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Microsoft's Visual Studio courts database pros

A new database-oriented tool in Visual Studio Team System will let programmers more easily make, test changes to database designs.

Microsoft has added a database-oriented tool to Visual Studio Team System, an application development suite designed to bolster the company's sales to large corporations, the software giant said Wednesday.

Visual Studio Team System has different tools aimed at various participants in the software development process, including coders, testers, project managers and architects who design systems. These collaborative development suites are generally used for complicated, larger-scale projects.

On June 12, at the Microsoft TechEd 2006 conference, the company plans to release a preview of Visual System Team Edition for Database Professional. The product is expected to be ready by the end of the year.

Microsoft executives said the latest Team System product makes it easier for database administrators and programmers to make and test changes to database schemas--the designs for how databases store information.

The Database Professionals tool allows developers to manage database schemas with a so-called "source code version control tool," which helps communication with other development professionals, said Matt Nunn, senior product manager for Microsoft's developer division. For example, information on when schemas are changed can be stored on a Visual Studio shared server and viewed by developers and project managers, he said.

Longer term, Microsoft's plan is to better integrate its team development products with project management programs to give corporations more control over internal software development projects, said Prashant Sridharan, the group product manager in Microsoft's developer division.

Microsoft is creating ties between Visual Studio Team System and its Office Project application so that high-level technology managers can check progress and analyze a company's entire portfolio of software projects.

In addition, the software giant is making it easier to share development-related information, such as code additions to existing applications, with Microsoft's System Center management tools to make software easier and cheaper to administer, Sridharan said.

Separately, Sridharan said that the next version of Visual Studio, code-named Orcas, will be available in 2007. The follow-on version of Orcas, called Orcas Plus One, will likely ship in 2009, he added.