Application Lifecycle Management – a guest post by Andrew Fryer

The term ‘amateur’ is sometimes used as an implied insult but comes from the Greek for love.  There are loads of amateur developers scripting away in darkened rooms every day writing code for smartphones, for XBox and for social media.  IMO the key difference between this amateur community and the pro developer is not ability rather it is all the boring stuff that has to be done around the actual development, collectively referred to as Application Lifecycle Management (ALM).  No doubt this does suck some of the enjoyment out of development, and even the resultant application will be more boring; it will behave predictably, run reliably and there may even be (sit down now) documentation!

Persuading a creative fun loving developer to do some of this stuff rather than showing off the latest cool features in Silverlight can be a challenge, as can getting developers to work as  a team. I think managing a team of developers is one of the hardest jobs in IT , and from my own experience I think the key difficulties are :

  • How far along the process are we.  None of us are very good at admitting we’re behind schedule for example?
  • How is the application being tested and what issues have been found resolved etc. ?
  • Will it work on our infrastructure?

Anything to make life easier in this space should be welcome but more so if the tools are smart and integrated for example:

  • Tools that understand what progress is being achieved simply by picking up what is being worked on rather than relying on the completion of project plans etc.
  • Tight integration with project, and calendars, so developers aren’t scheduled to do testing when they have already booked to go clubbing in Tenerife 
  • The ability to  provision development and test environments, preferably using virtual machines so you don’t have to invest in loads of hardware just for the developer team to use.

If this sounds interesting, you might want to understand how all of this is achievable in the latest version of Visual Studio Team Foundation Server, and the new Lab Manager tools for building those development environments.  The simplest way of doing this would be come along to one of the two ALM events we are hosting:

29th September 2010 @ Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading, Register here

19th October 2010 @ Maple House, Birmingham. Register here

As well as learning what’s in the new release this is a great networking opportunity, and a chance to learn best practice as well.

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