Beginner's Guide to Visual Studio Online

Introduction

Visual Studio has long been a staple for developers targeting applications for the Microsoft ecosystem.

So when Microsoft recently announced public availability of Visual Studio Online, it would be a bit of an understatement to say that the developer community was a bit shocked with the announcement.

The shock was felt because while Microsoft as a whole was moving to the cloud, it was not expected that the developer tools would also be part of the cloud bandwagon.  Visual Studio Online marks the shift to building applications in an online environment.

Microsoft has made it easy for developers to build applications anywhere by utilizing cloud infrastructure to connect your favorite IDE (Visual Studio, Eclipse, XCode and other Git clients) to Visual Studio Online and enable building software without requiring you to install or configure any server.

Features of Visual Studio Online

Cloud Based Code Hosting

Visual Studio Online supports hosting code in the cloud, which enables access to it anywhere anytime.

With first class support for Git, developers can now choose between Team Foundation Version Control and Git to manage their code.

Code repositories can be configured to support many developers with permissions that can be can restricted to authorized people.

Project Management

One of the things which have changed in Microsoft developer tools is the ever-improving support for project management. With Visual Studio Online, you can quickly manage your project in the cloud. Visual Studio online supports agile project management and the ability to plan, manage and track work for your team across all backlogs.

Visual Studio Online supports the creation of backlog and planning sprints completely online. Visual Studio Online provides scrum-based task board to track sprint progress as well as Kanban board to track overall progress.

Build and Test in the Cloud

Visual Studio Online supports managing, building, and testing your application completely in the cloud. One can choose to either build on demand or as part of continuous integration.

Build - Microsoft offers automating the build process, which can be scheduled every time code gets checked in or on a recurring basis (like overnight). Visual Studio Online also offers the ability to track the health of your builds over time.

Test - Developers can create and run manual tests for their application completely in the cloud. Moreover, Visual Studio Online also supports load tests for your application, which can be run in the cloud.

Deploy - Visual Studio Online also offers the ability to deploy continuously, including deploying to Windows Azure.

Monitor Applications

Visual Studio Online offers Visual Studio Online Application Insights (an online service) that can help track the operational health of your service whether it is running on-premises, Azure Cloud, private cloud or a mix of the three.

This allows developers to identify the bottlenecks of services and visualize how the application behaves with rich dashboards and reports. This can help developers understand using real-time data about how the application is being used.

Connecting with Other Services

Visual Studio Online supports connecting a Visual Studio Online account to a variety of services:

  • AppVeyor
  • Azure Service Bus
  • Azure Storage
  • Campfire
  • Flowdock
  • HipChat
  • Kato
  • MyGet
  • Trello
  • UserVoice
  • Web Hooks
  • Zapier

Summary

In this article we were introduced to Visual Studio Online. I hope you found this information useful. In upcoming articles, we will cover some of the above mentioned tasks as hands-on exercises.

About the Author

Vipul Patel is a Program Manager currently working at Amazon Corporation. He has formerly worked at Microsoft in the Lync team and in the .NET team (in the Base Class libraries and the Debugging and Profiling team). He can be reached at vipul.patel@hotmail.com



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