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June 4, 2013

TFS online available for free, for small SharePoint projects

by Anders B. Skjønaa (SharePointPeople.dk)

There is no excuse to not use a proper project/task management tool when running your next SharePoint project.

For years we have been using different tools with different clients and projects. Generally they all add a lot of value to the process of delivering a solution, because of the implicit requirements of documentation (like who did what and when) that comes with these tools. And Microsoft have built far better support for Scrum into Team Foundation Server, I am more and more leaning toward TFS.

Not because it the easiest tool to use, but because it has great integration to most of the other tools we are using; Visual Studio especially, but you can also use web access for team members and the Visual Studio shell (Team Explorer) tool for the Project and Task Management.

Now this was not meant to be a big sales pitch for Microsoft TFS, but I just wanted to point to the fact, that TFS is now (also) in the cloud!

On http://tsf.visualstudio.com you can sign up using your Microsoft ID / Live account and easily instantiate your own TFS Service. You can immediately setup new Projects using the web UI, but with Visual Studio installed, you can also add your new TFS instance in the cloud to VS and use it like always. The setup process only takes minutes, and the best thing… It’s free up til 5 users!

A lot of SharePoint Projects have less than 5 project members, so that’s a great opportunity to add a more managed process. But I would also suggest that SharePoint Service Delivery organizations take a look at using TFS Online for managing tasks, project portfolios and maintaining technical system documentation. Like with everything else, the tool doesn’t do it by itself, but since the usability has gotten a lot better, there is a good chance that you can boost product and service delivery quality with this.TFS_Online_Screenshot

This service from Microsoft is still in evaluation, meaning that you can actually use it completely free now – also with more than 5 users – but there will be a pricing model implemented later this year. Microsoft says that you will still be able to have 5 user for free, and if you have a MSDN subscription. you can also use TFS Online as an added benefit. MSDN subscriptions that qualify are:

  • Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN
  • Visual Studio Premium with MSDN
  • Visual Studio Test Professional with MSDN

Remember that only MSDN Premium og Ultimate have SharePoint Development license in the box. See the full MSDN subscription comparison chart here.

Another thing that I think is great is, that TFS Online also will support Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Express, which is the free Development tools, that you can download from Microsoft’s website. I have not tried it, but this suddenly makes TFS available for students and entry level developers. Good vibes from Microsoft!

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