Tag Archives: VSTS

Visual Studio 2010 Quick Reference Guidance

Have you ever asked or been asked “Can you tell me about TFS or VS in 5 minutes?”. Did you struggle to fit all that content into an elevator pitch? Struggle no more!

Thanks to some great work by the Visual Studio ALM Rangers, there’s now a set of quick reference guides that provides a fast way to identify the answers to core questions about the VS and TFS ecosystem. This pack contains guidance on each of the roles supported by the VS ALM products, info on how the products transition from 2008 to 2010 and some great posters to hang around your workplace as reference points.

So if you’re looking to answer a “What is…”, “What is new in…” question or just need a quick reference sheet check out the codeplex project and download the guidance!


2010 – off to a great start!

Saturday morning (AEDST) I logged in to my email to check what had arrived overnight. What I wasn’t expecting to find was an e-mail informing me that I’d been awarded Microsoft MVP status! It was quite a shock – as I didn’t even know I’d been nominated, but most definitely a pleasant one.

I’d like to take the opportunity now I’ve had time to recover a little to say thanks to a few people who have contributed to my progress over the last couple of years. Thanks go to Tatham Oddie and Paul Stovell for talking me into (read: signing me up for, then telling me about) my first presentation back in 2008. Anthony Borton for his invaluable mentoring that lead to the re-launch of the Canberra VSTS User Group and all the speakers both past, and future that have graced or will grace the podium at the Canberra VSTS UG. A thanks also to the guys at Readify who have always, and will continue to drive me to work hard so that I can keep up with some of the most talented and passionate IT professionals in the country.

It is in no small part that you have influenced and assisted me, and I am very proud to be both part of both Readify, and the MVP community!

Canberra VSTS User Group – October Meeting

0810 – 0830: VSTS Breakfast

Share a bite to eat with the Canberra VSTS group. Bring your VSTS queries and triumphs and share them!
Quiz your peers on how they are getting the most out of VSTS, and maybe pick up some ideas you can take to work with you.

0830 – 0930 : Session – Using TFS in High Performance Teams

Tatham Oddie – Senior Consultant at Readify, Technical Lead at graysonline.com and an ASP.NET MVP presents a session on his experiences with working in a high performance team with TFS. In his own words…

The redevelopment of graysonline.com, Australia’s largest e-commerce site, was a relatively typical IT project; short deadlines, massively changing scope, and a high level of resource churn. Come along to this month’s Canberra VSTS Breakfast to hear how TFS made the delivery of this project possible.

We’ll discuss the development processes we used, how we extended TFS to enable these processes and the myriad of lessons we learnt along the way. Some of the things we’ll cover are:

  • Empowering developers & testers to work together
    • TFS deployer
    • Environment pooling
  • Decoupling deployments from sprints
    • Branch strategies
    • Rapid & Regular delivery
    • Flickr: “10 deployments a day”
  • Work Management
    • What we customised and why
    • The life of a Product Backlog Item

This is a session not to be missed! Register now at http://cvstsoct09.eventbrite.com/

What’s happening with the Canberra VSTS User Group?

It’s been a little while since we kicked things off again, and it must almost appear as if nothings happening! Rest assured, I’m working hard on locking in more presenters to continue the successful start we had with Anthony back in July. The next session was due to fall during the week of Tech Ed, so I’ve suspended for a month to avoid a numbers drain on the Tech Ed crowd.

The details of the October session should be up soon – I’m just finalising the little things for hopefully what will be another fantastic session. Stay tuned to canberravsts.org for more info as I publish it!

TFS and Excel – The Basics

Flicking through my blog stats on a Friday shows an interesting trend. On Friday my most common search term is generally “connecting to TFS in Excel”. This tells me 2 things – lots of reports are being written on a Friday, and there’s some demand for a starter guide for TFS and Excel integration!

First things first – licensing. The licensing requirements to connect to TFS from Excel and generate reports is fairly simple. You need a CAL. The people you distribute your reports to as either an xls(x) or hard copy won’t require a CAL, with the restriction that they can’t access the server to refresh/update/create data. For more info on licensing you can get the appropriate white papers for 2005 from here, and for 2008 from here.

Right, now we’ve made sure we’re covered by the right license we need a way to connect to TFS.

1. Install Team Explorer

If you’re using 2005, and have the TFS install media you can find it in the TFC directory of the media. Don’t have access to the install media? It’s also available for download from here.

If you’re looking for the 2008 version, you can get it from here.

The downloads both come in the form of an ISO, so you’ll need some kind of ISO reader. WinRAR and 7-zip will both let you extract what you need to do the install. Once you’ve got the files out, it’s a matter of following the bouncing ball through the setup wizard.

2. Open Excel

Now we’ve got a way to connect to TFS, the next step is to open your flavour of Excel. If you’re working with 2003 you should see a toolbar similar to the image below:

Excel 2003 Team Toolbar

Excel 2003 Team Toolbar

If you’re using 2007, you’ll get a ribbon that looks like this:

Excel 2007 Team Ribbon

Excel 2007 Team Ribbon

If you don’t see one of the above, check your install to make sure it completed successfully. You should see an item in your add/remove programs that looks a bit like this

Team Explorer

Team Explorer


If you’re running Office 2007 you can also check the status of the add-in in Excel. Instructions on the WIT Tools blog here.

3. Get a list of work items

To get the list of work items you’d like to work with you’ll need to click the ‘New List’ button in the toolbar installed with Team Explorer. Depending on your configuration, you might get a credential prompt at this point. If you do, enter the credentials that you usually use to connect to TFS (if you’re unsure, best to contact your TFS admin to find out which set you should be using).

You should then see a dialog asking you to pick a server, and team project to connect to. You’ll need to specify a server if you haven’t already. You can do this by clicking the servers button, then the Add… button.

Connect to TFS Server

Connect to TFS Server

Finally enter the URI and the configuration used to connect to your TFS instance. Once again, if you’re unsure – best to contact your TFS admin for these values.

Once you’ve set up a server, pick the team project you’re interested in reporting on and click OK. Double clicking the team project also works.

You’ll now be prompted to pick a query that will form the basis of your work item list. If you like, you can also pick the ‘Input List’ option to enter work items. The queries listed are those specified against the team project you selected. This means if none of those presented suit your needs and you’re not that keen on re-filtering every time you open excel you can go define a new work item query that you can use later to generate lists.

Once you’ve picked a query and clicked OK, Excel will head off to TFS and start building your list. From here on in you’re in Excel land and can generate pivot tables, charts and filtered lists all based off the data you’ve extracted. You can also add work items by entering data into the blank row at the bottom of your list that is denoted with an asterisk.

If you are adding new data – or updating items via the Excel list, you’ll need to hit the publish button to push this data back to TFS before it’s in the system though. An important thing to note here is that if you refresh your data set before publishing any changes you’ve made will be lost. This also applies to any custom formatting you’ve applied to the work item list (though this scenario is addressed in the 2010 integration model).

Well that’s about that. A basic guide to getting a work item list from TFS in Excel that will hopefully simplify the reporting story that most of us go through at some point.

TFS to Quality Centre Connector – The Official Word

If you go looking for info on the quality center connector you’ll most likely find Jim Lambs blog entry which points back to the connect site for the connector. The problem here is that the connector documentation clearly specifies that this release is of pre-release quality and should not be considered for production systems.

While this isn’t an issue in itself – there’s not much more info out there on the path forward for the connector. I sent an email through to Jim via his blog to see if I could get an idea on what the plan was for the connector. He got back to me within a day to indicate that the connector was effectively not resourced and most likely won’t achieve a production release quality.

With 2010 on the horizon, this isn’t all that surprising as the team is quite busy. The good news is that Jim also indicated that the team are working on a connector for the next version of the product to ensure a path forward for those intending to use Quality Centre with TFS!

VSTS presence on MSDN grows

I’ve been looking around at integration tools for TFS this afternoon and have just come across a new MSDN page on the VSTS subsite. There’s now a TFS migration and integration tools site, cataloging both free and paid solutions to various client stories for different tool sets.It’s already put me onto a couple of tools I hadn’t seen yet!

Thanks for the awesome resource guys!