23 June 2011

Visual Studio 2010 Extensions

Visual Studio 2010 is a great integrated development environment (IDE) for developing all types of applications in multiple programming languages.  One of the (many) advantages of using a mature IDE like Visual Studio is that it is highly extensible.  Visual Studio has had a great community of developer-built extensions for a long time now.  However, until recent times, it wasn’t always easy to locate and install the extensions you needed or simply wanted.  This has changed.

About two and a half years ago (give or take – my history is a little fuzzy) Microsoft introduced the Visual Studio Gallery.  This on-line “store” for Visual Studio provides “quick access to tools, controls, and templates to help you get the most out of Visual Studio”.  With the gallery came not only the ability to easily search for extensions and install them but also the ability to easily upload new extensions that you build yourself.  There are now over 2,500 extensions available for download in the Visual Studio Gallery – some free and some commercial (i.e. not free).  If you’re looking to extend Visual Studio for a specific scenario, check the gallery first because you just might find what you’re looking for.

With that said, there is a set of extensions that I always go back and install any time I spin up a new developer machine.  I’ve listed these below in case you see something that you’re not familiar with and want to give it a try.

I actually have several other extensions installed, but the ones I’ve listed above are the ones that I make sure I put back on every time.  If you’re not familiar with the above extensions, click on the link and check them out.  You just may find them to be as useful as I do.

If there is a favorite extension that you can’t live without, tell us about it in the comments section below.  It may turn out to be one that I can’t live without.

22 June 2011

Web Standards Update for Visual Studio 2010 SP1

If you are using Visual Studio 2010 to create HTML 5 applications then you will appreciate the recently released Web Standards Update for Visual Studio 2010 SP1.  This update brings IntelliSense and validation to Visual Studio, based on the W3C specification, for HTML 5 and CSS3.

As reported by Scott Hanselman, this update provides you with IntelliSense and validation for:

HTML 5 features

Browser APIs

  • Geo-Location - Location aware websites are a clear, growing trend and now you've got full IntelliSense and validation within Visual Studio. For a nice sample, view source on the IE9 test drive demo.
  • Local Storage – IE has been supporting local storage from IE8, so now Visual Studio will provide you with full-fidelity IntelliSense to create sites which can save state within the browser. For sample of this, do a view source on HTML5 Demo Site


You can read the full details from his blog posts here.

You can download the update (~1MB) here.  A few people have had issues with the update claiming they need to install Visual Studio 2010 SP1 when, in fact, they already have SP1 installed.  If you have a similar experience, you might try the solution provided by Wouter vanEck on the Reviews tab, summarized here:

  • Download and install the ORCA tool from Microsoft (this is a MSI editor)
  • Once installed, start ORCA and open the downloaded Web Standards Update.msi package
  • In Tables, select the "CustomAction" entry
  • Once selected, in the right pane, select the "VSDCA_VsdLaunchConditions" line, right-click and select "Drop Row"
  • Save the package and run it

21 June 2011

Visual Studio Lab Management Guidance

It’s been a busy week for the ALM Rangers!  Not only was the Visual Studio Build Customization Guidance (read post) released but the Visual Studio Lab Management Guidance was released as well.


Here’s some quick information from the project home page:

Project Description

This Visual Studio ALM Ranger project has the primary goal of delivering scenario based and hands-on guidance for the planning, setup, configuration and usage of Visual Studio Lab Management, backed by  custom VM Template automation for reference environments.


The content is packaged in 3 separate zip files to give you the choice of selective downloads. The default download is the first of the listed packages:

  • Guidance, which includes scenario based practical guidance and frequently asked questions.

  • Hands-on Labs (HOL), which includes the HOL documents that provide walkthroughs of the technology, based on the guidance.

  • HOL Package, which includes a HOL environment setup package which allows you to setup the HOL environment in your own environment.

Get the full details and download the guidance here and keep track of all the other great ALM Rangers projects here.

Visual Studio Build Customization Guidance

A few days ago, the Visual Studio Build Customization Guidance was officially released!


Here’s some quick information from the project home page:

Project Description

This Visual Studio ALM Ranger project has the primary goal of delivering scenario based and hands-on lab guidance for the customization and deployment of Team Foundation Build 2010 activities such as versioning, code signing, and branching.


The solution is divided in separate packages to give you the choice of selective downloads. The default download is the first of the listed packages:

  • Guidance contains scenario based practical guidance, frequently asked questions and quick reference posters
    • Selected PDF contains guidance and quick reference posters in PDF format only.
    • Complete contains guidance, quick reference posters and localization files in all available formats.
  • Hands-on Labs (HOL) includes:
    • HOL documents that provide walkthroughs of the technology, based on the guidance
    • HOL Package contains a HOL environment setup package allowing you to setup the HOL environment in your own environment
    • BRDLite Build Process Reference Template walk-through.
  • Samples contains sample build process templates used by the team as part of the guidance.
  • Videos which showcase the guidance in quick 5-10min videos.

Get the full details and download the guidance here and keep track of all the other great ALM Rangers projects here.

15 June 2011

Visual Studio/TFS 2010 Videos

If you’re looking for a great collection of videos for Visual Studio 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010, look no further than this post on the Visual Studio ALM + Team Foundation Server blog.

The list of videos span the following categories:

  • Testing
  • Development
  • Visualization, Modeling, and Architecture
  • Team Foundation Server
  • Lab Management

Lots of great content for viewing.

06 June 2011

What is the TFS (Iteration) Automation Platform?

One of the privileges I’ve had over the past couple of years has been the opportunity to work on several Visual Studio ALM Rangers projects.  Rangers projects provide the opportunity to interact with some very talented people on a daily basis.  Some of those people might by on the Visual Studio product group, others might be Microsoft employees in other areas, and others might be external Rangers – e.g. Microsoft MVPs or other contributors.  Add in various time zones across the planet and your typical Rangers project can turn out to be a great, yet rewarding, challenge.

Most recently, I have become involved with a new Rangers project – TFS Iteration Automation.  This project is a little different from the typical Rangers project, however.  With this project, the first deliverable will provide some core functionality for handling the maintenance associated with switching from iteration-to-iteration in TFS 2010 (especially in regards to query updates).

The second release will be a community project (although still owned and driven by external Rangers).  The idea being that the platform provided by the first release will allow for myriad add-ins to be built and provided in the second release.

This is an exciting Rangers project because it will provide a base platform for building, and deploying, various extensions to TFS 2010.

Martin Hinshelwood (Dev Lead) has provided several posts explaining the basic idea and concepts describing this project.  If you’re interested in learning more about this project, check out these posts:

To keep up with this project, keep an eye on these blogs:

Call for User Group Speaker/Topics

For those of you that regularly attend the Omaha Team System User Group meeting (in Omaha), you’ve no doubt noticed that we missed the last couple of meetings.  It turns out we had scheduling conflicts that prevented us from having the March meeting and the arrival of my latest son (see: Getting Back On-line) prevented us from having the meeting last month.

Looking forward to the next meeting on July 26th, we are in need of a speaker.  If you have a topic that you would like to discuss and are willing to present on, please let me know.  If there are topics you would like to discuss but do not want to present on, let us know about those as well.  If we receive enough topic ideas, we may just have an open discussion group in lieu of an actual presentation.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the next meeting!

NOTE: Due to some recent server changes the normal Omaha Team System User Group site is not currently functioning (www.otsug.org).  For the time being, we are making use of the Omaha Microsoft Technology Group site for providing event and scheduling information.  We hope to have the original site up and running again soon.

Getting Back On-line…

It’s been a little quiet on this blog lately...

A few months ago, my wife and I started looking for a new house in anticipation of our fourth child showing up on or around May 23rd.  After extensive searching, and even more extensive negotiations, we finally settled on a house and went through the process of buying it.  We closed on the house on April 28th and spent the next week cleaning and painting.  We officially moved in on Saturday, May 7th.  Although we had most of the contents of the “old” house at the “new” house, we still had to put it all away.  No worries, the baby wasn’t due for 16 days!

Turns out, the baby (Ian) decided to join us in this world the very next day – May 8th!  Needless to say, our moving/organization plans pretty much came to a screeching halt.  Well, now it’s four weeks later (it was all a blur!) and things are finally starting to settle down a bit.

Although I’ve kept up with some of the goings-on of the world around me over the past month I’ve definitely fallen behind.  I look forward to getting back into the swing of things because the one thing I love more than the ever-changing landscape of software development is the sharing of the knowledge and experiences I pick up on a day-to-day basis.  So, if you read this blog – and care [ :-) ] – I will be making several posts over the next few weeks as I catch back up.  As usual, most of these posts will be in the general category of Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server.  However, I also have a few other topics planned as well :-)