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SOLVED (Mostly): MTM Hangs When Opening a Shared Step in the Desktop Client

by Angela 1. September 2015 09:57

This was a real head scratcher, and like many others who have run into this, I spent MANY hours digging through trace logs, event logs, dump files trying to figure out what the heck was going on. It ended up being a really obscure issue with Text Display size.

Anyway, let’s back up. The issue I am describing is one where from within the Microsoft Test Manager client you attempt to open a Shared Step – either from a test case or from the Shared Steps Manger. In either scenario, the shared step opens and before the actual steps load MTM greys out, you see the spinning blue circle of doom, and see the dreaded (Not Responding) message in the title bar:

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Somewhere in the distance, a sad trombone plays softly…   I was seeing this issue across multiple versions of MTM, multiple operating systems, and against multiple TFS instances. But not everyone was seeing it. Only certain people with a wide variety of versions, update levels, and OSs. So I dig through the event log, looked at MTM trace logs, dump files from the Task Manager, repair MTM, clear cache files, etc. No change.

Then I turned to the MSDN forums.  After about 45 minutes of reading unrelated posts about various ways to hang up MTM, I finally ran across this. I though “No way! It couldn’t be something that obscure”. But I tried it, and lo and behold MTM stopped hanging. Truth be told I don’t even remember changing the text size, but I must have.  It’s so weird that this is the only thing it seemed to have hosed for me.

In case you’re seeing something similar and like me could not remember where the heck to make that change, right click the desktop and choose Screen Resolution then go to Make Text and Other items Larger or Smaller:
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Make sure you choose smaller - 100%, and perhaps buy some bifocals because now we are going to go blind trying to read tiny, tiny font. Be sure to log off and then log back in like the operating system tells you to.
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Now everything works as expected. I worked from home the next day, and CANNOT reproduce the issue. Making me wonder if it is because at home I do not have a second monitor. But other people running in second monitors cannot repro. Oy.

I have been working with the MTM product team to try to figure out the root cause, as this has been hard to pin down. I have a number of people who have different OS, MTM, and TFS versions, some of whom also run MTM in a second monitor – and ability to repro is inconsistent ::HEAD DESK::  If you feel like trying to reproduce this issue, leave me a comment and let me know what happened for you, and your OS/MTM/TFS version, if your text size is 100% or not, and if you are using a second monitor. Would love some more data points to throw at the debugging efforts.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Microsoft Test Manager | MTM | TFS | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013 | TFS 2012 | TFS 2010 | Test Case Management

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Polaris Solutions Holding an ALM Lunch and Learn on Agile Testing Success in St Louis Next Month

by Angela 24. February 2015 14:39

    Our St Louis office is holding a Lunch n Learn at the local Microsoft office in March. Agile testing is a challenge for most software teams, especially larger organizations with well-established QA groups and processes. Learn from one of our resident agile testing experts at the free event!

    More details:

    Description: If you are either planning to or are already practicing agile software development, Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Microsoft Test Manager (MTM) offer you a powerful platform to successfully plan, manage and execute agile testing.

    During this free lunch session we will cover in detail the different testing capabilities offered by TFS 2013 and MTM for Scrum and Agile methodologies, and will also share what we have learned from helping our clients as they implemented and matured their agile testing practices.

    Key Experiences:

    • The evolved role of testing in Agile Projects

    • Iteration test planning techniques

    • Test tracking with TFS and MTM

    • Different approaches to bug management

    • Test automation Do’s and Don’ts

    • Testing metrics that are worth measuring

    • Exploratory testing strategies

    • Best practices & lessons learned in the field

      Complimentary lunch will be provided to registered attendees.

      Presenter: Alejandro Ramirez is a Software Quality professional and Senior Consultant with Polaris Solutions. He has over 17 years of experience working in software in development, testing, and IT governance. His experiences range from small businesses, startups and non-profits, to Fortune 500 corporations in a variety of fields. He is certified in ITIL and Lean. He is also a blogger, speaker, mobility champion, and helps companies incorporate ALM strategies to continuously deliver valuable software.

      When: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM (CDT)

      Where: Microsoft Corporation, 3 Cityplace Drive Suite 1100 Creve Coeur, MO 63141

       

      Register for this Polaris Solutions event today!

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      A Hidden Gem in the MTM Test Plan Selection Dialog–Sorting and Filtering

      by Angela 19. February 2015 10:13

      By which I mean “hidden”.

      Every once in a while I run across a little nugget of goodness in a product I have been using for ages and just never noticed. They are not always ground breaking discoveries, but saving even a few seconds or a few clicks on something I do quite often adds up right?  So here is today’s face palm moment. Apparently you can filter and sort the MTM Test Plan selection dialog. The what now you ask?

      THIS GUY.

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      Now in my sample project there are not a ton of Test Plans, but for more mature client projects I end up with dozens and dozens of plans. I’ve seen projects with almost 100 Test Plans, which can happen quite quickly when you have really large organizations with many teams in a single Team project, using a Declarative Model for test release planning. But there is a better way! 3 features that will make your life easier:

      1) Adding more columns to the visible fields. Right-click in the header and you’ll notice you can check and uncheck fields to change the items you are can use to filter and sort. Once the field appears you can also drag it left and right to rearrange the fields. Many other lists in MTM work this way, not sure why it never occurred to me to try this.

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      2) You can click a column header, as expected, to sort by any of the visible fields. I assume no additional explanation or screen shots are required for this one…

      3) If you hover near the end of a column, the filter option will appear, showing you the available filter options.  Now you can filter by some of the most common things you might want to like state, Area Path (Team), etc.

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      Cool right? Seriously, how did I not notice these things were possible, ever?! ::face palm::

       

      Hope this was a helpful tip! And if it is not because you already knew, then why the heck didn’t you tell me? Winking smile

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      Referencing and Copying Test Cases in MTM 2013, a Lesson in Patience

      by Angela 22. August 2014 15:49

      Recently, I’ve had some lengthy discussions about test case, suite, and plan copying in Microsoft Test Manager (MTM), and it something that a lot of people are struggling with. In some cases, people are not even aware that you can do all of these things, let alone the subtle differences around what they are doing behind the scenes. Either way, hope this sheds some light on another way that MTM helps you to manage your testing efforts. There are a handful of methods for reusing test cases across multiple test suites and plans.

      1) Add existing test cases – also known as re-using a test case by referencing it. So, in MTM, test cases are by default REFERENCED when you add them to test plans/suites.  You do this through the Add button in the Plan tab of MTM.

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      The implication for using Add is that you need the EXACT SAME test case in multiple places, and if the test case changes it needs to change everywhere. So if I add a test case to 3 different test suites, any change to the test case is reflected in all 3 places automatically. Think of the test case instances that you see in the suites as pointers back to the original test case. Handy! Or annoying depending on your test versioning strategy. As an added bonus, with Add you can pull in test cases from any test plan in the team project collection by simply removing the @Project clause on the query!

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      2) Create test suites by referencing existing test cases performs a shallow copy of test suites from a different test plan within the current team project, allowing you to easily reference its test cases. There are 2 places where you will find this option, in the context menu of the Test Plan, as well as in the MTM menu bar of the Plan | Contents tab.

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      In MTM 2010, this option was called “Copy test suites from another plan” , which to most reasonable folks sounded like it copied everything. But it was not really a full copy of everything, it was actually a brand new test suite based on the original suite, and the suite contains REFERENCES back to the original test cases. As you can see, in MTM 2013, the menu option is now more explicit about what it is doing. The brand new suite has a new ID and the same name as the original test suite, it also includes all of the original test cases but is just referencing the test cases and their associated requirements. Changing the new test suite does not affect the original suite, but remember that changing the test cases in the new test suite would change the test cases in the original test suite. Also, note that this can only happen across different test plans in the same Team Project, so you cannot use this feature to duplicate test suites into the test plan you are currently in, or to duplicate test suites across Team Project boundaries. Maybe that is an edge case, but people have asked me if they could do it.

      But what about the cases where you really do need to effectively BRANCH those test cases?  Say you have a new version of some functionality, but you still need to support the original functionality, and so you need to have two slightly different versions of the same test case. Well, you have yet another option – Copy. Technically you have a few more options yet.

      3) Create copy and add to suite is a shallow clone operation on just a single test case. Accessible in the MTM client, you just right click on any test case, and use this tool to create a new copy of the test case, and save it into the test suite that you are currently in. All links, comments, steps, parameters (shared and otherwise), and properties are carried over - but new versions of all of these related items were not created. The new test case refers back to the same links, parameters, etc. of the original test case, and even links back to the original test case so you can see how it originated. Test run results associated to the test case are NOT copied over. Attachments are NOT copied in this case either. And again the scope is the current Team project, current test plan, and current test suite. I cannot cross Team project, test plan, or test suite boundaries with this command.

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      But we’re not done!

      4) You might have noticed a Copy (CTRL + C) option in that context menu in the MTM desktop client as well. Don’t be fooled, this just creates another reference to the original test case wherever you paste.  So while it is similar to using the Add button, I can only Copy a test case using this command into another test suite within the same test plan. In other words, it does not work across Team Project or Test Plan boundaries, but it MUST be used across test suite boundaries. And in this case, Copy actually means reference, instead of you know, copy. I know, really? OK, one more option to cover in this blog post.

      5) Create a copy of this work item (including links) is the Copy option available only on the web, and it is slightly different than the options available in the desktop version of MTM. This appears to just be the standard Copy Work Item context menu option that you can access anywhere on the web, and nothing specific to the test tools. Clear as mud, right?

      Honestly, I’m also having a hard time understanding how it is SUPPOSED to work because it has some odd behavior in my opinion (on VSOnline anyway). It allows you to specify a “Project” in the creation dialog, which I assume means TEAM PROJECT, like it does when you are creating copies of any other work item type from the web. The new test case work item is created in the specified project, with the same references as the original work item, but also adds it to the existing test suite in the current project. I assumed it would only create the new test case in the team project specified. Apparently not. So it does the same type of copy that Create copy and add to suite does, but allows you to do it across team project boundaries. image

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      Frustrated yet? I know I am and I’ve been using these tools for years. It’s a lot to keep straight, and even I sometimes forget which options bring over which links and artifacts so I have to refer back to the handy tables available on MSDN.  Definitely talk to your team and decide which options to use and when.

      Oh, yeah, and cloning is also an option now, but that is another larger discussion so stay tuned for another blog post on that one.

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      TFS 2013.3 CTP – What I’m Most Excited About: Part 1

      by Angela 4. June 2014 19:57

      Did you hear that there is a CTP of TFS2013.3? In case you missed Brian’s blog post, there is some really great stuff in there! I’m really jazzed about the big, BIG changes to Test Plans and Test Suites. They’re now work items! Now, in case you’re not sure why this is a big change, in the past Test Plans and Suites were not items you could customize or query, like you could Tasks, Bugs, etc.

      The first step is upgrading.

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      The process is very similar to every other upgrade or update you’ve applied. So pretty darn easy. Fortunately, it’s also a super fast process.

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      Took under 15 minutes from start to finish for me, although admittedly I have a fairly small implementation with just 2 Team Project Collections and a handful of Team Projects on each. A *lot* is happening behind the scenes, including some major data transformations, so if you plan to take on this update when it releases it would be a GREAT idea to run the upgrade against a clone of your full production databases in a test environment. Not only to get an idea of the time it will take for your production upgrade, but to ensure you don’t encounter any unexpected issues. Particularly if you are heavy users of Test Plans, Test Suites, and Test Case work items. You can use these backup and restore instructions to create a test instance of your collection databases. And since I was updating from TFS 2013.2. there wasn’t even anything to configure once it was done for everything to work, just update and go!

      Be sure to download it here and install it, but not in production eh? It’s not a go-live, but it’s worth checking out on your own instance of TFS :) I’m currently testing out all kinds of new features available to me, and will be sure to post a few follow-ups to this post detailing why this update will rock your world soon!

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      A few more little nuggets of goodness in TFS 2013.2

      by Angela 22. May 2014 13:59

      Are you still hedging on installing update 2 for TFS 2013? OK, c’mon now, we’ve installed it for a number of clients and are running it ourselves.  It’s stable, it’s OK, just install it.  Not convinced?  Well on top of the great features I mentioned in my initial post about TFS 2013.2 RC, here are some additional features that might just push you over the edge to install the RTM version. None of the are mind-blowing, but honestly, they made a big impact on me personally.  Any less click I have to do to finish a daily task equates to a lot less annoyance in my life.  So here we go…

      Team Days Off

      So hopefully you’re not looking at this wondering “what the heck is THAT for?”. Because capacity planning is a must for any team, but entering time off could be a pain when you were looking at large teams with upcoming holidays. But if you look closely you might notice a new button at the bottom of the capacity planning tab called “Team Days Off”.

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      Loved this for Memorial Day! Small change, but big impact for people managing teams in TFS.

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      Sure maybe it’s only happening once per iteration, but what if you have weekly sprints? Even a small team of say 7 people equates to setting up days off 7 times a week as opposed to once. That’s like 30 clicks they just saved me, for just this one team! I have many teams on many projects. MATH.

      Shared Parameters

      OK, so this is a pretty big one. Something I hear a LOT is that parameter management can be really daunting for large teams where a lot of the same parameters get used across multiple test cases that are not leveraging common shared steps. How on earth do you keep track of them, update them consistently, and coordinate across teams to prevent duplication? Well, now you don’t have to! So in the client tools you’ll notice when working with parameters, that there is a new link to manage shared parameters on the web. Why only on the web? Because agile, and this is what you have NOW, which is better than 3 weeks ago which was NO shared parameters anywhere. My hope* is that it gets into the client in a future sprint, but right now it’s only on the web.

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      So once you click the client link you’ll be redirected to the TFS web tools, where you will find it in the Test tab. Don’t see the Test tab? Well you need to be licensed for Visual Studio Premium or Test professional AND you have to be in the right Access Level.

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      From here you can manage parameter sets to be reused across multiple test cases. 

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      Any changes you make to these parameters effect every test case using them. HUZZAH!  It might not be entirely intuitive how to use them though. So in each test case work item, you now have the opportunity to not only use shared parameters, but to create shared parameters from existing ones. Simply open a test case work item and scroll down the the bottome where the parameter section is.  Here you’ll see both options:

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      Lets create a shared parameter so we can reuse the set of usernames:

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      It works much the same way that reverse engineering shared steps did. Pretty easy! And now I have another set of shared parameters I can leverage across my test cases:

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      And here is the icing on top, there’s traceability, yes, traceability.  So you can even find out what test cases are using the shared parameters that you create, and vice versa.  Just switch to the properties view of the shared parameter in question.

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      Did you hear that? I think it is a chorus of cherubs singing :)  If you don’t do a lot of QA like me, this may not seem earth-shattering, but trust me. This is going to save me a lot of time, and a lot of clicks. Hey, I have carpal tunnel, saving clicks is a big deal to me, and not just because I’m lazy.

      So there you go, 2 more very compelling features to hopefully convince you to upgrade your TFS instance to TFS 2013.2. Stay tuned for more TFS goodness…

       

      *seriously, I don’t know for sure and even if I did I wouldn’t tell you.

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      Free Half Day Events in Oct/Nov: Efficient Testing with Microsoft Test Manager

      by Angela 18. September 2013 18:08

      Been curious about Microsoft’s latest release of their testing tools? Want to know more about managing your test environments, both on premise and in the cloud? How about when to use test automation and what tools Microsoft has to meet your automation needs?

      There is a great half-day testing event coming to a city near you if you live in the Midwest area, wanted to be sure to share it with everyone before it filled up. Since I am delivering the content I can tell you there are going to be some great topics being covered! Best part, it is free. Check out the details and agenda:

      How do I integrate better with the team?

      QA is near the end of the process chain, so one of the best things they can do to be successful is improve their efficiency and collaborate better with the development team.

      In this session, we want to answer all of these questions:

      • What if you could draft and select test cases early in the project and ensure you have test coverage by assigning them to requirements?
      • What if the bugs you discover could automatically include data about the underlying behavior of the application and the machine it’s running on?
      • Are you getting enough information about a release to know what to test?
      • Which new features have been implemented? Which haven’t?
      • Which bugs are supposedly resolved?

      We’ll discuss how to take advantage of the opportunities for improving collaboration between testers and developers.

      What should I automate?

      While manual testing is always going to have its place, there are several types of tests that can be automated for efficiency.

      In this session, we’ll discuss everything from automating functional and load tests to the automation of writing test case steps and designing for reuse.

      How do I set up a dev/test environment?

      Today’s applications are more complex than ever and it can be very challenging to set up and maintain these environments. Many organizations resort to a small number of shared environments, but you are trying to keep up with frequent developer builds, concurrent projects, and ever-changing data.

      This session introduces Microsoft’s Lab Management solution which allows developers and QA to self-provision their own environments. We’ll look at you can take advantage of virtualization (on-premises or cloud) to create environments, roll them back to known states, and attach them to bugs while minimizing the labor in your data center.

      During this event, your local MTM Specialist will provide you an inside look and show you the capabilities of Microsoft Test Manager. Furthermore, we’ll cover how quality is an accountability and addressable by the entire development organization.

      REGISTER NOW at a city near you using one of the links provided:

      10/10 Southfield, MI

      10/22 Milwaukee, WI

      10/23 Chicago, IL

      10/24 Indianapolis, IN

      10/28 Nashville, TN

      10/29 St. Louis, MO

      10/30 Kansas City, KS

      11/4 Columbus, OH

      11/6 Cleveland, OH

      11/6 Edina, MN

      Event starts promptly at 9am. Complimentary Food & Beverages provided in the morning

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      DTDPS, What It Is and Why You’ll LOVE it

      by Angela 19. July 2013 19:18

      It sounds like an STD, I know, but I promise it’s not. and after you’ve given your customers a DTDPS, they will thank you for it Smile  So hopefully I’ve intrigued you enough to read a bit more about this mysterious program. I’ve created a short FAQ to walk you through it:

      Now what exactly IS DTDPS? Well first of all it’s a Microsoft offering, so expect MANY acronyms to follow. DTDPS stands for Developer Tools Deployment Planning Services. Specifically, the development tools that these services are meant to be used in conjunction with are the Microsoft Visual Studio ALM platform - Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio, and Microsoft Test Manager (TFS, VS, and MTM for good measure). 

      So what does this really do for me? While most people are already very familiar with Visual Studio from a .NET development perspective, many people who own the other tools within the TFS platform are not taking full advantage of them. DTDPS is the solution to this problem, connecting customers with the right partners to make sure they are getting the full value of their ALM investment. Software that sits on the shelf is a huge waste of money.  And from Microsoft’s perspective is something you’re not likely to buy again, so it is of course in their interest to offer such a program.

      What kinds of services are included in DTDPS? Currently there are 3 DTDPS offerings available: TFS deployment planning, Visual SourceSafe migration planning, and Microsoft Test Professional deployment planning. You’ll notice a theme here, the word “planning”. These engagements are not meant to be used to implement the tools. Instead, they are short, fixed-length (3 and 5 days) engagements for gathering data and analyzing a customer’s current environment in order to help them build a plan for implementation and adoption of TFS and/or MTM.

      But what if I don’t need one of those services, but need other assistance with TFS? Well, it depends. I know, I know, typical consulting answer. These programs can be expanded upon to assist customers with other ALM related concerns, so drop me a line and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you in more detail. Also, the programs being offered may be changing soon so check the site occasionally to see if a program was added to fit your needs.  

      Who delivers the engagement? DTDPS is a program delivered through certified and experienced ALM partners like Polaris Solutions to help customers with SA (Software Assurance) benefits to take full advantage of the tools they own.  This means customers benefit from a wealth of relevant experience and established best practices that only comes from having deployed and leveraged the tools in a large number of environments.

      OK, I’m intrigued, but how expensive is it? It is FREE. Seriously, and absolutely.  This benefit is available to customers who purchase Microsoft products with SA, think of it as a rewards program. In fact, you may have DTDPS credits without knowing it!  Many of the customers I work with did not know they had DTDPS credits available until I turned them onto the program.

      I want in! How do I sign up?  Start at the DTDPS site. Here you can peruse the various services available and see which ones are right for you and your organization.  Then check out the DTDPS QuickStart guide which walks you through the steps of accessing your benefits.  Then you just pick a partner to work with, like us, and you’re on your way to a better way of doing ALM!

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