MSF 4 Formal is the 2nd half of the latest update to Microsoft Solultions Framework (the first half being MSF 4 Agile). I've just downloaded it and have started to play a bit. This post documents a few initial observations, which are put down in no particular order!
1. The team model is improved by the addition of an Architect role. This recognises the importance of architecture in soloution design. It also appears to make the role of the Program Manager a little less technical, and more Project Manager oriented than in MSF 3.
2. MSF Formal is more formal than MSF Agile for a reason. CMMI describes 5 (or 6) levels of process-based predictability of an organisation (or department) in terms of their ability to produce quality software. The higher the level the better. With most organisations at 0 or 1, MSF 4 can help you work at nigher level. This is done by adopting highly predictable (but not so agile) processes, which is good for larger or more formal projects, especially in more critical environments, where predictibility is more important than agility.
3. The process model seems de-emphasised. In looking at the material issued this week, it's hard to find much discusion of the overall process model. There's one good slide, in the governance area, which shows the MSF Process model as a waterfall model, which is of course how you usualy do MSF based projects. What I can't yet find is a good set of process descriptions. And given that CMMI is about repeatable processes I find this lack of process model hard to understand (although it might just be a beta issue).
4. Using both the Agile and Formal process guidance requires Interent Explorer. Using FoxPro just does not work. I'm sort of dissapointed that MS would, again, put out such a key project in a format that is not useable within FireFox.
5. The current documentation does not put any where near enough clear water between MSF Agile and MSF Formal. While it's probably just a beta issue, MSF Agile and MSF Formal look very, very similar, when they should be different. Well, different enough for IT Pros and Devs to easily know which one is right for them, in a given situation. The current similarity and overlap may be confusing. I'm just grateful for Rafal's great presentation last week at TechEd which provide much clairity (clarity missing today from the MS documentation).
I'll write more once I've had a chance to digest this all!