous checkouts, shelving and unshelving pending changes, conflict resolution, and branching and merging. Multiple branches can easily be merged, and the built-in conflict resolution algorithm automatically reconciles the conflicting differences, or else flags them for manual inspection. The control repository contains not only source code, but also provides a version controlled library of other documents which are used by the project as well, such as project plans and requirements, and feature-analysis documents. All of the documents in the source control repository can be linked to any other work item, and the access can be controlled with access policy definitions.
The Team Foundation Server price includes a reporting capability which is perhaps its greatest strength. It is possible to include such data as listings of bugs which don’t have test cases, rate of change of code over time, regressions on previous passing tests, and so forth. Reports are built with the SQL Server Report Service, and they can be exported using many different formats, such as Excel, PDF, XML and TIFF. The different developers involved in a project can track its progress and communicate with one another through a SharePoint site created specially for that project, which lists the work items and source-controlled documents for that project. Developers can keep track of the project’s progress using the Team Build capability, which records every build whether successful or not. When a build succeeds the Team Build analyzes what changes have occurred in the source control since the previous successful build, and it updates all work items accordingly.