I got chance to organise an analyst briefing last week at Microsoft to cover the architecture capabilities of Visual Studio 2010. It was a great session as there’s such a strong and exciting story growing for Microsoft in their support not just for architects but right across the Application lifecycle that also reaches out to support development not just of .NET but other languages too which is a great example of Microsoft taking interoperability seriously.

There’s plenty I could talk about, such as UML support and more significant, that you can reverse engineer the likes of sequence diagram directly from your code. Or the architectural explorer and the support for creating layer diagrams with rules that you can then validate your code against plus the support for dependency matrices, and so the list goes on.

However, this raised a slight concern for me that with the growth in tools like these could eventually lead to a significant overhead in learning how to use them. Obviously they are built to be intuitive and easy to use but all the same, the shear volume could become overwhelming.

But as luck would have it the meeting coincided with the release of a codeplex project that provides guidance on how to get the best out of Microsoft’s Architect Tooling in Visual Studio. This has been produced by a set of Microsoft Rangers who have the job it provide out of band solutions for missing features or guidance on the product so you know it’s always going to be useful and based on real-world experiences.

Finally, as this guidance had input from Alan Wills, who has long been synonymous with the world of software modelling, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s worth downloading an evaluation copy of VS2010 Ultimate and having a trail if you haven’t already upgraded!

Architect Tooling:
vsarchitectureguide.codeplex.com/

Visual Studio Ultimate:
www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/products/2010-editions/ultimate