Monday, April 30, 2007

TFS vs. OSS - Round

I have watching the new Team System vs. open source solutions war between Roy Osherove (in the left corner, TFS team) and Oren Eini (right corner, OSS team).

It all began with Oren writing a post about his dislike of VSTS because it's not a “zero friction tool”. Roy responded by listing all the advantages of VSTS.
Oren's reply was "Everything you can do I can do better (using OSS)".
Roy's answer was that as a whole package, VSTS is easier to work with and maintain than a range of OSS tools.
Oren next post turned to self-reflection, focusing on the fact VSTS doesn't give him enough control ("tomorrow we'll be taking over the world, Pinky!") and the fact the gliches in VSTS make him miserable. Roy pointed out Oren is still using other, less-than-perfect tools.
Oren posted some more stuff on the matter but I think the original focus of the debate got a little lost on the way there.

I agree with Roy on the matter that as an entire package, VSTS is easier to work with. I had the "privilege" of integrating NUnit with the build in Team System, and I can personally testify it took much more than using the integrated tests in VSTS. As a one-stop-shop, Team System is very comfortable. (I have noticed many commenters listing their own OSS configuration neglected to list a task/bugs tools)
I worked with it using a Scrum (agile methodology) template, therefor the work item management and reporting, combined with check ins was the basis of our work - we simply couldn't have done Scrum without it. (btw, does FogBugz have a Scrum template?)

As for control, Team System is more extensible than any previous Microsoft product I know of.
And as for "zero friction" - well, I have been reading Oren's blog for a while, and I get the impression the man like his work environment to be perfect, and even tiny bugs/glitches annoy the hell out of him.
I have had things that annoyed me in VSTS, but never to a degree of seriously considering switching system because of them. I'm fine with "3% friction".

And there is also the point of Jeremy Miller's comment:
"I've heard pro-VSTS folks slam the OSS tools for being tinker toys and difficult to integrate (not in my experience, but it's their story), but many of these same pro-VSTS folks sell consulting services to set up VSTS. If VSTS is so easy to get up and going, why are people able to make a living doing just that?"
Every organization need some tweaking, and VSTS is not so easy to setup, but a collection of OSS tools is not easier.
But my point is: One of the selling points for VSTS is the fact there are people like Roy, helping organizations move to TFS without losing developer-hours. There may be similar OSS advisory firms out there, but I never heard of them.

Update: You can read David Starr's view here.

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