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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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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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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!

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

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

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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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