Showing posts with label Microsoft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Microsoft. Show all posts

Friday, August 7, 2015

TFS 2015 Finally released!

After waiting what seems like forever, TFS 2015 has finally been released after Brian Harry decided to hold back and get some more testing done.

This time it seems to be the real thing Smile :

I've had some people ask me if they should upgrade or wait a while to have all the "kinks" worked out. My answer is twofold:

  1. Evaluate the release first and make sure that there is value to be had out of the upgrade
  2. Secondly, I would not worry toooo much about encountering any "kinks". TFS is pretty much production tested in VSO so there is not much of a chance that you will encounter any significant issues

If it makes sense for you to upgrade, by all means do (of course taking necessary precautions as you would in any upgrade situation!).

That said, it is always a good idea to keep up to date with updates and upgrades. This will make future updates less cumbersome and quicker, as well as keep you in the support band (TFS 2010 is not supported anymore and Visual Source Safe should not exist anymore!! (even though the tragic truth is I'm still doing the odd VSS migration Sad smile ))

It should be noted that this will probably be a longer update/upgrade than most. There are some significant database changes due to the project rename (finally!) capability that was added. In most small TSF instances this will not be much of an issue, but I have dealt with some large instances that needed careful planning! Luckily there are ways and means to make it a bit easier.

Need help upgrading ? : give us a shout

Thursday, April 30, 2015

TFS 2015 RC & VS 2015 RC announcements at //BUILD/

As expected there is a bunch of stuff being announced at //BUILD/.

Catch some of the highlights of TFS & VS 2015 from Brian's post and for a more comprehensive list of changes and features go here

Time to play Smile 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

TFS 2013 Update 4 finally released

For those of you who do not know, Microsoft released TFS 2013 update 4 with their Connect(); event yesterday/last night.

Some of the really cool stuff that I have been waiting for is the introduction of the Stakeholder licensing and Trend charts.

They also gave us a sneak peak of what is in the pipeline, and I for one am once again getting really excited.

One thing that caught my eye was some vNext features, for example the new build infrastructure that is going to be introduced. YES the build agent is finally going cross platform…
As per Brian Harry's post:

Sneak peek – Updated build service

I (Brian Harry) showed a preview of a major update to the VS Online/TFS build service that we’ve been working on.  We believe it will address a large portion of the suggestions to improve it that we’ve received.  Improvements include:

  • A much simpler customization experience that doesn’t require XAML/Workflow – just a simple sequence of tasks to execute.
  • A real time build output window to easily track the progress on your build
  • Build definition versioning/auditing so you can know who changed your build definition, what changes they made and why.
  • A web based editing/administration experience
  • The ability to share build agents across projects and collections, making shared build pools far more viable.
  • A cross platform build agent so that you can automate builds for Mac and Linux too (or even builds than span a PC, Mac and Linux).

See more exiting new from Brian's post.

Aaarrgghh; the wait…

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Day of DevOps, Release Management, Software Quality and Agile Project Requirements Management.

Microsoft is organising two events for September, one in Cape Town and one In Johannesburg. If you are interested in seeing what TFS has to offer, feel free to register and come and have a look.
For those of you who will be joining us at the Cape Town event, I will be presenting the session just after lunch: Managing Work, Projects and Requirements with Team Foundation Server.
I'll be delving into:
  • Requirements and Backlog Management
  • Task Allocation, Prioritisation and Planning
  • Agile Portfolio Management
  • Task Boards and Kanban Boards
  • Reporting and Integration
  • Test Case Integration
  • Project and Excel Integration
Hope to see you all there!

A Day of DevOps, Release Management, Software Quality and Agile Project Requirements Management
Are you looking to improve the way you manage software projects or release software? Perhaps you need some better processes for managing test cases and bugs?
Join us for 2 half-day sessions in Cape Town and Johannesburg where we will focus on these topics and more.

Morning Session:
Getting Started with DevOps, Continuous Delivery and Release Management
Audience: Developers, IT Professionals, IT Decision Makers, Testers, IT Managers
Release management and DevOps have become an important part of the modern application lifecycle.
This session will cover:
  • Release Management and Automation, Release Pipeline and Approvals
  • Treating Configuration as Code
  • Working with Chef, Puppet and DSC
  • Application Insights
  • Cloud-Based Load Testing
  • Production Debugging and Monitoring
  • Leveraging Azure for DevOps and Dev/Test Environments
  • System Center and TFS Integration

Afternoon Session:
Improving Software Quality and Requirements/Project Management Practices 

Audience: Business Analysts, Testers, Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Developers,
IT Managers
Delivering high quality software that meets users' requirements is a risky undertaking. Development and quality assurance managers, along with product owners and business analysts, need to be in a tight partnership in the war against software bugs.
This session delves into this and is broken into two parts.
1. Managing Work, Projects and Requirements with Team Foundation Server
Team Foundation Server provides a wide set of capabilities for managing requirements and work. These allow you to implement your own practices, or incrementally adopt the most agile or other practices that best fit your team.
Topics that will be covered include:
  • Requirements and Backlog Management
  • Task Allocation, Prioritisation and Planning
  • Agile Portfolio Management
  • Task Boards and Kanban Boards
  • Reporting and Integration
  • Test Case Integration
  • Project and Excel Integration
2. Improve Software Testing with Team Foundation Server
Topics that will be covered include:
  • Planning and Managing Test Suites and Test Cases
  • Running Test Cases
  • Logging and Managing Defects
  • Web-Based Test Case Management and Execution
  • Exploratory Testing
  • Automated Testing

Date:    10 September 2014
Venue:    Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa,
Century City,
Cape Town
Time:    09:00 - 16:00
RSVP:    Click here to RSVP
Event ID: 1032593595
Call: 0860 22 55 67
Date:    15 September 2014
Venue:    Microsoft Johannesburg Office,
3012 William Nicol Drive,
Time:    09:00 - 16:00
RSVP:    Click here to RSVP
Event ID: 1032593593
Call: 0860 22 55 67

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Release Management Event


Last week Microsoft hosted a Release Management for Team Foundation Server 2013 talk where I ran through managing releases using Release Management.

I am pleased to say that there was literarily not a seat available, and the audience was responsive and interested. This is obviously a topic that is on a lot of people's minds.

For more information, you can visit the official site.Full_Small2

If you are interested, I have uploaded the slides here.

We will have to try and schedule a similar event shortly Smile

Thank you to all those that attended and participated, and to Microsoft for making it possible.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Release Management Event in Cape Town

Getting to know Release Management…

In partnership with Microsoft SA, Team Foundation Consulting will be bringing you an afternoon focussed on Release Management.

Join us and see how to manage your deployment to create better value.

This event is free and seats are limited.

Please reserve your seat now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Visual Studio Online Pricing

Seems Microsoft has finally released the pricing model for Visual Studio Online!

Edition Note Intro Price Actual Price More info
Basic 5 users free $10.00 per additional user $20.00
Professional Incl VS Pro $22.50 pp $45.00
Advanced   $30.00 pp $60.00

The interesting thing here is that the Professional subscription actually includes a "rented" version of VS Professional for the duration of the subscription. The downside is that you can only have up to 10 pro users on your account.

For an overview go and look here:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

TFS 2013 Update 2 Gems

Just been busy installing and playing around with TFS 2013 Update 2 RC and just off the bat noticed two little gems…
1) You can now specify the TFS server's cache as part of the install. So you are able to put it on a non-system drive
2) Looking at the upgrade process there were a couple of hints, and I finally tracked it down in the test area… It would appear that you are - or at least will be able to share parameters across test cases -- very cool…
You will also notice that web access is looking a lot closer to Visual Studio Online
And yes, if you look close enough you may notice some indication that it is in fact a RC and some polishing for on-premise purposes may still be needed...

Wonder when the application insights will become available on-premise Smile

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Free books from Microsoft

I found a great resource for free ebooks from Microsoft.
Go see for yourself :

I have been delving into Azure Pack and DSC recently and this helped a great deal…

Monday, November 4, 2013

Introducing the Visual Studio ALM Rangers – Niel Zeeman

I have been an avid consumer of the ALM Rangers artifacts, articles and applications for a long time now.

Who are the Rangers:

“The Visual Studio ALM Rangers accelerate the adoption of Visual Studio with out-of-band solutions for feature gaps and value-add guidance for the ALM community.”

Some of the cool “stuff” that you should have seen before:

  • planning and upgrade guidance
  • branching and merging
  • and recently their DevOps tooling and guidance

    And finally I will be on the other side of the fence Smile

  • Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server 2013 RC Released

    Some big news!! The release candidate for VS & TFS 2013 was released last night.

    There are a couple of really nice features added since the preview. One of my favourites is the charting ability for work items. I have done quite a few custom TFS reports, and even though this may reduce the number of jobs that I have, it is VERY cool nonetheless…

    The list of things that have been added is fairly large, hopefully I will blog about it in the future.

    Note that this does have a “go-live” license, so Microsoft will provide support if you decide to be an early adopter and upgrade your production environments.

    Feel free to contact us if you need more information around upgrade options...

    Friday, August 23, 2013

    Exam 70-498 : Delivering Continuous Value with Visual Studio 2012 Application Lifecycle Management


    I finally got the time to go and write the “Delivering Continuous Value with Visual Studio 2012 Application Lifecycle Management” exam.

    I was quite nervous about this one, as it has been a while since I have written any form of exam and because it is very “non technical” focussed. These “fuzzy” questions can often be very misleading.

    Luckily I passed, fairly well actually, so I thought I would jot down some of my crib notes..

    1) Know the TFS process templates

    Especially the terminology and the artefacts that are included in the different process templates. The questions are almost a matter of disqualifying the incorrect answers and then you are left with what can only be the correct ones.

    2) Have a good grasp on the methodologies / processes

    Especially scrum! The scrum guide is a fairly concise guide and small enough to read in one sitting (even for me!), so there is no real reason not to work through it in any case.

    Once again, have a good grasp of the CMMI, Agile and Scrum terminology, artefacts and processes.

    3) Read

    I really recommend “Professional Scrum Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2012” by Richard Hundhausen. Even if you are not going to take the exam, a very good read indeed.

    Have a look online, there are a lot of brain dumps available for this exam. I would take a look at the questions, but really scrutinise the answers. I looked over a couple and there are definitely plenty of wrong answers provided to the questions. Just be careful and don't learn the answers of by heart!

    4) Work through the free jumpstart

    Yes, there is actually a free jumpstart for this exam. Definitely worth spending some time on.


    Done and dusted! Hot smile

    Good luck if you are going to give it a go.

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    Team Foundation Server as DVCS

    Just yesterday I had a discussion with a client of mine about some of their teams that would prefer to use GIT as apposed to TFS. I mentioned that TFS will definitely be moving that way (looking at GIT-TFS that was brought out a while back), it is just a matter of time.

    Low and behold this morning Brian Harry announced that TFS Service can now actually host GIT repositories with full support and integration coming in VS 2012 update 2 with VS tools for GIT.
    As I mentioned it is already available on TFS Service and will be heading to “on premise” with the next major release of TFS.

    You can read more on how to get started here.

    Exciting times!!!

    Monday, January 7, 2013

    Setting a User Story In Progress through My Work

    One of the cool new features in Team Explorer 2012 is the My Work page. It has a bunch of useful and context specific functions that makes interacting with TFS a lot more streamlined.

    One of these features that has been introduced is the ability to “Start” and “Stop” or even “Suspend” work.  You can decide on a work item query that displays the available work for an iteration and then with a single click, you can “start” working on the work item.


    It works very well if you are using tasks for your work backlog. When you start a work item, Team Explorer will change the task to “active” and assign that task to you.

    There are however two instances where things may need a little manual intervention:

    1) When you are not using Tasks

    I always recommend using Tasks to break down User Stories or Product Backlog Items, but I do have a client that breaks up the work into fairly fine grained User Stories and they don't see the need to create additional Tasks.  We found that creating a query to return the current iterations User Stories allowed you to “start” the User Stories, but it did not change state or assign the user to the work item.

    After a little digging I found that unlike the Task definition,  the User Story does not define the “StartWork” action on the transition between the “New” and “Active” states. Luckily it is a fairly simple process to update the work item definition.

    Use the witadmin to export the work item definition, update the “New” to “Active” transition to include the “Microsoft.VSTS.Actions.StartWork” action and, hey presto, when you start work though the My Work page, it automatically assigned the User Story and sets its state into “Active”. Take a loot at the “Adding the StartWork and StopWork action” section of this post for step by step instructions.

    2) Upgrading from a previous version of TFS

    When upgrading a project collection instance, a lot of the “new” functionality needs to be added manually.This post does a very good job of taking you though the steps to enable some of the new features in TFS 2012.

    Thursday, November 29, 2012

    What does TFS cost?

    Ever been given the run-around on what it actually costs to have TFS running?
    Let’s see if I can break it down.

    Note: I’m using retail prices for these examples, so this is the ABSOLUTE maximum that you would pay. There are a couple of licensing agreements that could see you paying a great deal less.

    We all know that you get a TFS Server license and CAL when you have an MSDN subscription, right? So if you license your developers with MSDN subscriptions you have the right to install TFS and each developer with an MSDN subscription is allowed to access TFS. If you do not have MSDN subscriptions or have a “Partner Action pack” then you would need to purchase a $499 Server license and a $499 CAL per person accessing TFS unless they fall into an exempt list (discussed a bit later)

    What the TFS Server license includes is obviously the ability to install and run TFS and it grants “limited rights” licenses to use:

    • SQL Standard
    • SCVMM if you have any of the following subscriptions
      • Ultimate
      • Premium or
      • Test Professional 

    The “limited rights” means that you are only allowed to use SQL for TFS and SCVMM for Lab Management. If it is going to be used for anything else, you need to license it separately and obviously if you already have SQL or SCVMM licensed you can use those.

    So now you have TFS and some of the components, but you need to install it on an operating system which will need to be licensed separately. If this is going to be a production server (basically the definition of “production” is that there are big problems if you lose it), the OS licensing is NOT covered by MSDN, you would need a separate server license ( About $882 for Windows 2012 Std ).

    So we have TFS and we can install it on a server. Here is the tricky part…regardless of the fact that Windows 2012 is a per-processor license, you still need a Windows Server CAL ( $199 for a 5 CAL pack) for anyone who is going to connect to TFS (whether they are exempt from a TFS CAL or not)

    So we end up with something like this:


    TFS CAL Exceptions

    As mentioned earlier, there are a couple of exceptions with the requirement of a TFS CAL. You do NOT need a TFS CAL when (snipped from the VS 2012 licensing white paper):

    • Entering work items through any interface, and viewing and editing work items you created. This enables users to enter and edit their own work items of any type.
    • Accessing Team Foundation Server reports. Any read-only data that comes from the Team Foundation Server SQL data warehouse or is surfaced through SQL Server Analysis Services would be a report, but custom reports could also be written to call into Team Foundation Server APIs and could also join that data with other data sources.
    • Accessing Team Foundation Server using Microsoft System Center Operations Manager. This enables operations staff to take operational issues encountered in production and raise them as issues to the development team, automatically creating a work item in Team Foundation Server.
    • Accessing Team Foundation Server using the Feedback Client for TFS. This allows the user to provide Feedback about an application into Team Foundation Server.
    • Viewing static data that has been manually distributed outside of Team Foundation Server.
    • Up to two devices or users that only access Team Foundation Server to perform system administration, such as creating Team Projects or Project Collections.

    TFS Express

    Microsoft has also brought out TFS Express which runs on SQL Express and is limited to Version Control, Work Item Management and Build. TFS Express does not provide any of the reporting capabilities or allow for SharePoint integration.

    It does however allow up to 5 users without the requirement for a CAL, only the 6th person and up will require a CAL. So this makes a good starting platform for smaller teams. The OS still needs to be licensed though.

    Levels of CAL

    It also needs to be noted that there are “levels” of CAL’s when looking at TFS. To use the Backlog and Sprint Planning Tools and the Request and Manage Feedback features you need to have either a VS Ultimate or Premium MSDN or a Test Professional MSDN subscription.


    So let’s take a simple scenario. You are 5 developers with MSDN subscriptions. To run TFS in a production environment the costs look like this:

    TFS $0 (covered my MSDN)
    TFS CAL $0 (covered my MSDN)
    Windows Server $882
    Windows Server CAL $199



    If you do not have MSDN subscriptions the picture would look like this:

    TFS $499
    TFS CAL $2495 ($499 * 5)
    Windows Server $882
    Windows Server CAL $199



    I hope this clears up some of the questions that I get posed fairly often.


    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Process and the tool


    Microsoft has a very competent ALM story that is being backed up by the Microsoft Visual Studio ALM “suite”. Don’t take my opinion for it though; Microsoft must be doing something right in this space to be one of the leaders in Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Application Life Cycle Management, June 2012”.

    One thing I can point out in the diagram is that Microsoft is not the only player in the ALM space; there are a fair number of people with varying degrees of success battling it out.

    The thing you should be aware of is that the tool itself is not the be all and end all of a “proper” application life cycle. I have come across a number of companies that are looking for a “tool” to solve a process problem.

    The company feels pain in the way that they are doing things and then starts looking for a tool that will “solve” the problems. When the tool does not fulfil the need 100% they start looking at the next one (in some cases they have literally been looking for years).

    The problem is that in all likelihood they will never be able to find the “right” tool, regardless of how complete a story the tool caters for, or how competent or proven the tool may be.

    “Then what should we do?”

    Glad you asked.
    Firstly, take a deep hard look at your current process, highlighting the problems. It is important to be honest with yourself in this step. You will base your plan of action on the outcome of this step. (You may consider doing an ALM assessment that may give you some clarity on your situation or level of maturity ).

    Next, find people that have had similar problems, or look at best practices that are being adopted and how they may solve your problems.

    Next you need to make some hard decisions.
    How are you going to change to relieve the problems? Something needs to give; some decisions need to be made. You cannot expect to follow the same process and somehow the problems will reduce or disappear (as Albert Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"). The best development team can only do so much; the rest is up to the process that governs the day to day and week to week actions.

    Finally you can start looking at the toolset that will support the process, taking note of the following (just to name a few) aspects:

    • How do the various aspects of ALM integrate with each other?
      Do you have a single up to date and accurate “high level” view into the various aspects without needing to dedicate a person or resources to compile these reports or statistics?
    • What value can you derive from the tool?
      Does it provide you a rich functionality with regards to reporting, accessibility, integration and/or usability?
    • How well integrated is it in your day to day activities?
      Is it available when and where you need it to be with as little as possible context switching between applications or environments?

    In conclusion, it is important to note the following:

    • You cannot solve a process problem with a tool
    • The tool needs to support and automate your process, bringing together information from every aspect of your project!


    In need of process, ALM or Team Foundation Server adoption guidance?
    Give us a

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server 2012 Launch Dates

    Microsoft has finally “lifted their skirt” regarding the release of the much anticipated VS and TFS 2012.

    For more info Jason Zander is the man

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Visual Studio & Team Foundation Server 2012 RC

    Yes, Visual Studio vNext or VS 11 has finally got a name.
    Microsoft has dropped the release candidate for Visual Studio 2012 and Team Foundation Server 2012.

    There seems to be quite a significant amount of changes, and I’m glad to see that a lot of them were requests and issues raised from the “community”.

    For more information have a look at these:

    Download the bits over here.

    So much goodness, so little time…

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Microsoft Analyst / Tester event in Cape Town

    Anyone that is interested in an overview of managing and tracking requirements, bugs and test cases with Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio and/or Microsoft test Manager, I’ll be presenting an event at the Cape Town Microsoft offices next week.Check it out

    Calling all Analysts and Testers: Improve the delivery and quality of your projects (CPT, 13 Mar,free)

    This event is in CPT. The equivalent JHB event, which has been blogged about before, can be found here

    Are you a tester or analyst on your team? Do you still track your requirements, test cases and bugs manually using Word, Excel and Outlook? Are the bugs you find difficult to reproduce and you have challenges on getting visibility on the quality and project status?

    As software grows increasingly complex, quality assurance can no longer be an afterthought. An inefficient or isolated testing process can hinder software quality, reduce time to market and drive up costs. Microsoft is hosting an event to help your organization avoid these potential pitfalls by making testing and quality assurance an active part of the application lifecycle.

    DATE/TIME: 13 March - 08:30: -10:30

    VENUE: Microsoft South Africa, Golf Park 3 ,Engen HouseRaapenberg Road, Mowbray



    see you there…