09 December 2011

Team Foundation Service Update

We’re just a few days shy of three months since Microsoft first announced the new Team Foundation Service (a.k.a. TFS Azure) at this year’s //build/ conference. Since that time, Microsoft has updated this service over a dozen times – mostly to address bugs. Yesterday, the service received a major update that directly impacts how the service looks and acts.
A high-level look at some of the new features includes:
  • Improved navigation (really glad to see this).
  • Homepages with more/better information allowing you to see a project’s overall status at a glance.
  • Simplified UI for project “teams of one” – i.e. if you’re a one-person team, then various team-related features in the UI will be collapsed so they are out of the way.
  • E-mail notifications – there’s a UI for setting up quick-n-simple alerts as well as an advanced UI that provides capabilities above and beyond what’s available in TFS 2010 today.
  • Forecast Lines – this is a really neat feature that displays a line between work items in your product backlog based on where iterations are projected to fall (based on your current estimates and team velocity). This feature can easily be turned off if it’s not something you care for.
  • Improved Task Board editing – updating the Remaining Work and Assigned To fields can now be done directly on the “card” displayed on the task board – i.e. you do not have to open the work item to update these fields.
For the full details behind the above highlights, check out the following links:
If you would like to try out the Team Foundation Service, you can sign up at tfspreview.com. At the moment, the preview program is full but you can submit your e-mail address to get on the waiting list. Also, Brian Harry mentioned (in the post linked above) that he plans on posting a registration code sometime today (December 9th, 2011) that would allow a limited number of new registrations. Keep an eye out on his blog if you’re interested.

17 November 2011

Even More of Getting Started with the TFS 2010 Object Model

Back in October, I presented on Getting Started with the TFS Object Model (as well as a look at what’s coming in Visual Studio 11) at the Tulsa TechFest.  I had intended to post the source code for the demos I ran through during my talk but I never got around to it and it completely slipped my mind.  A few days ago, I was gently reminded by one of the attendees (thanks Sean!) that I had not posted the source code so, here I am!

Below is a screen shot of the main window displayed by the demos.  This application has 10 basic types of functionality that can be demonstrated.  The first two are demonstrated by clicking on the ellipses buttons in the upper right of the window which will display a dialog allowing you to select a TFS Server/TPC and Team Project.

The remaining eight features are demonstrated by clicking on the remaining buttons, which include:

  • Get Version – demonstrates the ability to determine which version of TFS you’re communicating with – assuming you’re running on a client that has the TFS 2010 Team Explorer Client installed on it.
  • Get TPCs – lists all TPCs associated with the selected TFS server.
  • Get Team Projects – lists all Team Projects associated with the selected TPC.
  • Get Latest Build Info – displays a list of basic build information for all builds associated with the selected Team Project (an example of this is shown in the screenshot below).
  • Queue Build – queues a new build using the specified Build Name.
  • Get Work Item Count – displays the number of work items returned based on the WIQL query defined within the source code.
  • Create Work Item – creates a new, basic work item (in this case, a “Bug”).
  • Get Latest – demonstrates the ability to “Get Latest” source code from TFS.

API Demo Window

If you’re curious about the source code, you can download it from here.

16 November 2011

OTSUG Meeting: Kinect + TFS = Kinban

Although the Omaha Team System User Group has not met in several months we had a great meeting tonight.  As always, our meeting was hosted by Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica).  This time, however, we had the privilege of meeting in the brand new building that just opened last month.  The new building is outstanding and the meeting space for after-hours events just can’t be topped!  Thanks again to FCSAmerica for sponsoring our user group!

Jeremy_CroppedTonight’s topic, Kinban, was presented by Jeremy Novak (side note: Jeremy presented once before for the OTSUG about two and a half years ago).  Kinban is a product that was born out of an internal initiative at FCSAmerica called GeekFest 2011.  Kinban adds life to your planning meetings and morning stand-ups by allowing the project team members to move user stories around with hand gestures – via Microsoft’s Kinect device.  Jeremy covered how the Kinect SDK, Reactive Extensions (Rx), AutoIt, and the TFS APIs were all combined to give the project team members a hands off experience with TFS.  He also covered various lessons learned along the way providing some helpful insight for those who might be thinking about integrating the Kinect device into their own applications.

You can download Jeremy’s presentation here.  The code for Kinban is available on CodePlex here.

21 October 2011

Visual Studio 2010 GDR

A new update has been released for Visual Studio 2010 (client only) called the “Visual Studio 2010 SP1 TFS Compatibility GDR”.  There are several fixes and improvements in this update, including (as taken from Brian Harry’s blog post):

  • The update gets its name from the fact that it includes changes necessary to the Visual Studio 2010 client to allow it to work with a TFS 11 server – including the Team Foundation Service Preview (a.k.a. TFS on Windows Azure).
  • The biggest “news” is the addition of support for multi-line test steps in Microsoft Test Manager.  It’s mentioned in the #1 suggestion for Visual Studio Test and Lab Management.
  • KB2522890 – Team Explorer Crashes when opening build from TFS 2008.
  • KB2552300 - Gated Check-ins fail with the “Preserve local Changes” option.
  • KB2561827 – Diff/Merge closes with unhandled exception when comparing two files.

Pre-requisite: Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Service Pack 1 must be installed prior to installing this update.

Download: This update can be downloaded here.

Once the update has been installed, the version for DevEnv.exe should be 10.0.40219.1.

07 October 2011

Team Foundation Service Preview Code

One of the many new features in Visual Studio/TFS 11 that I demonstrated today at Tulsa TechFest included the new Team Foundation Service (a.k.a. TFS for Azure).  This is the new cloud-based Team Foundation Server service provided by Microsoft (currently in a developer preview/non-beta state).  You can read more about the new TF Service on Brian Harry’s blog here.

Microsoft has made the TF Service available for use on a limited basis - e.g. they handed out invitation codes at the //Build/ conference several weeks ago and have blogged a few invitation codes.  The down side is that each code has a limited number of activations so unless you were quick to sign up you may have missed out on the chance to check out the preview.

To help at least a few people out (25 to be exact), Microsoft has provided me with an activation code (see below) to publish during today’s “What’s New in Visual Studio 11” session.  For those of you attending this session at this year’s Tulsa TechFest, you are seeing me publish this post live, which means you will have first dibs on making use of the invitation code.  For everyone else, it’s all first-come, first-serve.  The first 25 activations win!

The Specifics…

This invitation code is your opportunity to claim your own Visual Studio Team Foundation Service Preview account!

This account is for you to experience the Team Foundation Service Preview before it is publicly available. You can use this account to manage your software development projects and to store your source code, work items and bugs in Team Foundation Server hosted on the Windows Azure platform. You can also invite friends, colleagues and team members to join your account to collaborate on your projects.

Your invitation code is: tulsatf

To claim your account please visit http://tfspreview.com register with your Windows LiveID and enter your invitation code to claim your free account.

Please note that there are a limited number of these complimentary accounts and they will be assigned on a first come, first served basis. Register today to secure your account!

* Invitation must be redeemed by: 10/06/2012

* Please note that once the Team Foundation Service reaches commercial availability, if you want to continue your service, you may be required to start paying for this account or it will expire at the end of the trial period.

27 September 2011

Tulsa TechFest 2011

It’s that time of the year again… Time for Tulsa Tech Fest 2011!  I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at this conference for the past several years and it has always been a well-planned and orchestrated event.  If you are going to be around the Tulsa area next week (Friday, October 7th) then take the time to register (it’s FREE! although a food donation is requested – see the web site for details) and enjoy some great content throughout the day.

This year I will be presenting on the following topics:

  • Getting Started with the TFS Object Model - Microsoft's Team Foundation Server (TFS) is a very capable platform for integrating all aspects of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). There is a great deal of functionality provided out of the box that will handle the majority of a development team's needs. However, there are times when you need to extend the functionality of TFS to handle scenarios not anticipated by Microsoft (or they just didn’t have the time to get them built into the product). This session will cover the common APIs provided by the TFS Object Model and provide the knowledge needed to get started developing with TFS right away.

  • Visual Studio v.Next: A Look at What's Coming - Visual Studio 2010 was released a year and a half ago but Microsoft has been hard at work on the next release. This talk will take a look at the myriad features that are being incorporated into the next version of Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server. Some of these features are even available today for use within Visual Studio 2010. If you want to get a peek at what's coming in Visual Studio v.Next (a.k.a. "Dev11"), then check out this session.

When: Friday, October 7th with check in starting at 08:00.
Where: OSU-Tulsa, 700 North Greenwood Ave, Tulsa, OK 74106
Details: http://techfests.com/Tulsa/2011/default.aspx

Hope to see you there!

Getting Up and Running with the TFS 2010 Object Model

I recently wrote a post for the MVP Award Program blog titled “Getting Up and Running with the TFS 2010 Object Model”.  If you are looking for some basic information on how to start writing your first Team Foundation Server utility then please check it out.  If you have any questions and/or regarding the post please let me know.

20 September 2011

Observations and Contemplation with Windows 8

Like most people who downloaded the Windows 8 Developer Preview last week, I’ve have only a short amount of time to play around with the bits.  During that time I’ve hit several speed bumps and have scratched my head a bit while attempting to figure out a few (seemingly simple) tasks.  What I’ve listed below are just a few of my observations and moments of contemplation that I’ve had over the past few days.

  1. How do I shut down my Windows 8 machine?  This is one of those functions that is so completely obvious that you don’t realize it’s even there until someone moves it from the place it’s lived in for the past 16, or so, years.  Like a lot of people, I installed the Windows 8 Developer Preview bits, played around for a while only to realize it was the middle of the night.  So I decided to power off my laptop and go to bed.  However, I no longer had a “Shut down'” option under my Start menu.  In fact, all my Start menu seemed to do was toggle between the two most recent apps.  So, I had to do some digging.

    There are several options, none of which were immediately obvious to me, for powering down your Windows 8 machine.  Although there may be other options that I’m no yet aware of, I’ve included the ones I’ve discovered below.  Some of these are more convenient than others but I’ve listed them all for completeness:
    1. On the Start screen, press Windows+I to display the Settings panel and then click on the Power icon at the bottom and select Shut down.
    2. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and then click on the Power icon at the bottom and select Shut down.
    3. Go to the Control Panel (e.g. from the Start screen type ‘con’ and press Enter) and select More settings.  Click on Power Options and then ‘Choose what the power buttons do’.  Set the ‘When I press the power button’ option to Shut down.  Then simply press the power button to turn off your machine.
    4. You can also create a Shut Down Live Tile for your start screen.  Instructions are here.
    5. Press Windows+R, enter ‘CMD’ and press Enter.  Type ‘Shutdown /s’ (no quotes) and press Enter.
  2. Keyboard Shortcuts.  If you’ve been using Windows 7 (or prior versions) for a while then you may already be used to many of the standardized Windows keyboard shortcuts.  For example, pressing Windows+E will display the Windows Explorer.  Most of these shortcuts still work in Windows 8 but there is also a new set of keyboard shortcuts for the new Metro-style Start screen.  Rather than list them all here check out this post.
  3. Windows Phone 8.  Although I didn’t attend last week’s //Build/ conference, I have watched the keynotes as well as several other sessions.  One topic I didn’t really hear/see any information on was that of Windows Phone 8 (codename “Apollo”).  I’ve seen various speculation (e.g. here and here and others) that Windows 8 would eventually run on Windows Phone but I didn’t see anything to substantiate that during the conference.  It only makes sense for Microsoft to head that direction, I just suppose it’s a little too early to talk about it with Windows Phone 7.5 (“Mango”) due to be officially released (by the carriers) any time now.
  4. .NET Framework.  It’s certain that the .NET Framework is not going anywhere anytime soon.  I do have to wonder, however, just how long will the .NET Framework be around?  With the introduction of the new Windows Runtime (WinRT) used to develop Windows 8 Metro applications the .NET Framework is now used to develop non-Metro apps (including Silverlight-based applications).  Will WinRT eventually be used to build all applications for Windows 8?  I suppose that until all supported versions of Windows support WinRT Microsoft will have to continue support for the .NET Framework.  Only time will tell but I’m sure someone in Microsoft has seen the super-secret roadmap and knows where all of this is heading.
  5. Silverlight.  There was a lot of speculation around the demise of Silverlight prior to the //Build/ conference.  It was widely rumored (and somewhat stated) that HTML5/CSS and JavaScript were to be the languages of choice for writing Metro applications in Windows 8.  A lot of questions were asked about the future of Silverlight if HTML5/CSS+JavaScript were to become the cross-platform technology of choice.

    Although I did not see it directly addressed, it’s fairly clear now (after the conference) that Silverlight is very much alive and that the HTML5/CSS+JavaScript solution, when utilizing WinRT, really only applies to Windows 8 Metro apps – not cross-platform apps (like those that you might build with Silverlight).

    So, from my simplistic point of view, if you want to build “fully immersive”, Metro-style applications in Windows 8 then HTML5/CSS+JavaScript over WinRT is a valid option (as is C/C++, VB, or C#).  However, if you want to build a business application (or even a non-business application) that runs across multiple versions of Windows and/or other operating systems then Silverlight is still a great choice (as is HTML5/CSS+JavaScript sans WinRT).
  6. What Gets “Metro-fied”?  If you’ve used Windows 8 for more than a few minutes on a non-tablet PC (i.e. a desktop or laptop) then you surely have been forced into the non-metro bowels of Windows.  For example, if you start Windows Explorer (Windows+E) it will open in the “desktop” shell.  If you want to change your power settings (as described above), you will have to do that from the old-school desktop.  In fact, the majority of Windows features do not run within the new Metro-based Start screen.  So, as Windows 8 marches its way toward RTM, exactly which applications will be metrofied?

    I don’t know the answer to this question but it seems logical that any application that you might want to make use of on a tablet PC would be a great candidate for metrofication.  For example, the calculator app that ships with Windows 8 is currently not metrofied (i.e. it opens up on the desktop when you run it).  I would imagine that a calculator app might be useful on a tablet PC so I could see this app being metrofied by the time Windows 8 finally ships.
  7. Your Mouse is Not a Finger.  Unfortunately, I was not at the //Build/ conference this year so I did not receive one of the ultra-cool Samsung Windows 8 Tablet PCs (or whatever they called them).  Therefor, I installed Windows 8 on an old Dell Inspiron 9300 that does not have a touch screen.  Once I logged on I was greeted by the beautiful, new Metro Start screen.  Naturally, the first thing I did was to attempt to left-click and drag my mouse cursor across the screen in an attempt to scroll through the applications.  To my surprise, nothing happened.  It turns out that there is a really big (and ugly) scrollbar at the bottom of the screen that you have to use to manipulate the app list with the mouse.  Why?  Why not treat the mouse as a single touch point when left-clicking on the background?  If your computer is locked (e.g. when you first power up) you can slide the lock screen up with the mouse.  Why not the application list?  Maybe this is something that will be worked into a future version (possibly as a configuration option that can be turned on/off).  If not, maybe there will be enough extensibility in the platform such that a 3rd party provider can create some type of add-on to provide this type of functionality.
  8. Closing an Application.  Much like with Windows Phone 7/7.5 it appears you don’t really have to think a whole lot about closing (Metro) applications in Windows 8.  In fact, none of the Metro applications that ship with the Windows 8 Developer Preview appear to have any sort of “close” functionality.  When you’re finished with an app, you simply swipe from the right to display the “charms” (see below) and click on the Windows icon (or press the Windows key).  At some point Windows will suspend and, eventually, terminate the application process(es).  The specifics of how all this works is still a bit of a mystery to me (e.g. at what point is an application suspended?  At what point does it get terminated?) but I’m sure the answers are out there somewhere – I just haven’t come across them yet.
  9. Charms?  Really?  If you have a touch-based system running Windows 8 and you swipe from the right (or press Windows+I on a non-touch-based system) a vertical row of five icons are displayed (Settings, Devices, Share, Search, and Start).  These icons are called, according to Microsoft, Charms.  In fact, Microsoft has filed for a trademark for the term “charm”.  I’ve always thought of charms as those small, shiny, jingly things my daughter wears on her bracelet.  I suppose I’ll just have to get used to this one :-)
  10. There is no 10 (at least not yet :-).  For the sake of not creating yet another top ten list I am intentionally stopping at number nine above.  However, as I spend more time with Windows 8 (and Visual Studio 11) over the coming weeks, I am sure I will uncover more questions and hopefully even more answers.  One thing I am sure of is that it is going to be a fun time digging into all that is new with Windows 8.

13 September 2011

//build/ Observations from the Outside–Day 1

Like so many others, I was not able to attend the //build/ conference (formerly known as the Professional Developers Conference or PDC).  However, I did have the opportunity to watch the streaming keynote live and I’ve also spent a good portion of the day watching various twitter, Facebook, and blog posts from those who are attending.  With so much coming out of Microsoft in one day it’s hard to keep up with everything being announced and talked about so I thought I’d put a few notes together around today’s event.

The word of the day is BOLD

I didn’t actually count the number of times the word “bold” was used during the keynote session earlier today but I can safely say it was used a lot.  In general, it was used in reference to Microsoft making a “bold, no compromises move”.  I have to admit, after seeing the various demonstrations from the keynote, I agree that Microsoft is making a bold move and rethinking Windows as a platform.  A quick (non-complete) list of some of the things demonstrated include:

  • The new Windows 8 Metro-style UI
  • Windows 8 running on multiple form factors including desktop PCs and various tablet PCs (running ARM-based processors)
  • Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 3
  • Visual Studio “11” (v.Next) Express
  • A new framework for developing software for Windows
  • Windows Application Store
  • Windows 8 using less memory with fewer (default) processes than Windows 7
  • Picture-based login
  • Support for inter-application integration provided directly within Windows 8
  • Spell checking at the OS level (i.e. spell checking everywhere)
  • Fast boot

Developing for Windows 8

With Windows 8 Microsoft introduce a new programming platform known as the Windows Runtime – or WinRT.  Developers can now utilize their language of choice when building applications targeted against Windows 8.  Regardless of which language you choose, which now includes JavaScript, the WinRT APIs will be reflected into your language of choice and made available for use.

One thing to note is that Silverlight (or WPF for that matter) was only mentioned during the keynote as a “legacy” technology (in not so many words).  They did demonstrate running a Silverlight application running on Windows 8 and was able to “Metro-fy” it with a minimal amount of code modification.  It seems that the rumors of HTML5/CSS + JavaScript being the preferred approach for developing Metro-style applications rather than Silverlight have been verified.

A pre-release version of Visual Studio “11” was also demonstrated and used for the various coding examples.  The keynote did not go into the details of what’s new in Visual Studio so I will post more details on Visual Studio as they are made clear.

A new (pre-release) version of Expression Blend 5 was demonstrated now with support for HTML and CSS!  That is an awesome addition to the Microsoft development tools suite.

Head in the Cloud

Windows Live integration is front and center in Windows 8.  Modifying your applications to interact with SkyDrive, for example, requires minimal coding and is supported directly by Windows 8.  Windows Live integration is present throughout Windows 8 with my favorite feature (although it wasn’t directly demonstrated) being the ability to synchronize your various settings (e.g. history, passwords, themes, etc.) via the cloud so they follow you around from device-to-device.

The “Giveaway”

If you’ve followed the PDC for the last couple of years you know that Microsoft has given some type of hardware to each of the (paying) attendees to help gain developer support.  A couple of years ago, at PDC10, it was an Acer Table PC.  Last year, it was a Windows Phone 7 device (I happened to be there and received an LG-900 Windows Phone 7 device).  Once again, this year Microsoft did not disappoint and provided each of the attendees with a Samsung Windows 8 Developer Tablet (or PC as Microsoft calls it).  To add to the already great gift, AT&T threw in a year of free 3G service (2GB/month)!  Not a bad deal for the attendees!

That’s Awesome!  When Can I Have It?

In typical Microsoft fashion, no release dates were announced.  However, they did provide the “Path to ‘RTM’” as shown in the slide below:

Although we don’t know yet when the final bits will be made available for download, you can download the Windows 8 Developer Preview now.  There are three flavors of Windows 8 downloads available:

  • Windows Developer Preview with Developer Tools – English, 64-bit (x64) – 4.8GB
  • Windows Developer Preview – English, 64-bit (x64) – 3.6GB
  • Windows Developer Preview – English, 32-bit (x86) – 2.8GB

You can download any or all of the above releases here.

More to Come!

Keep in mind that my observations below are a small part of what was seen and demonstrated today.  I’m looking forward to the next few days of the //build/ conference and probably a few nights of little sleep :-)  I have the preview version of Windows 8 downloaded and am preparing to install it as I type this post (I’m currently creating a bootable USB drive for the image).  I have no doubt that I, along with thousands of others, will be blogging their experiences over the next days, weeks, and months ahead.  It is going to be a fun ride!

24 August 2011

Team Explorer Profile Manager–Take 1

If there is one thing I can generally count on doing at least once a day it’s firing up Visual Studio 2010.  Along with Visual Studio 2010 I am also a heavy user of Team Foundation Server 2010.  I use it at my “day job” as well as at home on “side” projects.  At work, I switch among multiple Team Project Collections and Team Projects relatively frequently.  At home, more so because I tend to work with several CodePlex projects as well as local TPCs and Team Projects on my development laptop.

[UPDATE: A new release is available – see Update History below…]

If this sounds like you then you’ve no doubt experienced the pain of having to continually switch TPCs in Visual Studio Team Explorer.  It goes something like this:

  1. Fire up Visual Studio 2010
  2. Click on the Team Explorer tab only to realize that the project you need is in another TPC
  3. Click on the “Connect to Team Project” icon and switch TPCs and select the desired Team Projects
  4. Click the confirmation dialog warning you that connecting to another TPC will close all queries, etc.
  5. While working, you decide to open another instance of Visual Studio to take a look at a different project
  6. You click on the Team Explorer tab only to realize, that once again, you’re connected to the wrong TPC so you repeat steps 2 – 4
  7. And so on…

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply launch Visual Studio and have it connect to the TPC and Team Projects you need from the start?  Well, that’s where the Team Explorer Profile Manager (TEPM) comes in.  I wrote this utility to handle exactly this scenario.

What Is TEPM?

Once you run TEPM it sits in the Windows “system tray” area waiting for you to right-click on it.  Once you do, you will see a menu structure something like this:


Based on the menu items seen above you might have guessed that TEPM works on the basis of “profiles”.  A profile is simply a snapshot of the Team Explorer settings taken at a given time.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Fire up Visual Studio 2010 (TEPM currently works only with Visual Studio 2010)
  2. Connect to the desired TPC and select the active Team Projects you wish to work with
  3. Right-click on the TEPM icon to get the above menu and select “Manage Profiles”.  This will display the following dialog allowing you to name the profile for the current Team Explorer settings:

  4. Once you’ve entered a profile name (using only valid filename characters) click on the Copy button to create the profile.

Repeat the above steps for the various TPCs and Team Projects you regularly work with.

Now, when you right-click on the TEPM icon to get the above menu, hover over the Launch Saved Profile menu option to display a list of profiles.  For example:


Notice in the screenshot above, I have six profiles configured.  Selecting a profile will launch Visual Studio 2010 with the correct Team Explorer settings.  So the next time you need to fire up Visual Studio 2010 to work in a TPC different from what you’re currently working in simply right-click and launch!

Some Other Info

TEPMAboutLogo2This is a “v1.0” product.  It works (at least for me) and should work for you.  You may encounter bugs and, if you do, I would really like to know about them so I can fix them.  The first time you run TEPM it will create a “baseline” profile that matches your current settings.  You can revert to this baseline at any time by selecting the Launch Baseline Profile menu item.  You can also reset the baseline to a specific profile by clicking on the Create Baseline button in the “Manage Profiles” dialog shown above.

Currently, there is no option for running this utility when you first logon to Windows.  I plan to add this soon but just haven’t done it yet.[done]  If there are any other options that you’d like to see, please let me know.

There is also no installation package at this time (e.g. no MSI).  I plan to add that soon as well but for now, the download is simply a ZIP file that contains a single EXE.  Copy the EXE to the desired location on your machine and double-click it to run it.[done]


Eventually, this will be hosted on the Visual Studio Code Gallery.  Until I get it there, you can download the ZIP file from here.

Please let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, criticisms, etc.

Update History

  • 30 August 2011 – Miscellaneous updates, including:
    • Now packaged as a setup file.  You no longer need to manually copy the file to a directory to install it.
    • Added a Settings dialog with the option to automatically run TEPM on startup
    • Double-clicking the TEPM icon will now launch Visual Studio 2010 using the current profile
    • Removed the “Copy Current Profile” menu option and merged into “Manage Profiles”
  • 24 August 2011 – Version 1.0 Published

16 August 2011

Indent Guides in Visual Studio 2010

A short while back, I blogged about some of my favorite Visual Studio extensions.  Recently, I discovered another (free) extension that I’ve really learned to love – the Indent Guides extension.  This extension does exactly what it says, it provides visible “indent guides” within the Visual Studio source code editor allowing you to easily track various levels of indentation throughout your source code.

My favorite feature of the extension is the ability to modify the look of the indent guide lines at each level of indentation.  As you can see in the screenshot below, I’ve modified the guide lines for the 2nd level of indentation to be a red, dashed line (instead of a teal, dotted line).  This allows me to easily see the “top” level of the current method I’m currently modifying even if I can’t see the top or bottom curly braces for the method.


There are various other options that you can play with as well.  Just go to Tools->Options and select Indent Guides.  This is a basic extension but is very well done and the author has been very responsive to questions posted on the Visual Studio Gallery link.

Read more about this extension and/or download it here.

09 August 2011

.NET Framework 4 Update (KB2468871)

Microsoft has released a GDR (General Distribution Release) update (KB2468871) that rolls all previous hotfixes – or QFEs (as of a couple of months ago) – into a single update.

This update replaces the following hotfixes:

  • 2183292 "Failure sending mail" error message when you send an email message by using a .NET Framework 4-based application that uses the "System.Net.Mail.SmtpClient" class if the email attachment is larger than 3 MB
  • 2413613 A shortcut menu may appear far away from the mouse pointer when you run a Windows Presentation Foundation application that is based on the .NET Framework 4
  • 2298853 Visual Studio 2010 error: "Error 1 error MSB4014: The build stopped unexpectedly because of an internal failure"
  • 2461678 A .NET Framework 4-based WPF application crashes if the source object of a data binding in a control is an element that is defined outside the name scope of the control

There are also several other issues that have been resolved in this GDR which are covered here.

Get this update here and/or read more about it on Buck Hodges’ blog here.

03 August 2011

Version Control Changes Coming to TFS v.Next

For many of using Team Foundation Server on a daily basis, living with the TFS workspace has been a love/hate (mostly hate?) relationship.  A simplistic definition, if you’re not familiar with TFS’ workspace, is that it is a mapping of a selection of files within TFS version control to their corresponding destination on your local file system along with various related status information.  This workspace mapping is stored on the server – not the client (i.e. server workspace).

The down side is that it is relatively easy to get your local file system out of sync with what TFS thinks it knows (about the status of the mapped files).  If you delete a file on your local file system, TFS has no idea that the file has been deleted.  If you modify a file on your local file system (assuming you remove the “read only” attribute) then TFS has no idea about that change.  These examples, along with others not listed, adds to some of the greatest confusion when learning to use TFS version control for the first time.

On the up-side, the beauty of the server workspace is that TFS will send down only the files necessary based upon your request (i.e. “Get Latest”).  This can be very useful if you’re working across a WAN/VPN connection where bandwidth is at a premium.

Enough about the current state of affairs.  Now, the good part… Brian Harry has posted some details around some of the enhancements being made to version control with the next release of Team Foundation Server (a.k.a. “Dev11”).  In this post, he discusses the addition of the “Local Workspace” which allows you to make changes directly to the files within your file system and TFS will automagically recognize and handle those changes.  This will provide SVN-style version control capabilities with TFS.  Server workspaces will still exist but the local workspace will become the default.

Check out Brian’s post for all the nitty gritty details.

26 July 2011

Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 Released

Today, Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 has been released for download from the MSDN Subscribers site.  General availability for download will start this Thursday, July 28th.

From Jason Zanders’ blog post:

Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 is a simplified, self-service development tool that enables you to create business applications quickly and easily for the desktop and cloud. I first announced LightSwitch at the VS Live conference in August 2010 and have since written a few posts including detailed tutorials. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it starts with the premise that most business applications consist of data and the screens that users interact with. LightSwitch simplifies attaching to data with data source wizards or creating data tables with table designers. It also includes screen templates for common tasks so you can create clean interfaces for your applications without being a designer. Basic applications can be written without a line of code. However, you can add custom code that is specific to your business problem without having to worry about setting up classes and methods.

Read the full details on Jason’s blog here.

19 July 2011

Be Heard: UserVoice Site for Visual Studio/ALM

Recently, Brian Harry blogged about a set of two new UserVoice sites: One for Visual Studio and one for Visual Studio ALM.  However, just about as quickly as the two sites were created, they were merged – one site to rule them all!  The merged site is available here.

The intent of this site is to provide a forum where you can provide suggestions and ideas for future anything that lives within the Visual Studio brand – e.g. Visual Studio, Visual Studio ALM, Team Foundation Server, Test and Lab Management, etc.  So, if you have any ideas that you’d love to see within Visual Studio, be sure to post them and then build support for your idea by getting others to vote for it.

Keep in mind that if you need to file information regarding a bug you should continue to use Microsoft’s Connect site.

The Visual Studio UserVoice link again is: http://visualstudio.uservoice.com/forums/121579-visual-studio

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 :-)

19 April 2011

Architecture Tooling Guide for VS 2010 Ultimate

The Architecture Tooling Guidance for Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate has been updated to version 2.1.

What is It?

If you’re not familiar with the Architecture Tooling Guidance, here’s a quick description (as taken from the guidance):

This guidance discusses scenarios of using Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, primarily focusing on the Modeling tools, to help you understand the tooling and ensure that your software system meets the expected requirements.

There is also some guidance included on building extensions using the Visual Studio 2010 Feature Builder Power Tool as well as the inclusion of a set of pre-built Visual Studio ALM Rangers Templates.


Before installing the Architecture Tooling Guidance, you must first install the Visual Studio 2010 Feature Builder Power Tool.

Viewing the Guidance

Once the Architecture Tooling Guidance has been installed, you will get a new menu option under the Architecture menu:

Architecture Guidance Menu Item

Clicking on the above menu option will display the guidance outline and content in separate panes (as seen below):


To use the Visual Studio ALM Rangers Templates, start a new Visual Studio Project and select VS ALM Rangers Templates in the New Project dialog:


More Information

Follow these links for more information:

07 April 2011

Nebraska Code Camp

Are you looking to get your geek on this weekend?  Are you in the general neighborhood of Lincoln, NE?  If so, then you will want to attend the Nebraska Code Camp this Saturday, April 9th at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

As always, the Code Camp is free and there a lots of great sessions scheduled covering a wide variety of topics.

Date: Saturday, April 9th
Start Time: 08:45 (registration opens at 08:00)
Location: University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Avery Hall

Check out the links below for more information.

18 March 2011

Visual Studio Setup Projects being Sunset

If you currently make use of Visual Studio Setup Projects (.vdproj), you may want to start thinking about a transition plan for the future.  As Buck Hodges stated on his blog yesterday (link), Visual Studio Setup Projects will not ship in the next release of Visual Studio.

He recommends (and I agree) looking into WiX – the same installer technology used to create the installation packages for Visual Studio and other miscellaneous Microsoft tools.  If you’re interested in looking at other options, check out the MSDN page Choosing a Windows Installer Deployment Tool.

I, for one, am not sad to see the Visual Studio Setup Projects go by the wayside.  However, I would like to see first-class support for WiX within Visual Studio.

Read the full details here.

OTSUG – What is Visual Studio ALM?

Please join us on Tuesday, March 22nd as Mike Douglas presents on “What is Visual Studio ALM?”  If you are not familiar with the various ALM features in Visual Studio 2010 and TFS 2010, this will be a great opportunity to see these features demonstrated.  You will also have the chance to ask any questions that you may have regarding the Visual Studio ALM tools.

Visit the Omaha Team System User Group web site for complete meeting details.

We hope to see you there!

08 March 2011

TFS Project Server Integration Feature Pack

The TFS Project Server Integration Feature Pack has been in beta for a few months now.  As of today, it is being released into the wild and is now ready for download from the MSDN Subscribers site.

As seen on Brian Harry’s blog post, the TFS Project Server Integration Feature Pack enables teams to work together more effectively by:

  • Providing up to date insight into portfolio execution, alignment with strategic objectives, and resource utilization of software development projects by leveraging the quantitative data stored in different systems.
  • Automating the exchange and sharing of project information across teams and improving coordination between teams using disparate methodologies, like waterfall and agile, via common data and agreed upon metrics.
  • Enabling development and project management teams to use familiar tools to collaborate and communicate project timeline and progress such as Microsoft Visual Studio, Project, and SharePoint.

More Information

You can find more information regarding this release via these links:

Download Links

  • As of today, you can download the TFS Project Server Integration Pack from the MSDN Subscribers site.

Visual Studio Load Test Feature Pack

Last August, Microsoft announced they would be including the lab agents (i.e. licenses) with TFS 2010 as well as Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN and Visual Studio 2010 Test Professional with MSDN (link).  As of today, Microsoft has made another great licensing announcement – the Visual Studio Load Test Virtual User Feature Pack 2010.

With this feature pack, you can simulate as many virtual users as you like without the need for purchasing additional virtual user licenses.  This change only adds to the already great value provided with the Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN subscription.

More Information

You can find more information regarding this release via these links:

Visual Studio/TFS 2010 SP1 Released

Service Pack 1 has been officially released for Visual Studio 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010.  The download is immediately available on the MSDN Subscribers Site.  The service pack will be publicly available on the Microsoft Downloads site on March 10th, 2011.

There are several new features included with this service pack, including (but not limited to):

Visual Studio

Team Foundation Server

  • Core changes to support future Feature Packs, such as the Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 and Project Server Integration Feature Pack.
  • Lots of bug fixes

More Information

You can find more information regarding this release via these links:

Download Links

  • As of today, you can download Service Pack 1 here
  • As of Thursday, March 10th, you can download Service Pack 1 here

04 March 2011

March 2011 Team Foundation Server Power Tools

The latest version (March 2011) of the Team Foundation Server 2010 Power Tools are now available and can be downloaded via the following links:

The primary enhancements in this release include:

  • Addressed reported issues in the Backup/Restore Power Tool (yeah!). After the initial release of the Backup/Restore Power Tool, there were several issues that made the tool questionable to use in some cases.  These issues have now been resolved (over 40 bugs fixed!).
  • Fleshed out the Windows Shell Extension for version control (double-yeah!)  The Windows shell extension for TFS version control commands has been around for a while albeit with limited functionality.  This release fills out the shell extension with practically every version control command available within the Visual Studio UI.  If you prefer working with version control from within Windows Explorer, this will be a great addition!
  • Took the first step on the path to a bunch of new TFS Build Power Tools (???)  What does this mean, exactly?  As Brian’s post points out (link below), they now have the team responsible for building the internal build tools helping out with the Power Tools.  Based on these comments, it appears they intend to make some of these tools (or some derivative) available in future Power Tools releases.  I had the pleasure of seeing some of these tool demonstrated a couple of days ago and they are simply amazing.

For the full details of this release, check out Brian’s posts, here.

03 March 2011

MVP Global Summit 2011 Comes to a Close

This year marks my third consecutive Microsoft MVP Global Summit.  Each year seems to be a little bit better than the last.  However, this year was a lot better than last year’s summit – mainly due to the timing of products and content of the sessions.  Although there was lots to see and discuss, the content is under NDA so not much can be discussed.

However, one thing is certain, working with the Visual Studio/ALM product groups is nothing short of amazing.  Having been an MVP for close to three years now (first a Team Foundation Server MVP and now a Visual Studio ALM MVP) I can’t imagine being grouped with a better bunch of people (including my fellow MVPs and the Microsoft Product Group members).

Here’s the group of Visual Studio ALM MVPs that made it to the summit this year:

2011 Visual Studio ALM MVPs

I look forward to seeing everyone again next year!

03 February 2011

Free Visual Studio/ALM Training

A fellow Visual Studio ALM MVP, Martin Hinshelwood, who also happens to be an employee of Northwest Cadence, recently posted a list of training (“coffee”) talks offered for free.  Here is the currently scheduled list of talks:

Coffee Talks

These coffee talks have some superb topics and you can get excellent interaction with the presenter as they are kind of informal.





Register Here



8:30AM – 9:30AM PST

Real World Business and Technical Benefits of ALM with TFS 2010




9:00AM - 10:00AM PST

The Full Testing Experience

Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio 2010

Register for Coffee Talk: The Full Testing Experience- Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio2010 on Eventbrite



9:00AM - 10:00AM PST

Visual Source Safe to Team Foundation Server




2:00PM - 3:00PM PST

The Full Testing Experience

Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio 2010

Register for Coffee Talk: The Full Testing Experience- Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio2010 on Eventbrite



9:00AM - 10:00AM PST

Lab Manager

The Ultimate “No More No Repro” Tool




9:00AM - 10:00AM PST

The Full Testing Experience

Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio 2010

Register for Coffee Talk: The Full Testing Experience- Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio2010 on Eventbrite



9:00AM - 10:00AM PST

Visual Source Safe to Team Foundation Server




9:00AM - 10:00AM PST

The Full Testing Experience

Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio 2010

Register for Coffee Talk: The Full Testing Experience- Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio2010 on Eventbrite



2:00PM - 3:00PM PST

Real World Business and Technical Benefits of ALM with TFS 2010




9:00AM - 10:00AM PST

The Full Testing Experience

Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio 2010

Register for Coffee Talk: The Full Testing Experience- Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio2010 on Eventbrite



9:00AM - 10:00AM PST

Visual Source Safe to Team Foundation Server




9:00AM - 10:00AM PST

The Full Testing Experience

Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio 2010

Register for Coffee Talk: The Full Testing Experience- Professional Quality Assurance with Visual Studio2010 on Eventbrite


There is also a program called the ALM Training Engagement Program which is free but requires a little bit more of an up-front commitment than the talks above.

Refer to Martin’s post for complete details regarding these sessions.