If your team is using Visual Studio Online, which is free for up to five users, any ‘occasional’ contributors will be able to access the online project development environment without paying.
Launched last year, Visual Studio Online is a set of cloud services for users of Visual Studio that was previously known as Team Foundation Studio. See Visual Studio Goes Online - Cloud Based Cloud Development for more information. It now has over 1.5 million users, according to Microsoft’s S.Somasegar.
Visual Studio Online provides a way for teams of developers to cooperate on private source code repositories stored in the cloud. It supports project management tools such as Kanban boards, and can be used with Visual Studio, Eclipse, Xcode, and other Git clients. Up to five people in a team can use it for free, along with unlimited MSDN subscribers. Beyond the five free users, team members usually have to pay a subscription. The basic list price for the service starts at US$20 per user per month for each additional user beyond the first five.
Since the launch of VS Online, Microsoft has added features such as Java build support, integration with third party services via REST APIs and service hooks, Active Directory support for enterprise users and project welcome pages.
As outlined in Somasegar's blog post, the latest improvement is to allow ‘stakeholders’ to view and interact with Visual Studio Online projects. Stakeholders can’t interact with the actual code, but can use the system to stay up to date with a particular team or project. They’ll be able to use the team home page, where they can view updated project information. They’ll also have access to the backlog, taskboard, and Kanban board, where they can create and edit work items or work item queries. Stakeholders can’t carry out administrative functions such as reprioritizing work items. They are also blocked from team rooms, and can’t code, build or test hubs.