Go team! Local firm plugs into Visual Studio

Australian software house Object Consulting is leveraging off Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 Team System with a plug-in that aims to show developers how to work in a team environment.

Object Consulting joined Microsoft's Visual Studio Industry Partner program last year and has since written a plug-in for its flagship software methodology product Process MeNtOR that integrates into Microsoft's forthcoming Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) tool.

Julian Edwards, Object Consulting COO, said Process MeNtOR complements VSTS. "Microsoft allows you to operate in teams. We show you how to do it."

The plug-in supports collaboration among architects, developers and IT professionals. It is designed to guide large software project teams through the discovery, design, construction and implementation process, using pre-defined and customizable roadmaps.

Although designed for VSTS, the stand-alone version of Process MeNtOR works in any development environment and competes with IBM's Rational Unified Process, which is designed for Java programmers.

Edwards said the application's strength is in efficiently bringing together individuals. "Today, software development is complicated and needs to embrace a lot of people to bring that whole project together," he said.

"Process MeNtOR pulls a group together and makes them into a team. It gives individuals more than if they did it on their own."

When customers buy VSTS, Object Consulting provides them with a further installation of Process MeNtOR. For customers already working in the Microsoft environment, the plug-in feeds off the Microsoft Office system such as Project 2003 and SharePoint Portal Server 2003.

The plug-in then automatically populates templates in Word which in turn can be published to a project Web site using SharePoint, so customers can get version control and reporting capabilities.

Edwards said a problem with development environments is many teams use e-mail as a version control system. That is fine in a small development environment, but inefficient in a large-scale set up. "By centralizing everything around SharePoint Portal we save a lot of problems."

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