Bob on Development

January 26, 2007

How to Use Team Foundation Server Source Control with Visual Studio 2003

Filed under: Products,Techniques — Bob Grommes @ 9:33 pm

I’ve just begun work on extending a product that was authored in VS 2003 and is now three years old. The developers wanted to port it to VS 2005 but ran into a brick wall when it was discovered that the client’s old version of Citrix could not cope with .NET 2.0 being installed on the same machine; apparently it caused a complete meltdown requiring a from-scratch reinstall.

In the meantime the developers had standardized on Team Foundation Server (TFS). Rather than face losing the benefits of TFS source control while being stuck (hopefully temporarily) in the VS 2003 world, they came up with a pretty interesting workaround.

1. Put the VS 2003 project into a TFS workspace.

2. In the VS 2005 client, open the Source Control Explorer (View | Other Windows | Source Control Explorer). Right click on the root of the VS 2003 project and do a Get Latest. This downloads all the code to the client system without attempting to open the solution or any of its projects, which would trigger the VS 2003 to VS 2005 conversion wizard, which, if run, would render the projects unusable in VS 2003.

3. From here you work with the project using an instance of VS 2003, using the separate VS 2005 instance to do your check-outs and check-ins.

This is not a bad solution but I wondered … hasn’t someone solved this more elegantly? A quick Google search led me to a Microsoft download that not only allows you to access TFS from VS 2003, but from VS 6, or even FoxPro, Sybase or Toad!

This is heartening in a world where Microsoft doesn’t even support running many of these older but still very much in-use tools on the latest release of its own operating system. I was astounded that they’d even consider telling developers that as recent a product as VS 2003 isn’t and won’t be supported under Vista (although, oddly, VB6 is supported). I was even more surprised that even VS 2005 support will not really be here for months yet, when SP2 is released. Yet, somehow they have managed to support a number of old and even 3rd party tools in TFS. Could it be that at least some people at Microsoft have managed to overcome the Pointy-Haired Ones?

Then it stuck me that supporting these old environments will help sell significantly more TFS licenses, whereas supporting them in Vista will not sell significantly more copies of Vista. Think about it: development teams are 100% of the market for TFS, but probably just a small percent of the total market for Vista licenses. And Microsoft’s thinking is that developers know how to run VMs within Vista anyway, to support old products using old operating systems. Penny-wise and pound foolish, in my view — but no one is asking me.

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