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September 25th, 2013 Edition of the Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group: Visual Studio ALM 2013

by Angela 17. September 2013 09:29

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Well, with all the excitement of ThatConference, I skipped having an August meeting but we’re back! 

With the upcoming release of Visual Studio ALM 2013 tools, it seemed necessary to spend some time digging in! Jim and I will be spending this meeting talking about what's new and cool. We are still arm wrestling over who gets to demo what features, so for now just know it will be awesome! :)

And don't forget to get your fresh downloads of TFS and VS 2013 RC today. MSDN subscribers will also find everything they need through their Subscription site.  If you’re interested in participating in the virtual launch event on November 13th, be sure to check out the VS 2013 Launch Site and sign up soon!

Meeting Date: Wednesday September 25th

Agenda:6:30 - Dinner, 7:00 Presentation

Location:Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

Registration:      http://chicagoalmug.org/ 

PLEASE NOTE: Security has gotten tighter at the Downers Grove building.  You MUST register as building security will NOT allow individuals to access the building without being pre-registered.  Their rules, not mine.

 

 

Speaker Bio:

Angela Dugan is the Polaris Solutions ALM Practice Manager. She focuses on TFS implementation and customization in the real world, Visual Studio related training and mentoring, and helping organizations to adopt Agile/Scrum methodologies. Angela had spent the previous 14 years as a custom application developer with a small consulting firm in Chicago, as well as did 5 years at Microsoft as an ALM evangelist. Catch up with her adventures on her blog.

Outside of wrangling TFS, Angela is an avid board gamer, an aspiring runner (up to 2.3 miles without vomiting!), and a Twitter addict. She lives in a 102 year old house in Oak Park that she is constantly working on with her husband David.

Jim Szubryt manages the application architecture team for the Enterprise Workforce at Accenture in Chicago. This responsibility includes managing the TFS Team that supports 2,500 developers in the global development centers. He has worked with the global teams on implementing ALM practices and his team is in the process of piloting TFS 2013.

He is also a Microsoft ALM MVP and a Microsoft Visual Studio ALM Ranger. He was project lead on the disaster recovery planning guidance that was published in March. Currently he is the Project Lead on the Ranger’s guidance for reporting with TFS 2012. Prior to becoming a project Lead he has written parts of the TFS 2012 upgrade guidance and the TFS Server guidance that are found on CodePlex.  His blog can be found here.

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My Experiences Upgrading to TFS 2013 During “Upgrade Weekend”

by Angela 14. September 2013 13:56

So this weekend is officially TFS 2013 Upgrade Weekend.  What is that you ask? TFS evangelist extraordinaire Brian Keller blogged about it here, but in short it is a weekend where Microsoft is encouraging people to get on the TFS 2013 RC bits right away, and to incentivize us, product team people are on-line today to help us should we run into any issues. Sweet huh? :)

The TFS upgrade to 2013 was super fast and straightforward, I was literally done in under an hour including upgrading my build service. Unfortunately for me, I got up super early (had to get fresh flowers and donuts at the Oak Park farmers market!!) and kicked off my upgrade around 9:30am.  So by the time the upgrade support Lync meeting came on-line at 11:00am I was done with the install and had already started smoke testing. Not a bad problem to have right?

Well, at least I thought I was done. I did run into a few minor issues along the way, a few of my own doing and one bump related to my wireless being grumpy (OF ALL DAYS TO DO THAT!). But the only issue that was possibly related to the upgrade was corruption of my VS 2012 install bits.  When I smoke tested the upgrade, everything looked good until I started kicking off builds.  Some of my builds were no longer working ::sad trombone::  First, I had an issue with builds that ran automated UI tests:

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I’d certainly seen this issue before, and it was always because the VS bits necessary to run the build were not installed on the build server.  But in my case I KNEW they were there, I had put them there myself some time ago! So I went to the server and out of curiosity I launched VS, and good thing I did.

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::sad trombone #2::

I figured there must have been some kind of corruption after installing TFS 2013, or perhaps from upgrading the build service (they are on the same box), so I reinstalled VS 2012. No biggie…certainly fixed THAT issue.  However when I ran the build again, I encountered another error, this time around the data tools:

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This error was even nice enough to link me directly to the place where I could download what I needed for a fix (i.e. reinstalling SSDT tools). So, after re-installing the data tools, I rebooted the server for good measure and the builds ran perfectly, everything looked good.  Lastly I installed VS 2013 RC as well, we will certainly need it as our folks will soon be chomping at the bit to use all of the new tools.  All I need to do now is configure a few projects to take advantage of the new Agile Portfolio Management features

So not a bad morning for a TFS upgrade, and if you haven’t upgraded yours, now you know how fast and easy it is :)  If you;re still nervous about going it alone, you don’t have to! Microsoft offers a program called Deployment Planning Services that many customers qualify for.  You may be eligible for free services (free consulting funding) from people like me that can help you get up and running on TFS, regardless of what version you want to upgrade to or what you are on today!

 

Lastly, MAD, MAD props to Microsoft and the TFS product team for offering free support today. Even though it was so smooth that I barely needed them. They seriously deserve a special sparkle pony award for their hard work, and for giving up a weekend to make sure we had everything we needed to succeed!

Tags:

Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | Build Automation | DTDPS | MSDN | SDLC | Team Foundation Server | TFS 2012 | TFS Upgrade | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2012 | VS 2013 | VS 2012 | TFS 2013

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And Now For Something Completely Different

by Angela 12. July 2013 09:15

So, I feel like most (if not all) of my posts have largely revolved around ALM events and specific features of the Visual Studio product line. After quite a few conversations with customers frustrated with the non-bits and bytes aspects of ALM, I wanted to write down some thoughts on some things I am seeing out in “the real world”. You see, we always talk about how ALM is about people, process, and tools. And 9 times out of 10 (maybe more like 49 out of 50 in reality) any ALM talk I go to focuses only on process and/or tooling. Why? Because solving the people problem is HARD. Nay, that implies people are a problem, and that it is one that can be solved. In a lot of cases, the best you can hope to do is recognize the challenges, address the low hanging fruit in the short term, and in the long term support people’s evolution to a more agile way of thinking in any way that you can. But like me, you may have Microsoft certifications, or even Scrum.org certifications, but you certainly don’t have a degree in psychology.

You can educate people on the principals of agile but you can’t MAKE people truly embrace them, and it can be incredibly frustrating if you’ve seen the mountains of evidence, and maybe even have personal success stories of your own proving it is the right direction for a team. Kind of like me knowing that if I went to the gym regularly and started paying attention to what I ate, I would be a much healthier and physically fit person, but I can’t seem to convince myself to make the 1.5 block walk to the local gym to do it. Sad, I know. But I’m working on it, kinda. The roadblock I see even more often is that while the team wants to give it a go, management’s attitude is that “agile couldn’t possibly work for MY organization”. It is always followed by reasons like “’we’re too big”, “we’re too small”, “we’re too heavily regulated”, or my favorite “I couldn’t possibly TRUST my developers enough to give them that kind of freedom”. This is where I try not to look completely horrified in front of the person who just said that. I’m a professional after all J

I joke about wanting to go back to school for a degree in psychology sometimes when I find myself in these situations. Honestly, I’m only kind of joking. Being an ALM practitioner is not just about knowing how to configure a build server, or create a new work item type, or even migrate a massive organization to the awesomeness that is the Visual Studio ALM toolset (or any other ALM tool for that matter, I happen to be Microsoft focused). Those things help, a lot. But it’s also about leading organizations through cultural transformations, whether those be massive agile transformations, or simply getting teams to have a more healthy, open, and collaborative relationship on the simplest of terms. They will need mentoring, maybe even hand-holding to get through some of the roadblocks of a massive change. This is true in ANY walk of life, but for now I am focusing on the software development world.

I apologize that this is a bit of a teaser, but people tend to get bored pretty quickly so I’ll leave you here and promise to dive into something even deeper in my next post. And as always, I’d love to hear about your own experiences, or be linked to some particularly helpful advice you’ve come across. I am a passionate evangelist and agilista, but I’m by no means an expert, yet. That will take many, many more years, and even more grey hair (that you will never see!).

Tags:

Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | Agile | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio | Process Methodology

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Are you managing your database along with your source code? Why not?

by Angela 23. April 2013 17:17

This is both a call to arms and a last notification of the awesome topic being covered at the Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group tomorrow night.

In my day to day dealings with companies I often find that they are not managing their database in any way  ::commence slow head shake:: And in my head I am screaming while I politely smile and calmly ask how they keep track of database changes, how they test updates to the schema, and what their rollback process is. Some companies do actually have some solid processes around those types of things, but many have nothing but a rosary and a case of Redbull. They just backup their servers nightly, and rolling back changes is a nuclear option. There is a better way people!

Ideally, you have you database schema, and any executable database code checked into SOME source control management system. By which I mean you have the SCRIPTS necessary to create those things in source code (see screenshot below). Without a good tool, establishing that can be tedious, daunting, and usually isn’t done, period. One of the things I love about Visual Studio  is its slick handling of database asset management (which has been around since VS 2008). In no time at all you can reverse engineer a database schema and all dependent objects into a database project in Visual Studio and check it in. Yes, just like that. That’s of course just the beginning but I’ll keep this soapbox rant short and expand in future musings.

The tools get better and better with each new version and the SDET tools that plug-in to VS 2012 are the best yet. Here is a quick preview of what that experience looks like in Visual Studio 2012.  I am running Ultimate but you would have the same look and feel in just plain old Professional as well.

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Now if you are still a hard core SSMS user, fear not. You can still get some of the awesomeness of TFS working for you in SSMS, but finding out where to set that up can be tricky. Quick tip, if you already have TFS installed at your company, really you just need the TFS connector and to flip the switch

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And now for the info on the user group, there’s still a little time left to sign up. Do it, DO IT NOW!!

Visual Studio and TFS 2012 for managing your SQL Server Database Assets

Do you have SQL Server database assets you should be managing? If you have a SQL Server database you certainly do! Do you use TFS to manage your other software assets like architectural diagrams, source code and build scripts? Are you using that same great toolset to manage your SQL scripts?  If not, you SHOULD be.

Did you that know some of the same great ALM features that you love about TFS for your source code can be applied to SQL 2005/2008/2012 stored procedures, table definitions, functions and other schema objects? And that's not all, there are also tools for doing schema comparisons, static analysis, unit testing and deployment of your database assets.  Jim will be giving an overview of the database tools available with VS and TFS 2012.

This is a meeting NOT to be missed.

Join Us Wednesday, April 24, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Location:Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

Speaker Bio: Jim Szubryt is the TFS Product Manager for the Enterprise Workforce at Accenture in Chicago and is a Microsoft ALM MVP. His TFS Team supports 2,500 developers in the global development centers and works with teams on implementing ALM processes. His blog can be found here.

Agenda:6:30PM Dinner followed by a presentation and demo at 7pm

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ThatConference – Mark Your Calendars and Call for Speakers is OPEN

by Angela 1. April 2013 16:43

So as a Midwesterner I often feel like we get screwed when it comes to big, cool tech conferences.  ALM Summit is always in Redmond, TechEd is always in Vegas or L.A. (blech), and there are a large number of other big tech conferences that are primarily only held on the West Coast (Mix, VS Live, etc.). So this big news so far this year has been that VS Live is coming to Chicago in May, for one. I’m pretty excited about that, especially with the sweet discount I was able to get for it (see the blog post I linked to above for a $500 discount code to VS Live Chicago). 

Now don’t get me wrong, we have a lot of great, smaller conferences, for instance Chicago Code Camp in a few weeks, and Deeper in .NET in Milwaukee next weekend, are both very good conferences and are both FREE to boot. But another awesome conference you may have missed out on last year was ThatConference. What conference? ThatConference. Yeah, I know, the name is clever, and sometimes confusing, but mostly clever.  It is the next big thing in my opinion, because not only is it owned by, organized by, and delivered by people you know from your local community, but the range of topics is pretty amazing too.  .NET, Ruby, Java, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Tablet, Surface, iPad, you name a technology/platform and it is probably going to be represented there.

As an added bonus, it is a VERY family friendly conference being held at an awesome water park in the Wisconsin Dells, just 3.5 hours from Chicago if you live in my neck of the woods.  Kalahari Resort also has go-karts, laser tag, a large arcade, an indoor ferris wheel, a number of great restaurants and bars, and even a salon and spa if you need a little R&R with your tech!  Stay a few extra days, the room rates are amazing and last year we also got some pretty nice perks (a.k.a. free stuff) from the resort because we were attending the conference.

Call for speakers just opened today and is only open for 2 weeks so hurry up and get your submissions in! Don’t worry if you think your topic is too broad, too niche, too whatever, just get it in there.  There is a great submission guide available on the session submission site too so check it out! The range of topics being accepted is pretty large, as we hope to provide a really well rounded set of options for attendees.  If you have more questions, or would like some help creating your session write-up, join us every Wednesday at noon CST for Q&A on G+.

 

Hope to see you, and your sessions, at ThatConference this summer!

August 12th - 14th, 2013

Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells, WI

 

ThatConference is also on facebook, or Google Groups if you have questions or comments for the world at large.

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Chicago Code Camp 2013–It’s Awesome and it’s FREE

by Angela 22. March 2013 12:54
What is Chicago Code Camp? Well, it’s in its fifth year of awesomeness and if you haven’t checked it out, go do it now.  CCC is a free, community-driven developer conference. Over 350 people have already registered so far! This year, they’ve even adding a full day of Windows Azure boot camp.

 

So if you’ve been to CCC before, go ahead and stop reading because you’ve already registered and know what an amazing free event this is, right?  If you’ve never been, well, it is worth the trip up North (or South if you are in Wisconsin)!  Chicago Code Camp is free, and covers a WIDE variety of great tech topics.  As someone clearly passionate about ALM, I was particularly happy to see the number of ALM related topics at CCC this year, and as usual the speakers are really great too. 

So mark your calendars (April 27th to be specific) and register right now!

 

Here is just a sampling of the ALM sessions:

- Introduction to Git and Github - [Joshua Gall, Aurora Healthcare]

- This *IS* Agile Development - [Gary Pedretti, Centare]

- Version control TFS 2012 - [Prasanna Ramkumar, Magenic]

- ALM with Visual Studio 2012 - [Raj Krishnan, Microsoft]

- TFS 2012 - [James Szubryt, Accenture]

 

More great sessions and speakers are outlined here: http://www.chicagocodecamp.com/Public/Schedule.  Stoked yet? You should be.  Did I mention this is also FREE?

 

Click here to register for Chicago Code Camp 2013

 

19351 W Washington Street Grayslake, IL 60030

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Tags:

.NET 4.5 | ALM | ASP.NET | Agile | Application Lifecycle Management | Azure | Cloud Computing | HTML5 | MSDN | SDLC | TFS 2012 | Powershell | Productivity | TFS | Team Foundation Server | Testing | Visual Studio 2012 | Visual Studio | Windows 8 | development | git

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March 27th - Chicago VS ALM User Group Talks About VS 2012 Updates Released So Far

by Angela 11. March 2013 12:21

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In case you missed it, the Visual Studio ALM product team has been BUSY.  While they release cool, new goodies to TFS Service on a weekly basis, releases to on-premise TFS happen about once a quarter these days. In the last 5 months, they have made available 2 major updates to Visual Studio and TFS 2012; specifically VS 2012 Update 1 and recently, CTP 4 of Update 2.  Just a few of my favorite new features that we plan to demo on March 27th include a web client for Microsoft Test Manager, customizable Kanban columns, support for Git, and work item tagging.  And there is a LOT more that we probably won’t even have time to talk about in depth.  Can’t make it to the user group meeting? Be sure to download and install Update 1, and Update 2 CTP 4 and see the new features for yourself! It is even a “go-live”, which you can read more about on Brian’s blog.

 

Join Us Wednesday, March 27, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

Description:  As you probably know, the Microsoft Team Foundation Server team has moved to a more regular cadence of pushing out updates to Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Visual Studio. In the last few months we've seen 2 major updates released to on-premise TFS 2012 and Visual Studio 2012 (Update 1, and Update 2 CTP 4), and many smaller and more frequent releases to TFS Service. There are far too many to cover in just one meeting so on March 27th we will be talking about the updates specific to the web-based Agile Planning tools, MTM and the TFS-Git integration.

Agenda:6:30PM - Dinner and networking, 7:00PM - Presentation and demos

Speaker Bios:  Edward Thomson is a Software Development Engineer at Microsoft, where he works on cross-platform version control tools for Team Foundation Server. Before joining Microsoft, Edward worked on numerous source code control tools for Microsoft and Unix platforms.  Angela Dugan is the ALM Practice manager for Polaris Solutions and spends most of her time migrating customers to TFS and streamlining their software delivery processes. She has over 14 years of experience in the software industry including 5.5 years as a Microsoft ALM Tools evangelist and over a year as Polaris Solution’s practice manager focusing specifically on Visual Studio and TFS.

Bonus speaker: Martin Hinshelwood is going to be in town and is going to tag-team with Ed and I to cover even MORE great Update 1 & 2 features! Martin is a Senior ALM Consultant at Northwest Cadence, is a Microsoft Visual Studio ALM MVP and a certified Professional Scrum trainer.

 

Location: Microsoft-Chicago 200 E Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago – you can park in the Aon center for a discounted rate after 6pm, but your best bet may be SpotHero if you choose to drive. I’ve seen $8 parking ½ block away using their service.

As always, please be sure to register as Aon Center security will NOT allow individuals to access the building without being pre-registered. http://chicagoalmug.org/

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VS 2012 Web Client for Manual Testing

by Angela 11. March 2013 11:53

So in case you’ve missed my excited tweets/blog posts on what is coming in VS2012 Update 2, I wanted to spend a little time covering one of my favorites. If you’re a TFS Service user you’ve probably already seen this, but occasionally I run across people who go into autopilot and miss the new bells and whistled that magically appear every week or two. I know I have done it.

One of the features that recently showed up on TFS Service is a web client for Microsoft Test Manager, specifically around manual test execution. “WHAT?!” you say? YES, indeed. Now you can view test plans and test suites (they need to be created using the MTM client right now), create and manage test cases, execute manual test cases and create rich bugs FROM YOUR BROWSER ::head explodes from the awesome:: This will revolutionize tesst case execution for some of my clients that have been a little uneasy about installing the MTM client on all of their environments, and on end user tester’s machines. It does not have full feature parity with the full Microsoft Test Manager product (yet) but Microsoft has discussed the possibility of growing these tools over time. Here is a sneak peak of where those tools appear from within the Agile Planning web tools while logged into TFS Service (or if you have a test instance of TFS 2012 with Update 2 CTP 4 installed).

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Don’t laugh at my burndown report, it’s a demo project so it isn’t updated in real-time and sometimes looks less-than-ideal if I’ve gone too long without doing a demo. 

Again, unless you have installed VS 2012 Update 2 CTP4 on your on-premise TFS server you will only be able to access these testing tools from a TFS Service instance, and I would NOT recommend putting a CTP on production (YMMV of course). That being said, let’s take a super quick look at what else you get with this new feature. 

Here is a view of a simple test plan with a couple of Test Suites and a handful of test cases already assigned to those suites.  Note you have options to: create new manual test cases, edit existing manual test cases, remove test cases from test suites, set Outcome to Pass/Fail/Blocked/Not Applicable and quite a bit more! I specifically say MANUAL test cases because exploratory testing is not currently supported on the web. You can also, at a glance, see who is assigned to execute each test case, the target environment configuration, as well as recent Outcome. You can even filter by tester and outcome!

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On of my favorite productivity features is the ability to open the test case in the same window as the management tools, and edit it on the fly. You have similar capabilities in MTM in the Track Tab, ir if editing other types of work items in Team Explorer, and I definitely have wanted this ability in MTM for a while now so I love this!  Maybe a small enhancement, but as I spend a lot of time in MTM, any avoided clicks are a time saver for me and it adds up over time. In the upper right-hand section of the web tools you can see a “test case pane” option which can be set to Off, bottom or right. What you see below is the “bottom” option, and in the previous screenshot you may now notice it was set to “off”.

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Another feature I will show off in this post is the actual running of a manual test case, which is similar to the desktop client version of the Manual Test Runner tool with a few caveats.  Note you still see each step, expected results, and data driven fields are still provided for the user running the test.  You can also set Outcomes for each step (pass/fail) as well as for the test case as a whole (pass/fail/blocked/not applicable). Notice you also have the ability to pause test case execution which is a feature of MTM 2012 in general :

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An important thing to notice that is absent is rich text support in the test runner itself. You also do not have a built-in tool for snagging screenshots. A bummer, but not the end of the world when you consider the major benefits that a light-weight, no-install testing tool gives you. 

The last feature I want to highlight is rich bug creation from a test execution session. The support for rich bug creation has always been a really nice advantage of MTM, and the web tool gives you many of the key features that makes TFS such a clear win for defect tracking. Not all of the data collection is supported right now, but the big ones for me have always been repro steps and traceability which is there, as you can see:

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Again this is meant to be lightweight, and hey, you never know what you might see in a future update!

There is a LOT more that I could cover, but this is really just a pleasure cruise around the highlights of the new web client for doing manual testing. If you want to learn more about MTM, agile testing, and pretty much anything new and cool in the area of Quality Assurance, check out Anu’s blog, it has always been an INVALUABLE resource. Also be sure to download and read the Test Release Management Guidance released very recently by the ALM Rangers.  It can help lead you down the right path in terms of managing your test plans based on your team’s process and product release cycles.

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