Microsoft this week upgraded a tool enabling multiple integrated drive electronics (IDEs) to access the company's collaboration server for application lifecycle management, adding branching enhancements.

Team Foundation Server Microsoft Source Code Control Interface (MSSCCI) Provider allows a range of IDEs to access Team Foundation Server, the collaboration component of the Visual Studio 2005 Team System platform. Version 1.2 of the tool was made available this week.

Enhancements include the ability to handle branched solutions in Visual Studio 2003 and support for the Toad for SQL Server 2.0 database administration and SQL development application.

"The biggest improvement is in the area of branched projects," said Brian Harry, product unit manager in the Microsoft Developer Division, in his blog. "The experience is still not perfect but it is dramatically better than it was."
Branching allows a collection of files to evolve into divergent paths and is frequently used when teams must maintain two or more similar code bases. This can occur when a product is released and work has to start on a next version, according to Microsoft.

With Version 1.2, an issue remains in that the first time a project is opened after branching, users need to use the "Open from Source Control" capability rather than opening it from their local hard drive, Harry writes.

Among the IDEs that the tools support are Visual Studio 2003, Visual Studio .Net 2002, Sybase PowerBuilder 10.5, and Sparx Enterprise Architect 6.1.

An improved Choose Folder in Team Foundation Server dialog is featured in Version 1.2. Moreover, a bug has been fixed that had prevented the Properties dialog from displaying local path. "Get" operation performance has been improved as well. Miscellaneous bug fixes are part of the 1.2 release.

The release is available for download here by anyone who owns a Team Foundation Server Client Access Licence.