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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:

image

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!

image

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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Trying Something new with the ALM User Group in December

by Angela 3. December 2013 13:50

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

RSVP Now to Attend

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

by Angela 5. November 2013 23:32

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

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

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

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

Agile Testing in a Waterfall World by your truly!

Application Architecture Jumpstart also from Clint

Dude I Just Stepped into Your Code from Josh

 

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

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Visual Studio 2013 Launch Event Coming to Chicago

by Angela 4. November 2013 15:18

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

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

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

Agenda

image

Location

Drury Lane Convention Center

100 Drury Ln
Oakbrook Terrace Illinois 60181
United States

image

 

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

12/3

Boston, MA

12/3

Nashville, TN

12/3

Bellevue, WA

12/4

Washington, DC

12/4

Philadelphia, PA

12/4

Miami, FL

12/5

Phoenix, AZ

12/10

Atlanta, GA

12/10

Denver, CO

12/11

Concord, CA

12/11

Harrisburg, PA

12/12

Sandy, UT

1/15

Los Angeles, CA

1/21

Mountain View, CA

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Efficient Testing with Microsoft Test Manager – Slides Posted

by Angela 24. October 2013 10:42

I wanted to be sure to share out the slides that were presented at the testing events that I recently spoke at. If you happened to attend one of the events where Chris Kadel presented, he should be posting his slides shortly. Now in case you’re reading this post and thinking “what on earth are you talking about Angela?”, Microsoft recently began a tour of the central US focusing on efficient testing, and even if you did NOT attend, you may find the following information useful so read on…

These events lasted a half day, and covered manual testing and collaboration with MTM, automated testing with Visual Studio, and managing environments and automating the Build-Test-Deploy scenario with TFS Build and Lab Management.  My slides are posted on SlideShare, and the agenda is below.  There are still some events open including St Louis, Kansas City, and Minneapolis MN so you may not have missed it entirely.  Sign up soon because these events have been selling out!

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.

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These are a few of my favorite things, about TFS 2013 (Part 1)

by Angela 18. October 2013 13:31

Are you picturing a redhead dancing around a large bedroom singing about string and warm woolen mittens?

Yeah, it’s kinda like that. Only I’m no Julie Andrews, I don’t actually have a very good singing voice, and our house is not nearly that fancy :)  Also, instead of brown paper packages I am singing the praises of the MTM Test Hub, Work Item Charting, and awesome things like that.

As you’ve probably heard TFS 2013 released yesterday. A full day ahead of time, I know!  And like any passionate ALM consultant I’ve been using TFS 2013 for some time now. If you’re taking advantage of TFS Service, you have been too whether you knew it or not. So on to my first favorite thing about TFS 2013. Work item charting. The concept of work item charting is a pretty simple one, and frankly one customers have been clamoring for since TFS 2005. Business users do not want to have to learn SSRS to get quick, custom views that they can use to analyze work items.  And frankly, while Excel ad-hoc reporting is much easier than SSRS, it’s still not an “EASY button” solution for simple work item based charting/reporting. Thanks Staples for giving me that reference. 

So let’s divine in a bit shall we?  We will be working with one of my pet projects, a Scavenger Hunt application for the phone (if someone creates one soon, I’ll know where you got the idea now!) Assume we have some simple queries, for instance one which pulls back ALL tasks in a team project. This could be a lot to take in analyze, especially on large, established projects with multiple teams. So, below we have work items, tasks, bugs, etc.  All assigned to various people, planned for different sprints, and so on and so forth. 

image

But what if I wanted a quick visualization of work item types, or work assigned to various team members across the entire project? Not a super easy way to do that in any of the previously available reporting methods.  Here is where Work Item Charting comes in.  You might notice a new menu item called “Charts” (circled above) in the web tools for TFS 2013.  When you switch your view to Charts it will show you any existing charts for that query, as well as the ability to create new charts.  So in my case, I already had a chart out there which breaks down all work items by type. Marginally useful, but maybe another chart TYPE would actually be a better way to visualize the data.  So the first thing I want to do is try different chart types, and see if something else strikes my fancy:

image

I *love* that as you make choices in the edit box, it automatically gives you a preview of the resulting report. That will save SO many clicks.  So I changed the chart type to a stacked bar, changed the sort and saved the report.

image

A bit more useful, but I’d like another view available, this time including assignment data.  But I’ll need to make some changes to my query, because if I try to simply show this in a new chart with the existing data, you’ll notice I do not even have an option to group by assigned to:

image

Think of the query as your chart data source, meaning all rows returned will be displayed, and even more importantly, only the fields returned by the query will be available as well.  So if my query returns work item type, title, and state then those are the only fields that I can report on. AND only fields with a reportable type of “dimension” can be used for grouping. These little nuggets often trip people up, they assume all of the fields for the returned rows are available and available for grouping/sorting. So I need to go back to my original query, and add the assigned to field to add that data to my chart:

image

Now when I go back into my charts, I have another field that I can use for pivoting my data!

image

 

Well, I could certainly spend FAR more time on this topic, but I just wanted to give you a little taste of one of my favorite features of TFS 2013 – Work Item Charting.  Next up, the new web Test Hub!

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Collaboration | Process Methodology | Productivity | SDLC | Team Foundation Server | TFS 2013 | TFS Service | Visual Studio 2013 | Work Item Tracking

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Missing Some Important Icons (Admin, Help, Run Query) From Your TFS Service Web Tools?

by Angela 16. September 2013 16:00

So this was an interesting issue I ran into the other day, and all my Binging and Googling Kung-Fu produced nothing. I often run my TFS tools in multiple browsers. I mean, c’mon, I may prefer FireFox for some things, but Microsoft prefers if I use Internet Explorer when demoing to their customers ;) One day I launched into my TFS Service demo and noticed a few buttons had just vaporized off of the main web dashboard (the “agile” planning tools dashboard, not SharePoint.  Notice below how there are no buttons in the upper left-hand corner in IE, namely the Admin and Help icons:

image 

I can click where the icons SHOULD appear, and the buttons work, they just are invisible.  I thought I was crazy until a few coworkers were able to reproduce it on MY TFS Service instance, but not their own. As a former Microsoft employee I was a SUPER early adopter, so it was safe to assume we might be on different instances.

And then I verified it was fine in FireFox for that same instance:

image

WEIRD!!  I started spelunking around and noticed random icons were missing on other pages too:

image 

At this point I called in the heavy hitters, also known as the TFS Product Team, MVPs, and TFS Rangers for help.  And as usual they came to the rescue quickly. (Thanks Aaron Bjork!!)  So here was the solution in case anyone else runs into this strange issue.

There is a weird rendering bug in IE (9 and 10) with some instances of TFS Service. The way to get your buttons to re-appear is to tweak the Accelerated Graphics setting like so:

image 

Then once you restart the browser, everything should be back to normal again. Voila! :)

image

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | TFS 2013 | TFS Service | VS 2013 | Internet Explorer | IE 10

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March 27th - Chicago VS ALM User Group Talks About VS 2012 Updates Released So Far

by Angela 11. March 2013 12:21

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In case you missed it, the Visual Studio ALM product team has been BUSY.  While they release cool, new goodies to TFS Service on a weekly basis, releases to on-premise TFS happen about once a quarter these days. In the last 5 months, they have made available 2 major updates to Visual Studio and TFS 2012; specifically VS 2012 Update 1 and recently, CTP 4 of Update 2.  Just a few of my favorite new features that we plan to demo on March 27th include a web client for Microsoft Test Manager, customizable Kanban columns, support for Git, and work item tagging.  And there is a LOT more that we probably won’t even have time to talk about in depth.  Can’t make it to the user group meeting? Be sure to download and install Update 1, and Update 2 CTP 4 and see the new features for yourself! It is even a “go-live”, which you can read more about on Brian’s blog.

 

Join Us Wednesday, March 27, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

Description:  As you probably know, the Microsoft Team Foundation Server team has moved to a more regular cadence of pushing out updates to Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Visual Studio. In the last few months we've seen 2 major updates released to on-premise TFS 2012 and Visual Studio 2012 (Update 1, and Update 2 CTP 4), and many smaller and more frequent releases to TFS Service. There are far too many to cover in just one meeting so on March 27th we will be talking about the updates specific to the web-based Agile Planning tools, MTM and the TFS-Git integration.

Agenda:6:30PM - Dinner and networking, 7:00PM - Presentation and demos

Speaker Bios:  Edward Thomson is a Software Development Engineer at Microsoft, where he works on cross-platform version control tools for Team Foundation Server. Before joining Microsoft, Edward worked on numerous source code control tools for Microsoft and Unix platforms.  Angela Dugan is the ALM Practice manager for Polaris Solutions and spends most of her time migrating customers to TFS and streamlining their software delivery processes. She has over 14 years of experience in the software industry including 5.5 years as a Microsoft ALM Tools evangelist and over a year as Polaris Solution’s practice manager focusing specifically on Visual Studio and TFS.

Bonus speaker: Martin Hinshelwood is going to be in town and is going to tag-team with Ed and I to cover even MORE great Update 1 & 2 features! Martin is a Senior ALM Consultant at Northwest Cadence, is a Microsoft Visual Studio ALM MVP and a certified Professional Scrum trainer.

 

Location: Microsoft-Chicago 200 E Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago – you can park in the Aon center for a discounted rate after 6pm, but your best bet may be SpotHero if you choose to drive. I’ve seen $8 parking ½ block away using their service.

As always, please be sure to register as Aon Center security will NOT allow individuals to access the building without being pre-registered. http://chicagoalmug.org/

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