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Special Report: Visual Studio Team System

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Welcome to the Team, Data Dude!
Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Database Professionals will help developers and DBAs collaborate more efficiently with others on their team.
by Richard Hundhausen

June 28, 2006

Earlier this month at Tech•Ed, Microsoft showcased a new edition of Team System: one for database professionals. Known in some circles as the "Data Dude," this role fills a gap that has existed in Team System since it was first announced. We've had support for application architects, datacenter architects, software developers, and software testers ... but no database developers. From the Visual Studio perspective, the only database support has been through data connections, the default data tools, and a few project templates.


This will soon change. Before the end of 2006, database professionals, which include both developers and DBAs, will be collaborating more efficiently with others on their team and enjoying tools that assist and enable their Database Development Life Cycle (DDLC) workflow of activities.

Historically, database programming, deployment, testing, and management have been complex tasks. It is difficult to manage changes to schema and synchronize data between databases. It is difficult to unit-test stored procedures. It is difficult to generate meaningful, deterministic sample data. It is difficult to collaborate with application developers—although they might argue that it's been difficult to collaborate with the DBA! In any case, it is common to find disconnects between database professionals and the rest of the team.

Strong integration of tools and process is the answer to these challenges. Microsoft is planning improvements to the project management and process capabilities of Team Foundation Server. Look for new process guidance including role definitions, activities, workstreams, and even work item definitions. These will be exciting enhancements, but the real cool story, in my opinion, will be found in the new tools. In fact, several enlightened individuals came over from the SQL Server 2005 team to join the Visual Studio team. Their vision, knowledge, and dedication to the client tools are the real strength of this product.

For starters, they are redesigning the Visual Studio project model for organizing all the database objects and scripts. This redesign will offer much more than the existing database project templates found in Visual Studio or SQL Server Management Studio. These new project types are intelligent containers that can parse and assemble individual scripts for creating or altering database schemas.

For example, you will be able to compare the schema in the project with what's deployed to a specific server, and generate a diff(erence) script. An added safeguard is that all these operations can be performed against an offline "sandbox" environment. This will keep your changes isolated so they don't affect any production servers. This is an important differentiation between this tool and most other database tools on the market that work against live databases. Microsoft is enabling an "offline" development experience, disconnected from the production server.

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