“Ultimately, Team Foundation Server speeds our time to delivery. When we want a new feature, we can have it built, tested and operating on the SEEK Web site much faster.”
Shane Lavelle, Deployment Manager, SEEK
Melbourne-based SEEK operates Australia’s most widely-used job search site, seek.com.au. To keep the site fresh, fast and functional, SEEK employs a team of 35 developers, who are engaged on numerous concurrent enhancements. These developers used a source code repository tool for version control, but found it difficult to use, partly because it restricted them from working on the same section of code at the same time.
As part of an upgrade to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN, staff replaced this source code repository with the application lifecycle management solution, Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010. This solution comprises a variety of source code development features, including Version Control, Work Items Management, Continuous Integration and Reporting Tools. More sophisticated version control means developers can work closely with each other without disrupting each others’ code. And the ability to complete and deploy enhancements faster has helped with the company’s move to Agile Software Development.
||“Visual Studio Ultimate had better support and features for .NET development, enabling developers to transition more easily towards Agile Software Development.”
Deployment Manager, SEEK
Melbourne-based SEEK is Australia’s premier online employment search company. SEEK was founded by two brothers in 1999 and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2005. Its seek.com.au Web site advertises over 150,000 jobs online at a time, and receives on average 13 million visits each month.
The company is continually expanding its services, such as their 2005 move into education and learning services, providing a one-stop-shop for students seeking specific college or university courses.
As a result, SEEK staff need to constantly update their Web site, to refresh the design, update functionality and offer advertisers better services. To implement these updates, the company employs a team of 35 developers.
“We have a constant pipeline of development projects,” says Shane Lavelle, Deployment Manager, SEEK. “That means we need robust source control systems. These systems manage the code that each developer works on and ensure we don’t develop version control conflicts.”
Until December 2010, SEEK used a source code repository tool from a specialist software company to manage development source code.
“Developers checked code in and out and the tool assigned version control numbers so we could track changes to particular sections of code,” says Lavelle.
However, this tool became progressively less suited to SEEK’s dynamic development requirements.
“It was an old platform and we had made changes to the way files were saved to suit the way that we worked,” says Lavelle. “But as a result, we couldn’t easily accommodate newer versions.”
To save code correctly, developers had to follow a process they found burdensome. Consequently they didn’t always follow it, which led to delays when other developers needed to access the code.
“In addition, downloading code from the repository took a lot of time,” says Lavelle. “Some developers had to wait 45 minutes before they could resume work, which slowed our development time. What we really wanted was a closer fit with our integrated development environment (IDE) to enable us all to work more seamlessly.
“This was particularly important as we wanted to adopt the Agile Software Development philosophy. This prioritises delivering functionality quickly, and requires flexibility and excellent development awareness.”
For its IDE, SEEK had used Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, followed by Microsoft Visual Studio 2008. By late 2010, Lavelle and his colleagues wanted to update their IDE to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN because of its improved functionality.
“Visual Studio Ultimate had better support and features for .NET development, enabling developers to transition more easily towards Agile Software Development,” says Lavelle. “It also includes a license to use a companion product called Team Foundation Server, which is part of Microsoft’s application lifecycle management solution.
||“Developers who have used Visual Studio generally find Team Foundation Server very easy to use, though we also trained some developers and administration staff who hadn’t seen it before.”
Technical Lead, Readify
“Essentially we chose Team Foundation Server because it is an all-in-one solution,” he adds. “It is fully integrated with Visual Studio Ultimate features, including Version Control, Work Items Management, Continuous Integration and Reporting Tools, enabling developers to work quickly and efficiently. It also has specific features we liked: we could easily compare different versions of source code, and we could also compile code in one easy step. And the fact that Microsoft supports the product also swayed our decision.”
In December 2010, SEEK engaged Microsoft Software Application Partner of the Year 2010, Readify, to help set up access to Visual Studio Team Foundation Server for approximately 35 computers.
“We helped SEEK staff plan and integrate Team Foundation Server into key systems,” says Nikita Pinchuk, Technical Lead, Readify. “We also showed staff how to manage version control, and execute automated builds, testing and deployment.
“Developers who have used Visual Studio generally find Team Foundation Server very easy to use, though we also trained some developers and administration staff who hadn’t seen it before.”
The end-to-end deployment and integration projects ran in parallel and lasted three months. Since January 2011, developers at SEEK have been using Team Foundation Server for all source code development.
With Team Foundation Server integrated into the SEEK Visual Studio platform, developers can write code faster and collaborate more easily. As a result, staff at SEEK have been able to adopt new Agile development techniques that shorten project development times and bring enhancements to seek.com.au faster.
Improved ease of use
After deployment, the immediate response from SEEK developers was overwhelmingly positive, and Team Foundation Server is now being used to help manage all development projects.
“It’s fast and easy to use,” says Lavelle. “For example, checking out code and starting work on it is a much quicker process. When a developer requests the latest version of a section of source code, Team Foundation Server will identify which parts of the code have changed since that developer last worked on it, and only update the developer with those sections.
“This simplifies the checking-in and checking-out process, and as a result, our developers are happier. It often took developers up to 45 minutes to get the latest code before they could resume work. Now they get their code in a few minutes.”
Greater productivity and flexibility
Integration with Visual Studio Ultimate has increased productivity by providing developers with single step compiling capabilities and better source code version control and tracking.
“We used to have issues with developers not checking-in files, which meant no-one else could work on them,” says Lavelle. “Now, ten different developers can check-out a file and work on different sections of it at the same time, without compromising version control. This means we are a lot more flexible.
“Team Foundation Server means we can all work together to finish projects faster.”
Boost to deploying Agile development techniques
The Team Foundation Server deployment also helped Lavelle and his team make Agile Software Development a success in SEEK.
“Our old projects used to run for six to eighteen months and we realised we just had to develop new features faster.”
Team Foundation Server has helped SEEK adopt Agile techniques, by making the development team more flexible. Because they can concentrate on a narrow section of code, or redeploy code across the Web site, developers are more nimble, and can react much faster to the business needs.
“Ultimately Team Foundation Server speeds our time to delivery,” says Lavelle. “When we want a new feature, we can have it built, tested and operating on the SEEK Web site much faster.”
Microsoft product that was featured
Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 is a powerful IDE that enables customers to create high-quality code throughout the entire application lifecycle, from design to deployment. It is a comprehensive suite of tools designed to help software developers create innovative, next-generation applications. Building on the integrated environment that makes it possible for a team to collaborate on creating and debugging applications, Visual Studio 2010 helps today’s developers target a growing number of platforms. Whether you’re developing applications for SharePoint, the Web, Windows, Windows Phone, and beyond, Visual Studio is your ultimate all-in-one solution.
By using tools in Visual Studio 2010 Premium and Ultimate, and combining those tools with Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, you can apply proven practices to manage your application’s lifecycle. Team Foundation Server, the core of the application lifecycle management tools, provides version control and tools for managing and organising projects.
For More Information
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