Tasktop brings Eclipse Mylyn to Microsoft Visual Studio

by Wesley Coelho, November 16th, 2010

Following best practices for software development requires an ever more sophisticated set of ALM tools to manage code, builds, distributed collaboration, and project planning. For efficient development, it’s critical that these tools are integrated with the developer’s IDE. Microsoft and IBM recognize this and provide full IDE integration for those teams who can use a pure Visual Studio or Rational Team Concert stack.

For the Eclipse IDE community, this need for IDE integration is evident from the community that has developed around Mylyn, the de facto ALM integration framework for Eclipse. Mylyn is now a top-level Eclipse project with an ecosystem of more than 50 commercial and open source ALM integrations. Nearly all of the leading ALM vendors have embraced Mylyn with a connector now available for 80-90% of vendors in the Forrester Wave for Agile Development Management tools and Gartner Marketscope for ALM rated “positive” or above.

Up until now, teams with a heterogeneous tool set wanting to take advantage of this thriving integration ecosystem with the Visual Studio IDE have simply been out of luck. With the upcoming Tasktop for Visual Studio, the massive R&D investment in the Mylyn framework as well as the network of interoperable integrations and community of contributors becomes available to Visual Studio developers.

For example, a development team may be using Visual Studio for development with product features managed in TFS and defects tracked in both HP Quality Center and a legacy Bugzilla. In this scenario developers can take advantage of Tasktop for Visual Studio to provide integrated access to Quality Center and Bugzilla defects from within a unified personal task list in Visual Studio. Developers can then easily create and navigate links between dependent or related artifacts in any system with a Mylyn connector, all from within the Visual Studio IDE.

The task list provides access to stories, defects and tasks from ALM systems with a Mylyn connector from within the Visual Studio IDE.

How does it work?

The personal task list and rich task editors are embedded in the Visual Studio IDE as they are in Eclipse. The Tasktop for Visual Studio application runs alongside the Visual Studio IDE to provide access to the Mylyn infrastructure and its connectors. Installing a Mylyn connector into Tasktop for Visual Studio will enable access to tasks from the corresponding ALM system from within the task list in Visual Studio. While it isn’t necessary for developers to use or even see the Tasktop application, it provides additional functionality such as the ability to track and report the time spent on each task, integrate Outlook email with the task list, and track the web pages and documents associated with each task. The task list in the Tasktop application is kept in sync with the task list embedded in Visual Studio.

The rich editor allows developers to view and update tasks from a diverse
set of ALM solutions from with Visual Studio

What about task context and focus?

ALM interoperability and IDE integration is only part of what Mylyn provides. Once work items (tasks) are integrated with the IDE, Mylyn automatically tracks the context of source code that is relevant for each task. This context is used to filter or focus the UI to show only what’s relevant for the task at hand, which measurably reduces time spent repeatedly looking for code while enabling one-click multitasking and interruption recovery. Contexts are also helpful for traceability, knowledge transfer and code reviews, among other things.

The first version of Tasktop for Visual Studio won’t yet support context and focus for source code in the IDE, but the Tasktop instance running alongside Visual Studio provides context tracking for web pages and documents.

Availability and Roadmap

While dates are not yet finalized, Tasktop for Visual Studio will be rolled out as follows:

• Beta release with support for HP ALM and Quality Center and Bugzilla
• Support for plugging in any Mylyn connector for use with Visual Studio out of the box
• GA release of Tasktop for Visual Studio
• Support for context capture and focus in the Visual Studio IDE

Sign up to be notified when Tasktop for Visual Studio beta is released.

11 Responses to “Tasktop brings Eclipse Mylyn to Microsoft Visual Studio”

  1. Tasktop Blog » Blog Archive » Introducing the Microsoft Team Foundation Server Mylyn Connector Says:

    […] Tasktop Blog The Tasktop Team on task-focused productivity « Tasktop brings Eclipse Mylyn to Microsoft Visual Studio […]

  2. Peter Stibrany Says:

    Interesting. Can you share some technical details too? I guess it’s rewritten into C#, so connectors needs to be rewritten as well.

  3. Wesley Coelho Says:

    Hi Peter, the Visual Studio integration is written in C# but it invokes the Mylyn infrastructure in Java. Because of the way this works, it will soon be possible to use Mylyn connectors out of the box. However, some connectors may require C# customizations. Contact us at info@tasktop.com if you’d like more detail.

  4. Aleksander Says:

    Will it be a paid for product? When will it be available?

  5. Wesley Coelho Says:

    Aleksander, Tasktop for Visual Studio will be a commercial product but there will be free evaluation options. Please stay tuned to this blog next week for more details on availability.

  6. TFS Links and Quick Hits – December 1, 2010 | Learn TFS Says:

    […] in-house.  Those of you that prefer the Mylyn interface can also get the same in Visual Studio, as Tasktop is also bringing a Mylyn connector to Visual Studio. Read more from Blog Click here to cancel […]

  7. Tasktop Blog » Blog Archive » Tasktop for Visual Studio public beta now available! Says:

    […] Blog post introducing Tasktop for Visual Studio […]

  8. Mike Says:

    Hmm, so the editor doesnt provide any filtering or focus on files in VS file tree?

  9. Mike Says:

    And if not, this is effectually a beta-version, and charging $200 without the functionality of code-focus (which is why most people would use this) is a bit steep..

  10. David Green Says:

    @Mike the main motivation for using Tasktop with Visual Studio is to connect your dev team with one of the many task repositories supported by Tasktop within the IDE. (See http://tasktop.com/connectors for an extensive list) This is really great for Visual Studio teams that don’t exclusively use TFS. The task list has many benefits beyond code focusing. My favorite feature is how it maintains read state, indicates incoming and highlighting of changes within the task editor. This enables me to turn off email notifications, which can be a real burden.

    Of course, we realize that task activation and code focusing are also great features of Tasktop, currently missing from our Visual Studio integration. This is something that we’re working on – but understand that platform extensibility is what makes this possible on the Eclipse platform. Though the current version of Visual Studio doesn’t offer the level of extensibility we need to implement task focus, we have high hopes for Visual Studio vNext.

  11. Licheng Zhou Says:

    @Mike, does the connector support the code-focus now?

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