I got a question from one of my many readers 😉 wondering why I didn’t think that TeamPlain was right for me. Since this is a topic that I was planning on writing about I put together a list of my gripes! Unfortunately I haven’t had time to try out Teamprise yet which is a related technology, but if I ever get around to it I will definitely write about it here too.
Don’t get me wrong I think that TeamPlain is a great piece of software, I would really like to be able to use it but I have some issues with it. I work as a consultant on smallish custom development projects (2-10 developers) for clients who are usually not that technically savvy. Projects normally range from a couple of weeks to a year or so (although some are a lot longer). We also work quite a lot off-site and on multiple projects in parallel, so having a web and web service based interface to Team Foundation Server is great for us. Best of all most of the features that we as developers need is built into the product more or less out of the box. The value that TeamPlain could offer us is giving our clients, project managers and general executive types easy access to more parts of TFS than they get through SharePoint.
Problems that I see with TeamPlain for us
- When opening documents via TeamPlain they are not opened via SharePoint and cannot be updated to the SharePoint document library. SharePoint is web based also so we could just have connected to the SharePoint site instead.
- Reports can be accessed via SharePoint just as well as with TeamPlain, ok you don’t get the nice looking drop-downs with a list of reports. On the other hand the reports are web based so users can connect to the report server instead.
- The integration with Source Control is read-only so it is only useful for non-developer access to source control. We don’t want non-development artifacts stored in source control; they should be stored on the SharePoint site or in the wiki, so we have no use of this feature.
- There is no SharePoint integration, so you have to choose if you go in through SharePoint or the TeamPlain entry point. Since we also have a wiki this means we actually have to choose between three entries instead of having one big Project Dashbord with the status of the entire project and quick access to all areas. We have implemented a quick fix for our wiki by putting it inside a WebPart on the SharePoint site, we could do the same with TeamPlain but I don’t believe that this is optimal.
- There is no API for interacting with or modify TeamPlain nor is it possible to use parts of the TeamPlain GUI in other Web Apps or from within SharePoint. The license explicitly prohibits users from modifying TeamPlain.
Features that would make me look at TeamPlain again
- SharePoint integration so I could give users access to the features in TeamPlain that I want through WebParts. Then each Project could customize their views depending on their specific needs.
- Floating user licensing for the lite edition since we only really need the work item editing capabilities for our clients at the moment.
- Some form of feature customization or extensibility, partly just for the sake of it (I am a developer after all) but also because I believe that customizable products will always be more useful.