June 1st, 2011
Posted in Best practices, TFS Training | No Comments »
Today, most software development companies employ some sort of source control and version management system. Still, there are those who rely on outdated processes. TFS running on Windows Azure can help such companies evaluate the benefits that quality ALM software provides and get sufficient Team Foundation Server training.
TFS on Azure is not yet officially released, most of its users are TFS development team members, but technically speaking, it is up and running now.
I see it as a great future opportunity for smaller software companies, who want to implement TFS as a try before you buy and Team Foundation server training option. TFS on Azure will help reduce implementation risks by providing an evaluation and Team Foundation Server training environment. Companies can use it to assess the capabilities that TFS has to offer and identify the best ways to solve their development challenges. TFS in the cloud will accelerate the adoption of Agile practices, improve the productivity of software development, and emphasize collaboration.
There is still work to be done to enable TFS on Azure have the same functionality and stability as the on-premise product offers, but once it’s completed, TFS in the cloud will bring not only Team Foundation Server training options, but also cost savings, and new application management practices.
May 24th, 2011
Posted in Best practices, TFS Development | No Comments »
Microsoft introduced the enhanced ALM features of the next Visual Studio release (vNext) at its Tech-Ed conference. The strategy of the ALM offering focuses on helping TFS developers, testers, and project managers collaborate in very tightly integrated ways. TFS development emphasizes the actionable feedback, diverse work styles, and transparent agile process to cover the entire cycle of creating apps.
Cameron Skinner, general manager of Visual Studio Ultimate, provided an overview of vNext ALM features that will include the following:
• PowerPoint Storyboard Assistant tool that addresses issues of miscommunications between stakeholders and TFS development teams. It lets teams use the familiar presentation tool to imitate a user interface and allows customers to visually participate in setting user requirements.
• Dealing with Agile components via the TFS Web portal. The TFS Web portal gives a rich view into the current backlogs and their priorities. You can manipulate TFS work items in real time just by dragging and dropping the priorities.
• A new unit testing framework is aimed at making it as easy as possible to use different testing frameworks in one workflow.
• Context management, such as saving and retrieving the “state” of a VS project, so it can be captured with the click of a Suspend button and then brought back up with the same files, breakpoints, window positions, and so on.
• A new Taskboard feature added to the TFS dashboard. It gives an integrated view into work and time estimates, assignments, approvals, completed projects, and more.
• Code clone analysis allows searching for similar code in projects. Users can select different levels of matching, such as exact, strong, medium, and weak.
Visual Studio vNext is another major step in TFS development to cover the lifecycle. These features are aimed at bringing the team together by creating trustworthy bridges that improve the flow of information across the entire team, eliminating the most common risks.
April 7th, 2011
Posted in VSTS Development, Best practices, TFS Customization | No Comments »
Non-Visual Studio developers who want to use Team Foundation Server have been able to do so with the TFS plugin for Eclipse, which is now called Team Explorer Everywhere. This is a cross-platform command-line client that enables to leverage the robust development features of Team Foundation Server in the Eclipse environment.
This TFS plugin was upgraded with Service Pack 1, the beta version of which was released in November, 2010. Recently another update for this TFS plugin was released. It is a language pack for Team Explorer Everywhere 2010 SP1 that includes Japanese, French, and German languages that can be added to the English TEE deployment. After installing this new language pack, Team Explorer will use the appropriate language based on the operating system locale.
The TFS development team is going to add more languages to the TFS plugin for Eclipse in the future. This time, however, a slightly different model is used to deliver TFS localization for Non-Visual Studio developers. Instead of adding all nine languages that TFS supports, they have now only added four that are most commonly used and will add more based on the feedback and demand from users.
The new feature of TFS plugin enables Eclipse developers to continue using Team Foundation Server in the preferred language, which is sure to attract more enthusiasts eager to leverage this tool in their everyday work.
November 22nd, 2010
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Being a rather complicated system, Team Foundation Server stimulates developers all over the world to seek for TFS support once in a while. There are some tools that have already been implemented in TFS and some that are going to be released in the nearest future, such as Best Practices Analyzer and Help Viewer. Let’s have a look at what is there for us.
Best Practices Analyzer is a diagnostic tool to provide information that can be used for resolving issues with your TFS deployment. BPA is a part of TFS 2010 Power Tools release. For better TFS support, the TFS team recently made it obligatory for customers to have a Best Practices Analyzer scan when opening support cases. This is how this tools works:
• Gathers configuration information
• Performs tests
• Analyzes the collected information according to the specific rules
• Generates reports with error messages, if issues are found
• Provides links to articles to resolve errors
You can use this tool as the first stage of TFS support. It will identify the source of problems in an unhealthy Team Foundation Server deployment. In many cases, it can save you a phone call to the TFS support team. When the issue is detected, a link will appear under the item: “Tell me more about this issue and how to resolve it”. If you click on this link, the chances are that the help file will be really useful.
We should expect even more TFS support with a new offline client Help Viewer. The new help system will be shipped for the first time with the Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 release. It has many features similar to Document Explorer: navigation tabs, context menus, and shortcut keys to access information quickly. With this TFS support tool, you can easily manage local content as the direct link to the Help Library Manager is built into the viewer window.
These tools serve as a primary source for TFS support. Of course, there will be cases when you need to turn directly to the support team. Hopefully, Best Practices Analyzer and Help Viewer will enable you to do it less often.
November 11th, 2010
Posted in TFS Management, Best practices | No Comments »
Team Foundation Server provides great Application Lifecycle Management capabilities. ALM is a continuous process of managing life of an application through governance, development, and maintenance. With the new TFS management capabilities of Visual Studio 2010, you can leverage the features provided in this release to perform new tasks that can benefit every member of the development team.
Software designers and developers gain an ability to debug an application faster with IntelliTrace. IntelliTrace allows to actually track the events that occurred in the past and the context in which they occurred. This reduces the number of restarts that are required to debug the application.
Testers and quality control managers can create test plans, test suites, test configurations, and test cases with individual steps by using Microsoft Test Manager—a new application for testers.
Build users can now protect a development team from changes that break the build by using gated check-in and private builds. They can view a detailed report about an ongoing or a completed build, and then use the report to take additional actions.
Project managers and team members can now create task hierarchies using Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project, Team Explorer or Team Web Access. They can create traceability relationships among requirements, tasks, and test results to effectively track how requirements are implemented and tested. New reports and dashboards enable to easily track project’s progress and view key indicators.
Administrators can simplify management of team projects that share the same resources by utilizing a new feature—team project collections. They can review the status of components, add and remove SharePoint Web applications, and manage team project collections using the improved Team Foundation Administration Console.
These new ALM features of Visual Studio 2010 provide for better TFS management, simplify the workflow, and enhance your software development team performance.
October 21st, 2010
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Before starting to use TFS and other Visual Studio products, it’s a good idea to learn more about TFS and take a VSTS training course. As I have mentioned before, there are various online and offline courses, where you can get an overview of the products and roles within TFS. During such TFS training, you will discover how the roles work together and uncover the architecture of TFS.
I’ve wondered, whether there were any free practical tools to get TFS training before actually purchasing this software product. And yes, there is a free TFS Training Development Kit for beginners that includes modules, labs, scripts for VSTS and Application Lifecycle Management.
You can get even more VSTS training with the Visual Studio Express Editions, most of which are free as well:
Visual Basic Express Edition provides the productivity needed for first time or casual Windows programming.
Visual C# Express Edition is a great combination of power and productivity for a Windows developer.
Visual C++ Express Edition provides a finer degree of control than other Express Editions.
Visual Web Developer Express Edition is an easy-to-use environment for dynamic Web application development.
SQL Server Express and SQL Server Compact Edition is a powerful and easy-to-use set of databases to complement each Express Edition
Visual Studio Express Edition products are designed for novice developers. They provide efficient VSTS training and are designed specifically for scenarios common for software development newbies. The user interfaces are significantly streamlined to ensure that irrelevant features for VSTS training do not interfere with the learning process. If you later decide that you do need additional features available, you can save your project to TFS and upgrade your code and skills.
October 19th, 2010
Posted in Microsoft, Best practices | No Comments »
It’s been almost a year since Microsoft purchased the Teamprise assets of SourceGear LLC. Teamprise’s TFS plugin is now a part of Visual Studio 2010. It enables developers to use Eclipse IDE and work on multiple operating systems to build applications with TFS. Let’s take a look on how software development organizations can benefit from this TFS plugin.
Team Explorer Everywhere is a TFS plugin that unites development teams across platforms. Team members can access Visual Studio Team Foundation Server to collaborate and track progress from within the Eclipse IDE to develop Java and .NET applications using any major OS, including Windows, UNIX, Linux, and Mac OS X.
The purpose of this TFS plugin is to make it possible for Java projects make use of such benefits as integrated services for work-item tracking, source control, build management, reporting, and a team collaboration portal.
Team Explorer Everywhere includes the following components:
TFS Plugin for Eclipse allows developers to perform all their source control, bug tracking, build and reporting operations from within Eclipse and Eclipse-based integrated development environments (IDEs), such as Rational Application Developer, JBoss, BEA Workshop, and Adobe Flex Builder.
Visual Studio Team Explorer combines all the functionality available to Eclipse developers using the TFS plugin into a stand-alone, cross-platform GUI application. It is a great feature for team members working outside of an IDE, such as graphic designers, testers, and project managers.
Cross-platform command-line client provides a cross-platform, non-graphical interface, making it perfect for scripting and building scenarios, as well as for developers who prefer a command-line interface.
Today, application development in heterogeneous environments often requires use of multiple, disconnected toolsets and skills for each platform, additional custom work to raise compatibility, and extra time to ensure successful teamwork. Team Explorer Everywhere TFS plugin will enable developers to use a single tool to overcome these challenges. With the simplification of important development processes, developers are now able to spend more time focusing on creating high-quality applications.
October 14th, 2010
Posted in Best practices, Visual Studio Add-ins | No Comments »
The new TFS 2010 release provides greater opportunities for architects, developers, testers, analysts, and project managers. Today, I would like to share some thoughts on how TFS 2010 supports project management and what TFS add-ins you can use to make it even more powerful.
When organizing and tracking work of the development team, project managers and team leads face numerous issues:
• They spend a lot of time on tracking project management data, such as project plans, tasks, issues, risks, etc. They need to frequently organize meetings, but the time spent during these meetings affects team productivity, as well.
• Time tracking data is generally captured in Microsoft Project or Microsoft Excel. This creates multiple copies of the data, which makes it difficult to get an overall view of the project status.
• Project data exists in multiple documents, therefore creating project reports becomes a manual and thus a time-intensive process.
• Project managers have to work in multiple environments, such as MS Outlook, Excel, Project, TFS, etc., which is really time-consuming
The project management tools in TFS and various third-party TFS add-ins help solve all of these problems. Project Managers can create tasks, using MS Project, and save them to TFS. Other team members can view and update these items in their development environment. Project managers and team members get even more value with the new TFS 2010 release, which helps them
• Define requirements and create task hierarchies using Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project, Team Explorer or Team Web Access.
• Create relationships among requirements, tasks, and test results to effectively track how requirements are implemented and tested.
• Track project’s progress using new reports and dashboards and easily generate Excel reports from work item queries.
In addition, project managers can use TFS outlook add-ins to work in a single environment. They can set alerts, assign tasks, plan meetings, send notification to team members, create and manage reports from MS Outlook. They can also leverage TFS timesheets to monitor time spent on various tasks, track billable and non-billable items, plan developers’ tasks in accordance with their workload. As you can see, TFS 2010 release powered with timesheets and TFS outlook add-ins, makes TFS really enjoyable for project managers.
September 30th, 2010
Posted in TFS Management, Microsoft, Best practices | No Comments »
Last week I told you how MS Outlook timesheets for TFS can enhance project manager’s performance. Today I will give a more detailed overview on how you can use TFS Outlook Integration.
You can choose various TFS add-inns to connect Outlook to your Team Foundation Server. TFS-related items appear under a toolbar Add-Inns in Outlook. There are many TFS add-ins on the market and, naturally, some of them provide more features than others. Here’s a list of some of the handy features these tools can offer.
Save Outlook e-mails directly to any work item you select. You can use Outlook mail as an attachment to a work item in TFS to track all of the correspondence associated with any work item at anytime. This TFS Outlook feature saves you a lot of time when searching for the important information, such as requests to change something, reports, invoices, etc.
Forward mail with work items to your colleagues. You can also send comments and details. This feature enables you to notify your team immediately about the new assignments and events to enhance the working process.
Create, edit, and assign a work item directly from Outlook to save you time, doing it in TFS. This way, you can work within a single environment, which is really very convenient. I can’t bu admit, that TFS Outlook integration is a great tool to optimize your everyday activities.
Plan the entire project using the Outlook calendar. You can link the work items to certain dates and set alerts. Schedule work items to make queries on large amounts of work items directly in Outlook. These features will help you stay on top of the development process.
Create, submit and approve TFS reports through Outlook. You can store all the relevant information in one place and it is sure to increase your productivity.
TFS Outlook integration has much to offer for enhanced project manager’s performance and usability. You don’t do that much clicking and switching, save time, and stay informed about the development process at any moment. I think, this type of TFS add-inns is something that every project manager should consider applying.
September 29th, 2010
Posted in VSTS Development, Best practices | No Comments »
Team Foundation Server can be easily combined with other Microsoft software products, such as MS SharePoint, MS Project Server, Visual Studio, and Team Edition to provide a powerful automation tool for your software development needs. Still, there are some business requirements that this combination does not provide for, like adding more features for project management, billing, customer service, etc.
To make TFS even more powerful, there are synchronization solutions available on the market. Today, I’d like to share some ideas on how TFS customization can be used to integrate TFS with third party applications to cover most of your business needs. Here is an overview of application types that TFS can be integrated with.
Help Desk Applications integration helps provide your customers with an ability to get quality support services right from TFS professionals.
Source Control, Defect Tracking, Build Tools and Test Automation Tools enable to add even more quality to your software development process.
Timesheets help you track employees’ time, billable/non-billable items, allow to submit/approve work hours through the Web browser.
Mail Clients integration enables project managers to track work items, approve timesheets, set events and alerts in a single working environment.
Integrated Development Environment Tools (such as Eclipse IDE) will maximize your programmers’ productivity.
Billing Systems integration enables accurate billing and invoicing.
Human Resources Management Systems integration allows your HR department to track employees’ payroll, work time, overtime, performance, and even recruit new employees and test them through TFS.
Accounting Systems integration enables to synchronize TFS with accounting records and transactions to automate accounting activities.
CRM/ERP Systems help use TFS to manage internal and external resources, including tangible assets, financial resources, materials, and human resources.
Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Systems integration will help utilize quality and up-to-date data for better decision making.
There are qualified TFS consultants and TFS integration experts who can assist you with choosing and integrating Team Foundation Server with any of the above mentioned types of applications.