Friday, September 08, 2006

Team System

I finally got round to reading this blog entry about the whole Mort/Elvis/Einstein thing. I must admit I'm not overly worried about Microsoft using the personas but I do agree that Rockfords article is slightly questionable.

Anyway one thing that definitely chimed with me was part way down:

There's not much value in taking customer feedback if you stop acting on it. Microsoft’s addiction to waterfall planning practices have sent a strong message to customers regarding Microsoft’s responsiveness late in waterfall development phases. Antiquated project and product management practices are hurting the perception that Microsoft is really interested in feedback. You’ve gotta be continuously responsive all the time, not just early in the game. Maybe if there was some effort to “scrum” a service release earlier than mid-2006 the product feedback center would still have the same credibility it did during the pre- and early Whidbey betas.

I couldn't agree with this more, I've been using Team System for 3 months now and two things have surprised me.

I'm not a Microsoft basher, in fact I've always been impressed they can release large scale software projects that are of a high quality. I am also happy to forgive an application for the odd crash or the odd problem. However Team System is without doubt the worst Microsoft application I have ever used. It comes down to quality, which I'll discuss later, and the fact that some of the features seem to me to be badly thought out or are very incomplete.

Its not even one area but large swathes of the features that have problems including source control, check in policies, unit testing and code analysis. In many cases they're hard to use, seem to be badly thought and are quite buggy. Here's some of the issues I seem to end up dealing with:

  1. Some files will not be checked in because I moved/renamed/did something else to the folder they were.

  2. The unit tests will fail/abort. There seem to be many reasons for this, I should really start taking screenshots and just reporting them to Microsoft even though I don't have steps to repro.

  3. I won't be allowed to check in because it wants me to run deleted tests.

  4. The code coverage will run but not report the issues as stopping me checking in.

  5. The code coverage will fail with a stack overflow exception (I had to switch off CA2214 because of that little bug, how much fun do you think I had working out it was that exact rule :))

  6. My pending changes area will show up as empty forcing me to restart.

  7. Visual Studio regularly crashes (often when I'm undoing source control check outs), in some cases it offers to send Microsoft information but in most cases even this doesn't happen.

I've reported some of these issues but some are so intermittent and bizarre that I haven't gotten round to it yet, however I'd say that on average I'm hit by atleast 1-3 crashes a week and two of the other issues per day and I know that the developer I work most closely with is also having similiar problems.

Customer Feedback
Like a lot of people I've used NUnit, FXCop, Resharper so when I came to Team System I was very excited. However as I tried to use the refactoring, unit testing, code analysis, class designer and so on I began to find a lot of limitations. What amazed me was that many of these limitations were reported to Microsoft quite some time ago. For example here's three of the issues that bug me:

Unit Testing Inheritance

Class Designer Displaying Dependencies

Compile Time Code Injection

What links these items is that the last replies from Microsoft to them are in 2005 or earlier! For all I know Microsoft are investigating and fixing these issues, for all I know they're being ignored and thats problem...there's no 2 way information sharing going on.

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