Thursday, November 19, 2015

VSTS Extensions - new Era of extensibility

Today Microsoft launched the new Extensibility model and equally importantly, a new Marketplace for extensions and offers surrounding VS Team Services, yes the renamed it .   Extensibility and customization has always been things that I feel very passionate for, so Im proud to have two extensions I’ve been working on in early adopter’s programs - live in the new marketplace.

Back to Extensibility first Extensibility and customizations has traditionally been one of Microsoft stronghold. Then moving to providing a hosted service, Microsoft set out to build it extensible, but things doesn’t always play out as you expect, and during the last 2-3 years the extensibility platform was frozen unpublished. But today Microsoft is back on track again, not only providing an cross platform extensibility platform for 3:rd parties, but making it a key aspect of future development, as they utilize the extensions platform themselves for building and releasing new features, and even repacking parts of the current product as extensions.

Marketplace - A new echo system
Although Microsoft has had a strong community and a large gallery of extensions. But the one thing that’s been hurting the Microsoft Echo system is the absence of a simple one stop shop for acquiring the add-ons needed for your development team/project regardless of if its free or paid. The new marketplace attempts to fill that gap bringing everything together and enabling a commercial backend to enable easy the purchase and help developers monetize on their effort. Hopefully the new Marketplace will bring a new momentum and dynamic both users and developers of extensions and add-ons.

Marketplace  - Live in Preview
During Connect Microsoft launched the new Marketplace, although still in Preview – it already had a lot of extensions and partners present. While anyone can sign up for a free Extension developer account, build, upload and share extensions to other accounts, publishing and making the extension publicly available on the market place is still limited to trusted partners and the early adopters and who have been building extensions and dogfooding the extensibility story in private preview.

Building extensions in private preview
As an MVP and ALM partner, I’ve been constantly nagging about the missing extensibility story during the last couple of years. So then the offer came to join the Private preview and help dogfood and shape the extensibility story, it didn’t take me long to jump onboard.
As the new extensibility model is all based on web technologies, one challenge was to catch up and get up to speed on everything that’s happened on the web for the last 10 years. If that wasn’t challenging enough – building for a platform and SDK that’s constantly growing and moving, with new releases every 3 weeks is also a challenge. To summarize its been a challenging road but also a lot of fun.

Enhanced Export
The Enhanced Export extension is actually my second project I started. Its released as a “personal” project and I got lots of ideas on how to making it even better. The basic is to render data – like test plans or work item queries using templates that the team/project can manage themselves.

Test case Explorer The Test case Explorer is released as a Microsoft Labs extension, but developed by Mathias Olausson and me, with much cooperation and engagement from our Microsoft product owner Ravi.
Test Case Explorer lets users view, pivot and filter the “test case” repository without manually creating different quires.