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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 Customization with Community Build Extensions

August 19th, 2011

If you are looking into TFS customizations of builds using workflow activities, then the first thing you should pay attention to is the latest stable release of Community TFS Build Extensions.

This is a collection of about 100 activities that delivers many commonly requested functions, such as

    • running CodeMetrics and NUnit tests
    • creating a Zip archive
    • wrapping RoboCopy for deployment
    • updating AssemblyInfo files
    • running StyleCop
    • merging assemblies with ILMerge
    • and many others

There are all sorts of custom build activities and there are many more included on the backlog. The best part of this TFS customization project is that the source code is fully available for your use internally.

There are also examples that show you how to build your own custom activities as needed for TFS customization. The Community TFS Build Extensions Web site provides a place for build engineers and TFS developers to share workflow activities, build process template files, and tools for TFS customization of builds. You are welcome to provide feedback on the latest TFS customization package via Discussion and Issue Tracker tabs on the Web site.

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TFS Customization Guidance

June 16th, 2011

TFS customization helps you meet the specific needs of your organization and adjust Team foundation server to your business processes. Visual Studio ALM Rangers have recently released the Visual Studio Build Customization Guidance, which provides hands-on lab guidance for the customization and deployment of TFS build activities, such as versioning, code signing, and branching.

The TFS customization guidance package includes

    1. Scenario-based practical guidance in PDF format that contains frequently asked questions and quick reference posters.
    2. Hands-on-Labs documents providing walkthroughs of the technology and a package allowing you to setup the TFS training environment.
    3. Samples that include build process templates and videos that showcase the guidance.

The release also includes

    • tips to simplify the customization of builds
    • practical guidance to use process templates to automate build and non-build scenarios
    • tips to enable simple and flexible deployment of applications and their data stores

Hopefully, this TFS customization documentation and samples will help you better adopt Visual Studio in your organization.

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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.

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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.

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The Difference between TFS Customization and TFS Extensibility

November 23rd, 2010

Team Foundation Server provides great possibilities for customization. In addition, it is positioned as an open platform that features great extensibility. TFS offers a powerful development object model, empowering the developer to create custom development tools, TFS add-ins, specialized clients, and so on. So what is the difference, if any, between TFS customization and TFS extensibility?

TFS customization
involves modifying the development environment with the tools that are provided by that environment (e.g. TFS Power Tools). There is no real coding involved in TFS customization. You can customize your TFS environment by using the existing toolset, or by simply modifying one or more of XML files. TFS customization might include process template modification, new work item type creation, builds customization, etc.

TFS extensibility
refers to adding new functionality to the development environment. It typically involves coding. You can build TFS add-ins and integration components that complement the Team Foundation Server product line. You can also leverage TFS extensions that are created by independent software vendors. Some extensibility examples are:

    • Adapters that integrate an existing toolset with Team Foundation Server. For example, Team Explorer Everywhere, a TFS plugin for Eclipse.
    • Solutions for vertical industries. For example, process templates which are specific for the education industry, new work item types with education-specific workflows.
    • TFS add-ins for better project management. For example, TFS timesheets, Outlook timesheets, TFS administration tools.

Both TFS customization and TFS extensibility make Team Foundation Server the most widely available, the most extensible, and the most interoperable lifecycle platform today.

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TFS Customization of Projects and Processes

November 18th, 2010

TFS customization allows tailoringyour team project to support specific processes and practices of your software development team. Here are the main objects and stages of TFS customization.

Define requirements: Before you begin TFS customization, it is necessary to set the requirements and decide how you want thesemodifications to be made.

Customize work items:
You can customize work items your team uses to track progress. You can customize the following work item tracking objects: work item types (add/manage fields, workflow, and forms), link types, global lists, categories.

Modify reports: Depending on the process template that you use, you may have several reports already defined. You can customize these reports further or create new reports. Customized reports may contain new data fields that you added to the work item types.

Modify Office Project field mapping:
TFS customization allowsmodifying the field mappings that are used for scheduling in Office Project to plan your team projects. If you add new data fields to a work item type, you can map the field so that it appears in your plan.

Define dashboards: Depending on the process template that you use, you may have several dashboards already defined. You can customize these dashboards further or create new dashboards to increase awareness regarding your team’s progress.

Customize process templates: A process template defines the types of work item objects available for tracking as well as the default rules, policies, security groups, and queries. TFS customization of a process template enables you to increase compliance with processes across all team projects that are created with this template.

These are general types of things you can do with TFS customization. Each area has a wide range of attributes to be modified to fit your processes and requirements. I will make a detailed overview of each TFS customization area in my next posts.

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