Category Archives: Team System

Changing Roles

This week, I made the transition to a new team within my company.  It’s good to make a change every once in a while so that things don’t get stale.  I’ve heard it said that, as soon as you are so comfortable in your current role that you’re afraid to make a change – that’s when it’s time to try something new. 🙂

My new role is a bit more technical than my last and will give me more time to dig deeper into the latest .NET technologies out there.  I’m also going to be doing a bit more TFS administration. I’m looking forward to seeing how TFS works “under the hood” and be able to play around with all the cool new ALM features that are getting baked into the product.

I know I’ve been pretty lackadaisical lately with my posts.  To tell you the truth, I just wasn’t getting a lot of time to play with the tools, technologies and practices that this blog is all about, and I just didn’t have anything noteworthy to write about. With this new role change, I expect that will change.

Most of you have visited this blog for TFS-related content. Look for more of that (and other topics) to come!

Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 on Virtual PC

For those of you keeping track, Microsoft released the new Visual Studio 2010 beta 1 release last week.  I was a little disappointed – though not surprised – that, unlike with their September CTP,  Microsoft did not provide a Virtual PC image for the Beta 1 release.

Visual Studio logo

Like some of you out there, I prefer to show a little restraint when it comes to installing beta software on my personal machine.  I prefer not to hose my computer intentionally, nor incur the wrath of my better half by denying her access to her e-mail and internet.

Fortunately, the people at Channel 9 care about marital bliss, and have therefore posted a step-by-step video guide explaining how to set up your ownVirtual PC – at no cost! The video shows you how to install Visual Studio Team Suite 2010 beta 1, TFS 2010 beta 1, and SQL Server 2008 running on Windows Server 2008.  You don’t need an MSDN subscription to get this software, which means that some of it is going to be trial-based. But, it’s a great way to give the beta a test-run without risking detriment to your own PC.

My install was very straightforward, with the help of the video .  It took me about 3 hours from start to finish, mostly waiting for installation progress bars to fill up. Performance will vary based on your internet connection (when downloading the various software), and how much CPU and memory you are able to allocate to the Virtual PC. Oh, and the finished .VHD file will likely weigh in at a hefty 15 GB, so make sure to account for that ahead of time.

Have fun!

HDC ’08

Last week was the Heartland Developer Conference in Omaha and, as usual, it did not disappoint.  This was my fourth year attending the conference and I always enjoy the sessions that happen.  Also at the event was a demo Microsoft Surface table that I got to play around with; and the Microsoft booth had Rock Band 2 set up. I was able to get in one quick jam during the conference; thanks to whoever sat in on the drums…

Some of the more interesting sessions I attended this year include:

  • Rod Paddock on “AJAXing Your .NET Applications”: Very good presentation, especially for the more novice AJAX developers, like myself.  The biggest payback was seeing his demo of the Fiddler tool.  Very cool stuff!
  • Dennis Kirlin on “Estimating in the Abstract”: This was one of my favorites.  Dennis’ presentation was unique in that he presented a number of agile concepts and practices without using any of the associated buzzwords. By doing so, the presentation sounded refreshingly new, even to those already familiar with the concepts.
  • Javier Lozano on “The Zen of ASP.NET and MVC”: I attended a presentation with the IADNUG earlier in the year over this same topic, and it’s amazing the number of changes that have occurred between the earlier CTP and the recent beta release of the MVC framework.  I was unimpressed with the former, but Javier’s presentation won me back.  Now if only they could get the thing out of beta…
  • Clint Edminton on “Modeling in Visual Studio Codename Rosario”: This demo was cool until he told us that these features were for the Architect Edition of Visual Studio Team System.  Does Microsoft not think that developers use UML?  At least they now acknowledge that developers do interact with databases.

The other interesting thing to note was the increase in agile-specific topics, including sessions on using Scrum with Team Foundation Server, and the aforementioned Agile Estimating session.  I’m looking forward to what is to come in 2009.

Using Team Foundation Server for non-.NET Projects?

My company is beginning to evaluate the new Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2008 software, and one of our big questions right now is whether TFS is a suitable product for handling project management needs for non .NET projects. My company has a mix of in-house developed applications, and 3rd party vendor applications that have been brought in. Therefore, having a platform-agnostic process tool is something that would be very handy (besides Microsoft Project, that is…).

From what I’ve read so far, TFS and Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) are intended to integrate well for .NET development projects. But what about projects surrounding a non-.NET project (for example, a vendor product)? There are still “work items” that need to be tracked, reports to be created, etc.; but perhaps only a subset (if any) of this work may require some type of .NET development.

Besides Visual Studio, I’ve seen that Work Items can be tracked with either Team Web Access or the Team Exploror application. I haven’t had a chance to test these out yet, but I’m curious whether managing a non-.NET project using just these tools is very… well, natural.

Perhaps TFS is not meant to be used as a platform-agnostic process tool (that wouldn’t be too much of a stretch!). Perhaps there are other process tools out there that work well with both Visual Studio and other IT-related projects.

I guess I’ll need to do some more digging…

DevConnections – In Vegas, Baby!

(Ok, so to preface this post, I don’t just attend conferences. It’s just that my company was gracious enough to send me to two conferences almost back to back and there’s always something cool to talk about when attending conferences.)

Well, the first day of DevConnections 2007 is almost over… and, in my opinion, it’s been a little underwhelming. Sure, there’s been swag up the wazoo, and the news that I’d be getting a free copy of Visual Studio 2008 just for attending didn’t hurt one bit… but the sessions so far have just not had a lot of substance or spectacle.

I take that back. The sessions I’ve been to have not had much substance or spectacle. But I’ve been almost exclusively listening to stuff over Visual Studio Team System 2008, and it has been mostly a recycling of the same material through each of the sessions, passed on to different speakers. Somebody should have just copy-and-pasted the session abstract information from one of the four sessions so that I could have realized this earlier and better spent my time (and my company’s money) attending sessions on other topics. Instead, the speakers probably gave the abstracts to some sales and marketing guys who made them sound super-intriguing (and unique) only to rope you into the session to hear the speakers yell “Gotcha!”

I will say the keynote over Visual Studio 2008 by Scott Guthrie was pretty cool. While a majority of the slides were over the same material he covered at the HDC last month, he did have some other Microsoft Product Managers come out and give some pretty nice demos. I especially enjoyed the one showing how you could use a Visual Studio add-in to create a plug-in for World of WarCraft to determine whether or not taking on an opponent in the game would result in their death or your own… Even though I don’t play the game myself, I thought the demo itself was frickin’ sweet!

Well, the first day is over, and I’m headed out to enjoy some Las Vegas nightlife (nothing too crazy). Let’s hope that Day 2 has a little more to offer.

Heartland Developers Conference – Day 1

The first day of the HDC is over, and it started out awesome! I got in Wednesday afternoon and was invited out to dinner with a few really talented individuals. I had a great chat with Mike Benkovich over his recent MSDN Events in Des Moines, my interest in Microsoft’s Team System, and the recent Bears vs. Vikings game.

The first day of sessions did not disappoint. Ron Jacobs started off with a great keynote over using TDD jointly with the MVP pattern to make both testable and loosely-coupled solutions. I then sat in on sessions over practical TDD usage; an overview of Visual Studio Team System; an introduction to the movement that is ALT.NET; and some practical tips on effectively refactoring database schemas.

I will admit I’m impress with how much more focus is being put on agile development and TDD in particular this year. I think almost every session I attended today had some mention or discussion on writing unit tests for your code. Last year, there was only one session over TDD and it was extremely 101-type material. I’m glad to see more presenters mentioning TDD and agility in their talks.

Oh, how times are a-changin’.