Microsoft's MSF update to Version 4 is slowly inching towards release. Unlike earlier versions of MSF, MSF4 separates into two separate approaches: MSF Agile and MSF for Capability Maturity Model Integration Process Improvement (SIC). MSF Agile has been around for some time - a beta was issued last year. A first draft of the 'other' MSF, which I'll shorten to simply MSF 4 Formal, is now available for download.
You can now download process guidance for MSF for CMMI® Process Improvement, (MSF 4 Formal). This download is process guidance only - thus it appears that the full integration between MSF Formal and VSTS is not quite ready.
I just have three questions for the MS folks regarding MSF. First, MSF Formal is described at the download site as an "highly iterative, adaptive planning, agile software development process", which is what I thought MSF Agile was. Maybe this is just over-enthusiastic web page editing, but there is some real confusion in my mind here. Can we get teh web site updated to perhaps make the disctincitons.
Second, given that these details were released today, why didn't MS discuss them last week at TechEd? A great talk, given by the undisputed master of MSF (Rafal), would have been the perfect place for this disscussion. Instead, we got the Best Talk of TechEd EMEA but without some of the details. Imagine how much better the talk would have been had Rafal been allowed to divulge more details. Please MSF team, remember your friends!
And finally, about the name. However you slice it up, the full product name (Microsoft Solultions Framework for Capability Maturity Model Integration Process Improvement) is somewhat on the lame side. It uses 10 long words to say what 'MSF 4 Formal would in 3 very much shorter words. Admittedly, the name manages to get some value out of the assciation with CMU and CMMI, etc. But to those not initiated into the mysteries of CMMI, it's not at all clear what this is all about. It sure doesn't sound like an IT Development Approach to me!
As Rafal explained it at TechEd, MSF 4 is a recognition that MSF 3 both did not scale well to small teams, and that scaling it up was harder than it should have been. So in effect, MSF now has a light weight, artifact thin, agile framework (MSF Agile) and a more process rich, artifact and process heavy version, which comes a lot closer to a full methodology. MSF 4 Agile is therefore lighter than MSF3, with MSF 4 Formal is richer and enterprise ready than MSF 3. I hope the MS materials make this distinction clear.
I'm really excited about MSF4, despite the lame name and the lack of disclosure thus far. I can't wait to see what the certification and training story is.