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).