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Microsoft Updates Azure-Hosted Team Foundation Service

Microsoft has rolled out what it has called its first major update to the Windows Azure-hosted Team Foundation Service (TFS).First announced at the company's BUILD developer symposium in September of this year, the new release adds development team e-mail notifications, timeline projections based on a team's velocity, and improvements to navigation and the overall user experience.

Although there have already been somewhere over a dozen smaller updates to fix bugs and/or smaller functionality tweaks, this update addresses the problems users were reportedly experiencing with top-level navigation in the web UI, which has been previously been described as confusing.

MSDN blogger Doug Neumann writes, "We've redone the navigation model to add a bit more style, change the project/team selection to a drop down, rework administration mode and more. We've also fleshed out the hubs (like Source) and improved the navigation for them. We think the result is visually appealing, easier to use, and requires less navigation."

Other enhancements here include improvement to homepages for teams and team projects to make them more interactive and intuitive. Developers can now enjoy visualizations of project status, which include team capacity and burndown projection for the current iteration. Users can also mark work item queries, build definitions, and source control folders as "Team Favorites". Microsoft says that every team favorite appears as a tile on the homepage representing the count of work items, the build status, or the count of recent check-ins.

Getting possibly to its most radical refresh, Team Foundation Service is redefining the very concept of a team itself. A team project can be broken down into a subset of smaller teams, each existing with their own backlog, taskboard, and favorites. The current web UI delineates the web experience for team projects and teams — Microsoft says that it knows, however, that many users work on single-team projects where this distinction is unnecessary. To simplify things, it has collapsed the team project and team pages for those users. If your team project is just one team, you won't need to switch between multiple pages.

MSDN's Neumann writes further, "We've had a lot of folks asking when e-mail notifications will be turned on. It's coming in this release. As a user, you'll simply provide an e-mail address and setup notifications to start receiving them. You can also subscribe your entire team to a notification if you want to make sure that everybody receives certain alerts."

Microsoft says that it will continue to iterate on new capabilities for TFS 11 and will frequently update the Team Foundation Preview Service with additional functionality.

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