Access IT, a software provider and technology trainer based in France, helps more than 300 European customers deploy and learn about Microsoft products and technologies. Recently, the company wanted to address growing customer needs for improved software testing functionality, better collaboration tools, and increased development language interoperability. Access IT also sought to create rich applications using technologies such as Microsoft Silverlight. The company implemented Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 internally and for several of its customers. Access IT can now help its customers improve code quality, increase collaboration among disparate teams, and simplify heterogeneous development. With the new tools, Access IT has already created an innovative collaboration product and expects to gain new business.
Access IT, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, is an IT services and training company headquartered in Lille, France. The company’s 50 consultants and trainers, who work in offices in Paris and Lille, offer technical expertise, project development, and software solution delivery. Access IT assists more than 300 companies in learning and deploying Microsoft software.
||One of our major customers lacked the right tools to automate its testing processes. With Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, the company can run automated UI tests … that help find and correct software bugs.
Increasingly, many of the company’s customers had been seeking new software tracking and testing capabilities in their development environments, which are based on the Microsoft Visual Studio development system and the Microsoft .NET Framework. “A lot of our customers, especially larger companies, were using older testing technologies that did not integrate well with Visual Studio,” says Pascal Laforest, Business Manager, Access IT. “They also needed better tools to help manage the overall software testing process.”
Other Access IT customers have geographically separate development and testing teams, and they sought better collaboration tools for those teams. “One of our biggest customers has three development teams in different offices, and it wanted to help those employees communicate more easily with each other,” says Etienne Margraff, Consultant, Access IT.
Access IT customers were also looking for better interoperability between Visual Studio and other software. For example, some of the company’s customers do development work in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and wanted to more easily integrate that environment with Visual Studio. Other customers create products using Java and other programming languages, but also wanted to develop with the .NET Framework and use one set of tools for project visibility in multiple environments.
Additionally, Access IT wanted to find a solution that it could use to develop creative applications based on the Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in, Windows Presentation Foundation, and the Microsoft Surface multi-touch computer. “We were looking to grow our business with these new technologies, and we wanted to make sure Visual Studio and the .NET Framework would work easily with them,” states Margraff.
When Access IT began exploring new development software in early 2009, it was most interested in finding the right Microsoft products to meet its needs. “All of our work is based on Microsoft software, and our customers primarily use Visual Studio and the .NET Framework,” says Margraff.
Almost immediately, the company decided to implement beta versions of Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010. “These products feature new testing functionality, architectural tools, and collaboration capabilities, all of which would address our customers’ requirements,” Laforest states.
For example, Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate users can create coded UI tests, which are automated tests that make sure the user interface is operating correctly following changes in the code. “That is something we could not do previously,” Laforest says. Access IT was also interested in IntelliTrace, a debugging tool that can help isolate the specific point of failure within an application’s history. In addition, the company knew that its customers could take advantage of new architectural tools in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate. For example, Architecture Explorer provides the ability to display software projects graphically, while developers can use the Layer Diagram feature to view and model application dependencies and design applications visually.
Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 offers new hierarchical work item linking capabilities, so developers can increase the richness of their work item links. And with gated check-in, developers can validate code check-ins on a separate build machine before that code is committed to the team’s shared source control repository.
||IntelliTrace in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate is a great debugging tool that improves a team’s ability to reproduce bugs. That will help developers save time in their day-to-day work.
Visual Studio 2010 also contains integrated Teamprise technology, which offers increased support for developers working in heterogeneous development environments.
In addition, Access IT wanted to implement Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate because of its fully integrated support for Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation application development, including a drag-and-drop design surface for easy development.
In late 2009, Access IT began implementing beta versions of Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, both internally and for several of its larger customers.
With the Microsoft solution, Access IT customers have better tools for tracking and testing their applications. Customers also have improved capabilities for collaboration and for developing in different environments. In addition, Access IT can be more creative in product design and has the opportunity to grow its business.
Improves Code Quality and Reduces Testing Time
New testing functionality gives Access IT and its customers the tools required to maintain healthier software code. For instance, they can perform functional testing for the first time. “One of our major customers lacked the right tools to automate its testing processes,” says Margraff. “With Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, the company can run automated UI tests and a range of other automated tests that help find and correct software bugs.”
Gated check-in also helps stop broken source code from being submitted. “With the gated check-in feature in Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, we can guarantee that our source code will match expected quality,” Margraff says. In addition, IntelliTrace will help reduce testing time for Access IT customers. “IntelliTrace in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate is a great debugging tool that improves a team’s ability to reproduce bugs,” Laforest says. “That will help developers save time in their day-to-day work.”
Because Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 integrates testing and development tools and processes, it can help dispersed development teams improve collaboration. For example, the Access IT customer with three regionally distributed teams now has more powerful project collaboration capabilities. “With Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, every part of the application lifecycle management process is in one centralized location,” says Margraff. “Because the testing environment is integrated into the developer environment, a developer can easily and quickly correct a bug and send the bug to the tester, who can validate it.”
||With the integrated Windows Presentation Foundation design features in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, we were able to create an exciting new multi-touch application that reflects how developers want to be able to work.
Geographically dispersed developers can also use Architecture Explorer and the ability to generate layer diagrams to collaborate on projects. “Because we can generate diagrams and deeply explore source code in Architecture Explorer, new team members can easily understand how an application is built,” Margraff says. “It is easier for team members to clearly see the relationships between different project elements and layers.”
Better interoperability between the Microsoft Visual Basic and Visual C# languages and other dynamic languages will help Access IT customers develop with multiple technologies. “The Microsoft solution makes it possible for customers to work seamlessly with other technologies,” says Margraff. “Companies who want to develop solutions in both Java and the .NET Framework can work on those projects together in Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010.”
Team Foundation Server also contains dashboards for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and Office SharePoint Server 2007, giving developers new ways to analyze and track the progress of a project. “Our customers want one place where they can see everything that’s happening with any development project,” says Margraff. “Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 gives them that functionality.”
Encourages Creativity in Application Design
Internally, Access IT has used Windows Presentation Foundation in the Microsoft .NET Framework 4, the integrated Windows Presentation Foundation designer in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, and hierarchical work items in Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 to develop a new customer application called TeamTable. Using this application, development teams can collaborate on a Microsoft Surface table. Margraff says, “With the integrated Windows Presentation Foundation design features in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, we were able to create an exciting new multi-touch application that reflects how developers want to be able to work.”
Creates New Business Opportunities
With the ability to be more creative in application development, Access IT expects to create new business. “Because we can now use the integrated Windows Presentation Foundation designer and other features in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, we can generate business and take on projects that we were not capable of doing before,” Margraff says.
Similarly, the improved interoperability with non-Microsoft development environments through Teamprise technology in Visual Studio 2010 means that Access IT can meet more of its customers’ needs. “More and more of our customers use Team Foundation Server to build both Java and .NET-based applications,” says Margraff. “We expect to succeed in reaching out to these customers to show them how their existing environments can be improved with the use of Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010.”
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Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 is an integrated development system that helps simplify the entire development process from design to deployment. Unleash your creativity with powerful prototyping, modeling, and design tools that help you bring your vision to life. Work within a personalized environment that helps accelerate the coding process and supports the use of your existing skills, and target a growing number of platforms, including Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and cloud services. Also, work more efficiently thanks to integrated testing and debugging tools that you can use to find and fix bugs quickly and easily to help ensure high-quality solutions.
For more information about Visual Studio 2010, go to:
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Document published April 2010