Microsoft plans to add to the next version of its developer suite for teams the ability to visually model the architecture of an application and validate it against application code, the company said at TechEd this week in Orlando.
A new feature Microsoft plans to add to the next version of Visual Studio Team System, code-named Rosario, will allow developers to create a visual map of an application's architecture, and then compare that to the back-end code to ensure "the code is correct given the constraints of the architecture," said Norman Guadagno, a Microsoft director of product marketing.
The feature, called Architecture Explorer, also allows developers to "create new architecture and new constraints" depending on the needs of the application and its code, he said. Building an application's architecture, or underlying component structure, is part of the overall lifecycle of the development of a new application.
Microsoft demonstrated Architecture Explorer during a keynote speech by Bill Gates this week.
Visual Studio Team System is a fairly new addition to Microsoft's Visual Studio portfolio; the software, introduced with the Visual Studio 2005 version of Microsoft's development environment, is aimed at allowing developer teams across different geographical locations and with different roles in the lifecycle of an application to collaborate efficiently on development projects.
While the code-architecture validation feature wasn't "the exciting part" of the news, the ability to visually model an application's architecture is a welcome addition for developers using Team System, said Roy Osherove, senior developer for Typemock, which is based in Tel Aviv and creates development testing tools.
"If there is one big pain to software [development] it's to realise the dependencies" it has on other software running on the network, he said.
Viewing an application's architecture gives developers a better sense of those dependencies and can help them anticipate what incompatibility problems an application might run into with other software in the system, Osherove said. "If you see the dependencies that's really, really powerful," he said.
This is an especially important feature for application testing, which is his company's primary focus, Osherove added. Typemock is currently developing new testing tools for the .Net development environment, he said.
Microsoft released its most recent test preview of Rosario in April. The software is scheduled for final release sometime next year.
Adding visual modeling to its development tools and other software is a priority Microsoft plans to deliver through a project code-named Oslo. Though details on exactly what Oslo is at this time are vague, the company said at TechEd on Tuesday that it plans to release the first test version of Oslo at its Professional Developers Conference in October.