0

An Upgrade is a Beautiful Thing, Especially When It’s TFS 2013 Update 2

by Angela 6. March 2014 18:09

This is one of my favorite dialogs :)

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Not RTM of course, I am not THAT cool. Hopefully that is coming soon because not everyone has the freedom to install pre-release software and this one is CHOCK FULL o’ goodness. I was hoping to upgrade my company’s server last weekend, but thanks to Comcast’s unreliability I ended up barely getting it downloaded, and then upgraded my personal on-premise TFS instance. And I’m loving all the new stuff! Here are just a few of my favorite things ::cue Julie Andrews!::

1) Tags.  Tags have always been a nifty way to add useful metadata to work items so they could be easily identified, sorted, and filtered on the backlog. But everyone, EVERYONE, wanted to be able to query on tags.  Also, they wanted to work with tags outside of the WebUI.  Now you can! (requires VS 2013.w2 as well)

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2) Charts. I *love* the work item charts as you may have figured out from my previous post on them.  Such a simple and easy to learn way to visually slice and dice your shared work item query results. My customers love them too! Another frequent request is “why can’t we pin these to our team dashboard?”  Well, guess what, that is an option too! So now that Team home page just got EVEN MORE useful :)  Keep in mind you can only pin charts based on the types of queries you can make a team favorite, so SHARED queries.  Also notice that now to pin something to the team homepage, you have a new option:

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3) Test Plan printing. I know right?! Before your only option was Test Scribe and while it was handy, and free, it was not really customizable. Now from a quick click from the Test Hub on the web, you can request a “hard copy” of Test Plan artifacts for sharing with others via email, or as HTML. Sweet huh? And notice all the links, so an active TFS user could jump right into MTM to see or edit the items he is reading about.

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There is a lot more than this, but it’s already a pretty long blog post.  So check out Brian’s blog post and the MSDN download page for the CTP to find out more about the new features available in TFS 2013 Update 2.

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The Many Templates of TFS

by Angela 23. January 2014 15:41

If you are a TFS user, especially if you are a TFS administrator, then you know that with every release of Team Foundation Server that there is a rev of the process templates. And if you work on a TFS server that has gone through a number of upgrades, it is possible that your Process Template Manager dialog will start to look like this:

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So many choices!! Which one to choose? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… ::cough, cough:: Back in the early days, there were only 2 out of the box templates. I know, craziness! How did people survive with only Agile and CMMI? Well, there were always the custom templates that you could get off the internet, but that is a can of worms I am not opening in this post.  For now I want to focus solely on the OOB templates.

Over the years, the templates grew up, work item types got added, fields got renamed, workflows got streamlined, and in 2010 a new template was born. But who can remember which one came out with which version of TFS? Usually it’s not a big issue until you are working on a server with lots of legacy team projects, and you need to know what the original base template was. Pro tip, the TFS Team Project Manager can really help you to answer this question AND we found a bug that they recently fixed allowing you to compare 2013 templates all the way back to 2008 templates! Well, I started keeping track, and I get asked questions about this often enough that I figured I would just share my reference.

TFS Version CMMI Agile Scrum
2005 MSF for CMMI Process Improvement 4.0 MSF For Agile Software Development 4.0 N/A -- 3rd party
2008 MSF for CMMI Process Improvement 4.2 MSF For Agile Software Development 4.2 N/A -- 3rd party
2010 MSF for CMMI Process Improvement 5.0 MSF For Agile Software Development 5.0 Visual Studio Scrum 1.0
2012 MSF for CMMI Process Improvement 6.0 MSF For Agile Software Development 6.0 Visual Studio Scrum 2.0
2012.1 MSF for CMMI Process Improvement 6.1 MSF For Agile Software Development 6.1 Visual Studio Scrum 2.2
2012.2 MSF for CMMI Process Improvement 6.2 MSF For Agile Software Development 6.2 Visual Studio Scrum 2.2
2013 RC MSF for CMMI Process Improvement 7.0 MSF For Agile Software Development 7.0 Visual Studio Scrum 3.0
2013 RTM MSF for CMMI Process Improvement 2013 MSF For Agile Software Development 2013 Visual Studio Scrum 2013
2013 Update 2 MSF for CMMI Process Improvement 2013.2 MSF For Agile Software Development 2013.2 Visual Studio Scrum 2013.2

 

Now, I don’t *think* I have missed any versions here.  All of the major TFS releases, and some minor releases, have been covered.  But I’d love some feedback if you notice any minor versions that I may have missed. And I’ll come back and update this when TFS inevitably gets another update, and another rev of the templates :)

Tags:

Agile | Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | Scrum | Process Methodology | SDLC | Team Foundation Server | TFS | TFS 2008 | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS 2013 | TFS Administration | TFS Power Tools | CMMI | Process Templates

0

So many conferences, so little time

by Angela 9. January 2014 10:17

So since it is the beginning of the year, I am re-evaluating my conference choices this year. I always assumed that after I left Microsoft I would attend LESS conferences, and do less public speaking, not more. Turns out I have more time to do fun things like that now :)  Here is what is on my radar for 2014:

ALM Forum: April 1-3, Seattle WA. This is a rebranding of the ALM Summit from year’s past.  Some great speakers lined up including Sam Gu and Ken Schwaber! I may be going to Agile 2014 instead of this one sadly, only so many conferences I can attend in one year. Reasonably pricey at about $1,400 for a conference pass with an extra fee for some of the pre and post conference workshops. But even at that price, it’s been well worth it every year I’ve gone.

QAI Quest: April 7-11 Baltimore, MD. A global quality engineered software based conference.  I’ve attended 4 of the 5 past conferences but this year I just have too many to also make it to this one. Mainly focus on Quality Assurance, and in the past year or two they have started adding a lot of agile talks as well.

Build: San Francisco CA. Sold out in record time, as usual. Glad I got to go to a PDC before I left Microsoft because this is one of the hardest tickets to get, second only to CodeMash which is going on right now!

NewCodeCamp: Northeast Wisconsin Code Camp (Formerly Fox Valley Day of .NET) March 22nd, This is an expansion of Fox Valley Day of .NET, and will encompass whatever sessions community members wish, not just Microsoft technologies. Still FREE!

CCC: Chicago Code Camp. April 26, Grays Lake IL. Always FREE! Always packed with great speakers, definitely not missing it this year.  Polaris Solutions is a Platinum Sponsor so look for our booth, and stop by and say hi while you’re there. I will be there!

ALM Chicago: May 1-2 Chicago IL. A Chicago conference run by a local consulting firm out of Wisconsin focusing on agile practices and tooling. Cost is between $249 and $499 depending on when you register. So register before the end of this month, before the price doubles. I will be there!

VSLive Chicago: May 5-8 Chicago IL. $1800 early bird. I attended one once, about 8 years ago. I remember it being pretty valuable as long as you weren’t focusing on bleeding edge stuff. Great speakers and topics, but not as wide a range as what you get at events like Build and TechEd.

TechEd NA: May 11-14, Houston TX. I’ve actually never been to a TechEd, can you believe it? I’ve always heard there was some amazing content and speakers at this one too.

Microsoft WPC: July 13-17, Washington DC. This is for Microsoft Partners, so not sure how many of you would really be interested in this one. Lots of great content and networking opportunities for sure. Also, last year I finally got to meet Mary Jo Foley in person :)

Agile 2014: July 28 – Aug 1, Orlando FL. I’ve never been to this one, but I always know when it’s happening because my twitter feed lights up with exciting chatter about all of the awesome things people are learning. Hoping to attend, and maybe present there this year. A bit pricey at $2400 but it’s 5 days long!

ThatConference: August 11-13, Wisconsin Dells WI.  I admit, I am biased, but I love this conference! Organized and run by a bunch of techies like yourself (including me!), it’s for the nerds, by the nerds. Also, inexpensive (~$400 for a full conference pass) and super family friendly.

MVP Summit: Novemberish, Redmond WA. Only for MVPs, so if you’re not an MVP and you’re a passionate Microsoft technologist this is something to work towards. I went last year, and the access to product team people, industry experts, and other MVPs was priceless. Hoping I earn another pass this year.

STLDODN: mid-Novemberish, St Louis MO. Attended last year for the first time and it was a blast! Great people, awesome sessions, pre-compilers for some deeply technical hands on learning experience. Another really inexpensive one too, coming in at about $300 for a pass, with the pre-compilers being just a little bit extra.

 

Are there any big ones that I have missed? What are you planning to attend this year?

Tags:

Agile | conference | ThatConference | Microsoft | technology | Quality Assurance | Quest | Chicago Code Camp

0

Free Training When You’re Snowed In, What’s Not To Love

by Angela 2. January 2014 12:15

So it’s been snowing in Chicago, a LOT. I am in Oak Park, specifically, and holy moly did we ever get dumped on. Here, in case you think I’m being a big baby, this was my back deck at 7am this morning and it’s STILL snowing quite hard. There’s almost 10 inches of snow on those chairs right now, and there’s a pergola over them!

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Anyway, that’s not my point. My point is that I get to work from home this week, thank goodness, and ran across a great set of training classes on Microsoft Virtual Academy to fill some time. It’s free, yes FREE, and there are a LOT of technologies to choose from including ALM.  Although I’ll admit the ALM stuff is pretty light and scarce, and mostly focuses on 2012, so I’ll be nagging some folks about that soon. But there are also classes on Azure, HTML 5, even licensing!

Here is the current list of tools and technologies covered:

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Clicking on Visual Studio I find a lot of great classes to get me up to speed on Windows development, HTML 5, you name it! What you see below is just the first few that came up, it’s a LONG list.

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Best part is you can build up a nice little wish list since you may not have time to take everything today. So build a training plan, or several, and save the classes you like and take them at your own pace. Easy!  I already had one started from a while ago, but need to go back through and update it with some new classes, obviously :-P

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So dig in by starting here. And get some of those Microsoft certifications knocked out while you’re trapped in your house by snowmageddon.

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Trying Something new with the ALM User Group in December

by Angela 3. December 2013 13:50

So it’s time again for the annual Christmas Edition of the ALM user group. Normally we do the normal “dinner and a movie” approach, maybe having a special guest speaker or some kind of presentation contest. This month I wanted to do something different.  In December, we’ll be doing an Open Spaces concept. So Open Spaces is sort of an “unconference” thing, where you enter into it with no formal agenda and let the attendees decide what is important and/or interesting to talk about. So think of a topic you’d be willing to lead, or a topic you would like someone else to lead. A few I’d be interested in talking about are transforming organizations to Agile, upgrading legacy systems to TFS 2013, and agile testing.  We will write them on a board, pick some locations for people to gather, and then you vote with your feet, bouncing around if need be.

As an added bonus, if you’ve been attending the ALM user group for a while, you know that December is “Angela cleans out her SWAG closet” month.  So I’ll have lots of fun giveaways including pens, stickers, mouse pads and LOTS of books. I’ll even have special prizes for people who lead an Open Spaces discussion during the meeting (think XBox/Kinect games, Arc mouse, T-Shirts).

So I hope to see you in Downers Grove next week.  I always enjoy our December meetings, and not just because of the cookies :)

Be sure to register soon so I can order the right amount of food!

 

 

Join Us Wednesday, December 11, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Location:  Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

Speaker Bio: You, me, anyone who is interested in speaking!

Agenda:6:30pm dinner 7:00pm Open Spaces Kickoff

RSVP Now to Attend

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Building Software, One Room at a Time

by Angela 30. November 2013 21:33

Comparing software development to “building a house” is one of those analogies that sets my teeth on edge. It oversimplifies everything that goes into designing and building a good product, and it also creates some unrealistic expectations in terms of estimation and effort, both for development and testing. I heard it yet again recently, and it just shocked me that it’s still being bandied about these days. C'mon, don’t act so shocked, you probably have said it yourself or heard it said at some point. I know I have, on both accounts. And you know what, it's OK, I’m not here to judge you. Unless you are still saying it, then I will judge you quite harshly :)

There was a time when this was far more true of an analogy than it is today. As someone whose original passion was "architecture", as in, creating blueprints for houses, it made a lot of sense.  Plans are good, and who doesn't like structure and rules? You see, there was a time when software was created by pouring over designs for the right "feel", sometimes for days or weeks to establish a solid foundation. Remember when SOA and OOP were the hot new things?  Before a single line of code was written we had UML diagrams and if we were really fancy stubbed out methods for the developers. And sure, when building a house every angle is inspected, measured and re-measured, the location and size of every supporting wall is verified, every window placement is compared to housing codes, all before a single piece of wood was sawn or hammer was swung. Then contractors are set loose with the specs to build the house according to a well laid out plans. Except what if by the time it was delivered, the homeowners didn’t want to actually live in the house they asked for in painful detail without some major rehab? The colors are all wrong, the yard is too small, the garage is too narrow, there aren’t enough bedrooms. Could you imagine?! In home construction, nobody sane would do that, and yet it happens all the time with software. Well, there you have it, the analogy is already somewhat blown. But there's more.

You know you've been on THAT project. You know the one - late, way over budget, customers are screaming that it isn't what they asked for even though you have signed requirements specs that say it is. Heck, even if you are just NOW getting into software development you're probably going to experience this still at some point. Particularly if you work someplace that is still stuck in a Project Plan driven mentality, a.k.a. "Waterfall" ::cue dramatic music::  Who just let out a little shudder? Now don't misunderstand, I'm not a hater, waterfall-based methodologies can work well in some scenarios, but generally even waterfall enthusiasts are not following a strictly traditional waterfall approach. And to be fair, even "real" waterfall, as I learned it back in college in the late 90's, dictated iterative practices. But often that little nugget gets lost in translation in favor of forever marching forward through a seemingly unending tunnel of quality gates, attempting to hit arbitrarily established milestones. So back to my original point. Building software is not just like building a house, or maybe the more correct way of conveying my thoughts is that building software SHOULD not be like building a house. And if it is at your company, I do not want to work there. Unless you're looking for me to facilitate an intervention of sorts. Let me explain...

Imagine you want to have a custom house built. And let's say you already know more or less what you want. Tudor style, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, eat-in kitchen, with a detached 2 car garage. Maybe you even have an existing blueprint because plenty of houses like that already exist, so why re-invent the wheel right? Work begins, and the house starts becoming real. But even after several weeks of work, while things may start to look like a solid shell of a structure, you cannot live in it.  Well, not legally anyway. There is probably no plumbing yet, certainly no electricity, perhaps the roof is not even yet in place. You also cannot decide you now want something more Spanish style, single storied and sprawling, with an attached garage and a courtyard garden in the center. Well, technically you COULD decide to do that but it would require MASSIVE structural rework, new permits, perhaps a different construction crew, and of course SIGNIFICANTLY more time and funding to complete. OK, so I suppose this is one parallel you can draw to software development, but again this is more of an issue in waterfall shops, particularly if you are already deep into development before someone realizes a much earlier decision was a poor one. Many thousands of man-hours will get wasted, people may lose their jobs, customers will be unhappy, and you likely will end up with a Spanish tiled, Tudor style home with a semi-attached 2 car garage that has a courtyard in the center of it. So with building a house, you will not realize the value of the product and be able to use it until the last finishing nails are hammered into the last room, and major feature change requests will almost always be unfeasible to honor even early on in the construction process without MASSIVE negative consequences. Do you want to build or pay for software that is built that way? I certainly don't. 

I don't see housing contractors ever building homes one fully functional room at a time, allowing the home owners to live in it long before it is finished. I do not see them redesigning the blue prints and only ordering enough supplies for each room about to be built to incorporate changing design trends, evolving safety codes, nor do I see them accommodating the ever-changing whims of the owners.  "Oh. You've decided you want an open floor plan instead of separate kitchen and dining rooms? No problem, we're just finishing the main bathroom and haven't even framed the rest of the first floor yet..." Yeah, no. I also do not see those contractors getting the homeowner's signoff on each finished component before moving on to the next one, incorporating feedback and change requests, continuing this iterative process until the house is complete. Maybe you're thinking, "well, we don't have the ability to do any of those things today when we design, code, test, and deliver software either". I'm sorry to hear that. We should talk, there's a 12 step program to help you, and you've already admitted you have a problem which is the first step to recovery. Well, there ISN'T a program, sadly, but I often joke that there *should* be.

Now this is an easier problem to solve in software. Software teams CAN be flexible, adapting to changing needs of end users. Software can be delivered in small, working, usable pieces to deliver value as soon as a few weeks after the project begins. And it doesn't have to cost more. It can actually cost FAR less if you do it right. This is part of the reason I am such a proponent of Agile and Scrum. But honestly that is another topic and this post is already long enough so we'll defer that conversation for now.

So here is one place where building a house and building software ARE remarkably similar.  Estimates. Regardless of what a contractor tells you, no one knows for sure exactly how long building a house (or software) will take. Sure we can ballpark it, but every job is different. People will sometimes push back and call that a copout consulting answer, but it's the truth, and I try not to make a habit of lying to the people paying me to work for them. And if you demand exact delivery dates, are unwilling to compromise on features (maybe the rotating shoe rack in the closet really isn't NECESSARY), and have immovable end dates, well, you may want to refer back to the 12-step program that I mentioned earlier. No one can account for bad weather, people getting sick, catastrophic hardware failures, or that the latest version of the .NET framework that was just released has added complexities that cause even the most experienced programmers to take 50% longer to get things done for a few weeks. Should you go so far as to expect the team to commit to dates, deliverables, AND cost - to the point they take a hit if any of those things slip - well, prepare yourself for a sandbag big enough to hold back a hurricane, or to have people eventually seek alternate employment. NO ONE wins. And yet these kinds of unrealistic expectations reoccur everywhere I turn in the tech world. Maybe someday more software teams will be able to hold stakeholders and end users accountable for the quality of requirements, and refuse to take on change requests after work has begun without serious concessions, seems logical and fair. Ahhh, dare to dream :)

So now can we stop comparing software to building houses? Please and thank you.

Tags:

Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | Agile | development | Process Methodology | Scrum | SDLC

0

St. Louis Day of .NET is Next Week - Sign Up Before It Sells Out

by Angela 5. November 2013 23:32

I’ve been hearing about St. Louis Day of .NET for some time now but up until recently I just hadn’t thought to attend.  I mean, we have TONS of events in Chicago, so I always made excuses.  This year, Polaris Solutions has stepped up to support STLDODN as a Platinum sponsor.  We're planning on not only participating, but we have a few folks speaking, and we are even hosting a booth so be sure to stop by and say hello! I’ll be the redhead, also, the only woman in the booth so I’m easy to spot :)  If you wanted to catch one of our talks, here is the run-down:

Chris Kadel will be participating in the TFS pre-compiler on Thursday Nov 14th from 8:30am to 5pm: http://www.stldodn.com/2013/pre-compilers.  It is a FULL-DAY hands-on workshop and it’s only $75 to attend, so sign yup fast. You can’t get training like this for such an amazing price anywhere else that I know of.

A Pragmatic Intro to Unit Testing by our very own Josh Gillespie

Advanced OOP by our newest team member and former Softie Clint Edmonson

Agile Testing in a Waterfall World by your truly!

Application Architecture Jumpstart also from Clint

Dude I Just Stepped into Your Code from Josh

 

If you haven't registered yet, click on "Register Now!" at the top of the website and find out why people love this event so much.  http://www.stldodn.com/2013/what-is-the-day-of-.net.

0

Visual Studio 2013 Launch Event Coming to Chicago

by Angela 4. November 2013 15:18

So in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, Microsoft released a new version of its Visual Studio ALM Tools including Team Foundation Server, Microsoft Test Manager, and Visual Studio. I know! Feels like 2012 just launched doesn’t it? With their new release cadence, if you blink you could miss a new version, or at least a few updates. It’s pretty amazing actually.

While there is an official BIG launch party happening on November 13th in NYC, you can also logon for the virtual launch that day if you can’t get away to the Big Apple on such short notice.  Although right now you don’t appear to be able to actually register for the virtual launch – DOH!  For now you can at least add it to your calendar, hopefully they will fix that soon.

I also just heard that there are also some smaller in-person launch events around the U.S, possibly hitting a city near you.  Sadly I will miss the Chicago launch event on November 20th, I’ll be at the MVP summit in Bellevue Washington. Not a bad trade-off though ;)  But if you’re in town, check out the Chicago event details and register quick before it fills up! And check back with the events site often because more cities will be opening up soon.

Agenda

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Location

Drury Lane Convention Center

100 Drury Ln
Oakbrook Terrace Illinois 60181
United States

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Some events are not listed on the events site yet, so here are some other cities coming on-line and a link to get registered:

12/3

Boston, MA

12/3

Nashville, TN

12/3

Bellevue, WA

12/4

Washington, DC

12/4

Philadelphia, PA

12/4

Miami, FL

12/5

Phoenix, AZ

12/10

Atlanta, GA

12/10

Denver, CO

12/11

Concord, CA

12/11

Harrisburg, PA

12/12

Sandy, UT

1/15

Los Angeles, CA

1/21

Mountain View, CA

0

Going to ThatConference? You SHOULD be!

by Angela 12. July 2013 12:36

This year is the second ThatConference and it is going to ROCK. Not only can you spend 3 days in the Wisconsin Dells hanging out with your peers learning about .NET, Java, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Ruby, PHP, agile, Azute, TypeScript, JavaScript, Node JS, Angular JS - has your head exploded yet? And that’s not all that’s being covered, I just got tired of typing in technologies. It’s quite mind-blowing. So pretty much anyone interested in tech will get a lot out of this conference.  Why pay thousands to go to a conference focusing on just one specific language, vendor, or platform? ThatConference is for the community, by the community. And we mean that.

Best part, it’s only $349 and that includes all sessions, keynotes, food, and a heck of a pig roast at the waterpark. You even get s discounted rate for the Kalahari both during the conference and the weekend before in case you want to make a vacation out of it.  I know I am!  Also, did I mention it is at an amazing water park?  With go-karts, laser tag, a climbing wall, a ferris wheel, need I say more? AND, as if that was not awesome enough, for a very small amount (just $39 total) you can even add your family to the fun.  We now have a kids’ track. The Family schedule can be found here: http://www.thatconference.com/Schedule/FamilySchedule 

Check out the session list here: http://www.thatconference.com/sessions. Note: MY session is Monday morning, so hope to see you there! Smile

Here are the specifics (you need to go to registration to see this, so maybe I can save you some clicks):

Attendee $349

The 2013 attendee ticket. Full access to over 125 sessions, keynotes, food and one epic water park. But be careful, water and electronics don’t play together. Ziploc bags not included.

Family Ticket $39

That Conference is a family friendly conference and this year we continue to improve on our family experience. This year we have a dedicated family schedule that includes 2 family sessions each day. Your family will have the opportunity to meet a few animals from the local zoo, to learning how to build some awesome robots with Lego. But that isn’t all! This year families will get their own badges, join us at our daily happy hour, beat another geek during game night and of course join us for a spectacular dinner at our signature pig roast and more. All that fun does come at a very small cost. For just 39.00 per family, you’re helping That Conference bring such epic fun to all.

GiveCamp & The Humanitarian Toolbox (Sat & Sun)  $0 – Heck yeah, it is FREE

On August 10th and 11th, That Conference will host the 2013 Midwest GiveCamp. This year, Midwest GiveCamp and That Conference will team up with the Humanitarian Toolbox in a quest to help build software in support of disaster relief. This is a free event and food will be provided.

Coderetreat ( Sun ) $0 – Heck yeah, it is FREE

On ** Sunday August 11th from 11AM - 7PM** That Conference will host a free Coderetreat. Coderetreat is a day-long, intensive practice event, focusing on the fundamentals of software development and design. By providing developers the opportunity to take part in focused practice, away from the pressures of 'getting things done', the coderetreat format has proven itself to be a highly effective means of skill improvement. Practicing the basic principles of modular and object-oriented design, developers can improve their ability to write code that minimizes the cost of change over time. More information found here: http://coderetreat.org/

Tags:

.NET 4.5 | ALM | ASP.NET | Agile | Application Lifecycle Management | Azure | Cloud Computing | HTML5 | MSDN | Mobile development | SDLC | TFS 2012 | Team Foundation Server | U/X | User Experience | Visual Studio | Windows 8 | iOS | JavaScript

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