Developer Spotlight: Prashant Sridharan

Prashant Sridharan is the group product manager for Visual Studio Team System at Microsoft. With the release of the tools later this year Builder AU caught up with Shridharan to talk about the long-awaited release.

Prashant Sridharan is the group product manager for Visual Studio Team System at Microsoft. With the release of the tools later this year Builder AU caught up with Shridharan to talk about the long-awaited release.

Builder AU: First up, why has the developer community had to wait so long for Visual Studio 2005(VS05)? We've heard from Microsoft before that it will "ship when it is ready" but this is over a year in delay. What has been holding it up? Are you still confident of a November release?
Actually, Visual Studio 2005 is pretty much exactly on time from our estimates 2 1/2 years ago. We are only about four months off our original projection, and, yes, we have 100% confidence about our November 7th date. For a software project of the scope and magnitude of VS05, this is quite an accomplishment. Of course, the Team System team is using Team System to manage its own software development process, so none of us are surprised at our ability to project a date and hit it.

In Australia I've heard of a lot of developers using VS05 beta in a production environment. Are you comfortable with developers pushing projects live based on the widely spread betas?
Of course. We included a "Go Live" license with Beta 2 for precisely this purpose. Since Visual Studio is built on top of the .NET Framework, the .NET Framework will always be ahead of Visual Studio in terms of production readiness. As a result Microsoft has been able to offer a "Go Live" license for applications built on the .NET Framework for the last three versions of Visual Studio; giving our customers a production quality experience before the official release. We are very comfortable with this due to our track record of having enterprise scale production system like the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Lion Nathan running on "Go Live" (Beta) licensed versions of Visual Studio.

How long will it be between Visual Studio 2005 and Orcas? Will the Orcas tools be out before Windows Vista?
This is unclear at this point. Orcas planning has literally only just begun.

How will Microsoft's vision of Software Factories be realised in Team Studio?
In 2005, the vision begins with the Domain Specific Language (DSL) platform. DSLs enable customers and partners to create custom modeling environments. In addition, Team System includes the ability to customise the process guidance and methodology in the product. Designers and process guidance are two of the three critical pillars of the Software Factories vision, the third being architectural guidance, of which Microsoft will provide a significant amount in VS05.

Ultimately, as the tools, processes, and architectures converge, Software Factories will become a more and more prevalent portion of the toolset.

How do you compare some of the modelling features in Team Studio compared to say some of your competitors in this space? Do you expect to get it right first go?
Our approach is two-fold. First, we intended to deliver a modeling engine and framework. This is critical because it enables customers and partners to build their own modeling environments, as necessary. Second, our goal is to use that same engine and framework to build interesting modeling environments of our own. In 2005, these are primarily anchored around standards-based Web services and Web applications. You can expect us to support Indigo and Avalon in our modeling tools going forward.

Is it Microsoft's vision for Visual Studio to be the all in one developer tool? It seems Microsoft's tools are moving into areas it previously hasn't been in before and third party vendors enjoyed success.
We certainly believe that this is the tool any IT shop or enterprise needs to solve the vast majority of their business problems. And we've worked with a variety of partners to ensure that they see and take advantage of the opportunity around Team System.

What type of development teams would be benefit from the new project management and reporting tools in Team Studio?
Any development team, of any size. Heck, I'm using the project management and reporting tools to manage the marketing and sales deliverables for the product.

Are you looking to specifically target traditional IBM Rational customers?
We think this toolset is extraordinarily competitive with the tools from IBM and Rational because the Microsoft tools are integrated and easy to use. If you just bought an expensive set of tools and had to hire an army of consultants to teach you how to use them, you probably just bought Rational tools. Team System is integrated by design and as easy to use as Visual Basic. I don't know anyone who can say the same about Rational tools. I'd put Team System up against Rational tools any day.

Team Studio an enormous release and set to ship in November. If you were to pick your top five new features what would they be?
Wow, tough question. My favourite features are (in no particular order):

  1. Work items, work items, work items. Everything is a work item, I can link work items together, and I can associate changesets with work items. Easy to use, integrated across the entire Team System line of products, and immediately useful.
  2. Load testing. The vast majority of customers today do not do ANY load testing. Why? Not because they don't need to, because, believe me, they do need to. It's because load testing tools today are way too expensive. With Team System, load testing is affordable for everyone. That's a huge accomplishment and a huge benefit for our customers.
  3. Unit testing. Once you've done test-driven development, you're never going back. With the combination of refactoring and unit testing, we think we've made test-driven development accessible for the masses.
  4. Source control. Yeah, we got it right this time. The Team System team uses it every day, and we're distributed across multiple cities and multiple continents. What can I say? It's about time, but source control is not only easy to use, it's reliable, scaleable, and easy to operate and administer. These are huge accomplishments for the industry.
  5. Extensibility. We took great pains early on to make sure this product was extensible for both customers and partners. When I step back from this whole product on November 7th and look back on what we've accomplished, I will be most proud of the opportunity we provided the small ISV. We think we've created a ton of opportunity in this industry and I'm pretty pleased with that.