CodePlex isn't just a shiny, new, hexagonally-embossed website for hardcore, online collaborative software developers and aficionados, it's a website sitting on top of a burly, new software configuration management system called Visual Studio Team Foundation Server.

I am proud to have been involved in the creation of both of these v1 gems (VSTFS and CodePlex) and excited to echo the exciting news that you've probably already heard from bloggers like Rob, puzey.net, David Findley, etc...

You can now obtain a FREE DOWNLOAD of both standalone Visual Studio Team Foundation clients. If, and only if, you have been granted membership to a CodePlex project, you can use one of these clients to connect to the project and thereby experience the joy of integrated version control and work item tracking, all from the comfort of your very own desktop.

The Team Explorer image is 246MB and took me 1:25 seconds to download using Microsoft's gardenhose-sized Internet connection. It'll definitely take you a bit longer if you're juicing your neighbor's WiFi for everything it's worth.

If you have any questions about how to extract the img file, refer to these instructions on CodePlex. If you have questions about how to use either TF.exe or Team Explorer with CodePlex projects (remember, you must be a member of a project to create a workspace on your computer and start coding) please refer to the CodePlex Information and Discussion project.

I'd like to thank my buddies over on the Team Foundation team (Brian, Doug, Eric, Jeff, Ian, Rob, et al) for stepping up and making this awesome software available for free to CodePlex users, like me, who don't quite have enough spare change floating around in our pockets to puchase VSTS all up.

Finally...that's not all folks...you can use any Team Foundation client with CodePlex, not just those that Microsoft ships. If you are a Tortoise fan, please note that a group of industrious CodePlex project contributors recently began working on an open source, shell extension client for TFS called Turtle. Thanks to Scott and especially Clinton for making this happen. I'm looking forward to using Turtle myself, from time to time.