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"I really like the way you can access your work items from within Outlook. I like the way you can bring up the full work item forms, make edits, and save immediately to TFS. It was great to create new meeting requests or mail messages from the work items."

Lori Lamkin
Product Unit Manager for Team Foundation Server at Microsoft

"These types of products are important to the industry."

Joel Semeniuk
CEO and co-founder of ImagiNET Resources Corp.

"I know of a good number of companies that will love having something like this - getting their timesheet management into TFS (so it can be reported on, especially) will make life a lot easier for them."

James Manning
Software Design Engineer for Visual Studio project at Microsoft

"I like the idea of being able to link work items to e-mails and meetings. I also like that it provides non-technical information workers the option of working with TFS in a more familiar environment. Congratulations to TeamExpand on the release!"

Jason Barile
Principal Test Manager for Visual Studio Team Foundation Server at Microsoft

"TX Chrono, by TeamExpand, allows users to easily track how they are spending their time, store that information in TFS, and make it available for reporting in the warehouse."

Brian Harry
Product Unit Manager for Team Foundation Server at Microsoft

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TFS Timesheet


TFS Plugin for Eclipse Now Supports New Languages

April 7th, 2011

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.

Posted in VSTS Development, Best practices, TFS Customization | No Comments »

TFS Management: Cleaning Up Test Attachment Data

April 2nd, 2011

Visual Studio 2010 provides many new opportunities for testers. For example, they can now create manual and automated test cases, configure test settings, associate them with test plans, and execute these test cases as part of test runs. While this is a great thing for testers, TFS administrators can see the case quite differently.

Test attachment data generated by the new testing features can add a large amount of data to the TFS server. Does TFS management provide a tool for cleaning it up? Yes, it does, and this is a tool that every TFS administrator should use. The Test Attachment Cleaner power tool will delete old test data and/or reduce its size.

The Test Attachment Cleaner is a command line tool that has sample setting files provided in the following scenarios:

    1. Make a list of attachments that are more than 1 GB per attachment.
    2. View/Delete IntelliTrace log files over 500 MB.
    3. View/Delete all Video log files with Test run creation date older than specific date.
    4. View/Delete log files for tests between 30 and 90 days in age.
    5. View/Delete all attachments over size of 5 MB with no active or resolved bugs between two dates.

If your database grows too large, it’s a good idea to use this TFS management tool to wipe out the extra attachments quickly. This tool is a must have for any TFS admin.

Posted in TFS Management | No Comments »

Project Time Tracking: The Evil of Overtime

March 29th, 2011

In the IT world, it is quite common that developers work extra hours on projects. This happens not only from pure necessity, like getting the project completed on time, but also for some psychological reasons. Yes, geeks often just can’t stop until the work is done.

Project time tracking can point out the overtime and become an effective tool to fight it. Why do you have to avoid spending extra hours in the first place? Normally, customers will pay more for the overtime, so is it really a problem? Here are some reasons that can make you see overtime not as a heroic effort, but merely as a destructive practice.

    1. Professional growth affected. It is sometimes tempting to spend extra hours a week clearing the items from the TO DO list, but developers will be accomplishing much more for their career by devoting those hours to reading tech books or exploring new programming languages.

    2. The lack of expansion. If you want to diversify your portfolio, then you should seek out technology experiences that are different from the ones used regularly. Working overtime will reinforce skills developers already have, while working on projects that require them learn new skills will make both the IT company and its development team more marketable and competitive.

    3. Lost productivity. The best stimulus for productivity is developer’s passion for the job. Spending long hours on the same tasks does not usually allow for this type of passion to grow.

Can project time tracking help resolve the issue of overtime? It definitely can. If the set of tasks for the developer is diverse and leaves a room for self-education and professional growth, it will benefit both developers and IT business owners.

For example, a new concept, process, tool, or technology studied by the developer at the free time can bring greater profits to the company and to the developer, than the ones used in the daily work. Project time tracking helps focus not only on short term goals, but on long term ones for business growth.

Posted in Project Time Tracking | No Comments »

Updates for TFS Integration with Project Server

March 10th, 2011

This week the VSTS team announced the release of VS/TFS 2010 SP1 and the TFS Project Server Integration Feature Pack. I wrote about the Beta versions of these tools in my previous posts: Service Pack, TFS Integration with Project Server. From a project management perspective, the primary goal of these packs is to enhance the collaboration between development and management teams.

The biggest component of SP1 is the set of core product changes needed to enable TFS integration with Project Server. The Project Server Integration Feature Pack is a server side synchronization/workflow tool that enables managers who work in Project Server to share information with developers who work in TFS. It has undergone significant improvements since Beta:

    • The Integration Feature Pack is now available in every language that Visual Studio supports: Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Korean, and English.
    • Key documentation has new chapters
    • Known issues and troubleshooting topics are updated
    • There are numerous bug fixes including a set of fixes based on the feedback from Beta adopters

TFS integration with Project Server allows managers and developers exchange up to date information in their familiar environments. This increases speed and efficiency of project execution. Project managers can work on high level tasks using a long-term plan. Developers can see the plan and split the high level tasks into detailed assignments.

As work is completed, Project Server gets updated with both resource availability and task progress. All of this has to go through the standard Project Server work approval process, so the project manager maintains control over the high level plan. If a project manager wants to deal with details of the development process, he can configure TFS integration with Project Server to import all task breakdowns.

All of this data can then be integrated in the Project Server portfolio to create reports on progress, resource availability, and other important aspects of all projects.

Posted in TFS Integration | No Comments »

How Can Project Time Tracking Improve Your Working Process?

March 3rd, 2011

We learnt long ago that project time tracking is required to monitor how many hours your team spends on certain tasks. The first use case for this information would certainly be to provide precise billing and accurate cost estimates to customers. This is the main but not the only reason why software development organizations need project time tracking tools.

By identifying the exact time spent on tasks, you can quickly find areas to be improved in your working schema. Project time tracking makes it easy for you to monitor your team’s progress throughout the day by logging working hours and running reports. Some other cases when project time tracking can improve your working process include the following:

    • Figure out the quickest possible time for a project to be completed in time.
    • Record the actual working hours against the planned hours to identify the deadlines.
    • Enable the team to track time anywhere, anytime, from any computer.
    • Identify and reduce the time spent by project managers and the team on tasks that take more time than planned.

Project time tracking allows for better planning, analysis, and reporting. The software that automates these processes is intended to make you understand how your business is distributing its time across projects, tasks, and employees. By noting and fixing the drawbacks of your working process, you can easily increase your team’s productivity.

Posted in Project Timesheet Software, Project Time Tracking | No Comments »

TFS Training: Learn New Possibilities of VS 2010

February 22nd, 2011

Visual Studio 2010 version has undergone significant changes. To familiarize with the core aspects of Visual Studio 2010, you may need professional TFS training. Of course, you can find the related material on the internet, but a qualified TFS consultant can better deal with Visual Studio issues that are specific to your organization.

The typical TFS training should cover all new aspects of VSTS 2010 and include the following sections:

    1. Introduction:
    First, you have to learn how to control your projects and organize them in ways that work with your own style.

    2. How to build better and more consistent apps:
    TFS has many features that support creating software solutions, such as IntelliSense, code refactoring, and unit tests. TFS training should be aimed at teaching you what enhancements were added in the new release.

    3. Creating rich applications: Visual Studio enables you to develop rich applications for a wide range of platforms, including ASP.NET, Silverlight 2, MVC, etc. This section of TFS training shows you the possibilities for creating rich applications in Visual Studio 2010.

    4. Working with data: This section examines how to use various tools and frameworks to build applications that work with databases. It also shows you how to present data in TFS reports.

    5. Configuration: The built-in support for configuration files allows you to adjust the way an application functions on the fly without having to rebuild it. This part of TFS training shows how to use .NET configuration and resource files.

    6. Upgrading to the latest version:
    This section of TFS training explains how to upgrade your projects from previous versions.

    7. TFS customization: Visual Studio 2010 is even more extensible than previous versions. This TFS class will teach you how to write TFS add-ins and how to use a Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF).

TFS training shows you how to leverage capabilities of Visual Studio to the fullest extent. If you are familiar with the way previous versions of Visual Studio worked, you may still want to take TFS training as the latest release of Visual Studio is really full of new features.

Posted in TFS Training | No Comments »

TFS Customization: When Do You Need To Change Work Items?

February 18th, 2011

Visual Studio provides many ways for TFS customization, so it can be used more effectively by different companies. One of the built-in options to adapt TFS to your business processes is to customize work item forms.

Work item forms use fields to display data and enable users to input data or select options. TFS customization of work items allows managing the appearance and behavior of fields. You can customize work items in the following cases:

    • Your company has some specific naming conventions.
    • You want to modify attributes of a field.
    • Administration needs: specify a default value, or control the values to which users can set a field; restrict who can modify a field.
    • Project management needs: add a field to capture data that is specific to your team’s process or tracking requirements. You can also define or customize a pick list and replace a pick list with a global list to support cross-group consistency and ease of maintenance.

TFS customization also enables to manage fields so that they will include help text, follow certain rules, and perform the defined reporting options. By using global workflow, you can define fields that apply to all types of work items in a team project or a project collection.

When TFS is customized to fit your specific business processes, it is much more convenient to work with it. You can take a step further and install various TFS add-ins to make working with this complex implementation even handier.

Posted in TFS Customization | No Comments »

TFS Reporting: What’s new in VSTS 2010?

January 3rd, 2011

Visual Studio 2010 has some new TFS reporting features that you can use to design reports, display them in your applications, and integrate with SQL Server Reporting Services. The new TFS reporting functionality includes:

Report Designer for RDL 2008 Schema

The Report Designer supports report creation based on the Definition Language (RDL) 2008 schema. The Report Designer enables to create reports using report items such as the tablix, gauge, and enhanced chart data regions. New features include: enhanced chart data region, new gauge data region, new tablix data region, enhancements to Report Designer, new and enhanced report items and RDL elements.

New Report Wizard

A new Report Wizard simplifies data definition and report design by guiding you through a series of tasks that help you quickly create a report.

Improvements in the ReportViewer Controls

ReportViewer user interface was improved to add value to your TFS reporting initiatives. The new features are:

    • Support for the SQL Server 2008 or a later version of the Reporting Services report server
    • .NET Framework multi-targeting
    • Updated look and feel
    • Export to Microsoft Word
    • ReportViewer ASP.NET AJAX control
    • Programmability improvements

AJAX Support in the ASP.NET Web Server Control

The Web server control is now an ASP.NET AJAX control. It takes advantage of AJAX to help reduce flickers in report navigation and improve interactivity of the user interface.

Programmability Improvements in the ReportViewer Controls

The improvements to the ReportViewer controls include richer event model of the report, customization of properties and values, more status information, session pings, device information settings for interactive reports, printing customization, and enhanced localization.

New features of TFS reporting allow convenient creating and interactive viewing of the information vital for managing projects in the Visual Studio environment.

Posted in TFS Reporting | No Comments »

TFS Management: Administration Tool 2.1 Released

December 30th, 2010

A new version of the Team Foundation Server Administration Tool was released last week. This is the first version of this TFS management tool built on top of the TFS 2010 object model. This means that it needs to be implemented on machines that have either Team Explorer 2010 or Team Foundation Server 2010 installed.

The TFS Administration Tool allows administrators to manage user permissions on all three platforms utilized by TFS: Team Foundation Server, SharePoint, and SQL Server Reporting Services. This TFS management tool also has an enhanced user import feature, which allows administrators to easily copy user permissions among team projects and to identify any missing permissions on any of the three platforms. You can download it from the TFS Administration Tool project Web site.

If you’ve ever had to manage the permissions for TFS, you must know the pain it used to be. You can think of this new tool as the TFS management painkiller. This is a great TFS management tool for helping set the user permissions across TFS, SharePoint, and Reporting Services, all from one easy-to-use user interface.

Posted in TFS Management | No Comments »

TFS Training: Virtual Machine Update

December 20th, 2010

The Visual Studio 2010 ALM Virtual Machine is updated with a new version. This virtual machine includes everything you need for TFS training. It helps learn and demonstrate application lifecycle management (ALM) capabilities in Visual Studio.

The 9 hands-on-labs / demo scripts which are included in this release cover main capabilities of application lifecycle management. Each document can be used individually by developers, testers, and project managers for TFS training to learn how to perform a given set of tasks. These documents can also be leveraged to deliver a visual demonstration of ALM capabilities in the following areas:

Software quality

    • authoring and running manual tests
    • introduction to test case management
    • introduction to coded UI tests
    • debugging with IntelliTrace

Software architecture

    • code discovery using the architecture tools
    • understanding class coupling
    • using the architecture explorer to analyze your code

Project Management

    • planning projects
    • branching and merging visualization

The latest version of this virtual machine was updated on December 9, 2010. It includes the following additions, as compared to the previous release:

    • VS 2010 Feature Pack 2
    • TFS 2010 Power Tools
    • VS 2010 Productivity Power Tools
    • Test Scribe for Microsoft Test Manager
    • VS Scrum 1.0 Process Template

The virtual Machine is a trial version of Visual Studio ALM capabilities, especially provided for TFS training. It will expire on June 1, 2011.

Posted in TFS Training | No Comments »

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