Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Visual Studio 2010 version aversion…

TFS being a tool that has some intimacy with Visual Studio often puts me in a situation where clients have many questions regarding the different versions of Visual Studio. The tight integration between TFS and Visual Studio can leave one wondering… where does Visual Studio end and TFS begin.

I will be the first to admit that any search for a comparison between Visual Studio editions is pretty easy to come by, but for convenience, here's a useful comparative table of visual studio 2010 versions.

Visual Studio Sku

(Image stolen from Ahmed Salijee)

Visual Studio 2010 Professional

Professional is your entry level environment allowing you to perform you day to day coding tasks. A big issue that I have is the lack of quality tools packaged with this edition, but it is a cheaper alternative to get your team up and going.

Visual Studio 2010 Premium

Premium in my mind is the minimum version that an enterprise dev team should consider. More expensive, but adding a quality perspective, including aspects such as code analysis, code coverage & metrics and then also (in my mind) a hugely underutilised “Database Professional”.

Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate

Ultimate is the granddaddy. A strong focus on architecture with support for modelling and layer validation, but including load and web tests. It also includes a Test Manager license (see Test Professional below). Very pricey and probably not worth the money in most teams/smaller companies.

Stepping out of the developer realm a new product or edition has been introduced in the 2010 suite called Test Professional

Test Professional

Contrary to common believe this is NOT a development environment. It includes Team Explorer, but that is where the similarities end. Test Professional edition primarily consists of Microsoft Test Manager, a tool that is targeted toward the tester, someone that needs to set-up test cases and execute these by (often) manually running through the application. It also includes the ability to set-up and configure Lab Management which in my opinion is more technical than I would prefer to allow a tester to handle.


One of the misconceptions that I often deal with is that you need Visual Studio to “work” with TFS. Team Explorer is actually all you need which happens to be a free download (you still need a CAL to access TFS though). Team Explorer does provide a tight integration between TFS and ANY Visual Studio 2010 version though. Then again Team Explorer is just one of the many ways to interact with TFS…


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DevDays 2011 Cape Town

DevDays 2011 Cape Town drew to a close yesterday evening.

I presented one of the community session slots and decided to upload the presentation for those who could not attend.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Visual Studio vNext

For those of you that do not keep up to date with what is happening around the world, TechEd North America is currently in progress.

Being a technology junky I generally enjoy events such as TechEd and MiX(especially our American counterparts). This is the time that Microsoft starts introducing stuff they have been working on since the last event, or gives us a glimpse into what they are working towards in the next wave of product releases.

This time, once again, TechEd is hardly off the ground and the excitement has already started to set in.  As part of the keynote Jason Zanders gave some insight into what is coming in Visual Studio ALM vNext.

I must admit, from a brief glimpse, there are some very exciting things heading our way! I really like the revamp of the TFS Web (TSWA) and the new functionality around planning and capturing feedback. I would however like to see more around the work that they have been doing with TFS on Azure.

In Visual Studio the unit test integration hooks for 3rd party frameworks looks interesting and the new “Team Navigator” has potential.

Oh man.. we’re just starting to get the hang of VS & TFS 2010 and we are already looking to the next version with anticipation…
Hi, my name is Niel, and I’m a technology junkie Crying face

TFS as an open platform?!

Brian Harry has previously mentioned his intent for TFS to be an open platform. To date the architecture supports this very nicely, from the wide range of integrated applications and clients to providing developers with a very rich .Net API.

Then Microsoft took over Teamprise’s Client Suite rebranding it to Team Explorer Everywhere (TEE).
For those that have not yet heard about TEE, it is basically Team Explorer for Mac, Linux and some Unix flavours (yes… even Windows). One of its components is an Eclipse plugin, giving (primarily java developers) basically the same experience that we are familiar with inside Visual Studio.

Yesterday Microsoft once again upped the ante by providing a java SDK for TFS.

This extension to different development environments, and the work that Microsoft has put in on the Hosting story and is putting in to get TFS on Azure means that you can have the benefits of TFS, without the need to actually run any Windows based servers locally! How neat is that!

Now what I would really be interested in is how much demand there is for this, and what is Microsoft doing to “sell” TFS to non Microsoft dev environments? Locally TFS and Visual Studio is being evangelised via the main stream events such as DevDays and Tech Ed, but what should we be doing to get the message out to people that do not attend these events?

But enough business, where did I put that old Java book of mine….

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dev4Devs Cape Town

Dev4Devs was held on Saturday, what an awesome event!

Well done to my fellow presenters for giving us very interesting (yet brief) insight into some topics that lie close to their hearts, and a big thanks to Dave Russell from Microsoft for setting it up and hosting the event here in Cape Town. 

I believe Dev4Devs is a platform for people who have a passion for what they do, and would like to share it with “the world”. You’ll experience what it means to present to like-minded people allowing just enough time to give you a “taste” for what presenting is all about. I would really encourage people to give it a go. Dave has promised that this would definitely not be the last time that this event is held in Cape Town.

We each had a 20 minute slot to talk about, or “present” on a topic of our choice which is challenging, but part of the fun! And of coarse, if by some highly unlikely event you get bored with the current topic, the next one is literally around the corner Winking smile

Thanks to all that attended, hope to see you at the next one…

For now though, the next event to look forward to is DevDays, see you there!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Custom Check-in Policies for TFS 2010

I was showing a demo to a client on custom policies the other day. We went through a couple of caveats that exists between the TFS 2008 and TFS 2010 way of doing things.
If you look long enough you will find specific posts or conversations on individual issues. I decided to do a post that encompasses these issues, and a couple of my findings while creating these custom policies in TFS 2010.

Creating the custom policy is fairly straight forward. Using Visual Studio, create a new class library and add a reference to “Microsoft.TeamFoundation.VersionControl.Client.dll”.

Next create the class that you will be using and inherit from “Microsoft.TeamFoundation.VersionControl.Client.PolicyBase” and implement the methods. You should have something like this:

using Microsoft.TeamFoundation.VersionControl.Client;


namespace TeamFoundation.CommentPolicy


    public class CommentWordCountPolicy : PolicyBase


        public override string Description


            get { throw new System.NotImplementedException(); }



        public override string Type


            get { throw new System.NotImplementedException(); }



        public override string TypeDescription


            get { throw new System.NotImplementedException(); }



        public override bool Edit(IPolicyEditArgs policyEditArgs)


            throw new System.NotImplementedException();



        public override PolicyFailure[] Evaluate()


            throw new System.NotImplementedException();




The “Type” property can be related to the friendly name of the policy. Interestingly enough, the “TypeDescription” property is the description shown on the “Add Check-in Policy” dialog (Figure 1), and the “Description” property is the description shown in the description column of the “Check-in Policy” tab (Figure 2) when the policy is selected.

 Add Policy Dialog
Figure 1: Add Check-in Policy Dialog

Active Policy Dialog
Figure 2: Check-in Policy Tab

The “Edit” method is where you would handle any custom configuration that you may require. This method is executed before the policy is added to the list in figure 2 and when you click the “Edit” button while the policy is highlighted in the Check-in Policy tab (Figure 2). Note that if you return “false” in this method the policy will not be added to the active list. In addition, the “PolicyBase” class has a property “CanEdit” that you can override manually. If you return false for this property the “Edit” method will not be executed and the “Edit” button next to the list in figure 2 will be disabled.

Next up is the “Evaluate” method, this is where all the magic happens. You have access to the protected property “PendingCheckin” which provides pretty much all the information that you would need to devise some weird and wonderful policies. If the “Evaluate” method returns an array containing a valid instance of a “PolicyFailure” class, the check-in will show you the policy violation.

So once you have populated the properties and methods accordingly the next point is of utmost importance. You must mark your class as Serializable. If you do not, your new policy will simply not show up in the available policies list.

Next up you need to register the policy in the registry under the following path: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\VisualStudio\10.0\TeamFoundation\SourceControl\Checkin Policies].

Create a new String Value with the name of the assembly that contains your policy excluding the .dll extension and the value being the full path to your assembly. Example :
Name: TeamFoundation.CommentPolicy
Value: C:\Projects\Policies\TeamFoundation.CommentPolicy.dll

This should complete the steps to create and register a new check-in policy. The only thing left is to deploy the policy on each workstation that is to adhere to the policy. If you do not do this an error will be displayed that the policy is not installed, and it will be disregarded. The TFS 2010 Power Tools however have a “new” way of deploying these assemblies, but it is still up to the developer to opt in to the deployment mechanism.



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Monday, April 11, 2011

TFS & VS 2010 and the Database Developer


I was working at a client last week, giving them an overview of Database Development using Visual Studio 2010 Database Professional (DBPro). They mentioned the TFS Provider for SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) and their attempts in trying work with it.

It had been a couple of years since I looked at it last (honestly before DBPro was released). You can download (it’s free) the plug in from here (created by the famous Martin Woodward). I noticed that it had in fact been updated to work with TFS 2010. So I decided to give it a spin.

Firstly I must highlight one of the (in my opinion) less know features in SSMS, you can create and manage projects in pretty much the same way you do in Visual Studio.

After installing the TFS Provider, make sure that SMSS knows that you are using a Source Control plugin. Select Tools | Options. Select “Source Control” and if it has not already updated, change the current plug-in to “Team Foundation Server MSSCCI Provider”.

Team Foundation Server MSSCCI Provider

Now select the File | New | Project menu option and a pretty familiar looking dialog will appear


Once the project has been created open up the “Solution Explorer” ( View | Solution Explorer ) and the project layout is shown


Right click on the “project name” and select Add | New Item. Notice that you start to get the same experience as you would in Visual Studio. You have the ability to add a number of “different” items to the project. Different categories have different templates etc..


And now with the Source Control plugin you can add this “Solution” or “Project” to source control (as you would a Visual Studio Project) and perform source control related check-in’s and outs, view history, compare etc. etc..

Using SSMS you still do use scripts to manage your “database”. If you only have access to Visual Studio 2010 Professional (or not at all) then this is possibly an option to evaluate (you still would need a TFS CAL).

Both SSMS and DBPro use scripts to manage your schema (DBPro has a nice “schema view” that shows you the database schema represented via scripts though), BUT with all the additional functionality that DBPro offers, including database comparisons, unit testing and data generation, I definitely prefer DBPro.


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