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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 Management with New TFS Add-ins

August 9th, 2011

The TFS team is in the process of final testing for the August release of the TFS Power Tools. These TFS add-ins allow boosting efficiency and productivity when working with Team Foundation Server. Here are the main improvements and new features of the upcoming release requested by TFS users and implemented by the TFS development team.

Windows shell extension updates

The login support was added to enable users enter their credentials when they use anything other than a domain account. This change in the Windows shell extension TFS add-in also enables you to work with hosted TFS deployments as soon as this feature is made available.

Work Item Search

A new search box on the work item tracking tool bar was added to enable to search work items within Team Explorer. This TFS add-in improvement allows doing a full text search of work items and display the results like in any other query.

Other TFS add-in improvements include:

    • Rollback to TFS was added to the UI. Now you can do rollbacks not only from the command line, but also from the Source Control Explorer
    • Build automaton utilities: a set of new features for handling build process templates was added.
    • Maven 3 support was added to the list of supported build systems for TFS build add ins. TFS now supports Ant, Maven 2 and Maven 3.
    • Setup improvements: you no longer have to uninstall the old Power Tools, you can just install the new ones and this TFS add-in will upgrade them.
    • Test Attachments clean-up: a tool that can be used to clear out old and unused test data that has been accumulated in TFS.
    • Best Practices Analyzer updates with the latest diagnostic strategy that TFS support team uses.

The download link for the new TFS add-ins will be available in a couple of weeks.

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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.

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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.

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TFS Management: Enhancing Communication

December 10th, 2010

This post will help you understand how TFS management can enhance communication between the team members on the Team Project Site. The Team Project is implemented as a customized SharePoint Portal for each project. It facilitates team communications and provides valuable metrics, such as testing coverage, bug rates, and other valuable information that helps keep developers and non developers aware of overall project standing and status.

Share Information

Team members can add important project documentation, artifacts, and other non-source code files to Team Project. This information can be shared on the Project Portal, so that the team can manage all source files for a project in one location.

Track Dependencies

TFS management enables to determine the impact of adding or cutting a feature and setting tasks your team must complete to implement a feature. You can better manage risks and dependencies if you create relationships between work items. You can view those dependencies on the Project Portal.

Send and Receive Notifications

You can send notifications to your team and determine whether you want to receive an e-mail when one of the following events occurs:

    • а work item that is assigned to you changes
    • anything is checked in to version control for your team project
    • а build status changes
    • а build finishes

The purpose of enhancing communication on a team is to ensure that nobody misses the important piece of work or information. TFS management of communication allows to effectively track, report, and delegate tasks from one team member to another.

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TFS Management: Planning and Running Tests

November 29th, 2010

There is a new and better way for planning and managing tests in TFS. Both Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and VS Test Professional now include a new application called Microsoft Test Manager to help you define and manage your software quality. With the improved functionality, the TFS management of tests offers great new capabilities:

Planning: If you have test cases associated with requirements or user stories, you can add the user story or requirements to the test plan to test/run all the associated tests. You can add any configurations and create test suites based on other criteria.

You can create test cases to be run as manual tests. TFS management of automated tests allows controlling unit tests, load tests, and automated UI tests. You can easily convert test cases to automated tests.

Collecting data:
You can collect various types of data remotely: code coverage data, specific connections emulation, recorded UI actions, diagnostic trace logs, etc.

TFS management of tests allows running tests from a plan and saving their results. You can run your tests using Visual Studio, or you can run your tests from the command line.

Submitting bugs:
You can submit bugs with the most detailed information.

Tracking quality:
You can track your testing progress and the status of bugs.

In TFS 2010 testing capabilities are really exceptional, providing a greater ability to do powerful management of test plans for your projects. TFS management of tests is much more convenient than test plans in Excel. Excel plans are completely dethatched from all components of your process. TFS management of testing efforts enables you to create a test plan and add any test suites, test cases, or configurations that you need there. In addition, you can run automated tests from Visual Studio that are not associated with plans.

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TFS Management: Linking Work Items

November 25th, 2010

TFS management allows planning and tracking projects more effectively by creating relationships between work items and other resources. Linking work items helps understand hierarchical relationships better and enables you to find relevant information easier. You can use this TFS management feature to create the following types of relationships:

1. Link a work item to other work items. You can create the following links and relationships between work items:

    • related links for non-hierarchical relations
    • parent-child links for hierarchical relations
    • predecessor-successor links to plan and track project tasks
    • dependent links to view and track dependent work items

You can link work items that are located in the same team project or in different team projects on the same server that is running TFS.

2. Link a work item to a changeset or a file that is under version control. TFS management of changesets and versioned items enables to associate tasks and features with different versions of your software product. You can track which code changes and how the task gets completed.

3. Link a work item to a Web site or a server location.
You can link a work item to a file that is stored elsewhere. You have to identify a URL or a location on the server.

4. Attach a file to a work item. You can attach a work item to a file that has additional details about this work item and attach that file to the work item. For example, you can attach a screenshot that illustrates a bug so that your developers can view and understand an issue better. TFS management of work item links enables to attach any types of files: documents, images, logs, e-mails, etc.

TFS management allows creating deep and complex relationships among work items of various types. This is needed to create rich project tracking and reporting. You can use Team Explorer and Team Web Access to create links and attach files. You can create links or attach files from the work item form, from the query results, and view the relations in MS Excel, or in MS Project.

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TFS Management: Effective Collaboration Across Groups

November 19th, 2010

In the current release of Team Foundation Server, you can share information and track progress across team projects. New TFS management features enable to create dependencies for a task that another team works on and build relationships with another project. This is how you can track features, requirements, and tasks for effective collaboration with another team:

Link to a feature that another team is developing: you can link from your project to work items and set of tasks in the other project. You can discuss rules of engagement, responsibilities, and schedule for collaboration with another team’s project manager. TFS management of cross-group collaboration allows creating additional links to document your relations. If your developers discover any issues with the implementation of features, they can report the bug in your project and create a dependency from that bug to the other project.

Manage commitments: You can use dependency links to determine how much work other teams are requesting from your team and decide which requests to fulfill or deny.

Get notified of changes: If you are working on a task that depends on a work item in another team’s project, you can receive e-mail messages whenever that work item changes. For example, if there is a bug that is so severe that it blocks further development, you will get notified when another team resolves it.

Review the other team’s progress: You can track the other team’s progress. TFS management of cross-group collaboration enables you to view all active work items that have external dependencies, including information about their status. You can get more information about important changes by opening these work items.

TFS management of dependencies across projects enables development teams to transparently communicate and efficiently collaborate to enhance the quality of software they create.

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Enhanced TFS Management in Visual Studio 2010

November 11th, 2010

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.

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TFS Management: Keep It Simple

November 10th, 2010

Team Foundation security is based on users and groups. You can manage the security of your TFS deployment by correctly assigning permissions. As TFS management also utilizes SharePoint Products and SQL Server Reporting Services platforms, you need to add users and manage permissions there as well. Here are the steps you might want to follow to provide secure TFS management across these three programs.

    1. During the permissions testing, make sure that at least two of TFS admins are full administrators on the TFS server.
    2. Define the security groups.
    3. Create these groups as Windows groups on the server that’s running TFS.
    4. Create the corresponding TFS server groups for these Windows groups and assign the Windows groups as members to each of the TFS server groups.
    5. Create the Team Project security groups and assign the TFS server groups as members of these groups.
    6. Assign the security permissions by a Team Project security group at the Team Project level or at the Area level.
    7. On the Windows server, assign the roles/permissions for SQL Server Reporting Services that correspond to the Windows Server groups you’ve created.
    8. On the Windows server, assign the roles/permissions for SharePoint Services that correspond to the Windows Server groups you’ve created.

In most cases, you should avoid adding users directly to Team Foundation Server. Managing the permissions for a large number of individual users is time-consuming and can lead to TFS management and security issues. Remember to keep TFS management simple: Team Project groups should have security permissions based on Windows server groups by default. All the rest should be considered an exception.

There are also various TFS Administration Tools developed by third-party companies. They allow you to quickly add users to all three platforms: Team Foundation Server, SharePoint, and SQL Reporting Services, all through one common interface. These TFS add-ins provide neat and simple TFS management as they allow administrators to change the current permissions on any of the three tiers, identify any errors, and view all of the users and their permissions across Team Foundation Server, SharePoint, and SQL Reporting Services.

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TFS Management with Microsoft Project

November 8th, 2010

You can plan projects, schedule tasks, assign resources, and track project time by using Microsoft Project to manage data stored in Team Foundation Server. TFS management with Microsoft Project allows accessing tools that Team Foundation Server does not provide, such as a project calendar, Gantt charts, and resource views.

When you use Microsoft Project, you can retrieve data about TFS work items that is related to project management, and then use scheduling and planning tools. When team members update information about the estimated work, the remaining work, and the completed work, you can retrieve that information and view it in Microsoft Project. TFS management with Microsoft Project allows you to perform the following TFS reporting and planning tasks:

    • Link the estimated hours to a calendar that tracks the developer’s availability
    • Decide whether the developer’s time has been allocated properly
    • Determine when tasks start and finish based on hours submitted
    • Create charts that demonstrate the resource usage

Microsoft Project stores information that Team Foundation Server does not, therefore, even if you publish work item information to the work item database in TFS, it does not guarantee that your Microsoft Project information will be saved. Moreover, frequent publishing and refreshing are required to keep data synchronized between Microsoft Project and TFS. I think that it is not always the most convenient way of TFS management as it takes a lot of time and effort.

So, it might be a good idea to use third-party TFS timesheets and project time tracking tools to perform planning and reporting tasks. This type of software is specifically developed to make TFS management much easier and less time-consuming.

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