Tell me what’s wrong with Microsoft’s Team System

At Microsoft’s Remix08 in Brighton last month, a developer asked about Visual Studio Team System during a panel discussion. What interested me was not so much the question itself, but that after the session she was surrounded by other delegates advising her not to use it. These were people who had tried it, or were using it, but found it frustrating. The general proposal was to use open-source tools instead – things like Subversion and CruiseControl.NET.

I was surprised by the strength of feeling. I’ve looked in some detail at Team System and been reasonably impressed by what it does – but that’s not the same as using it in anger, of course. I admit, for my own work I do use Subversion, just because it is lightweight, works well cross-platform, and runs on my Linux web space as well as locally; but I am not part of a team of developers working on Microsoft platform projects, which is where Team System ought to make sense.

For the sake of balance, I’ll add that I met a developer at the airport on the way to Remix Las Vegas earlier this year, who loves Team System and told me that it is Microsoft’s best product.

I’d love to hear in more detail what users think of Team System. Is it broken, or does it depend on how it is set up and maintained? What are the key things that Microsoft needs to fix? Or is it just great, and those complainers in Brighton atypical?

6 thoughts on “Tell me what’s wrong with Microsoft’s Team System”

  1. I work in the IT side of an Investment Bank which is not prepared to pay the license costs for VSTS.
    Also, we have a big investment in SVN (and other language-agnostic tools such as Atlassian’s Jira and FishEye) which works across all the teams in the bank (Java, C++, Ruby etc.) so it’s hard to argue for a different system just for the .NET developers.

  2. Thanks Benjamin. I agree with your reasoning; but I wonder what the main pain points are for developers actually using Team System?


  3. Tim,

    That is largely a religious issue. For the Microsoft technologies (or largely MS technologies) shop, nothing can beat Team System, if only for unrivaled VS integration.

    However, work habits differ a lot if people use a lot of non-MS development stack in parallel. It sounds like the case you were seeing.


  4. I think you’ll find that it is a religious issue to a large extent. I remember the trouble I had implementing an organisation-wide installation of Borland StarTeam. StarTeam performs well in a global scenario, is very comprehensive and is agnostic of the development tools you use. The open source zealots however refused to use it, citing quite spurious objections (such as the fact it didn’t email file diffs out every time somebody checked in a change, a bloody annoying feature at the best of times).

    For this reason alone I expect that you’ll find that a core subset of developers will reject MTS out of hand, regardless of how well it performs.

  5. Clyde, Eugene, of course religion comes into it. I don’t expect many of those with religious objections to turn up to an event like Remix though. On the other hand, I’m not getting much in the way of specifics so far.



  6. A very valid point. Perhaps it’s just that it doesn’t offer enough in terms of functionality over the free offerings to justify the cost? Or that it’s too process-oriented?

    Whatever specifics you find out, I’d be very intrigued to hear them, as I was working in this field for a few years before my current position.

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