Many people have asked what is happening with the Software Factory Initiative. This post summarizes recent events.

Perhaps the most significant change is that the leadership of the Software Factory Initiative has moved from the Visual Studio Team Architect team to the Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) Platform Architecture Team. This move was designed to broaden the scope of the initiative, enabling us to address more of the Software Factories methodology, while continuing to leverage the many technologies from Team Architect and the Visual Studio SDK used to build and apply factories. It will also make it easier for us to leverage other Microsoft products, such as InfoPath and SharePoint. The Visual Studio Team Architect team remains actively committed to supporting Software Factories, as do the rest of Visual Studio Team System, the Visual Studio Ecosystem team and patterns & practices.


Specifically, VS and VSTS will continue to provide key technologies for factory development and application. Several new features from the VS Ecosystem team, for example, will make life easier for both factory authors and factory users.


Also, the patterns & practices team will continue to build on their existing factories. p&p recently announced the release of GAT/GAX for VS 2008, as well as updated releases of the Web Client Software Factory (WCSF), the Smart Client Software Factory (SCSF) and the Web Service Software Factory (WSSF) for VS 2008.


DPE is playing a new role in the Software Factory Initiative. In addition to serving as the primary point of contact to the Software Factory community, DPE will provide overall leadership for the initiative, evangelize the methodology, validate it through partner and customer engagements, and support product groups developing tool and runtime features for factory development and application.


We are currently preparing updated messaging about the Software Factory Initiative with several other teams, including the VS, VSTS and Oslo teams, in order to help our partners and customers understand how these technologies relate to each other and to other Microsoft technologies. We will also be consolidating and updating the MSDN sites associated with the Software Factory Initiative.


DPE will also take the lead on evolving and implementing the methodology, in partnership with Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS). An important goal in this area moving forward is providing guidance to factory authors and users. This guidance will include:


  • Software Factory Guidance documenting best practices for the planning, development and application of Software Factories.
  • A Software Factory Reference Implementation, cross linked with the guidance, which illustrates factory planning, development and application using a real world example.
  • A Software Factory Platform Specification, to be published on MSDN, which identifies the Microsoft products and technologies used to plan, develop and apply Software Factories, and guidance for selecting, installing, and configuring them.


Another important goal is integrating Software Factories with Software-plus-Services (S+S) Blueprints, a branded collection of factories based on the Project Glidepath infrastructure developed by Michael Lehman. S+S Blueprints are designed to bridge the gap between vision and technology, and to reduce friction in building S+S applications by showing people how to build S+S applications, instead of just telling them. They are designed to inspire and contribute to the development of new S+S applications. The integration of S+S Blueprints and Software Factories will include the alignment of their metadata schemas, packaging formats, distribution mechanisms, platform technologies and authoring processes.


Another important goal is integrating service oriented technologies into Software Factories, such as technologies for service metadata, service catalogs and service composition, to provide implementation support for Microsoft's S+S strategy.


We also plan to provide better support for processes at the front end of the Software Factory life cycle, such as domain analysis, business case analysis, factory scoping, feature modeling, variability mapping, and architecture derivation, and to further integrate Software Factories with application portfolio management, project portfolio management, and other enterprise architecture practices. The result of these changes will be better support for Software Factories as a methodology for software product line engineering.


Finally, it is important to note that Microsoft is committed to the Software Factory initiative. We believe in the capabilities provided by factories and are committed to moving them forward. We will continue working closely with partners and customers through our advisory board, Proof of Concept engagements, and general evangelism.


You can work with Software Factories today, using patterns & practices Software Factories today to build architecturally sound Web service, Web client, smart client and mobile client applications. You can also customize the p&p Software Factories or build your own using the DSL Tools, GAT/GAX, the Designer Integration Service and Visual Studio.