27 February 2012

Useful Tools from MVP2MVP Day

Although the 2012 MVP Global Summit officially kicks off tomorrow, there were still plenty of Microsoft MVPs around today for various pre-sessions.  In my case, I joined the other Visual Studio ALM MVPs present for this year’s MVP2MVP day – a day where Visual Studio ALM MVPs are given 20 minutes to get up and present on various tips, tricks, neat projects, etc. to the rest of the group with the goal of sharing knowledge and learning new things.  There was a lot of useful information at this year’s MVP2MVP day so I thought I’d share a few of the tools that were brought up today (in no particular order).

  • DemoMate – this is a neat utility that allows you to build automated presentations (so to speak).  For example, you can build click-through demos, guided tutorials, etc.  The final results can be published in varying formats (including the web).  You can find out more here or watch a demo here.

  • Snoop – Snoop is a WPF spy utility that allows you to “spy/browse the visual tree and change properties... amongst other things.”  Snoop was utilized during one of today’s demos to provide enhanced features for Coded UI Tests (i.e. provide the ability to inspect properties of objects not normally exposed).

  • TFS Event Workflows – TFS Event Workflows allow you to define workflows based on Microsoft’s Workflow foundation which then will be executed on specific events triggered by your Team Foundation Server.  This is very helpful to implement scenarios like:
    • Aggregate status and/or efforts over your work item hierarchy
    • Trigger deployment when you change the Build Quality of a build
    • Implement advanced notification scenarios which cannot be achieved by TFS Alerts
    • Change status of a work item based on different rules (e.g. set to “In Progress” if the Assigned To field is filled)
    • Fill work item fields based on calculations or other complex operations you cannot build with work item rules
    • Trigger synchronization with external systems if a work item has been changed
    • Etc.

  • TFS Tools Suite – Fellow MVP, Neno Loje, demonstrated a suite of command-line utilities developed to aid in all sorts of situations for TFS.  Some of the utilities include:
    • PingTFS – used to ping a TFS server to determine if it is up and running
    • TfsExport – downloads files from TFS version control and sets the file’s last access timestamp to the file's last check-in date/time
    • TfsRefreshWarehouse – used to refresh the TFS Warehouse, Cube and Reports on demand
    • TfsSyncIdentities – forces TFS to sync with Active Directory
    • TfsWarehouseController – used to change the update frequency of the TFS warehouse/cube
    • Lots of others… to see the full list of utilities, check out this post

  • git-tfs - git-tfs is a two-way bridge between TFS and git, similar to git-svn.  If you prefer using a “git-like” command-line interface or are looking for a DVCS solution that will work with Team Foundation Server, then you will want to check this tool out.  Take a look at this blog post to get some great information on how to get started.

  • TeamCompanion – this is a commercial (i.e. non-free) utility that provides the ability to interact with Team Foundation Server from within Microsoft Outlook.  TeamCompanion “…empowers various project stakeholders, particularly business ones, to work on TFS based projects, using the one tool they use for the most of their daily tasks.”

There was a lot more information covered today than is listed here but these are some of the highlights.  If you have a favorite TFS-related utility feel free to list it in the comments section.

24 February 2012

Comparing Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 11 Beta Editions

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that the Visual Studio 11 Beta would be available on February 29th.  I expect there to be a lot of information coming out over the next few weeks (and months) covering the various features in the updated tools.

If you are curious about what’s included in each of the Visual Studio 11 beta editions, then take a look at the Visual Studio 11 Features Chart provided by Microsoft:


If you would like to compare the above features with Visual Studio 2010, then check out the Visual Studio 2010 Comparison chart:


The following list summarizes most of the differences between the 2010 and Beta editions (it’s not a complete comparison).  Keep in mind that Visual Studio 11 is still in beta so the features could potentially move around a bit by the time the final version ships:

  • Debugging and Diagnostics
    • New in VS 11: IntelliTrace in Production
    • New in VS 11: Graphics Debugging
    • New in VS 11: Advanced Web Debugging
    • Modified: Static Code Analysis now available for Professional SKU
    • New in VS 11: Windows 8 Metro Style Simulator
    • Modified: Profiling now available for Professional SKU
    • New in VS 11: Windows Phone 7 Emulator (available as add-on in VS 2010)
  • Testing Tools
    • Modified: Manual Testing is now available for Premium SKU
    • New in VS 11: Exploratory Testing
    • Modified: Test Case Management is now available for Premium SKU
    • Modified: Fast Forward for Manual Testing is now available for Premium SKU
    • Modified: Lab Management is now available for Premium SKU
    • New in VS 11: Extensible Testing Framework
  • Integrated Development Environment
    • New in VS 11: Code Clone
    • New in VS 11: LightSwitch
    • New in VS 11: Model Resource Viewer
    • New in VS 11: Blend for Visual Studio
    • New in VS 11: Project & Solution Compatibility with Visual Studio 2010 SP1
  • Database Development
    • Not currently document for Visual Studio 11 Beta
  • Development Platform Support
    • New in VS 11: Windows Metro style Application (including ARM) Development
  • Architecture and Modeling
    • New in VS 11: Progressive Reveal & Standard Graphs
    • Modified: Read-Only Diagrams (UML, Layer, and DGML Graphs) is now available for Professional SKU
  • Lab Management
    • Modified: Virtual Environment Setup & Tear Down is now available for Premium SKU
    • Modified: Provision Environment for Template is now available for Premium SKU
    • Modified: Checkpoint Environment is now available for Premium SKU
  • Team Foundation Server
    • New in VS 11: Backlog Management
    • New in VS 11: Sprint Planning
    • New in VS 11: Agile Task boards
    • New in VS 11: Exception Analytics
    • New in VS 11: Project & Server integration
    • New in VS 11: System Center Integration
  • Collaboration
    • New in VS 11: PowerPoint Storyboarding
    • New in VS 11: Feedback Manager
    • New in VS 11: Code Review
    • New in VS 11: Task Suspend/Resume

23 February 2012

Visual Studio/TFS 11 Beta Coming Next Week

It has been roughly five months since Microsoft released a Developer Preview version of Visual Studio 11 along with the Developer Preview of Windows 8.  Today, Microsoft has announced that they will be releasing the beta version of Visual Studio 11, as well as the .NET Framework 4.5, next week on February 29th (the same day the Windows 8 Consumer Preview – a.k.a. beta is to be released).

Some of the quick highlights include:

  • TFS Express.  With the release of TFS 11, there will be a new “TFS Express” SKU that will be free for 1 to 5 users.  TFS Express has some limitations (e.g. no SharePoint or SQL Server Reporting Services integration) but getting the features of TFS for FREE is a huge win for small teams.

  • Visual Studio Express & TFS – going along with the above announcement, the Visual Studio 11 Express SKU will be updated to include support for TFS (i.e. the Team Explorer client can be utilized from within Visual Studio 11 Express).  Another huge win for small teams.

  • A more “Metro-fied” Visual Studio IDE – although I am not sure Microsoft would officially call the new Visual Studio 11 IDE a “Metro” application, you can definitely see the similarities between the two.  For example, the colors within the IDE (with the exception of the code/text editor) have been modified to a more monochromatic set of (light or dark) themes (the colors can still be modified based on your personal taste).  The various icons have also been replaced with “glyphs” – basically “flattened” versions of icons that have a very Metro feel to them.  Microsoft has also spent a lot of effort reducing less-used toolbar items as well as simplifying the lines used within the various dialogs.  Overall, the new IDE looks quite a bit different and I’m not sure yet if I will like it or not.  However, I am anxious to find out.  Here is an example screenshot using the light theme:

  • Go Live License – the beta release includes a Go Live license allowing you to use the beta tools within a production environment, if desired.

The above highlights don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what’s included in Visual Studio 11/TFS 11.  Expect a lot more information regarding the beta release to become available over the coming weeks.  For now, you can view the following posts for more details: