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Join the Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group on Wednesday, May 15 to talk ALM and DevOps

by Angela 6. May 2013 16:39

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Did you know that there was integration between System Center 2012 Operations Manager and Team Foundation Server 2012? This integration is designed to facilitate communication between operations teams and development teams, which is part of an industry movement known as DevOps. The goal is to accelerate Mean Time To Resolution (MTTR) by quickly providing development teams with as much relevant and useful information as possible about a production incident. Since System Center 2012 Operations Manager already has a deep understanding about your production systems and the applications which are running in those environments, this integration puts that information at the fingertips of the development team without requiring back-and-forth human interaction to solicit these details.  Brian will spend some time talking through how this works, the benefits of DevOps and some real world examples of this awesome partnership at work. Now there is even a great image available so you can kick the tires with minimal setup, thanks to Brian Keller: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/visualstudioalm/archive/2013/02/07/devops-virtual-machine-with-team-foundation-server-2012-and-system-center-2012-now-available.aspx. Please note the higher base system requirements to run this image, it's a bigun'.

 

Brian A. Randell is a partner with MCW Technologies, LLC. Brian spends his time between teaching Microsoft technologies to developers, working with new and emerging technologies like Visual Studio 2010 & Team Foundation Server, and consulting worldwide for clients that that range from large Fortune 100 business to state governments to small businesses. In 2010 and 2012, Brian and his team built samples and demonstration content for Microsoft to be used for their worldwide launch activities for Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server. Brian enjoys helping people get the most out of their software. He does this through training and speaking at events such as VSLive!, Tech•Ed, and Microsoft’s PDC. In addition, Brian shares through the written word. He is a co-author of Effective Visual Basic, has written articles for MSDN magazine, MSDN Online and other publications. Brian is a member of Pluralsight’s technical staff. In addition, Brian is currently an Microsoft ALM MVP. You can reach Brian via his blog at http://www.mcwtech.com//blogs/brianr/ or on twitter as @brianrandell.

Date:               Wednesday May 15th 2013

Location:         Microsoft-Chicago 200 E Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago

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

Registration:      http://chicagoalmug.org/

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

Tags:

MSDN | Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | Visual Studio 2012 | Visual Studio | development | Team Foundation Server | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | SDLC | SCOM | DevOps | System Center

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VS Live is Coming to Chicago this May! Special Discount for ALM User Group & Friends

by Angela 1. March 2013 10:27

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So in case you haven’t noticed, Visual Studio Live is coming back to Chicago after many, many years of not being here.  This makes me very happy because a) I don’t have to pay for a flight and hotel in L.A. or Seattle, and b) well, see a) because cost is one factor that makes attending great conferences like this so hard to do for some of us.  Regular price of admission is $1,995 for the full 4 days, which isn’t bad when you think of all the awesome content you get.  Early bird registration ends soon and saves you a paltry $200 but wait, I can get you a MUCH better deal than that.

In case you did not make it out to the last Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group you may have missed out on the discount code that I was able to get for all of you.  Sign up right now using the links in this email (or the code UGCH1) and you’ll save $500 off of the $1995 registration too, so it would be only $1495 for the full 4 day pass! This discount only applies to the “Best Value” package including all pre-conference workshops. So no travel costs, no hotel stay, AND save 25%. How can you NOT go? 

 

Visual Studio Live! Chicago tracks include:

  • ASP.NET
  • Azure / Cloud Computing
  • Cross-Platform Mobile
  • Data Management
  • HTML5 / JavaScript
  • SharePoint / Office
  • Windows 8 / WinRT
  • WPF / Silverlight
  • Visual Studio 2012 / .NET 4.5

 

Hope to see you at our next meeting, and at VS Live Chicago this May!

Tags:

.NET 4.5 | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | ASP.NET | Azure | Cloud Computing | git | HTML5 | Microsoft Office | MSDN | SharePoint | Silverlight | Team Foundation Server | TFS | TFS 2012 | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2012 | VS Live | Windows 8 | WinRT

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Chicago ALM User Group Talks About TFS For Automated Deployment in February!

by Angela 20. February 2013 12:43

Hi Gang!  After a short hiatus for the holidays, we are back for a great discussion on using Team Foundation Server in conjunction with Powershell and TFS Deployer for automating the build and deployment of your applications. What kinds of applications you ask? ALL KINDS! And not even just .NET applications. Crazy talk!

Ismail Ahmed Syed is our first speaker of 2013, and he is graciously returning to the podium to demonstrate how you can utilize TFS build quality change events of TFS for deploying .Net Applications using TFS Deployer and custom PowerShell scripts.  He will also be talking about how you can achieve automated build and deployment processed for Non.NET Applications Such as JavaArch11, Tibco AMXBPM, IBM SPSS etc. Lastly, he will demonstrate how web transformations can be used for getting away from the manual task of writing configuration files for each environment  and  how the config files will be transformed automatically as part of the automated deployment using TFS Deployer.

This is a topic ANYONE using TFS should get a lot out of. Who doesn’t want a more streamlined and effective way to do automated build and deployment of their applications? Can't wait to see it myself!  Here are some important details and a link to registration:

Date: Wednesday February 27th, 2013

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

Agenda: 6:30PM dinner and networking, 7:00pm presentation and demos

As always, please be sure to RSVP at least 24 hours before the event to ensure that we can get you registered with security. If you need to cancel, we’d also appreciate a heads up so we can have the appropriate amount of food, soda and supplies on hand.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Build Automation | Power Tools | TFS 2012 | TFS Power Tools | Team Foundation Server | Powershell | Deployment | Web transformations

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Making TFS 2012 Work Item Types Read-Only Based on User Roles

by Angela 14. January 2013 09:35

Warning: this is most certainly NOT the most elegant solution to the problem. It’s a known shortcoming, or maybe it’s a feature, that you cannot limit access to an entire work item based on a user’s role in TFS.  I can limit transitions, and access to individual fields, but for very large and complex work item types, this is cumbersome and fragile. In a nutshell, I am trying to limit access to specific work item types, so that they are only editable by specific groups of people, and I had posted it to the forums to no avail.  So here is my ugly solution which for now, is sufficient. 

I started with Gregg’s post from 2009 that provided a workaround to my issue, but the error message thrown has changed in such a way as to make it even less intuitive as to what is going on. Below is the implementation of his suggestion and the resulting user experience:

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The other issue with the above solution, is that it only prevents a user from CREATING that work item type, I need the user to also not be able to edit the item.

 

So I decided to try something a little different. I created a custom field, that is never displayed on any form, specifically for the use of locking down work items since we have several scenarios where we have to enforce read-only access to a work item type for certain users. I called it “UserAccessDenied”, since that is at least indicative of the issue when displayed to a user.

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Like I said, the field is never displayed to a user, so it should never be populated.  We make that field required for any user that should NOT be editing the work item as below, which prevents them from saving it since it will always be empty:

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Still not an awesome solution but at least now the provided error is a BIT more helpful, and the client was happy which is all that matters right? Smile 

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You can provide a better experience to the user if you have the ability to create custom controls or write listeners that capture work item events to handle this. Where I am, they want something easy to maintain that does not require any kind of code to be written or maintained. So it is what it is.  If you, like me, would find the ability to set access permissions at the work item level, vote on my suggestion here.

 

And as always, if YOU have come up with a better way to do this, I’d love to hear about it!

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | Power Tools | SDLC | TFS | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS Power Tools | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio 2012 | Visual Studio | Work Item Tracking

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Installing TFS 2012 on SQL 2012? You might run into some problems

by Angela 9. January 2013 05:27

So, like all TFS upgrade projects I work on, I got a last minute request that added a major wrinkle to our neat little TFS upgrade plan. “Can we just use SQL 2012 SP1 instead of SQL 2008 R2 SP1 for TFS 2012? It shouldn’t change anything right?”  FAMOUS. LAST. WORDS. Notice they were not MY words. I had the foresight to say that no, it absolutely WOULD change things because I hadn’t based any of my estimates or my plan of attack on upgrading the DT software to a new major release. And I also stated that while it was a supported configuration for TFS 2012, since no one here had validated that SQL Server 2012 SP1 would work on their custom VMWare implementation, anything could happen and so my estimate and plan was out the window. It was supposed to be a quick, neat, in-place upgrade that required almost no patching or updating OTHER than TFS itself. And then they decided they wanted to be on the latest and greatest everything all at once. Awesome. That always goes well.

So as I expected, everything went smoothly UNTIL we got to the part where I upgraded SQL Server 2012. So let me back up in case you are wondering how I got to that point… I pinged some colleagues on the TFS product team to verify that I could more or less follow my original plan, but work in an upgrade of the SQL Backend to SQL 2012 along the way. We came to the conclusion that to minimize risk and isolate sources of potential issues, that I should follow my original plan and upgrade to TFS 2012 on SQL 2008 R2 *first*.  Then after I verified that configuration was working properly, I would upgrade the database to SQL Server 2012.  I had a plan, and lots of caffeine. I also had this awesome blog post to reference from Martin Hinshewood with some helpful nuggets in it too.  This might even work…

The upgrade to TFS 2012 on SQL Server 2008 R2 went without a hitch. In case you are curious, they are on SQL Standard x64. I was able to hit the server, fire up the collections, connect to Team projects, SharePoint and reporting.  I followed the advice of many blog posts and started with the SQL 2012 Upgrade Advisor.  The only issue I ran into there was that I had to install .NET 4.0 and a specific prerequisite. I love, LOVE when error dialogs give you links that you cannot click on or copy and paste into a browser too. So helpful SQL dudes! So here you go:

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http://go.microsoft.com/Fwlink/?LinkID=216742

Once I thought I had all my prerequisites in order (wait for it), I ran the upgrade advisor tool, counted my green check marks, and started the upgrade to SQL Server 2012. Somehow the Upgrade Advisor DIDN’T make sure that SQL 2008 R2 SP1 was installed before it let me waste 30 minutes walking through dialogs

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Once I got past that installation, the SQL Upgrade finished without another hitch.You will need to restart the server again, but since TFS has been down the whole time anyway it’s not like it matters at this point. Then I started the SQL 2012 SP1 install and it got 99% of the way through the install and ::insert sad trombone:: “The NT service ‘MsDtsServer110’ could not be started”. Who did what again? I searched on it exactly as stated, and SHOCKINGLY got nothing useful back. Again, AWESOME.

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After a bit more digging I found some telling information in the event log under System Events:

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The service account does not have the required user right “Log on as a service.” So the NT Service\MsDtsServer110, which I have no knowledge of through past experiences, is missing a permission and so SSIS keeps failing. I was unfamiliar with the Service account “NT Service\MsDtsServer110” so did some digging around to see what popped up in regards to SQL 2012 installs.  Finally hit a TechNet post that described my exact issue.  For whatever reason, most of the SQL Services run as Network Service, (or some other known service account), but the SSIS service runs as this new guy in SQL 2012, and due to local domain security policy here at this client (just like the article warned), my Setup account was not allowed to provision that account properly.  So we followed the article’s advice for a workaround, reset the logon account to a known service account, started up all the services for SQL Server, and was able to complete the TFS 2012 DT upgrade. WHEW!

So, lots of potential gotchas, none of which were TFS or SQL’s fault, but since most of my friends work for large corporations with complicated rules about access and domain policies coming out of their ears, I thought this might be helpful. Hope it was!

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | SDLC | SQL Server 2012 | Team Foundation Server | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS Upgrade | Visual Studio 2012 | VMWare

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Untangling TFS Connectivity to SSRS Snafus

by Angela 5. December 2012 08:55

So, as you may know, SSRS cannot host up reports for multiple instances of TFS, or for other applications period.  IOW, TFS SSRS instances MUST be dedicated. The reason is pretty obvious once you dig around in the properties of the reporting databases on your report server, but trust me on this unless you really WANT to know how it all works under the covers.

Long story short, we accidentally configured two different TFS application tiers (TFS1 running TFS2012 and TFS2 running TFS2010) to use the same instance of SSRS, doh!  We only need reporting on TFS1, for the record. After some troubleshooting we found that the connection strings for the TFS2010OlapReportDS and TFS2010ReportDS databases on the report server pointed to TFS2 and not the original one any more (TFS1). But oddly, the reports on the new TFS instance don't work either, I would have assumed that ONE of the instances would have had reporting that worked. I went to the Reports folder, and could see all of the reports for all of the team projects across the both TFS1 and TFS2 but always received this error, on every single report:

  • An error has occurred during report processing. (rsProcessingAborted)
    • Query execution failed for dataset 'dsIteration'. (rsErrorExecutingCommand)
      • For more information about this error navigate to the report server on the local server machine, or enable remote errors

 

Anyway, I digress. 

I figured a good first step was turning off Reporting on TFS2, and then reconfiguring SSRS for TFS1 in an effort to "reset" the connection.  But I could turn off reporting on TFS2.  I assumed that normally I *should* be able to do this, just un-check the "Use Reporting" feature and it's gone right? Maybe there is something amiss with the TFS 2010 instance? It is brand new, so not sure how it could already be corrupted.  Here is the error I receive when I try to "turn off" reporting on TFS1:

 

I did a lot of searching of MSDN and forums and couldn’t find anything that seemed to help.  I got desperate and tried a different order of operations, a "Hail Mary" if you will, and it worked!

I could not turn off reporting on TFS2 for some reason, but it occurred to me that the error message I was getting ("the database is not properly configured") was rather generic and could mean a LOT of things. And alas I do not have remote login access to the SSRS instance (don't get me started on the why or what of that!), so I couldn't even do research on it.  So instead I focused on getting TFS2 WORKING with SSRS even through the end goal was turning off reporting.  I went to the TFS1 app tier that had been connected to SSRS successfully originally, went into the Admin Console and unchecked "Use Reporting" to break the connection. That worked great, of course.

Next I went back to TFS2, and via the Admin Console verified the SSRS configuration information to hit the report server was all correct (it was), re-started all the jobs, and rebuilt the warehouse. Once reporting was working again on TFS2, I tried to turn it off again, and this time when I unchecked "Use Reporting" it was successful.  So apparently if reporting is broken, you cannot turn it off. Great.

Anyway, next I went back to TFS1, reconfigured reporting through the admin console and now all is well with the world again. Oy, I need a drink.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | SDLC | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS Power Tools | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio 2012 | Visual Studio

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Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group - Holiday Party on Dec 12th 2012

by Angela 1. December 2012 12:48

Are you a regular attendee? Someone who hasn’t been to a meeting in a while? Someone who has never been and has been looking for the perfect topic? Well, c’mon down! Next week is our annual holiday meeting. In the past few months there has been a release of Visual Studio as well as an update, and not just any update but a MASSIVE update with lots of good new functionality. So go download it today!

We'll have fun giveaways for everyone who attends, but some particularly awesome giveaways for people who are willing to get up and demo their favorite VS 2012 (so anything related to VS, MTM or TFS) feature! It doesn't have to be a long or complicated demo, but it does need to highlight something about the latest release or the update that you find particularly useful or cool. Shoot me an email at Angela.Dugan@PolarisSolutions.com with the feature you want to highlight so I can ensure we don't end up with duplicates. Everyone that does a demo gets an additional gift, but we will also vote for one or two big winners to receive something extra cool! More details to come...  We will have many speakers that night, hopefully including you!

So far we have the following presenters and topics:

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When: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Location: Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

Agenda:6:00PM Food, drinks and prizes. 7:00PM VS 2012 Demo contest. 8:00PM Grand prizes awarded

Register here: http://chicagoalmug.org/
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Hmm, So Apparently TFS 2012 Power Tools Require VS Pro or Better

by Angela 19. November 2012 15:37

So I had gotten used to installing a VS 2010 Shell on my TFS app tier for doing basic administration type activities that required a Team Explorer. One of my most common tasks was editing the TFS process template using the TFS Power Tools. So when I upgraded TFS to 2012, I immediately downloaded the TFS 2012 Team Explorer and Power Tools and installed them so I could get to work.

Today I discovered that is no longer a supported scenario once you have upgraded to TFS 2012, not that the error message is AT ALL helpful for figuring this out, shocking. I loaded up the VS Shell, opened Tools | Process Editor | Work Item Types | Open WIT from Server like I always do

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and got a strange error I hadn’t seen before. I tried a few other options, projects, work item types, kept getting errors. I was able to export work items, just not open them. ::sad trombone::  So this is an error you might end up encountering after upgrading if you haven’t seen the update I am talking about.

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Cannot load ‘C:Users37653\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft Corporation\Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2012\11.0.50727.1\usnbka366p_Str_Enterprise_User Story,wit’: Could not load file or assembly Microsoft.VisualStudio.XmlEditor,Version=1 1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral,PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.

 

When I dug around, I discovered a few MSDN posts referring to a licensing change for VS 2012.  I suppose if I still worked at Microsoft I wouldn’t have missed that valuable little nugget. So no longer can you get away with a free VS Shell and the Power Tools for simple administrative tasks on your server, you must install at LEAST VS Professional.  Lame.

If you are lucky, like me, your boss bought you a copy of VS Ultimate and it’s not an issue since with MSDN benefits, you can install it on pretty much any server YOU are going to use. Just be sure if it is a shared server, that everyone is properly licensed for whatever you install there. And alas, this is at my client, so now I need to work with their server folks to get that installed and make sure they are licensed properly for it ::sad face::

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | Power Tools | SDLC | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS Power Tools | Team Foundation Server

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Application Quality Enablement with TFS 2012 and MTM 2012 at SDC Tomorrow

by Angela 14. November 2012 05:00

Not sure if you’ve been to any of the sessions held by the Software Development Community in Chicago but they are always good. This month I get the opportunity to speak there myself and wanted to let folks know.  If you cannot make it to my session tomorrow, I will be presenting the information again at the Visual Studio launch event in Chicago (“The New Era of Work”) later this month as well.  Be sure to sign up for notifications of future SDC meetups, it’s a great group! 

In the meantime, here is the info for my session tomorrow:

When: Thursday, November 15, 2012 -- 5:45

Where:  i.c.s -- 415 N Dearborn, Chicago, IL (map) -- 3rd Floor, Sign will be posted at the door.

Session: Application Quality Enablement with TFS 2012 and MTM 2012 - With the rise of modern apps and the modern data center, we require a modern lifecycle approach that supports the need to increase velocity, deliver continuous value and manage change while enabling quality. See a unique and full lifecycle perspective on quality enablement with rich demos infused along the way to illustrate our the software testing/QA story. Demos will include:
• Product Backlog
• Storyboarding
• Exploratory testing
• Client Feedback

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Multi-Tenant TFS Data Tiers? Yes You Can!

by Angela 6. November 2012 08:27

Multi-what TFS? In other words, hosting multiple instances of Team Foundation Server data tiers and all of their associated databases on the same data tier.

So we ran into quite the conundrum here, wherein we had just one physical server available to act as a TFS Data Tier, but needed to host at least 2 TFS 2010 instances on it to try some stuff out in relation to a coming upgrade. I needed to upgrade a number of our project collections to TFS 2012, while leaving some number still on TFS 2010 until we could do further validation on some customizations. It seemed risky, maybe even impossible, but mostly because I had never tried.  I certainly never saw that as an option in the installation docs or on MSDN.  It wasn’t until I sat down with a DBA who looked at it purely from a database perspective that I thought to just give it a try and see what happened. Obviously this is a development environment and NOT their production TFS Smile  You certainly COULD do this in production but it would make me nervous when it came to things like DR, so I’m not going to even entertain that notion.  But, in my situation, I already had a dual tier TFS 2010 environment setup in DEV, and I had a second AT server to use as a test bed for the upgrade to TFS 2012, but my main issue was how I could take collections from a single TFS instance, and upgrade only half of them to 2012 while the others were still available on 2010. I wondered, “can I upgrade the new app tier to 2012 while leaving the other app tier, hitting the same data tier, on TFS 2010?” The answer is, “sure you can!” 

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Now if you look at TFS merely from the front end perspective this might seem odd, or risky, but like I said, I had a DBA who knew nothing about TFS but knew databases really well helping me to noodle through it.  I knew just enough about SQL Server to be dangerous, so together we made quite the team when it came to “let’s just try it and see what happens, it’s only DEV after all!”.  What I came to understand, and maybe I should have realized this sooner, is that when you upgrade TFS, or do any operations on it from the App Tier, it only affects the databases that are referenced by its configuration database.  So, 3 separate App Tiers have 3 separate Configuration databases, and 3 separate sets of databases (Collections, warehouse, etc.) that can coexist on a single data tier. So upgrading an AT from TFS 2010 to TFS 2012 only updates the schemas of the databases specified in the Configuration database associated to that AT.  Main requirement here is that it is a version of SQL that can support both products, so SQL 2008 R2 + current Service Packs.

So here is what I am running today:

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Looking back, knowing what I now know, it makes sense too. Now, once again, I spent many many hours researching this on-line and could not find any documentation to confirm or deny that this was even possible. It took a few emails to some folks in North Carolina, you know – the dudes who WROTE the software – to confirm that yes indeed, you can host multiple instances of TFS on a single Data Tier. Turns out, they do it too! So I was pretty stoked to discover that I could in fact host 2 different TFS instances on a single Data Tier machine AND that it was a supported (although completely undocumented) scenario.

Rad huh? When you dig into the SQL Server instance it can become a confusing mess of config databases, and collection databases to manage, but it can also be a useful thing to know for upgrade and testing scenarios where you simply cannot get additional hardware for the DT.  Now yes, this absolutely can make things tricky for the DBA too if you are not using the TFS Backup and Restore Tools for backing up data. I certainly recommend using the built in TFS Backup tools if it is an option. But that is a discussion for another day… and another blog post.

I will happily accept dark chocolate in tribute Smile

Tags:

ALM | Agile | SDLC | Power Tools | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS Power Tools | Team Foundation Server

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