How I Discovered Open Source Support in TFS / VSTS!

I’ve always been attracted to the new and shiny.

In August of 1995 MICROSOFT introduced Windows 95 to the world. With a radically new UI design, an amazing vision of how 32-bit apps should play together, and an aggressive marketing campaign to increase the consumer awareness of Windows (At the time, only 3-4% of the population knew Microsoft’s name or what they did), Microsoft Windows 95 made us young, upstart computer nerds salivate.  Or at least me.

If it was new, different, exciting,= then I needed it.  My office is filled with items that would make me the envy of geeks everywhere, or at least be a good history lesson on the evolution of cool tech.  But keeping up with technology has become a nearly impossible task.

Now a days, I am more often learning about new technologies, hardware, software through random happenstance than by purposed learning.  In fact, in today’s modern, mobile app world, new software features are being rolled out at such a fast pace that there’s little time for companies to create documentation or make announcements about the release of the latest features.  And even if there was a big announcement, the news would likely be drowned out by the Beyonce’s latest Twitter campaign, or be lost in a stream of perpetual Facebook updates.  The fact is, the big companies have such a large portfolio of applications that the announcement of one release would likely step on the release news of some other application another team within the same organization is releasing, and smaller companies just don’t have loud enough voices to make a dent in the social media noise.

So much noise and so many releases at any given point means that I’m unlikely to hear about a new application, new feature, new change, before I just accidentally stumble upon it.

My Discovery is one of those not-as-much-heralded-as-accidentally-discovered nuggets of awesome I just uncovered.

I recently worked with a team which was implementing TFS/VSTS for requirements management and testing with the intention of eventually implementing the enter suite of TFS functionality.  They’re not a .NET shop, preferring to do development work in Java.  In addition, they use a variety of SCM solutions, GitHub, on premises Git, Subversion, and others.  As for their development environments, teams use a variety of IDE’s including IntelliJ and Eclipse.  I suspect there are a small amount of Visual Studio use but most teams use IntelliJ, and that’s how I stumbled across

I had used Eclipse for some very rudimentary Java development but had never touched IntelliJ.  Still, IntelliJ was the predominant IDE used by this customer, so I needed to figure out how TFS would integrate with that particular IDE.  Doing a quick search resulted in my running across  With, Microsoft has built out a site focused on showing Java developers how to integrate Team Foundation Server or VSTS into their development practices.  Historically, Eclipse was the IDE du jour for Java developers if they had to integrate with TFS.  (I’m sure you know about Team Explorer Everywhere).  Now there’s support for IntelliJ and other Dev environments!

Microsoft Loves Open Source

Microsoft is quickly moving to support Open Source development, Open Source OS’s and Open Source IT.  You can see it with their purchase of Xamarin for the support of cross-platform development, the partnership with Red Hat, and the integration of Java support in TFS.  In a world where we have so many debates over who makes the best OS, computers, phones, languages, IDE, etc, it’s refreshing to see Microsoft add strong support for non-.NET development!

And if you’re an open-source shop, or have teams that prefer open-source development, take a look at Azure.  One in four Azure virtual machines runs Linux.  Azure has a substantial investment in open source technologies and if you’re looking at extending your open source environment into the cloud, Azure may be your ticket. In fact, they’ve dedicated a site describing the various open source options available in Azure! You’ll find that Azure supports Linux, Java, PHP, MySQL and a plethora of other non-Microsoft technologies.  This is an exciting prospect for companies that have a substantial investment in open-source and are looking to move some or all of their services to the cloud!



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