24 December 2009

VS 2008 & 2010 - Virtual Machine Images

If you’re looking for a set of virtual machines for testing Visual Studio 2008 or 2010 and/or Team Foundation Server 2008 or 2010, then you’re in luck!  Brian Randell has just posted about a new set of virtual machine images ready for downloading.

For the 2008 images, the new expiration date is January 31st, 2011.  The 2010 images expire much earlier due to the nature of the beta products – April 9th, 2010.  However, by that time, it’s hoped that the final release of the 2010 products will be out, or if not (because of the delayed launch), then at least a new release candidate should be available by that time.

There are a total of seven images – four 2008 images and three 2010 images.

Read the full post for details.

21 December 2009

Final TFS 2010 Beta 2 Patch Available

As of today, the final TFS 2010 Beta 2 patch is being made available.  The list of fixes include:

  • If, in the connect dialog, the URL with “/tfs” fails to connect, fails back to base URL (minus “/tfs”).
  • Removed an extraneous error that occurred when connecting to a CodePlex with the 2010 Team Explorer.
  • Fixed an error that affected connecting to TFS using HTTPS over the Internet from behind an ISA proxy that requires authentication. (This affected people connecting to CodePlex over the Internet.)
  • Improved performance when using Crtl-A to select multiple Labels.

You can download the patch from here or here (note: the second link is still in the process of being published so it may not be active for a few hours).

(read this announcement on Brian Harry’s blog)

As announced a few days ago, the originally planned launch date for Visual Studio 2010 has been pushed back several weeks so there are now plans to publish an interim release candidate (RC).  The RC is currently scheduled for release during February, 2010 so you shouldn’t have to wait too long between today’s patch release and the next publicly available release.

17 December 2009

Visual Studio 2010 Launch Pushed Back

A couple of months ago it was announced that Visual Studio 2010 would launch on March 22, 2010.  Today, Microsoft announced that, due to extensive feedback (e.g. regarding performance issues, etc.), the official launch will be pushed back a few weeks.

Because of the extended beta period, Microsoft will be providing a Release Candidate, currently scheduled for February, 2010, with a broad “Go Live” license.

I believe this is a great move on Microsoft’s part as it will give them a little more time to “get it right” and will also provide the public with another “Go Live” version for testing and development purposes prior to the official launch.  So, now you won’t have to wait until the end of March next year to get an updated version of VS 2010 but you will have to wait a little longer to get the final (hopefully better) product – not a bad trade-off.

Read more about it here and here.

04 December 2009

TFS 2010 Beta 2 Power Tools Released

For anyone that’s been using Team Foundation Server for any amount of time, odds are you’ve also been making use of the Team Foundation Server Power Tools (if not, then they’re well worth a look).  If you have been taking advantage of Team Foundation Server 2010 Beta 2’s “Go Live” license then you’ve had to make due without the enhanced functionality provided by the TFS Power Tools.  That is, until now.

The Team Foundation Server 2010 Beta 2 Power Tools have been released and are now available for download.  Here are the links:

Brian Harry has a great post on the various details here.

Note: this is a pre-release version of the TFS 2010 Power Tools.  The final version will be released around the same time as Visual Studio 2010 (March 22, 2010).

13 November 2009

Presentation Slides

Today concludes my run of talks (at least for the next few weeks :-) that I’ve been giving over the past few weeks so I thought I’d post the PowerPoint decks in case anyone might find some use from them.  With that said…

Team Foundation Sidekicks Updated (v2.4)

First of all, if you are using Team Foundation Server and don’t currently make use of the Team Foundation Sidekicks (from Attrice Corporation), you should.  That said, Attrice has released an update (v2.4) to their current set of Team Foundation Sidekicks.

This update resolves a few issues with the previous release as well as one new feature - “Users View Sidekick”, which offers the following features:

  • Display all users in Valid Users group on TFS server
  • Search users list by user name or display name

This is the last planned release that will support TFS 2005/2008.  All future enhancements will target TFS 2010 with a beta (for VS 2010) possibly available by the end of the year.

For more information:

10 November 2009

Cross Platform Support for TFS Gets Better

Yesterday, Microsoft announced they will be purchasing the Teamprise-related assets of SourceGear.  The Teamprise tools allows software developers to take advantage of various features of Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (e.g. work item tracking, automated builds, and reporting features) from other environments such as Macintosh- and Linux/Unix-based systems.  There is also an Eclipse plug-in that provides functionality almost identical to that of the Team Explorer client that integrates with Visual Studio.

Having this technology more accessible (e.g. via Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate) will no doubt go a long way in helping development teams that work across multiple platforms (e.g. .NET, Java, etc.) work and plan with an integrated set of ALM tools.  Having those tools integrated into their development environment of choice – Visual Studio or Eclipse, is the icing on the cake.

The Teamprise technology will be available with Visual Studio 2010 and can be acquired in one of several ways:

  • Purchased separately with one TFS CAL (for approximately $799).
  • Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN will include the Teamprise technology.
  • Free upgrade to the Microsoft branded product to all current Teamprise owners once released.

Support will continue to be offered by Teamprise until the Microsoft branded product is released, at which time, Microsoft will take over support.

More Information:

03 November 2009

Visual Studio 2010 “Live” Sessions

Starting today (November 3rd, 2010), a series of Microsoft Office Live Meeting sessions will be hosted presenting on various features of Visual Studio 2010.  Whether you’ve already spent a lot of time with the Visual Studio 2010 betas or you’re new to the product, these sessions will be a great source of information.

  • Nov 3rd 10:00-11:00AM -Getting Started with IntelliTrace (formerly the “Historical Debugger”) by Habib Heydarian and Justin Marks
  • Nov 4th 10:00-11:00AM - Getting Started with SharePoint Development in Visual Studio 2010 by Boris Scholl
  • Nov 5th 9:00am-10:00am - A Lap Around Visual Basic in Visual Studio 2010 by Lisa Feigenbaum
  • Nov 5th 10:00am-11:00am - Getting Started with Managed Extensibility Framework by Glen Block
  • Nov 6th 10:00-11:00AM - Getting started with Design and Discovery Tools (Architecture) by Mark Groves

All times listed are PST and all sessions will use the same LiveMeeting connection information as follows:

LiveMeeting: https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/0000000379_103/join?id=76P755&role=attend&pw=p%2C%2Fzk2K%7CM
Conf call: Toll Free (US Only): 866-500-6738
Toll: 203-480-8000
Participant code: #198585

If you do not already have the Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2007 client installed, you can save yourself a little time by installing it now (rather than waiting for the meeting to start).

20 October 2009

Visual Studio 2010 – Links for Getting Started

If you are venturing to try out the latest Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 release then you may be looking for as much information regarding this release as you can.  There is too much information available to condense into a single post so here are a few links to help get you started:

Links & Downloads

  • Visual Studio Home – this is the official Visual Studio home page.  You will be able to view information specific to each SKU, as well as download the latest beta, once the site is updated (hopefully tomorrow).
  • Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 can be downloaded from the MSDN Subscribers download site.  General availability is expected to start on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 on the Microsoft Downloads site.
  • Team Foundation Installation Guide for Visual Studio Team System 2010 – use this link to download the CHM file for the TFS installation guide (beta 1 and 2 guides are currently available).  This guide is also included in the Team Foundation Server 2010 download (in the root folder).
  • Compare the various Visual Studio 2010 SKUs here.


If you’re looking for documentation for Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2, then you can find (hopefully) everything you need on the MSDN site.  Click here for the Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 documentation.

Client Compatibility

If you’re going to be running Visual Studio 2010 side-by-side with older clients and/or Team Foundation Servers (e.g. 2005 and/or 2008) then there are some compatibility issues that you will need to take into account.  This blog post covers these in great detail.


Along with the Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 announcement came details regarding the new SKUs that will be available.  Brian Harry has posted some highlights regarding these changes.  Buck Hodges has also posted a few details here.

Learning More

Here are some links to miscellaneous posts and videos regarding some of the new Visual Studio 2010 features:

BLOGs to Watch

Reporting Bugs

If you happen to discover any issues (i.e. bugs) with Visual Studio, please report them on Microsoft Connect.  This is the site where you can search for existing issues, create new issues, and follow them as they move through Microsoft’s development life cycle.

19 October 2009

Visual Studio 2010 – Beta 2 Released

Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2010 – Beta 2 is now available for download on the MSDN subscribers download site.  This is a milestone release for Microsoft for several reasons:

  • This release (Visual Studio 2010 – Beta 2) is generally considered to be feature complete (barring any loud feedback concerning some missing feature that just can’t be left out)
  • It comes with a “Go-Live” license.  This means that you can use Visual Studio 2010 and/or Team Foundation Server 2010 to produce production systems and the upgrade to the RTM version will be supported.
  • The Visual Studio 2010 SKUs have been modified to (hopefully) reduce confusion – specifically, the confusion between Visual Studio and “Team System”.  The moniker “Team System” is no longer used with Visual Studio although the ALM tools are still very much part of Visual Studio.  In fact, all of the Visual Studio 2010 SKUs that include and MSDN subscription include a full Team Foundation Server (TFS) license for production use as well as one CAL.  This is an exciting change because it makes TFS a much more affordable solution.

The official list of Visual Studio 2010 SKUs include:

  • Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2010 Professional
  • Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2010 Professional with MSDN
  • Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2010 Premium with MSDN
  • Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2010 Ultimate with MSDN
  • Microsoft® Visual Studio® Test Elements 2010 with MSDN
  • Microsoft® Visual Studio® Team Foundation Server 2010
  • Microsoft® Visual Studio® Team Lab Management 2010
  • Microsoft® Visual Studio® Load Test Virtual User Pack 2010

The “Express” editions are not included in the above list as they have not changed.

Also, you will be seeing the “Ultimate Offer” promotion from Microsoft that will bump your MSDN subscription up to the next level based on your current MSDN subscription status at the time Visual Studio 2010 is launched (which is scheduled for March 22nd, 2010).  So, if you currently have an MSDN subscription, make sure you check out the details of this offer (details in a later post) prior to the launch date.

There are a ton of other details regarding this release that are too numerous to list right now (e.g. new MSDN subscription benefits as well).  Expect to see (lots) of posts regarding the changes in Visual Studio 2010 in the near future.

For now, if you are running Visual Studio Team System (2005 or 2008) you may want to download the new beta and try out the new features.  In fact, you can even use it for your production development if you like.

If you happen to discover any issues (i.e. bugs) with Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2, please report them on Microsoft Connect.  This is the site where you can search for existing issues, create new issues, and follow them as they move through Microsoft’s development life cycle.

For further information, check out these links:

16 October 2009

Heartland Developer’s Conference – Day 2

Today was the second and final day of the 2009 Heartland Developers Conference.  I was able to stick around through all the sessions today so I was able to take in a lot more content than yesterday.  Much like yesterday, I found the non-technical sessions the most interesting – which seems to be a little counter-intuitive for a developers conference.

Here’s a quick run down on some of the sessions I attended today:

Smithying in the 21st Century - Neal Ford – This keynote was a discussion about predicting the future and how to ensure you don’t go the way of the dinosaurs.  Although you may not be able to predict the next “big thing”, you should at least pay attention to technological trends and needs.  This was not a technical keynote address but it did invoke a lot of thought which makes for an enjoyable talk.

The Natural User Interface: Multi-Touch and Beyond Nathan Moody – this was a great overview of natural user interface (NUI) design in a multi-touch form factor.  Nathan discussed various multi-touch technologies as well as common issues that need to be addressed when designing for multi-touch interfaces.

How to Kill a Project and Deflate a Team – Surviving a software death marchMike Benkovich – in this talk, Mike covered various aspects of successful projects and teams.

An Introduction to .NET RIA ServicesAdam Grocholski – in this talk, Adam introduced us to the .NET RIA Services framework.  The main purpose of the .NET RIA Services is to streamline the development of n-tier applications in Silverlight by simplifying many of the common tasks that are required when writing software partitioned across multiple tiers.  This was my favorite technical session of the day.

How NOT to give a talk!Kent Tegels – a self-proclaimed “bad presenter”, Kent gave a great session on the habits of bad presenters as well as tips for correcting them.  Tidbits such as interacting with the audience; not relying on PowerPoint slides; practicing, but not over-practicing the talk, and others.  Overall, a useful session for anyone aspiring to present for their first time or anyone looking for tips on improving their presentation skills.

There were a couple of other sessions intermixed throughout the day but I don’t recall what they were off the top of my head.

This year’s conference was without a doubt a great use of my time.  I picked up a few technical tips that I will take back to the office with me next week for further investigation (e.g. .NET RIA Services, jQuery, etc.).  However, like I mentioned above, it’s the non-technical sessions that will give me the most food for thought (and debate fodder with co-workers) for the next few weeks.  I will look forward to next year’s event!

15 October 2009

Heartland Developers Conference – Day 1

This year marks the sixth year for the Heartland Developers Conference.  This is a great technology conference that has only gotten better with each year (Joe always does a great job!).  In previous years, the HDC has been primarily focused on Microsoft-related technologies.  This year, that focus is gone in favor of a more platform-neutral event.  For example, this year’s conference includes not only .NET-based technologies, but also topics covering Adobe, Ruby, Apple (e.g. iPhone), etc.  As always, the event is backed up with a great representation of top-quality speakers from all across the country.

Although I had to leave the conference early today, I was still able to attend a few great sessions, including:

VS 2010 for the Code WarriorScott Guthrie – this was the first keynote address for the conference where the “Gu” spent most of his time (and about 15 minutes of the next set of presenter’s time :-)) showing off demos of the up-coming version of Visual Studio 2010.  Some of the highlights include:

  • Multiple monitor support – great for those of us lucky enough to have more than one monitor attached to our developer machine
  • Historical Debugging – another great feature that will help with the debugging of complex scenarios.
  • Miscellaneous Refactoring Features – block-selection-replace, Highlighting References, Call Hierarchy navigation, etc.
  • Consume-First IntelliSense – allows you to tweak IntelliSense in Visual Studio to help support development processes like Test Driven Development (TDD).  Using this feature, along with the ability to generate class and method stubs based on usage, you can practice TDD much more effectively in Visual Studio 2010.
  • TFS 2010 - “Basic” – Team Foundation Server for SourceSafe (and other) users.  You will now be able to acquire TFS 2010 Basic “at least as easy and cost effective to get as SourceSafe has been” and even install it on your Windows Client PC (e.g. Vista or Windows 7).
  • Improved JavaScript IntelliSense
  • More…

jQuery 101 Rod Paddock – Before today, I had only heard of jQuery but had no idea as to what it was.  Based on the name alone, I had assumed it was a JavaScript library for querying data (in some form or another).  Attending Rod’s session, I learned that it’s more for querying the DOM and acting upon the results of those queries (i.e. “selectors”).  This looks to be a very useful library for manipulating not only the look and feel of web pages on-the-fly but also on how they behave (e.g. by manipulating events).  This is a library that I will be spending a little more time with in the near future.  Another great feature is the on-line documentation.  It’s actually useful!

Rethinking “Enterprise”Ted Neward – although the other presentations were great, this was easily my favorite presentation of the day.  The interesting part is that it wasn’t even technical.  There was no code, no IDEs, just some seemingly difficult math problems, some not-so-well-known facts about Woodrow Wilson, and various other historical tidbits about things like J2EE, etc.  Oh, and the incessant Windows Update dialog that seemed to consume most of Ted’s CPU cycles.  The gist of his presentation is that we are all wired from the time we start school as a child to think in a certain way.  This brings along with it certain presumptions that affect how we might approach a given problem.  The point of the presentation is to make us aware of this condition and to step outside the box and question assumptions and explore multiple possibilities.  Although this session was only an hour long, It will provide me with food for thought for weeks to come :-)

With any luck, I will be able to attend the entire day tomorrow and finish off the conference with a day full of great sessions.  See you there!

04 October 2009

VSTS 2010 Beta 2 – Almost Here

According to this post by Brian Keller and another by Brian Harry, VSTS 2010 Beta 2 is “just around the corner” and will ship with a “Go Live” license which means:

  1. You can use VSTS 2010 Beta 2 for production development
  2. The upgrade path to VSTS 2010 RTM will be supported

Brian Keller also provides links to a Microsoft Word document and a PowerPoint presentation that can assist you in planning for the VSTS 2010 upgrade.

02 October 2009

Team Foundation Server for the Masses

Early last year, I posted 10 Reasons for TFS with Small Teams that listed 10 reasons for using Team Foundation Server even if you thought your team may not be big enough to get any benefit from it.  I still stand by those 10 reasons.  However, reality has a way of overturning even the best of reasons.  For example, cost of software licenses and hardware carry a lot of weight when it comes time to calculate ROI (whether real or perceived).

Yesterday, Brian Harry announced some major changes coming in TFS 2010 that will go a long way in bring Team Foundation Server to the masses – a new feature called Team Foundation Server “Basic” Installation.

Brian covers three aspects of this in his post:

  1. Price - Although he doesn’t disclose the licensing options and/or price, he does go so far as to say it will be as easy and cost effective to get as Visual SourceSafe has been in the past.  This is very exciting as cost seems to be one of the top (if not the top) reason against bringing Team Foundation Server into a small shop – i.e. those same small shops that use Visual SourceSafe today.
  2. Pre-Requisite Hardware – TFS 2010…
    • Can be installed on a domain controller, which is great if you’re a small shop and that is the only server hardware you have.
    • Can be installed on not only server OSes but also client OSes.  Supported operating systems include: Windows Vista, Windows 7 Home Premium, and above.
    • Supports 32-bit and 64-bit so no matter what type of server you’re running, TFS will work for you.
  3. Installation Experience – the installation experience for TFS 2010 has been drastically improved.  The TFS installation wizard has three options: “Basic” (the main point of what I’m writing about here), “Standard”, and “Advanced”.

So, what does the “Basic” installation option get you?  Pretty much everything the “Standard” installation of TFS provides with the exception of SharePoint and Reporting capabilities.  This means you have the following features:

  • Version Control
  • Bug Tracking
  • Build Automation

And, as Brian mentions in his post, the nice thing about the “Basic” installation option is that you can always reconfigure the installation down the road as your needs grow.

Read more about this announcement in Brian’s post here.

01 October 2009

TFS Work Item Manager/Dashboard

A few days ago, Telerik announced the availability of two new free products built to provide an informational view into your Team Foundation Server projects.  These products are TFS Work Item Manager and TFS Project Dashboard.

TFS Work Item Manager highlights:

  • Work Item grid filtering, grouping, and aggregation
  • Area and Iteration filtering using single and multi select modes
  • Filter query results using a tree of areas or iterations
  • *Unique Task board view of work items independent from any process template
  • Print work item cards for the board in your room
  • Iteration schedule
  • Paste clipboard contents into a work item
  • "New Query by example” saves your query for other team members
  • Search the title and description of query results as you type
  • Built with RadControls for WPF

TFS Project Dashboard highlights:

  • Displays workload data within various widgets
  • Shows important indicators in real time, at a glance including:
    • Build history
    • Recent check-ins
    • Assigned tasks
    • Bug history
    • More

The following TFS process templates are supported out of the box: CMMI Process Improvement, MSF for Agile Software Development, and Agile Software Development with Scrum.  Custom process templates are also supported.

I have to admit that my current favorite feature of these tools is the Task Board view.  This view represents your work items as “sticky notes” that you can drag from one status to another.  In our case, we are projecting onto an interactive Panaboard which allows us to physically move a work item from one status into another by pointing and dragging with our fingers.  Very cool!

If you’ve been looking for another view into the information buried within your Team Foundation Server then these tools are worth checking out.

Another Year as a Team System MVP

It was exactly one year ago today that I found out I was awarded with the Microsoft MVP status for Team System.  Since then I have had the opportunity to interact with many of my fellow Team System MVPs as well as many of the VSTS Rangers and have learned a great deal.  My first year as a Microsoft Team System MVP has been a great experience.

Earlier today, I found out that my MVP status has been renewed for yet another year.  My thanks goes out to Microsoft for their support of this program.  I look forward to the next year, broadening my technical horizons, interacting with the community, speaking at various events, interacting with other Team System MVPs, and meeting people passionate about technology.

25 September 2009

Microsoft Announces “WebsiteSpark”

Up until yesterday, Microsoft had two “Spark” programs:

  1. BizSpark – a program for startup businesses
  2. DreamSpark – a program for students

Yesterday, Scott Guthrie announced on his blog the new WebsiteSpark program.  This program is geared toward independent web developers as well as web development companies.  Here is a list of what’s provided with this program:

  • 3 licenses of Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
  • 1 license of Expression Studio 3 (which includes Expression Blend, Sketchflow, and Web)
  • 2 licenses of Expression Web 3
  • 4 processor licenses of Windows Web Server 2008 R2
  • 4 processor licenses of SQL Server 2008 Web Edition
  • DotNetPanel control panel (enabling easy remote/hosted management of your servers)

Like the other Microsoft “Spark” programs, these licenses are available for use for a total of three years without any cost.  There is, however, an exit cost of $100 once the three years have elapsed.

The only requirements for joining the program are:

  1. Your company builds web sites and web application on behalf of others.
  2. Your company currently has less than 10 employees.

For full details, check out the Scott’s post and the WebsiteSpark site.

22 September 2009

TFSExamples.com – Part II

A while back, I blogged about a new site that I created called TFSExamples.com with the intent that it serve as a community-based repository for examples showing how to make use of the TFS object model.  Several great examples were added by various supporters over the last year or so.

Several weeks ago, the server hosting this site crashed and I have just now got the site back up and running again.  The down side – my latest backup of this particular site (that was actually usable) was about 14 months old.  I was able to restore a few of the examples but the site is missing several of the great examples that had been added.  I was hoping that I could retrieve some of the examples from Google’s cached web pages and/or archive.org.  Unfortunately, this didn’t work out either since I wasn’t able to find any of the missing pages cached on this site (some of the pages that I was able to restore were there, however).

I hope to recreate many of the examples that were on the site as well as add some new ones over the next few weeks.  If you have any examples that make use of the TFS object model that you would like to share with the community, please check out the links below.  If you happened to be one of the members that had added an example, and it’s no longer there, I would truly appreciate it if you would be able to take the time and re-add it to the site.

TFSExamples.com Links:

  • Add New Example – displays instructions on adding a new example to the wiki
  • Browse All – displays a list of all pages in the wiki
  • Browse Categories – displays a list of all categories in the wiki
  • Request Example – allows you to request a specific example be added to the site

21 September 2009

Check for Warnings/Errors Check-in Policy

A few days ago a fellow co-worker asked if I knew of a TFS check-in policy that checks for Visual Studio compilation errors and/or warnings.  I wasn’t aware of such a check-in policy (although it may exist out there somewhere) so I decided to go ahead and create it (who doesn’t love a challenge?!).

When active, this check-in policy will evaluate the current Visual Studio solution to determine if any build warnings and/or errors are present.  If so, the check-in policy will fail and will prevent the code from being checked in (this can, of course, be overridden).

To enable this check-in policy:

  1. Download and install the CheckForWarningsPolicy from here.
  2. Right-click the desired team project within the Team Explorer client and select the “Team Project Settings—>Source Control” menu item.
  3. Click the “Check-in Policy” tab and click “Add”.
  4. Select the “Check for Compilation Warnings and Errors Policy” and click OK.
  5. Click the “Edit” button and select whether you’d like to check for warnings, errors, or both and click OK:

Check for Compilation Warnings and Errors Policy Editor

Once enabled, you will see a list of policy failures in the Policy Warnings tab of the Pending Changes pane:

Pending Changes - Policy Warnings

If you hover over the policy failure, the ToolTip will display the remainder of the filename along with the line and column number and project name of the failure.

UPDATE: You can now double-click on the policy failure to navigate directly to the location within code where the failure occurred (assuming the location information is available).

You can download the CheckForWarningsPolicy from here.

28 August 2009

Speaking Schedule

One of my favorite things about technology is having the opportunity to speak about technology.  For whatever reason, it always seems like this time of year always keeps me busy.  Here is a list of speaking engagements I’m scheduled for over the next few months:

  • October 21st – presenting on Silverlight 3 at an internal user group within Farm Credit Services of America (my employer)
  • November 3rd – presenting on VSTS 2010 – What’s in it for me? at the Dubuque, IA .NET User Group.  I gave this presentation for the Omaha Team System User Group last month and am looking forward to giving it again.
  • November 7th – presenting at Tulsa TechFest on TBD (something related to VSTS, I’m sure :-)
  • November 13th – presenting on C# and Team Build at an internal .NET Developer’s Conference for Tyson Foods in Springdale, AR.

The last two events in November are all within about an hour of my sisters and parents so I’m really looking forward to the trips.

04 August 2009

Omaha Team System User Group RSS Feeds

Due to a recent server failure/web site makeover, the RSS feeds from the Omaha Team System User Group web site have changed.  The new RSS feeds are as follows:

As always, please contact me if you have any questions regarding the Omaha Team System User Group or if you are interested in presenting a topic at an upcoming meeting.

Omaha Team System User Group Site is Back!

If you have visited the Omaha Team System User Group site within the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably noticed one of two things - the site was either down or the site looked a lot different than it used to.

A couple of weeks ago, the server that hosts the OTSUG web site crashed and took everything with it.  Although I had various backups of various files, I did not have any (recent) backups of the entire partition.  After bringing a severely out of date backup on-line (it was four years old!) I had quite a bit of configuration to take care of.

The OTSUG web site was originally hosted within Microsoft SharePoint utilizing the Community Kit for SharePoint (CKS): User Group Edition.  In fact, this was the only site on this server that made use of SharePoint.  Rather than install SharePoint and CKS to host a single site, I decided to look for something simpler and easier to maintain.  I decided to give DotNetNuke a look.

DotNetNuke has a little bit of a learning curve, but once you get past that, it’s very quick and easy to add and configure new pages to the web site.  Specific functionality, such as support for Announcements, Document Management, Links, etc., are provided via DotNetNuke Modules.  There are quite a few of these modules readily available for download with the ability to create custom modules if so needed.  In my case, I was able to get by with the modules currently provided.  Another great thing – it’s open source (under the MIT license).

So, I’ve learned (at least) two things with this experience:

  • Sometimes, simpler is better.
  • Backup, backup, backup!

At least I got to learn something new from this experience!

30 July 2009

VSTS: What’s in it for Me?

I just completed a presentation on “VSTS 2010: What’s in it for Me?” for the Omaha Team System User Group and Omaha .NET User Group (original post).  The venue was once again sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America and the food and give-aways were sponsored by QCI – thanks Jodi!  I haven’t reviewed the sign-in sheet yet to get the exact count but we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 attendees for tonight’s talk – a great turn out.

There are so many new features in VSTS 2010 that it was a challenge keeping the presentation within the time constraints of the meeting.  I managed to squeeze it into about an hour and twenty minutes.

Here’s a quick overview of the features covered in tonight’s session:

  • TFS Installation & Administration
  • Scalability Options
  • Branching and Merging Visualization
  • Gated Check-ins
  • Hierarchical Work Items
  • Query Folders
  • Excel-based Reporting
  • New TFS Reports
  • Dashboards
  • Microsoft Test and Lab Manager
    • Manual Test Runner
    • Test Lab Management
  • Unit Test Improvements
  • Historical Debugger
  • Test Impact Analysis
  • Database Features
  • Architecture
    • Layer Diagram
    • Architecture Explorer
  • New UML Diagrams
    • Activity Diagram
    • Use Case Diagram
    • Logical Class Diagram
    • Component Diagram
    • Sequence Diagram
  • Other Miscellaneous Items

As you can see, the list is pretty long.  Great stuff!  A big “THANKS” to all that attended.

If you’re interested in the PowerPoint slide deck, you can grab it here.

Windows 7 – Free Copy for Beta Testers!

This just in…  For those of you (myself included) that were involved in the Windows 7 Technical Beta program (available on Microsoft Connect), you will now be able to download a full (i.e. non-upgrade), not-for-resale, copy of Windows 7 Ultimate for your own personal use!  Thanks Microsoft!

More details are available via this post.

Omaha Team System User Group

I have been somewhat behind posting lately (I hear new babies in the family will do that smiley) so it only seems right that I post about the next Omaha Team System User Group meeting 12 hours before it starts.

This month, the Omaha Team System User Group and the Omaha .NET User Group are combining their efforts into a single meeting.  Tonight, I will be presenting on “VSTS 2010: What’s in it for me?”.  This will be a presentation that covers the major, new features that have been added to Visual Studio Team System 2010.  There are a LOT of new features to cover so it will be a challenge getting through them while still spending enough time on each of them to do them some justice.

As a side note, the server hosting the Omaha Team System User Group site, www.otsug.org, crashed last week so the site is currently down.  My goal is to have the site restored by the middle of next week.  In the meantime, please visit Omaha .NET User Group for details concerning the Omaha Team System User Group.

Here are the details for tonight’s meeting:

Please RSVP via the Omaha .NET User Group web site if you plan on attending.

Farm Credit Services of America
5015 South 118th St

6:00 PM

12 July 2009

Microsoft Thrive

I recently heard about a new site from Microsoft called “Thrive” and finally checked it out.  Here’s a quick blurb from the site:

We’ve heard from lots of developers that times are tough. You’re doing more with less, applying your skills more broadly, and maybe even learning new tools. That’s why we created Thrive – a one-stop community hub that offers job postings, technical content, and community resources. So whether you’re seeking new ways to differentiate yourself on the job, or you need to re-tool your skills for that next big role, Thrive has the resources to help you get there faster.

There is quite a bit of information available on this site and the jobs listing seems to have quite a few available positions listed.  If you’re looking for a job or simply looking for developer-related information to help you maintain your edge, this site is worth a look.

At first glance, this seems like a nice attempt to provide developers (who make use of Microsoft-based development technologies) with a single site for information.  If I were to have any criticism, it would be that the “Community” section of the site doesn’t seem to provide any (obvious) way to actually communicate/collaborate with other developers.  Maybe this is coming down the road or maybe that’s not the intent.

Not that I’m complaining because any source of reliable, useful information is a good thing :-)

10 July 2009

Silverlight 3 Ships

I don’t normally post about Silverlight since I tend to focus on Team System so much.  However, lately I have been spending a lot of time with Silverlight since I will be doing a presentation on it at our internal user group later this fall.  As such, I noticed that Silverlight 3 has officially shipped.

Here’s a short list of new features available in v3.0:

  • Ability to run Silverlight applications “out of browser”
  • H.264
  • Navigation Framework
  • DeepZoom
  • SaveFileDialog (yeah!)
  • WriteableBitmap
  • Pixel Shaders
  • ClearType (again, yeah!)
  • Hardware Acceleration
  • New Controls
  • UI to UI Binding (third yeah!)
  • New REST Networking Stack
  • Mouse Wheel Support
  • And much more…

You can read more about the details here.

Quick Links:

27 May 2009

Omaha Team System User Group

Yesterday was a long day that ended on a great note – the Omaha Team System User Group meeting.  Mike Douglas, from Deliveron Consulting Services, presented on Installing and Configuring Team Foundation Server 2008.  Here is the synopsis:

This presentation provides an overview of TFS 2008 and demonstrates best practices, lessons learned, and “gotchas” installing and configuring TFS 2008.  The overview explains the architecture and components of Team Foundation Server 2008 and recommended server configurations.  The demonstrations will include using the Best Practice Analyzer, setting user permissions and using the TFS Admin Tool, and creating and configuring a team project from start to finish.  The configuration process will include recommended settings, source control folder structure, and creating appropriate notification.  The presentation will conclude with techniques and lessons learned for troubleshooting problems with installations.

Mike covered a lot of information in an hour and 45 minutes answering lots of questions along the way.

The meeting was co-sponsored between Farm Credit Services of America and Deliveron Consulting Services.  Deliveron provided the food and some great giveaways (including an Xbox 360, TFS books, and some gift certificates).

The slide deck from last night’s presentation is available here.

Visit the Omaha Team System User Group web site for more information or contact me if you have any questions.  We hope to see you at the next meeting!

18 May 2009

Visual Studio 2010 - Beta 1 Available

As of today (May 18th, 2009) Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 (various SKUs) and .NET Framework 4 Beta 1 have shown up on the MSDN subscriber site. Here is a quick list of what shows up for the Enlish language (I'm not sure what other languages, if any, are yet available):
  • .NET Framework 4 Beta 1 (ia64)
  • .NET Framework 4 Beta 1 (x86 and x64)
  • .NET Framework 4 Beta 1 (x86)
  • .NET Framework 4 Client Profile Beta 1 (x86 and x64)
  • .NET Framework 4 Client Profile Beta 1 (x86)
  • Visual Studio 2010 Professional Beta 1 (x86) - DVD
  • Visual Studio 2010 Remote Debugger Beta 1 (x64)
  • Visual Studio 2010 Remote Debugger Beta 1 (x86)
  • Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 Beta 1 (x86 and x64) - DVD
  • Visual Studio Team System 2010 Team Suite Beta 1 (x86) - DVD
  • Visual Studio Team System 2010 Test Load Agent Beta 1 (x86)
  • Visual Studio Team System 2010 Test Load Controller Beta 1 (x86)
I do not know when the beta will show up on the public download site but I wouldn't think it would be too far behind. I am looking forward to seeing what changes/features have made their way into the beta (and what features were left out/removed).

Now, off to download...

13 April 2009

Deleting Work Items in TFS – a UI

If you work with Work Items in VSTS/Team Foundation Server then you’ve probably had the desire to delete a work item at some point.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Just right-click a work item and select… wait, there’s no Delete option?  That’s right – the Team Foundation Client does not include any functionality for deleting work items from TFS.

Although it’s a tad inconvenient, you can delete work items from TFS by installing the Team Foundation Server Power Tools  (October 2008 release or greater).  Of the many features available as part of the power tools, there is a command called destroywi that can be used to delete work items.  For example, to delete the work item ID 1234, use the command:

tfpt destroywi /server:tfs-dev /workitemid:1234

Although this is a relatively straightforward task to perform, not everyone is comfortable with the command line interface not to mention you have to look up the work item ID(s) ahead of time.  To ease the process a little bit, I created a simple UI that sits on top of the Team Foundation Server Power Tools that allows you to easily select a Team Foundation Server and Project to query from.  You can run an existing query to display a list of work items from which you can select one or more work items to be deleted.  You can also enter the work item IDs directly (as a comma-separated list) if you prefer.

Here is a screen shot of the utility after running the All Work Items query for a Demo project:


When you select one or more work items to be deleted, click the Delete button.  You will be prompted to be sure you want to delete since the action cannot be undone (i.e. it’s permanent).

DISCLAIMER: We have been using this utility in multiple production environments for several weeks now and have not experienced any issues.  However, since this utility physically deletes work items from a Team Foundation Server (via the Team Foundation Server Power Tools), use at your own risk :-)

Download the Delete Work Item utility here.

09 April 2009

VSTS 2010 Feature List

Brian Harry has started a series of posts detailing the new features in Visual Studio Team System 2010.  In his first post, he lists the high-level features along with associated blogs that provide further details.  He will be drilling into more detail with future posts but this is a great list if you’re just wanting an idea of what’s new in VSTS 2010.

06 April 2009

Omaha Team System User Group

Due to the recent birth of our new son, Zachary, I am somewhat late in getting this post on-line.  Although I am a little behind in getting this posted, I still want to get the word out about our last presentation at the Omaha Team System User Group.

Jeremy-OTSUG On March 24th, Farm Credit Services of America (FCSA) once again hosted the user group meeting.  Many thanks go out to Russ Wagner for his continued help and for accepting the position as co-leader of the Omaha Team System User Group!

This meeting’s topic was presented by Jeremy Novak, a developer at Farm Credit Services of America.  Jeremy presented on a new open source product called Remote Test Runner – or, RTR. RTR was originally developed at FCSA for internal use to aid in the automation of customer acceptance testing (sometimes referred to as service-level testing).  RTR was published to Microsoft’s CodePlex site following the presentation.

Remote Test Runner is a unit test assistance tool that allows the user to exercise Visual Studio-based test classes outside of Visual Studio. RTR reports on Data-Driven tests at the data field level as opposed to the unit test method level. Failed asserts no longer abort a test.

For more details about RTR, check out this previous post or the RTR project site on CodePlex (link below).


20 March 2009

IE 8, ASP.NET MVC, Silverlight 3 Beta and More

For those of you who have been following the MIX conference this week, there have been several new (final and beta) releases.  So far, the ones most interesting to me personally include:

  • Internet Explorer 8 (final) – there are some great improvements in this version of IE that you can read more about here.
  • ASP.NET MVC 1.0 (final) - ASP.NET MVC enables you to build Model View Controller (MVC) applications by using the ASP.NET framework. ASP.NET MVC is an alternative, not a replacement, for ASP.NET Web Forms that offers the following benefits:
    • Clear separation of concerns
    • Testability - support for Test-Driven Development
    • Fine-grained control over HTML and JavaScript
    • Intuitive URLs
  • Silverlight 3 Beta - this is a preview release which continues Silverlight’s track record of rapid innovation - introducing more than 50 new features, including support for running Silverlight applications out of the browser, dramatic video performance and quality improvements, and features that radically improve developer productivity.

    There are also several related tools/frameworks that can be utilized along with Silverlight 3 (Beta) to improve the overall experience.  Some of these include:
  • Microsoft Web Platform Installer 2.0 Beta - the Microsoft Web Platform Installer 2.0 (Web PI) is a free tool that makes it simple to download, install and keep up-to-date with the latest components of the Microsoft Web Platform, including Internet Information Services (IIS), SQL Server Express, .NET Framework and Visual Web Developer. In addition, install popular open source ASP.NET and PHP web apps with the Web PI.

16 March 2009

Omaha Team System User Group

The next Omaha Team System User Group meeting is going to be held Tuesday, March 24th at Farm Credit Services of America.  Jeremy Novak will be presenting on Acceptance/Service Level Testing using Remote Test Runner.

Here are the details:

Presentation: Acceptance/Service Level Testing with Remote Test Runner – Using an automated acceptance testing framework allows you to separate the task of creating test data from the test framework.  Your business owners can concentrate on creating the test data that gives them the assurance the product being tested meets their needs leaving developers to create the associated unit tests.

This presentation will be covering a new automated testing tool for use with Visual Studio – Remote Test Runner (RTR).  RTR builds upon the data-driven testing features currently built into Visual Studio Professional and higher.  RTR provides a nice, intuitive interface for running data-driven tests, even if you don’t have Visual Studio installed.  The test results can be reviewed in a summary or detailed view.  The detailed view is similar to the output provided by FitNesse, if you’re familiar with that product.  If you’re making use of continuous integration, you can integrate the acceptance tests into your automated builds ensuring all tests are executed with each build.  If you have code coverage turned on, then coverage of your acceptance tests will be tracked as well.

Remote Test Runner will be released as an open source project on Microsoft’s CodePlex site the night of the presentation.

Speaker: Jeremy Novak, FCSA
Jeremy Novak has over 15 years of software development experience and is current employed as a Developer/Web Programmer by Farm Credit Services of America.  He is interested in learning about all things.

I hope to see everyone there!

13 March 2009

Free ASP.NET MVC Tutorial

Scott Guthrie recently announced a new ASP.NET MVC book that he co-authored with Scott Hanselman, Rob Conery, and Phil Haack.  Scott wrote the first chapter, a 185 page end-to-end tutorial that walks through the creation of a complete ASP.NET MVC application.  As part of his agreement with Wrox to write this chapter for free, he asked that they make the tutorial available as a free download.  Nice!

You can read the details in Scott’s post here.  You can download the free PDF tutorial here.

05 March 2009

TFS Admin Tool v.Next

For those of us who use the Team Foundation Server Administration Tool, we know how much of a time saver it can be.  If you have not used the TFS Admin Tool, hosted on CodePlex, here’s a quick description:

The TFS Admin Tool allows a TFS administrator to quickly add users to all three platforms utilized by Team Foundation Server: Team Foundation Server, SharePoint, and SQL Reporting Services, all through one common interface. The tool also allows administrators to change the current permissions on any of the three tiers, identify any errors, and view all of the users and their permission sets across Team Foundation Server, SharePoint, and SQL Reporting Services.

The TFS Admin Tool is getting a boost.  Specifically, there are several people, myself included, gearing up to work on a defect regarding SQL 2008 support (click here for details).  The next release will include the fix for this defect along with fixes for a few other defects currently in progress.

What we would like to see is more community involvement around this product.  We want to hear your ideas and suggestions.  If you’ve made any source code updates to help improve the product, we’d like for you to upload those as well.  If you maintain a blog or Facebook page, tweet on twitter, etc. then help us get the word out that we’re looking for everyone’s ideas and support.  The project coordinate, Michael Ruminer, has posted more details here.

01 March 2009

Microsoft MVP Global Summit

Microsoft MVPs from all around the world have began their descent on Seattle.  Tomorrow starts the 2009 Microsoft MVP Global Summit which will run from March 1st thru March 4th. 

Having been a Microsoft MVP (for Team System) for only a few months, this is my first Summit and I am happy that I am able to attend.  I am not completely sure what to expect but what I hope to get out of it is the opportunity to meet a lot of other software professionals with a passion for technology and learning.  Based on my conversation with the first MVP I’ve met so far on this trip, Jay Smith, it doesn’t appear that it is going to be a problem :-)

I also look forward to meeting some of the people that helped develop the technologies that I make use of on a daily basis – e.g. Visual Studio Team System and Team Foundation Server.  I have no doubt that I, along with the other attendees, will have plenty of questions to ask.  This is a great opportunity to gain knowledge of what’s currently being used today as well as what’s coming down the road.  As always, I look forward to sharing this information (barring any NDA’s, of course :-) with fellow co-workers and acquaintances.

25 February 2009

Install Partner

If your development shop is anything like ours, then you probably have dozens of various development tools, utilities, etc.  In our case, we have multiple development teams which utilize a common set of tools but also make use of specific tools that apply to the types of projects each team supports.  There are two common issues that arise because of this configuration:

  1. When we re-image our development machines we still need to install most of the developer tools that we make use of.  Again, some of this is common across teams but most of it varies by team and developer.
  2. There are dozens of applications that we pick and choose from when we install.  Most of the installations for these applications are available on a common network share but we still have to navigate our way through a folder maze in order to find them.

Install Partner alleviates both of these issues.  In the first case, Install Partner allows you to create one or more profiles that group a set of applications.  This set of applications, which can be ordered in any manner you wish, can then be installed simply by selecting the desired profile and clicking on the “Install” button.  This makes it relatively painless when re-imaging new machines.  For example, once the re-imaging process has completed, I can simply run Install Partner, select the desired profile, and install.  This step can be automated as well via the command line if desired.

For those “one-off” situations where you just want to install a single application, you can also do this quickly by right-clicking an application from the list and selecting “Install”.  Since all the applications we make use of are categorized and neatly presented within the Install Partner UI, we don’t have to spend the extra time looking for the installation files.

If this sounds like something that may be useful for you and/or your team, feel free to check it out on the CodePlex site here.

Here is a screen shot of Install Partner with a configuration file opened:


11 February 2009

Team System Live

I came across a (relatively) new site yesterday called Team System Live.  This site is built on the Ning platform and was put together by Chris Tullier.  It provides a great view into various live events related to Visual Studio Team System.  There are various event types, including:

  • In Person events such as workshops and user group meetings
  • On-line events hosted by Microsoft Office Live Meeting
  • On-line chats

You can add your own events or you can search for existing events by keyword or browse based on event type or date.  Once you locate an event of interest, you can easily add it to Outlook or iCal.  As of the time of this post there were 32 on-line events and 28 in person events listed on the site.

The site also hosts an on-line chat session every Wednesday from 12:00-1:00pm (CST/-6GMT) to discuss all things related to Team System.  In fact, I just finished participating in today’s chat session a few minutes ago.

Along with the great information regarding events, there are links to other sites including Team System-related sites, bloggers that blog on Team System, user groups, etc.

So, if you’re looking for some great “live” events related to Team System want to chat with other Team System users, then I highly recommend checking out Team System Live.

09 February 2009

VS 2008 Project Template for TFS Utilities

If you’re like me and create a lot of simple, “one-off” TFS utilities, you’ve probably followed steps similar to these multiple times:

  1. Create a new “Windows Forms” (or “Console”) project in Visual Studio 2008.
  2. Add various TFS assembly references which can range anywhere between one or a dozen references.
  3. Add some “using” statements to your code.
  4. Finally, start coding the utility.

Apparently, Neno Loje (a fellow Team System MVP) has done this a time or two as well and decided to create a Visual Studio 2008 Project Template to alleviate some of the repetitive tasks.

After installing the template, you will have a new project type called “TFS Utility”.  When you choose the “TFS Utility” project type, a new project will be created with a dozen or so TFS assembly references automatically included.  Some boiler-plate example code is also included in the default form class to get you started.

Needless to say, this will save on some of the monotony when creating new TFS utilities.

You can get the full details from his post here.  The template can be downloaded directly from his blog site here (as per his instructions, just copy the ZIP file to this folder: {MyDocuments}\Visual Studio 2008\Templates\ProjectTemplates).