27 June 2007

Gearing Up for HDC 2007

It's that time of year again here in the heartland - preparation for the fourth consecutive Heartland Developers Conference.  Last year's conference went very well (Philip and Joe did a great job putting it all together) with a lot of great presentations and this year is looking to be even better.  A new track, “Manage It”, has been added this year which will focus on providing cutting edge content on topics like virtualization, technology driven project management, strategic process management, empowerment tools, and other topics that will help you to manage the development and implementation of your development projects.

Although the speaker schedule has not yet been updated on the HDC web site, I understand that the two keynote speakers will be Ron Jacobs and Scott Guthrie.  If you have an interest in architecture and/or ASP.NET/AJAX, you will definitely want to check out these guys if you're able to make it to the conference.

Last year, I had the privilege to give a presentation on automating the build process with TFS.  This year, one of my co-workers (Ron Yenko) will be presenting on Clustering SQL Server 2005 for High Availability.  It promises to be a great talk.

Hope to see you there.

20 June 2007

Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2 Includes "Go-Live" License

I noticed in a blog post by Scott Guthrie that Visual Studio 2008 (formerly known as "Orcas") will include a "go-live" license allowing it to be put into production use with a supported upgrade path to subsequent releases.

VS 2008 and .NET 3.5 Beta 2 will ship later this summer, and the Beta 2 release will support a go-live license for those who want to put applications into production using the new features immediately.

Also, just in case you missed it, "Orcas" is now officially known as Visual Studio 2008 and the related .NET Framework is known as .NET Framework 3.5.  Visual Studio 2008 has "multi-targeting" support which allows you to configure your Visual Studio 2008 projects to use the .NET Framework 2.0, 3.0, or 3.5.

Read the post here.

19 June 2007

A Quick eScrum Review

As many of you have probably noticed, Microsoft has released a new product called eScrum.  This product adds a scrum-based process template to your Team Foundation Server along with related functionality (e.g. product management, backlog items, tasks, sprint management, and reports) allowing you to manage various parts of the agile software development process.

eScrum is a Web-based, end-to-end project management tool for Scrum built on the Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server platform. It provides multiple ways to interact with your Scrum project: eScrum Web-based UI, Team Explorer, and Excel or Project, via Team Foundation Office Integration. In addition, it provides a single place for all Scrum artifacts such as product backlog, sprint backlog, task management, retrospective, and reports with built-in context sensitive help.

I installed eScrum this morning and gave it a short run-through.  Here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • Three words - "Complete the MSI"!  Although the eScrum product is downloaded as an MSI package, there are still quite a few manual steps that you have to complete before you're able to use the new template.  This includes downloading and/or installing the .NET Framework 2.0 (no biggy here), ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions 1.0, AJAX Control Toolkit, and the Anti Cross-Site Scripting Library 1.5.  You must also manually install the SharePoint templates as well as upload the process template to TFS.  These are tasks that would be better off automated.  There are also some file-based permissions that need to be configured - this would be better off automated as well.
  • You have to manually edit an XML file to include your eScrum Team Projects within the eScrum portal.  Shouldn't the portal be able to deduce which Team Projects were created with the eScrum process template?  If so, then this should happen automatically.
  • There are two "read me" documents that you must go through in order to setup & configure eScrum.  If the MSI is not going to automate the various tasks for you,then please combine these into a single document.
  • An "administration" screen would be welcomed - if you could add projects and group members from within the web site, it would keep you from having to switch back and forth between Internet Explorer and Team Explorer.
  • Minor issue - if I leave the product owner off when I attempt to save a new product, it tells me that the "Assigned to" field is empty.  I'm not sure if this can be changed or not, and it's really not all that important - just something I noticed.

Some tips:

  • Follow the "read me" documents step-by-step.  If you do this then you shouldn't have too many problems getting setup.
  • When you download the Anti Cross-Site Scripting Library, be sure you download version 1.5.
  • Be sure to follow the instructions for redirecting the AJAX Control Toolkit version to the version downloaded unless you happen to have version 1.0.10301.0 laying around.  eScrum was compiled against a version older than what is currently available for download so, unless you have access to the old version, you'll need to map the versions within the configuration file.
  • Make sure you edit the two XML files (as noted in the "read me" file) that configure which TFS server/port you're using as well as the name of the TFS eScrum-based Team Project(s) you've created and want to have access to via the web portal.
  • Once you've created the eScrum Team Project(s), you'll need to configure the Team Project security and add members to the "Contributors" group in order for them to show up in the portal as project members.
  • Once you install eScrum, help is available via the link on the web site.

All in all, I like what I see at first glance.  My favorite part of it all is the simplicity of the UI.  It seems that you have exactly what you need but nothing else.  We haven't had a chance to use it in practice yet so I'll be presenting it to my team over the next few days to see if there is any interest in trying it out (along with/instead of what we're currently using).


Other References: