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FREE Half Day DevOps Community Roadshow Event in Chicago on April 15th

by Angela 18. March 2016 12:32

Everyone seems to be asking for "better DevOps" these days, but admittedly it's hard to pin down exactly what that means, and to complicate things even more, it seems to mean different things to different people. Is it about people? Is it about processes and practices? Is it about tools? Is it about culture? Yes, all of these things and more! 

This event is focused on some great tools and a few key practices, because we only have 4 hours and we'd probably need a week to tackle everything we'd really like to :)  We'll be talking about Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Team Services, Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Application Insights, and even some tools you might not expect at a Microsoft event like SonarQube, Octopus Deploy, and Chef! Because let's be honest, our tool belts are overflowing these days, and sometimes it's hard to know which ones are the best one for the job. To that end, we've assembled a fantastic team of local MVPs and technical community leads with loads of experience tackling the various challenges that we all face in the quest for "good DevOps", whatever that means. Check out the agenda below to see more details about what topics they'll be talking about, and be sure to stick around for the raffle of a Microsoft Band 2!

As an added bonus, we're even buying you breakfast! Real breakfast too, with bacon, sausage, eggs, and OJ, not just bagels and coffee. Seating is limited, so please be sure to register to secure your spot today.

This event is being organized and run by some of most passionate folks in the community that I know including Angela Dugan(me!), Chris Taylor, Eric Boyd, Greg Levenhagen, Jim Szubryt, Landan Rotter, and Min Maung. Join us next month for this free, half day event in downtown Chicago to explore DevOps and Azure!

Head on over to Eventbrite today for more details and to get registered!

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Chicago Visual Studio 2015 Launch Event with Brian Harry–Register before it fills up

by Angela 5. October 2015 09:35

First off let me say that I am so bummed I’ll be traveling for work. it’s not too often that Brian is in town and we get an opportunity to “learn from the master”. Normally the Chicago ALM user group would be meeting this month to celebrate as well, but as previously mentioned I will be traveling and so we will not be meeting in October. While I will not be able to attend this exciting event, I wanted to make sure that all of my followers were aware of this awesome opportunity! Now, onto the important stuff – details!!

 

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Microsoft will be hosting an educational event in Chicago this month that will provide you with an opportunity to learn, experience, and see the new Visual Studio 2015 in action! This impactful event begins with an executive keynote from Brian Harry, Visual Studio Corporate Vice President at Microsoft and hear howVisual Studio with MSDN enables development teams of all sizes to turn ideas into high-quality, scalable business applications and modern enterprise solutions quickly. 

Experience first-hand from Microsoft Experts about the state-of-the art tools and services companies are leveraging to achieve enterprise scale, manage complexity and streamline integration between development and operations teams.

Seating is limited, so reserve your seat soon!

 

Wednesday, October 21st 

9:00am to 4:00pm (Registration starts @ 8:30am)

Complimentary Lunch & Social Mixer

 

Microsoft Corporation
200 E Randolph St | Suite 200 | Chicago Illinois 60601

Event Agenda:  Click Here

Immediately following the event from 4:00pm – 6:00pm, join us for a complimentary social event where you can mix/mingle with your community peers and local Microsoft team.

 

Seriously, GO TO THIS EVENT. I’m bummed that I cannot so I expect to see some live tweeting of the event and maybe even some selfies with Brian posted to my twitter feed Smile

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Team Foundation Server | TFS | TFS 2015 | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2015 | Visual Studio Online | VS 2015 | VS Online | VSOnline

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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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Slick and Easy Integration of TFS with Slack

by Angela 26. August 2015 20:42

Maybe you’ve been lamenting the lack of robust chat functionality in TFS, or maybe you’re just already in love with the chat tools you have, and would love to have a way to make it a more integral part of your TFS experience. With the latest release of TFS, this is easier than you think! If you’ve been using VSO, or if you upgraded to 2015, you can do just that! Now while you can get super fancy and do some integration acrobatics programmatically, you can also do some quick integrations right through the TFS web UI. And I’m all about quick and easy integrations when I can get them.

In my case, I wanted to setup TFS and Slack so that I could receive important notifications from TFS right in my active chat window. It’s not hard, but there was quite a bit of bouncing around so I wanted to share the basic steps and hopefully lead you quickly down the right path to get it set up.  So fire up your TFS instance and follow along, or just grab a cup of tea and take a peek at just how simple it is to get these two great tools talkin’.

Start right here in the TFS admin tools, in the Service Hooks tab:

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When you add a new hook, there are actually quite a few options including Campfire, Jenkins, Slack, and a host of others.Once you select the service, just choose the event that you want to subscribe to, and specify any other filters or options based on the service event you are subscribing to.

Currently you can setup subscriptions for a number of events including:

build completed

code pushed (for Git team projects)

pull request create or updated (for Git team projects)

code checked in (TFVC team projects)

work item created, updated, or commented on

message posted to a team room

In this example, I am just keeping it simple and asking to be notified any time a new work item is created in the team project, at any level. I *could* have narrowed it by work item type, or even area path.

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Next you’ll need to set up an Incoming WebHook for whatever tool you are looking to send messages to from TFS. In Slack, you would go to the Configure Integrations menu to start this process:

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Assuming this is your first integration into Slack, you’d need to setup a channel to post to next. If you do have existing channels, you may select one of them assuming you don’t mind merging multiple streams of information.

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Channels give you a way to tap into a feed of messages within Slack, rather than have information from many sources all jumbled up into a single flow of data. Since it’s super simple to switch between channels in Slack, I just created a separate one for this new stream. 

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Once you have your channel setup, add the incoming WebHooks integration by grabbing the URL that will be used to send the JSON payload to Slack, and paste it into the Service Hooks dialog back in TFS.

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Make sure to hit the TEST button to ensure that everything is working as expected.

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You should see a notification from Slack about the test message (if you’ve enabled notifications), as well as in the Slack channel feed. Rinse and repeat until you’ve setup all the types of integrations you want. It’s that easy!

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Now whenever any of those configured events are triggered, you’ll get notified in Slack!

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Hopefully that quick walkthrough gave you a good idea of the kinds of integrations you can setup between TFS and some other great automation and collaboration tools using just the TFS ServiceHooks available right in the TFS web console.

Have fun and happy integrating!

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Manually Changing Test Configurations in Bulk in MTM –There is an Easier Way

by Angela 12. June 2015 15:56

Another one of those silly little tricks I didn’t realize was available to me until I tried, and I thought I would share, because SURELY someone else out there would need it at some point.

Just ran into a situation where someone created a bunch of test configurations and made it their plan default, then started adding test cases like the wind.  Before we knew it, over 1,000 test points were generated! (175 test cases x 6 test configurations per test case = 1,050 test points) We really only needed one test point per test case, and the last thing I want testers doing is opening every single test and editing the configuration. Hello carpal tunnel! And I could certainly write some PowerShell to fix it too, but heck even that would take a decent time to write, test in a sandbox, run in production, etc. I figured there HAD to be a way we could quickly fix this manually. There were a LOT of test cases but only a few suites that they were all contained in. I’ll use my own test plan as an example of the steps performed to protect the innocent Smile

Here is a test plan that I am going to use as an example. And notice I am in the desktop client (against TFS 2013.4 specifically), there is not an easy way to do this in the web tools that I am aware of. I have a number of test cases with multiple configurations, and let’s say in this case I really just need a single configuration across all test cases for this plan.

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You can certainly just open each test case and select the appropriate configurations at the test CASE level, but imagine a suite with 100 test cases, that’s a LOT of clicks.

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Of course we can also do this at the SUITE level, and not everyone knows this is even an option so I’ll call it out just in case:

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So certainly saves you from opening each test case before you can select the configuration, but again, if there are 100 test cases in this suite that is STILL a lot of clicks.

Well, did you know you could use CTRL or SHIFT to highlight multiple, or even all test cases in this view? You do now.

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At this point, the assumption is that you want all highlighted items to end up with the same configuration.  If you need to change 100 test cases in a suite to different combinations of configurations, well, I can’t really help you.  But if you need to set them all to the same value just highlight all of the relevant ones, click in the last column, and select the configurations you want to set them all to.  If it happens that you need them all back to the plan default, just hit Reset. BOOM!

 

Hope that saves you some aggravation down the road.  Especially if you are not in the position to write PowerShell, as many MTM users are not..

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MTM | Microsoft Test Manager | Microsoft Test Professional | Quality Assurance | SDLC | TFS 2013 | TFS | Team Foundation Server | Test Case Management | Testing | Visual Studio

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Still Running TFS 2010? It’s Aging Out of Support Next Month. Polaris Solutions Can Help You Upgrade Quickly

by Angela 4. June 2015 12:04

You heard me correctly, mainstream support for TFS 2010 ends on July 14th, less than 6 weeks from today! So if you’re thinking “it still WORKS, why should I upgrade?” Consider these points…

  • Any issues arising with your server will NOT be patched or serviced by Microsoft support, and it will be harder and harder to find experienced people to work on it (well, who WANT to work on it)
  • Your infrastructure team may be chomping at the bit to stop supporting the old operating systems and SQL Server versions that TFS is running on
  • You’re missing out on some amazing new capabilities that it would take me hours to cover and that I promise will revolutionize the way you develop and deliver software
  • You attract great new talent by offering robust and modern development environments, trust me on this
  • I can tell you from a LOT of personal experience, that the longer you wait to upgrade, the harder and more time consuming it is!

The good news is that you may qualify for up to $5,000 worth of free services to help you plan and prepare for your upgrade through the Microsoft Deployment Planning Services program (DTDPS)! Wondering what that is? Below is a quick FAQ that I created to explain the program:

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 4 DTDPS offerings available: TFS deployment planning assessment, Visual Studio Quality Tools assessment, Visual Studio Agile Deployment Assessment, and Visual Studio DevOps Deployment Assessment. 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 your current environment and needs in order for us to help you build a plan for implementation and adoption of Visual Studio and TFS ALM tooling. It’s a great kickstart and will drastically accelerate your ALM initiatives.

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 at the email I provide below, and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you in more detail. 

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.  We have delivered dozens of these engagements over the past few years and every customer we have worked with has been extremely happy with the valuable roadmaps that we delivered. You will benefit from a wealth of relevant experience and proven ALM practices that only comes from us having deployed and leveraged the tools in a large number of different environments and business verticals.

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!

 

If you are interested in learning more about DTDPS, or if you would like to find out more about getting a free quick assessment of the effort required to upgrade and the benefits that your team would enjoy, please contact me at Angela@PolarisSolutions.com. And if you know anyone still using an older version of TFS (anyone running TFS 2013 or earlier qualifies) help them out and point them to this blog!

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A Little Story about How PowerBI Got into My TFS

by Angela 9. April 2015 14:29

So a few months ago I ran into an old friend from my Software Architects days who now runs the BI practice at another local consulting firm here in Chicago. I’ve always been a bit of a nerd when it comes to data and analytics, and as he started to describe this cool new thing called PowerBI to me, I got this idea.  What if we found a way to use PowerBI to slice, dice, and analyze TFS data, specifically VSO?! We needed to figure it out, then share it with the world, because how cool would that be?!

 

Sadly, we quickly discovered that there was no VSO connector available yet for PowerBI, but that didn’t stop us. We figured out that we could use the Office 365 Power BI tools against an on-premise TFS database and do some pretty neat analytics.  To make sure it was something that anyone following along at home could recreate, we even used the data from the publicly available Brian Keller ALM demo image. We started by pulling in work item data, and created a few dashboards, the first being a basic work item overview dashboard:

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Once we created a few charts, the fun began. We could select work item types, teams/areas, and watch the data change. For instance, by simply clicking on a team (Devices), all of the charts on the page would refresh with the portion of them relevant to the selected team visible.Cool right? As someone who often managed a product portfolio in TFS, the ability to see the big picture and drill in with a matter of a click or two is really valuable!

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Now imagine the ability to show scatter graphs to highlight patterns in your data, geo spatial coordinate data to map out where certain events are happening, the possibilities are endless. Obviously there is a lot more to share about the capabilities of PowerBI and TFS. So fast forward to today. Tom and I just wrapped up our TFS + PowerBI webinar, and recorded it.  So if you missed it, watch the full video here to find out more about PowerBI and how it can be used to drill into TFS data. You can also get a copy of our slide deck here.

And stay tuned over the next few weeks for exciting announcements on how PowerBI will be capable of connecting to VSO!

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Microsoft Office | MSDN | o365 | Office 365 | PowerBI | SDLC | SQL Server | TFS | TFS 2013 | TFS Service | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2013 | VS 2013 | VSOnline

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Join Polaris for a TFS Release Management Webinar in February

by Angela 22. January 2015 16:29

So in case you have not heard, the licensing for Release management just got CRAZY inexpensive, if you have MSDN anyway. More about licensing can be found on MSDN.

Wondering what Release Management is? Well I don’t want to steal Zaneta’s thunder, so I’ll sum it up. Imagine a TFS extension that allowed you to easily deploy an application across a host of environments, including approval workflows for release to each environment, with the click of a button. If you’re an agile shop looking to achieve continuous deployment across a number of environments, this is a must have! 

Join us in February to learn more from one of our RM experts! Register Now

Continuous Delivery with Release Management

DevOps is an increasingly important part of application lifecycle management and is a growing area of interest as businesses need to develop and deploy quality applications at a faster pace. Release Management for Visual Studio is a continuous delivery solution that automates the release process through various environments all the way to production.

With Release Management in Visual Studio you can configure, approve and deploy your applications for any environment. Create automated deployment orchestrations for each environment no matter how complex the configuration. Delivering your software more frequently and easily to an environment allows your testers to get to work validating your system and keeps your stakeholders involved in giving feedback.

Please join us for this free online webinar to learn more about this powerful ALM toolset.

Key Experiences:

· Overview of Release Management

· Installation and Setup

· TFS integration

· Approval workflows overview

· Release Template creation

· Authoring and maintaining releases

 

Event Info: Thursday, February 12,2015 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CDT

Presenter: Żaneta Surdel has been developing software for the last 10 years. She has worked on a variety of projects utilizing various Microsoft technologies and filled a number of roles – programmer, (human) release manager, ALM consultant. She holds a MCSD ALM certification and is a certified Scrum Master. For the last 4 years, she’s been a Senior Consultant with Polaris Solutions.

Register Now

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Come Join Polaris at CCC 2014 on April 26th

by Angela 10. March 2014 14:53

So if you haven’t been to Chicago Code Camp yet, you should! I know, I know, there are SO MANY conferences in the Chicago area, how do you choose? It’s true, there are a lot of good ones but here are some benefits to CCC:

a) Because it is community- driven, there is some amazing sessions, including a few sessions on TFS and agile. Here are the ones I am hoping to attend (to be fair I am GIVING two of those talks):

 

Other great sessions cover a wide variety of topics like Windows 8, TypeScript, PowerShell, Unity 3D and Azure, JavaScript and Elixir.

b) it’s FREE for a full day of techie goodness, lunch included. Yeah, you read that correctly, FREE.

c) it’s super easy to get to. It’s right off of 294 and the parking is free.

d) it’s on a Saturday so you don’t even have to miss work! OK, so maybe you don’t see this as an advantage, but I do.

e) Polaris Solutions is a Platinum sponsor and will have a booth. So stop by, say hi, and pick up one of our sweet little booklets on Agile practices.

 

So register now before it sells out, and check out the full list of sessions here: http://www.chicagocodecamp.com/Public/Sessions

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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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