"If you look at the application life cycle, there has been a disconnect for quite a while between the application development side and the database people," said Matt Nunn, a senior product manager for Microsoft's developer division. "This will hopefully bridge the gap between the two teams."
When Microsoft launched Visual Studio Team System in November, it said its intent was to gradually fill in the line with role-specific editions. The system launched with three, covering software architects, developers and testers. The new database edition is the first added since that initial release.
Microsoft partner Quest echoed the line that the new software will fill a much-needed gap: "It's always been an issue how the database developer is left out of the software development life cycle," said Douglas Chrystall, Quest's chief architect.
Quest is both an ISV partner and user of Microsoft's Visual Studio software. Two of Quest's internal teams have fully adopted Visual Studio Team System, including an early version of the new database-developer software. Complexity is the product's sticking point, Chrystall said.
"There was a three- to six-month period before we really got up to speed," he said. "It was a slow start initially. But once the teams [came to] grips with the complexity of the product, we had big productivity gains." Standardizing on Team System has let Quest replace the hodgepodge of heterogeneous tools it previously used to manage its development process, Chrystall said.
Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals will include tools for managing changes to database schema, a unit test harness, and a feature that generates test data mimicking the volume and format of production-database information (for use in circumstances that require shielding the actual data, such as when it contains private medical or financial information). The first community technology preview (CTP) of the software is scheduled for release at Microsoft's TechEd show, which opens June 11 in Boston.
Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals will carry the same price tag as other Team Edition role-based versions, which list for $5,469. Customers that have purchased Microsoft's all-in-one Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite with update licensing will receive the new database developer software for free, according to company executives.