Perhaps overlooked amid the hoopla surrounding the launch of Visual Studio 2012 earlier today was the announcement that Visual Studio 2012 update 1 will ship before the end of the year. Why do I mention that here? Because that update will deliver new application life-cycle management tools for SharePoint development—most notably, a tool for load testing.

Visual Studio 2010 already introduced functional and performance testing for SharePoint applications, and the 2012 update will bring load testing—an important metric, as SharePoint is used more and more to build outward-facing websites. In a conversation I had with Soma Somasegar, Microsoft’s Developer Division corporate vice president, he told me the Visual Studio team is cooperating with the SharePoint and Office 365 teams. “We are working closely with them so the next version of the Office 365 platform, and whatever new capabilities they come out with, we are working with them hand in hand to make sure that our tools will enable you to target their latest platform technologies.”

Also new in the update will be Coded UI support for SharePoint, meaning developers can write user interface tests for testing SharePoint applications by manipulating UI controls and verifying their properties automatically.

The move to bring testing tools into the SharePoint development life cycle is another step closer to Microsoft’s vision of “continuous quality,” so that any application revisions and updates can be tested quickly to ensure they work and will stand up to loads, and to allow the business to seize on opportunities or repair application defects quickly.

As SharePoint becomes more of a business platform, and business-critical applications are either built in SharePoint or call into documents stored there, developers need to get beyond unit-testing applications and ensure they meet user expectations, SLAs and other KPIs.