MS Visual Studio 2005 Has Competition In Nteam

by Ankush Sohoni    Apr 20, 2005

Microsoft’s plans for its new Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) 2005, does not appear to be too developer friendly for small development teams. A new project, Nteam offers developers an alternative to the giant’s plans for VSTS.

Nteam, founded by Alan Stevens and Jason Bentley is a collage of various Open Source projects such as Nunit, Nant, NCover, CruiseControl.NET, etc. to form a collaborative tool similar in functionality to Microsoft’s VSTS 2005 projecting it as an alternative.

The new VSTS release is not meant for small development shops, but for large-scale enterprises. Where does this leave the rest of the developers, small and mid-size development teams?

“No where. VSTS does not cater to small development teams for two reasons, the cost and, in a small team; a developer may have many different roles such as project manager, developer, and tester. If my understanding of VSTS licensing is right, to use the tools that each of these roles require you would have to buy each. We created NTeam to close the gap. We want the tools that VSTS offers but cannot justify the purchase,” said Jason Bentley, co-founder, Nteam.

“Our hope is to tie the disparate development tools mentioned above together into a cohesive project management solution that will have a profound effect on the way every one involved in a development project perform their day to day activities,” implied Bentley and Stevens.

Adding to the same Stevens said “Ideally we will provide an architecture that allows new and existing tools to integrate with the NTeam platform.”

“Jason and I have been discussing the features of Microsoft’s VSTS for months. After two discussions at our local .NET Users Group with Microsoft technology evangelists, it became clear that VSTS was being positioned out of the reach of many small and medium sized development teams. Jason suggested this project and I immediately agreed to participate,” added Stevens.

The bitterness expressed by the development community only reinforces Nteam’s belief that this project and its success is vital to developers and businesses.

In terms of migration from Visual Studio to Nteam, Bentley said, “Many developers currently use NAnt, Nunit, NCover, etc. Additionally, most small teams have a central issue tracking interface, while some use a separate project management solution, with the rest adopting a totally different approach. We want to give them the option of having the entire development lifecycle packaged together in a suite of tools that play nice together.”

“There is a real need for collaboration and project management tools that tie in to developer tools. Every project I have been involved in has required communication between technical and non-technical team members and stakeholders. We have merely decided to fill the gap we see between the existing, excellent Open Source tools and a complete platform for project management and team based software,” observed Stevens.

The first release of Nteam project is expected by 15 July 2005. “We are going to put out the first release as soon as possible, however, nothing will be released that is not easy to setup, configure, documented. We have decided to use the Mozilla license in this case,” assured Bentley.

Nteam’s initial offering will support .NET 1.1. .Net 2.0 will be added next and then Mono. “We have no plans to support .NET 1.0,” informed Bentley.

The project is seeing a lot of developer support too. “Many different teams have all ready contacted us to see if we can help each other. The development team of #Develop and some Open Source continuous integration development teams have evinced interest,” noted Bentley.

Since Nteam is opening up to small development shops initially, is the enterprise space, the ultimate goal that must be reached? Bentley said, “Eventually, we may be able to engineer the project to support larger development teams but the enterprise space is very hard to harness. Others have tried and failed miserably. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft accomplishes.”