A quick tour along the lifecycle of a solution built with the Factory

The Macaw Solutions Factory is quite a big thing, even though it scales well to both small and large solutions. The various systems and tools in the Factory enhance application lifecycle management from creating virtual development machines and logical solution design through implementation, deployment, release management and testing. Here are some of the main systems and tools the Factory offers during various stages of the application lifecycle.

Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager and the Factory Machine Installer

In the Factory we use Microsoft’s Virtual Machine Manager, run on a powerful array of virtual machine hosts, to deliver self-servicing creation, access and management of virtual machines. In addition to fully configurable OS installations, we supply preconfigured machine templates for 32 bits and 64 bits versions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. New machines can be created in a matter of minutes.

preconfigured machine templates

The Factory also includes a Factory Machine Installer, which allows users to select any desired combination of server products and applications from a single menu. With a single click all selected technologies are installed fully automatic, with all the latest updates. During the remainder of the installation (which can take up to several hours) no user interaction is needed. If a team needs to start (or is extended) tomorrow, you can create all machines simultaneously and have them ready for production work in the morning.

Microsoft Visual Studio Professional and Visual Studio Team System

The Factory leverages the power of Microsoft Visual Studio, both its built-in functionality and its extensibility. Visual Studio Professional and Team System editions in VS 2008 and VS 2010 versions are fully supported. The Factory allows you to mix versions and editions, even within a single Factory product, as needed.

Visual Studio Professional and Team System editions in VS 2005 and VS 2008 versions are fully supported

Microsoft Visual Studio Team System, including Team Foundation Server, is the application lifecycle management (ALM) platform of choice for working with the Factory. However we also support alternatives for version control (Subversion) and automated build servers (CruiseControl.NET Build Station).

The MAST standard

At the heart of the Factory design is the Microsoft.NET Application Style (MAST) standard. MAST standardizes both the logical design of an application built with the Factory, and how the logical design is translated to an implementation structure in a working folder. MAST is based on Microsoft Patterns & Practices guidance on application architecture.

The Factory Integrated Development Environment

The Factory IDE extends Visual Studio with templates, tools and automation to create a highly productive development environment. Virtually all tools and templates leverage detailed knowledge of the standard MAST implementation structure, to achieve maximum automation. The tools in the IDE support many aspects of ALM.

You can use the Factory Product Wizard to create a complete baseline for a new solution in a MAST Working Folder. When you build your solution in Visual Studio, the Factory MSBuild Extensions automatically deploy to the local machine in the exact same way as if it was installed from a MAST Setup Package.

The Factory Guide Visual Studio Extension offers automation of many development tasks from within Visual Studio. The MAST Solution Builder allows you to quickly create or extend complete solutions with all the correct namespaces and project settings. The MAST Validator ensures that your source complies to the MAST standard so you do not need to know the standard by heart. The Factory Local Build Server allows you to build MAST packages when you do not have a TFS Build server available and the MAST Package Installer deploys your solution across all machines and environments from a single package, without any user interaction.

The Factory Wiki

All written guidance in the Factory is maintained in the Macaw Solutions Factory Wiki. We created an MSDN-like documentation system with both endorsed content and community content on each page. Because the Factory IDE integrates directly into one central Wiki, and any user can add rich comments on any page with very little effort, the Factory Wiki is an effective platform to quickly share knowledge amongst all Factory users.

Office Communications Server and Terminal Services Gateway

Also part of the Factory is our infrastructure to support the New World of Work. We enable Factory users to work together anytime from any location. We use Microsoft Office Communications Server and Microsoft Terminal Services Gateway to enable this.

Factory Improvement Forum

The above Factory tools and systems help you to quickly realize IT solutions based on Microsoft server products. However, the Factory itself is also continuously developed to support new technologies and to incorporate newly learned best practices. To direct this development we created the Factory Improvement Forum, where Factory users can suggest ideas for new features and vote on them.

This is where the Factory both gets and delivers its value: the talented women and men, working in innovative projects, realizing real-world IT solutions.