Microsoft Previews Developer-Friendlier Visual Studio Team Services

Microsoft teases some of the upcoming features coming to Visual Studio Team Services, the company's cloud-based source code management offering.

developer tools

Visual Studio 2017 reached the long-anticipated general availability milestone March 7, along with the first major update for Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2017.

But there's more Visual Studio developer tools yet to come. Microsoft is also teasing some of the features coming up in Visual Studio Team Services, the cloud-based component formally known as Visual Studio Online.

The Visual Studio Team Services roadmap, or "Features Timeline" as the software giant calls it, has been recently updated to offer developers some forward visibility into the online code management offering, many of which will also eventually being including in on-premises Team Foundation Server deployments. Among the many new features that Microsoft has in the works are conditional tasks, multi-phase builds and shared variables, according to corporate vice president Brian Harry.

"There are some pretty important improvements here that enable you to scale out your builds across multiple agents and have 'merge points' – this is one of the things 'phases' gives you," Harry wrote in a March 6 blog post. "Conditional tasks also allows you to reduce the number of very similar build definitions you have and use conditionals instead."

Included in the lengthy list of upcoming features is a Git Commit graph that enables users to easily visualize the progress of their projects. Developers will also soon get pull request notifications based on the teams they belong to, along with more eye-pleasing request emails, said Harry.

The product's user management and invitation interfaces are being revamped, with an eye toward streamlining the process of granting access to projects, along with the necessary licenses and extensions that allow users to hit the ground running.

Similarly, Microsoft is rolling out a new user management experience using Azure Active Directory for large development teams. Instead of managing licenses individually, as is currently the case, the update will allow organizations to automate the distribution of licenses and extensions to entire groups.

The continuous integration and continuous delivery experiences is also set for big overhaul. The build and release management interfaces will "become a lot more consistent," pledged Harry. In particular, Visual Studio Team Services will offer a release pipeline view that updates in real-time.

Also on tap is a cloud reporting service with Power BI support that allows for at-a-glance tracking of their project's progress. The initial batch of dashboard widgets includes lead time and Kanban cycle time, Harry revealed. The full list of upcoming Visual Studio Team Services functionality is available in this online support document.

Microsoft is serious about getting developers up to speed in coding for a mobile- and cloud-first software marketplace.

Among the many capabilities introduced this week in during the Visual Studio 2017 launch this week are tools that seamlessly hook into company's Azure cloud computing platform. "Visual Studio 2017 comes with a suite of Connected Services that enables you to easily create engaging cloud-first applications powered by Microsoft Azure," wrote Microsoft program manager Karan Nandwani in a blog post.

"Directly from the IDE [integrated development environment], you can configure and connect to an Azure Mobile App Service to enable cloud storage, push notifications, authentication and social integration."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...