by Matteo Emili, Microsoft MVP

One of the key points of an ALM platform is to give each user the right tool for his job. But the difference between a product and a platform is that you have different key roles as your users’ base.

And this is where Visual Studio ALM excels. You can access Team Foundation Server– which is the foundation, the server part of the platform – with a myriad of different tools in order to tailor the experience for the target user.

A developer can use Visual Studio, of course. The 2013 release improves a lot from the previous version, with the introduction of a new ton of features.

One of the strongest request in the past year was to add Git support to Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server. Microsoft listened at feedbacks, and now we Visual Studio supports Git in the Team Explorer. But moreover, they introduced Git on Team Foundation Server as an option for the Source Control! So if the development team is used to Git or needs a strong Distributed Version Control System, they have it.

It is not a “Microsoft Git”. It is the standard, broadly used Git everybody is used to. But it has some strong benefits by having been introduced into Team Foundation Server. Its security is integrated with Active Directory, and the Team Build is able to build from Git like the TFVC. So it is perfectly integrated.

But the 2013 release is not just about Visual Studio and developers. In the testing arena, apart from the Web Test Case Management introduced in Visual Studio 2012 and enhanced in Visual Studio 2013, testers will benefit from the Cloud-based Load Testing.

It is based on Team Foundation Service, and you can run up to 15000 virtual user minutes per account per month during the preview. Hereyou can find a tutorial about it.

A big improvement has been introduced in the area of Project Management, with the Agile Portfolio Management feature. This feature fills the gap between managing the single project and the whole portfolio a company might have.

With this capability it becomes way easier to manage products and portfolios, without forcibly rely on Project Server – which could be overkill for certain companies. Of course the Office add-ins are fully supported, so you can track this as usual in Excel for instance.

Eventually, even Release Managers have something new to do. Microsoft acquired the InRelease division of InCycle Software, providing Team Foundation Server with a out-of-the-box Release Management solution.

It’s very powerful and intuitive, creating a solution which required some efforts in customization up to yesterday. It is based on Windows Workflow Foundation and it features a huge amount of activities for creating your own release pipeline. It is definitely worth a try!