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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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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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Why Isn’t TFSService In My Service Account Dropdown List?

by Angela 5. November 2012 09:45

Ever been migrating a TFS 2010 server and when you got to the place in the Application-Tier Only Wizard where you had to specify a Service account and POOF, your TFSService account did NOT appear as a possible option? Ruh-roh!  This is a known issue in TFS 2010, and you won’t encounter this in 2012 thankfully, but nonetheless. If it happens to you, hopefully this also works for your implementation!

Untitled

Now you certainly don’t want to be specifying a user account for this, but what on earth is a TFS admin to do? I got into this situation and fear not, there is NOTHING documented on-line to help you ::maniacal laughter:: Maniacal mostly because I beat my head on my desk for at least half a day trying to figure this out.  Nothing I could find on MSDN, the MSDN forums or any other searchable resource shed any light on the issue. I found the solution by calling in a favor with a couple of folks I know on the TFS product team.  I might seriously send them a cookie basket for being so awesome.  Seemed silly not to share my good fortune because this is a DOOZY if you ever run into it yourself.

Turns out, the values that go into this dropdown get collected by taking a poll of all of the TFS related SQL databases (configuration, warehouse, collections) referred to by the configuration file selected in the previous step. Obviously you need to select an account that can access all of the databases.  The account should a) not be dbo, b) not be db_owner, and c) needs to be a valid user with TFSADMINROLE and TFSEXECROLE. In my case, some folks had been having issues creating new Team Project Collections (because their TFS Admin accounts did not have proper permissions on the Data Tier) and so they logged into the AT as TFSService to create the collections ::head explodes::  Doing that makes TFSService dbo and dbo_owner and therefor pulls its name out of the proverbial hat to be used as the service account going forward.

So how do you fix it? a) make sure your TFS Admins have the appropriate rights on all of the servers they need to get their jobs done going forward and DO NOT take no for an answer.  Trust me, it’s brutal otherwise; b) Take TFSService OUT of the administrators group on the local server so no one can login as that user in the first place; c) go fix the TFSService account in the TFS related databases in SQL Server. This may seem scary, but I don’t know of another way.  Ask your DBA if you need to, it’s possibly their fault you got in this situation anyway Winking smile 

So what you need to do in SSMS to fix it?

  1. 1) Iterate through all of the TFS databases and change the Owner to something OTHER than TFSService; this will also reset the login associated to the dbo user. Keep in mind if this user is already in the Users group for that database, then they will need to be deleted from there first.
  2. Untitled

2) Add TFSService as a database user (Database | Security | Users –> New user…)

3) Assign them the following roles: TFSADMINROLE and TFSEXECROLE.

Untitled

 

And after you’ve given yourself carpal tunnel with the billion mouse clicks necessary to do this, you can restart the Application Tier Only wizard and you will find that now TFSService appears in your list. HUZZAH! ::throws confetti::

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Now ideally you will never get into this situation in the first place, but if you do, it’s not really documented other than this blog post – at least not that I know of. BIG THANKS to Brian MacFarlane and Ed Holloway on the TFS Product Team for helping me noodle through this issue.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | TFS | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | Visual Studio

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So I ran into this issue today while creating a TFS 2010 Backup Plan

by Angela 31. October 2012 13:30

So as you would expect, I as a consultant do not have god-like access to things in production like I do in the dev and test environments.  So occasionally I get tripped up on access rights, and when it comes to TFS, well, they could do a much better job of listing out all the places where you do and do not need Admin rights, sysadmin rights, farm admin rights… Well, it’s all out there between the Ranger Guidance, best practices documents, install docs and MSDN documentation but you have to do a LOT of cross referencing to get it all.  And sure, ideally anyone who is a TFS admin would be able to just ask nice and smile and get all those rights, but this is the real world and many large companies are PARANOID about handing out access like that to production.  I had to fight to get the minimal rights documented in the TFS guidance, let alone anything extra.

While upgrading TFS 2010 to 2012 at this current client, I am stopped dead in my tracks at least a few times a week, sometimes a few times a day, by “Access Denied”. My most recent one was extra tricky because it involved a Power Tool and as you know, those are often not documented very well. So, on to my story…  I was setting up a Backup Plan on TFS 2010 using the nifty Power Tools feature (see screen below) from the Admin console.  I login to the TFS application tier with my account, a TFS Admin user.  I know that my account has sysadmin rights on SQL because I am a TFS Admin, and when it comes time to providing the account to run the backup plan under I provided the TFSService account which I know has Administrator and sysadmin rights on the data tier server:

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So between those two accounts I would think everything was OK. I don’t know for sure, but if the Backup Plan is running as the TFSService account the way it is setup here, well that account is king of the world so everything should “just work”. And yet:

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So to hopefully make this something that comes up when someone else does a search on this message, here is what I saw - “Error    [ Backup Plan Verifications ] The current username failed to retrieve MSSQL Server service account. Please make sure you have permissions to retrieve this information.” 

WTH?! And when I opened up the error log the first error I encountered was:

TFS upgrade xp_regread() returned error 5, 'Access is denied.' xp_regread() returned error 5, 'Access is denied.' 

Again, WTH?!

So the DBA goes off and starts researching what xp_regread() does, and tried to figure out why this isn’t an issue in our dev and test environments given that everything was setup the same, and I start digging through forums.  Finally I find one sad and lonely little post on the MSDN forums related to the issue that recommends 1) logging in as a TFS Admin user (OK, I’m with you) and 2) “ensure that the user who perform this Backup Plan have required permission in SQL Server”.  Wait, what?  Be more specific please. What *ARE* the required permissions??  This happens all the time. Don’t tell me to “make sure you have appropriate permissions” without clarifying what those are. Otherwise, well, duh! I *think* I have the right permissions but clearly I am mistaken.

I dig through the Ranger Guidance which as far as I can tell is the only place this tool is documented.  It doesn’t say the person CREATING the backup plan has to be an admin on SQL, and it IMPLIES the account specified to run the job has to be an ADMINISTRATOR but only because the example specified a  Administrator account. Here, right from the guidance:

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But even that doesn’t necessarily imply a SQL admin, and nowhere in the doc does it say what rights either account (logged in user or “Account”) should have. I just went back and read it AGAIN, does not say anything IRT rights of either of those users in the Guidance. I suppose if you knew what it was doing behind the scenes you could infer the rights needed from the MSDN docs (I found this later). I made an educated guess that because in dev and test I am a server Administrator on the DT, and the Backup worked just fine there, that me being a SQL Server Admin must be a requirement.  So I logged back into my production TFS AT with another account that I knew was admin on every server in the TFS implementation (I know, I know), and the backup plan was created just fine. .

Our DBA does NOT like making TFS admin accounts SQL Administrators, but if I can show him explicit rules that say YOU CANNOT DO YOUR JOB AS A TFS ADMIN WITHOUT IT, he will do it.  So please Microsoft, don’t make it so darn difficult to divine what rights all of the accounts need for the various tasks the user will do. Particularly the Power Tools which make people nervous anyway.

Tags:

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

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Default Roles and Permissions for TFS 2012 in and Handy Dandy Spreadsheet

by Angela 23. October 2012 11:47

So we’ve already had one situation where we had to use a recover command and lost all of our permissions, roles, etc. Restoring them can be a HUGE PITA because while Microsoft was kind enough to document them, you need to cross reference two different pages to see both the default permissions themselves, and the default assignments of those permissions to TFS groups and roles. BUT you cannot easily visualize them in the format you would see them in when setting your permissions.  IOW, you are setting values in a dialog like this:

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But the documentation is provided in this format:

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NOT HELPFUL right? I had to search the pages by role or group, highlight where they showed up, and :: scroll, scroll, scroll:: to find all of the places where they existed to set the values. The documentation is NOT in line with the implementation. I kept thinking “if only this was in Excel, I could sort, and filter and SEARCH. There would be unicorns and rainbows!!” I searched, no one seemed to have posted a permissions matrix on-line and my buddies on the product team claimed no knowledge of one. They did say if I created one they would love to have it. And after the help they’ve given me lately, how could I say no?  Smile

I am more than a bit OCD and just sucked it up and spent the time building this in a spreadsheet format that was sortable and filterable.  It is EXPLICIT permissions only, so those listed in the two referenced source pages. So I spent about 2 hours building this, but in the long run it will save me FAR more than 2 hours. JUST LOOK!

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You can access the spreadsheet here, and all sorting and filtering work: https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=E796C9484DF4BAA3!10019&authkey=!AJ0OZWvOhG8OjHs  Note that I separated it into 2 worksheets, Server, Collection and project level in one, and everything else in the other.  I was going to put it all into one, but there were WAY too many columns and it was hard to read. 

 

Again I say, you’re welcome! Please let me know if you notice anything I might have missed, I am human after all.  Since it is SkyDrive updates will be posted in real time as I fill in any gaps or make corrections. If you feel compelled to repay my kindness I love dark chocolate and gerber daisies. Consequently if you meet up with me at a user group or tech event and want to thank me, I also prefer Hendricks gin Winking smile

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio 2012

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So You Were Forced to Use the dreaded TFS Collection /Recover Command, Now What?

by Angela 11. October 2012 08:23

Since we have used Recover on a production database and lived to tell the tale I thought I would share our experiences. If you read this post you will know that one of my client’s got themselves into a world of hurt where we needed to restore a nightly backup that was not detached.  I know, I know, detached backups are the way to go.  Well, now THEY know that too Winking smile  Nonetheless, sometimes you may find yourself needing to recover a TFS Team Project Collection (TPC) database, and if you’ve read the MSDN documentation you’ll know this is not an ideal situation. The Recover command is very lossy, BUT you get your data back. And in our case it was worth the risk.

So here is the backstory…  Someone deleted a Test Plan with a month’s worth of data in it, and if you know MTM you know there is no “undelete”. Restoring a backup was our only hope. BUT our nightly backups are SQL backups of the entire SQL Server instance, so undetached (we are addressing this NOW). Plucking one TPC out of there and attaching it is just not an option. And we did not have hardware to restore the entire thing and detach it properly.  So here is what we did:

  1. Restore the backed up TPC from the nightly backup into our dev TFS environment
  2. Used the TFSConfig /Recover command, followed by TFSConfig /Attach to get it attached in dev
  3. Used the TFSConfig /Recover command to get the TPC into the proper state
  4. Detach the hosed TPC from production
  5. Restore that detached version of the TPC to production
  6. Attach the backup to production (we actually hit an interesting bug in TFS 2010 at this point, so the attach was quite harrowing and involved an emergency hotfix to our TFS sprocs, I may blog about later.)

Now, I would love to say everything was perfect but the recover command did blow away some things that we had to get back into place before people could use the TPC again.  What we lost:

  1. All the security setting ever!
    • Collection level groups and permissions
    • Team Project (TP) level groups and permissions in every TP in the TPC
    • Permissions around Areas and Iterations in every TP in the TPC
    • Permissions around Source Control in every TP in the TPC
  2. SharePoint settings  (in every TP in the TPC). Settings on the SharePoint server themselves will be fine of course but you will probably see a “TF262600: This SharePoint site was created using a site definition…” error when you try to open the portal site that was once attached to those TPs. You will need to fix this in 2 places.
    • Go to TFS Admin Console, select the TPC you just restored and make sure the SharePoint Site settings for the TPC are correct. It will probably be set to “not configured” now.
    • Open team explorer (as an Admin user), and for each TP go to “Team Project Settings | Portal Settings” and verify everything there is correct. Ours were just plain gone so we had to enable the team project portal and reconfigure the URL.
  3. SSRS Settings – this will probably be fine if you restored the database as-is but we also renamed it as part of the restore, and so had to update the Default Folder Location through the Admin Console for the TPC in order for this to work again.

So word to the wise, make sure you understand what the settings above are for all of the TPs in your TPC BEFORE you perform a Recover command because chances are you will have to manually set them all back up.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | MTM | Microsoft Test Manager | Microsoft Test Professional | TFS | TFS 2010 | Team Foundation Server | VS 2010 | Visual Studio | TFS Administration

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