Visual Studio General Manager, Jason Zander’s, revealed some very interesting announcements around the expected capabilities of Visual Studio 2010 and MOSS at TechEd EMEA 2008. I think this is very much in alignment to an implicit approach Microsoft is shifting to: enabling software development at an architecture and enterprise level, both in more general “tradition” areas but also specifically in SharePoint.
Microsoft launched the Patterns & Practices group for quite a while ago and this group is doing an excellent job enabling architects to develop repeatable-successful solutions using the Microsoft.NET Framework. The group provides reusable artifacts such as the application blocks and design patterns to leverage collective knowledge in order to enable predictable outcomes. In my opinion, this is essential when dealing with enterprise-level applications.
Relying on this managed knowledge means that architects can adhere to successful patterns when handling the overarching concerns of the solutions: we get answers on how to plan for a solution, what products to use, how to provide a build-cycle and what not. And, and this is most important, we are used to this richness of information. We depend on it.
However, when we leave the world of “traditional” technology, RIA, Web Site, Rich Client, Service, etc and we enter the world of Knowledge Management through SharePoint, we suddenly lose out trusty partner. We no longer use application blocks for developing web parts, we do not know how to make our solution testable, and we have to create our own methodology. In essence, we no longer leverage the collective knowledge. Now, you might argue that we have many reusable web parts and heaps of self-proclaimed “best practices” books but almost all of them deal with the technicality of SharePoint solutions, not the bigger picture of solution architecture.
Or at least that was the case in the past. Not so long ago the P&P group released the SharePoint Guidance presumably to bridge that gap, and that’s a good starting. Though I see there are many gaps and holes, especially when you try to bind it with the current Architecture Guide, I think this demonstrates a shift in the approach Microsoft is taking for SharePoint, an approach whose goal is to enable software development at an architecture and enterprise level, especially for SharePoint.
So, going back to the announcements Jason did – I think that these new capabilities in Visual Studio 10 is just another such effort from Microsoft to enable a full software development lifecycle and the VS tool aims to cover the development aspects of it e.g. these capabilities enable multi-members teams working on the same SharePoint solution.