Following best practices for software development requires an ever more sophisticated set of ALM tools to manage code, builds, distributed collaboration, and project planning. For efficient development, it’s critical that these tools are integrated with the developer’s IDE. Microsoft and IBM recognize this and provide full IDE integration for those teams who can use a pure Visual Studio or Rational Team Concert stack.
For the Eclipse IDE community, this need for IDE integration is evident from the community that has developed around Mylyn, the de facto ALM integration framework for Eclipse. Mylyn is now a top-level Eclipse project with an ecosystem of more than 50 commercial and open source ALM integrations. Nearly all of the leading ALM vendors have embraced Mylyn with a connector now available for 80-90% of vendors in the Forrester Wave for Agile Development Management tools and Gartner Marketscope for ALM rated “positive” or above.
Up until now, teams with a heterogeneous tool set wanting to take advantage of this thriving integration ecosystem with the Visual Studio IDE have simply been out of luck. With the upcoming Tasktop for Visual Studio, the massive R&D investment in the Mylyn framework as well as the network of interoperable integrations and community of contributors becomes available to Visual Studio developers.
For example, a development team may be using Visual Studio for development with product features managed in TFS and defects tracked in both HP Quality Center and a legacy Bugzilla. In this scenario developers can take advantage of Tasktop for Visual Studio to provide integrated access to Quality Center and Bugzilla defects from within a unified personal task list in Visual Studio. Developers can then easily create and navigate links between dependent or related artifacts in any system with a Mylyn connector, all from within the Visual Studio IDE.
How does it work?
The personal task list and rich task editors are embedded in the Visual Studio IDE as they are in Eclipse. The Tasktop for Visual Studio application runs alongside the Visual Studio IDE to provide access to the Mylyn infrastructure and its connectors. Installing a Mylyn connector into Tasktop for Visual Studio will enable access to tasks from the corresponding ALM system from within the task list in Visual Studio. While it isn’t necessary for developers to use or even see the Tasktop application, it provides additional functionality such as the ability to track and report the time spent on each task, integrate Outlook email with the task list, and track the web pages and documents associated with each task. The task list in the Tasktop application is kept in sync with the task list embedded in Visual Studio.
The rich editor allows developers to view and update tasks from a diverse
set of ALM solutions from with Visual Studio
What about task context and focus?
ALM interoperability and IDE integration is only part of what Mylyn provides. Once work items (tasks) are integrated with the IDE, Mylyn automatically tracks the context of source code that is relevant for each task. This context is used to filter or focus the UI to show only what’s relevant for the task at hand, which measurably reduces time spent repeatedly looking for code while enabling one-click multitasking and interruption recovery. Contexts are also helpful for traceability, knowledge transfer and code reviews, among other things.
The first version of Tasktop for Visual Studio won’t yet support context and focus for source code in the IDE, but the Tasktop instance running alongside Visual Studio provides context tracking for web pages and documents.
Availability and Roadmap
While dates are not yet finalized, Tasktop for Visual Studio will be rolled out as follows:
• Beta release with support for HP ALM and Quality Center and Bugzilla
• Support for plugging in any Mylyn connector for use with Visual Studio out of the box
• GA release of Tasktop for Visual Studio
• Support for context capture and focus in the Visual Studio IDE
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About Wesley Coelho
Wesley Coelho is Director of Business Development at Tasktop Technologies. Wesley works with leading Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tool vendors to provide integration solutions powered by Tasktop products and the thriving open source Eclipse Mylyn community.