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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.

      image

      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.

      image

       

      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.

      image

      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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      VS Live is Coming to a City Near You! We Can Save You $500 in Chicago and Vegas

      by Angela 24. February 2014 10:13

       

      Have you been considering attending VS Live this year?  They are really expanding their locations this year, holding events in Orlando, Redmond, Las Vegas, Chicago and even Washington DC. It’s a great event both to network with like minded technology geeks like yourself, as well as to get some great education around a HUGE number of topics.  Once again, the Chicago ALM User Group has secured a special discount code for members and friends for a couple of these events. So if you were wanting to attend, now we can even save you $500 with our exclusive discount codes: UGCH09 (Chicago) and UGLV10 (Las Vegas).

      Topics will include:

      ➤ Windows Client

      ➤ JavaScript / HTML5 Client

      ➤ Azure / Cloud Computing

      ➤ Cross-Platform Mobile

      ➤ SharePoint

      ➤ SQL Server

      ➤ ASP.NET

      ➤ Visual Studio / .NET

      ➤ Windows Phone

       

      $500 Discount off regular registration price for ALMUG friends and family using discount codes below.  Discount does not stack on top of early bird discounts. Prices range from $1,795 - $2,095 without the discount.

      Your price: $1,595 after discount

       

      Chicago Event Links

      May 5-8, Chicago Hilton

      VSLive Chicago homepage: http://bit.ly/UGCH09

      VSLive Chicago registration page:  http://bit.ly/UGCH09Reg

      Las Vegas Event Links

      March 10 – 14th, Planet Hollywood

      URL will direct to event home page: http://bit.ly/UGLV10

      URL will direct to the registration page: http://bit.ly/UGLV10Reg

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      Chicago ALM User Group Presents: Lab Management in the Cloud

      by Angela 12. February 2014 11:22

      So, you might have heard, but this cloud thing really isn’t just a fad. And if you’re a TFS user, you might have thought to yourself “Wow, Lab management is pretty rad, but I still don’t have the hardware of personnel required to manage all that infrastructure. It would be awesome if I could extend Lab Management into the cloud!” Sad trombone

      We felt that way too here at Polaris.  So we rolled up our sleeves and worked through some of the challenges to make it happen.  Chris Taylor is going to be talking a lot more about it, and doing some demos, at the February edition of the Visual Studio ALM user group this month, at the Aon Center in Chicago.

      Join Us Wednesday, February 26, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

      Be sure to sign up soon! http://chicagoalmug.org/ 

      Description:

      With the introduction of Lab Management in 2010, Team Foundation Server presented the opportunity to do automated build-test-deploy on Microsoft Hyper-V servers.  Although the tool was extremely powerful and cost of entry far less than any physical implementations it didn’t offer the flexibility of working with pre-existing physical labs as well as other virtualization platforms like VMWare or Parallels.  In Team Foundation Server 2012 Microsoft addressed this by introducing the “Standard Lab” environment in parallel with the “SCVMM Lab” environments.  This now allowed for any combination (virtual or physical) of machines to be added to a lab environment and provided nearly all the same functionality as provided in the SCVMM based environments.

      At the same time, Microsoft had been working diligently on their Azure platform, all based in Windows Server 2012 and finally opened up the ability to both provision new virtual machines as well as exposed this functionality to other applications via the Windows Azure SDK. 

      Polaris Solutions saw the opportunity to use Windows Azure as a virtualization platform to run automated tests and deployments and the tools necessary to accomplish it.  Come learn about some of the tooling that has been constructed to compliment an existing TFS infrastructure and create hybrid-cloud solutions to further lower infrastructure and  testing costs while creating a more quality product.

      Speaker Bio:

      Chris Taylor is a Senior Consultant at Polaris Solutions based in Chicago.  Prior to joining Polaris Solutions, Chris spent over 5 years in the Payment Card Industry developing applications for commercial and government credit card programs while extending TFS to integrate seamlessly with traditional enterprise software practices while allowing teams to be more agile/iterative within themselves.  Since joining Polaris, Chris has been focused on improving software quality and integration test automation using Microsoft Lab Management, CodedUI, Windows Azure, and Windows 2008/2012 Hyper-V. 

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      Chicago ALM User Group - New years 2014 Edition

      by Angela 13. January 2014 17:14

      Join Us Wednesday, January 29, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

      In case you missed the annual Christmas Edition of the ALM user group, we are holding another special event for the New year in the Chicago location. In December, we took an Open Spaces approach to our meeting and it went very well. Open Spaces is sort of an “unconference” thing if you have not participated before, 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.  We will write them on a board, pick some locations for groups to gather, and then you vote with your feet, bouncing around if need be.  We had some great topics presented last month - InRelease in the real world, and automated testing tips and tricks with VS 2013 CodedUI. There was a LOT of active discussion and some great deep dives.

      I’ll have lots of fun giveaways including pens, stickers, and a few more books. I’ll also have special prizes for people who lead an Open Spaces discussion during the meeting.

       

      So I hope to see you at the Chicago meeting this month! Register soon to make sure we save you a seat: http://chicagoalmug.org/

      Location:      Microsoft-Chicago 200 E Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago

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

      Agenda:       6:30pm dinner --   7:00pm Open Spaces Kickoff – 9:00pm Wrap-up

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      Free Training When You’re Snowed In, What’s Not To Love

      by Angela 2. January 2014 12:15

      So it’s been snowing in Chicago, a LOT. I am in Oak Park, specifically, and holy moly did we ever get dumped on. Here, in case you think I’m being a big baby, this was my back deck at 7am this morning and it’s STILL snowing quite hard. There’s almost 10 inches of snow on those chairs right now, and there’s a pergola over them!

      WP_20140102_07_54_12_Pro

      Anyway, that’s not my point. My point is that I get to work from home this week, thank goodness, and ran across a great set of training classes on Microsoft Virtual Academy to fill some time. It’s free, yes FREE, and there are a LOT of technologies to choose from including ALM.  Although I’ll admit the ALM stuff is pretty light and scarce, and mostly focuses on 2012, so I’ll be nagging some folks about that soon. But there are also classes on Azure, HTML 5, even licensing!

      Here is the current list of tools and technologies covered:

      image

      Clicking on Visual Studio I find a lot of great classes to get me up to speed on Windows development, HTML 5, you name it! What you see below is just the first few that came up, it’s a LONG list.

      image

      Best part is you can build up a nice little wish list since you may not have time to take everything today. So build a training plan, or several, and save the classes you like and take them at your own pace. Easy!  I already had one started from a while ago, but need to go back through and update it with some new classes, obviously :-P

      image 

      So dig in by starting here. And get some of those Microsoft certifications knocked out while you’re trapped in your house by snowmageddon.

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      Quick Tip on Debugging TFS30139 Issues

      by Angela 12. December 2013 17:27

      I’ve had a few people I know run into this recently, and there does not seem to be a lot of guidance out there about process template customization, in terms of troubleshooting or tips and tricks. While running through process template updates to move clients from TFS 2005/2008/2010 to TFS 2013 I would occasionally encounter one of the annoyances of working with XML by hand:

      clip_image002

      Oh THAT is helpful.  And if you’ve ever seen the contents of a process template you know this could be one of about a million different problems in hundreds of files.

      Now if you do a lot of template customizations, well just stop it, right now, please. The more you customize the more you need to maintain, the more you potentially have to upgrade by hand when you move to a new version of TFS.  There are times when heavy customization is necessary, but I often find people customize without understanding what the OOB template does in the first place. Unless you are checking your templates into source control, being very methodical about isolating changes and testing, and commenting your changes just like you do with your application code, you’re going to run into problems during upgrading. But chances are you’ve already gone down the path and here you are…

      Enter TFS consultants. I prefer to do most of my process template editing directly against the XML using Notepad when I can. I know, it’s a bit old school, but there are a lot of us out there so I figured why not share? Inevitably, you misspell something, miss a closing bracket, enter an errant blank space where it does not belong, the common XML “bugs” that can be really difficult to track down.  And as you know, Notepad does not have a debugger.  So like me, I’m sure at some point you’ve tried to upload an updated process template using the TFS Process Template manager and seen the dreaded “TFS30139: The process template is not configured properly.” ::SIGH:: Now what? Well, if you followed my previous advice and were methodically checking in distinct changes, you know what you last changed. Kind of like CI for process templates :)

      Enter the power tools. The TFS Power Tools contains a great process template editor that you can use in place of a lot of the command line tools for importing and exporting work item type definitions. You’ll need to install it on a machine running Visual Studio Professional or better, FYI.

      clip_image002[5]

      It gives you some great visualization tools, allowing you to edit fields, configure the forms, visualize and edit workflows, states, and transitions, and an easy way to open and dig through all the nitty gritty details of everything else that a process template entails too.  As an added bonus, it will give you MUCH better error diagnosis information if something is wrong. So for the previous error, I attempted to open the process template. But this time I got a much more friendly message, pointing me at the issue:

      clip_image002[7]

      Because I knew that the last thing I changed before my last successful upload of the template was the ProcessTemplate.xml file. I knew exactly where to look and lo and behold, I’d left off a closing bracket at the exact location specified by Visual Studio. So I made the quick fix, successfully imported the updated template to the collection, and checked in the updated template file to SCM. Much better!

      clip_image002[11]

      There are lots of potential tools and editors out there for process template editing, and everyone develops their own style. I often find myself leveraging several different tools in conjunction during a process template upgrade, it can be a lot of trial and error.  They all have advantages and disadvantages, I’ve tripped over a few myself (like this little quirk with the Team project Manager extension if you’re trying to compare 2008 and 2013 templates). I should blog about some of those adventures too :)

      Hopefully this gave you some new options you may not have been aware of before.

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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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      These are a few of my favorite things about TFs 2013: Part 2

      by Angela 12. November 2013 07:53

      So hopefully you already caught part 1 where I extolled the virtues of Work Item Reporting. This time, I have moved into new territory!  I am in the middle of a big, slightly nasty, TFS upgrade and TPC consolidation project.  First thing is first. Attaching a legacy Team Project (TP) to TFS 2013 “upgrades it” but only in the sense that it works on TFS 2013. So you get everything you had before, but not necessarily ALL of the new stuff in 2013.  You probably have very little of the new features in terms of the “agile planning tools”. There were changes made to the underlying TP Process Templates to support new features like, the “Feature” feature :)

      I apparently had been taking the TFS Configure Features Wizard (CFW) for granted. “The what?” you say…  Yeah, the thing that gets launched when you upgrade to TFS 2013 and you try to open something like the Product Backlog while connected to a legacy (pre-2012) TP. So if you’ve seen this message, the link at the bottom launches the CFW:

      image

      Often if you have an older, customized template (like modified CMMI 4.2), you can run into issues with the wizard.  You may be familiar with errors like this “[Error] TF400654: Unable to configure Planning Tools. The following element contains an error: RequirementBacklog” or “[Error] TF400654: Unable to configure Planning Tools. The following element contains an error: TypeFields/TypeField[type='Order']“. Makes sense, there are some HUGE deltas between older templates and those in 2013.

      image

      So the CFW is super easy to use if you can upgrade with the OOB templates, especially if you’re just upgrading one version behind. And how often does THAT happen in the real world? Right. In our case we have TPs coming from TFS 2005, TFS 2008, AND TFS 2010 and all the templates are customized versions of CMMI. Oy. I decided to begin by upgrading the 2010 TPs since they were the most straight-forward and had the least amount of differences as compared to CMMI 2013. So, that is the main focus of THIS post.  I will share experiences IRT other template versions later.  So if you start with MSDN you’ll see a tangle of different articles when it comes to upgrading to new templates. A few important points about process templates:

      1. A) In case you did not know, you can’t just swap templates out once you have created a Team Project and started using it, you HAVE to upgrade the underlying template of a team project itself to make changes ::opens giant can of worms:: OR if it’s a major change, like going from CMMI to Agile, just trust me on this -- migrate to a new Team Project.
      2. B) Template upgrades can be scripted but at the end of the day it is very manual, and fairly time consuming because of all of the testing required.  XML can be tricky for even the saltiest of us developers.  In the old days it was ALL manual all the time and all command line, but over the years a host of helpful add-ons have become available like the process template editor in the TFS Power Tools, and the TFS Team Project manager tool.
      3. C) Changes to a base process template (so at the TFS Collection level) do not automatically filter down to TPs created with that template, wouldn’t that be awesome and terrible at the same time?!  You must manually apply any template changes to all TPs that used that template, if you want them to remain consistent.  I bet now you really regret spinning up new TPs for every single one-off project your IT group dreamed up huh?

       

      But now there is another way, the Configure Features Wizard ::duh duh DUUHHHH:: I will admit, I did not thoroughly RTFM the first time through and missed out on the full power of this little tool myself. To be fair, the last time I had a massive mutli-version TFS consolidation this tool didn’t even exist.  Of course now that I know what to search for, I turned up this AMAZING post of Edwald’s on how the wizard works, as well as this MSDN article that details how it is working its beautiful magic under the covers.  To sum up why it is so awesome, it allows you to specify your template changes once, and then easily rinse and repeat with a click of a button. No scripting or command line necessary. Unless you like that sort of thing, or have a bajillion TPs, then have at it, but use this handy script to iterate through all of your projects.

      So how does it work? I still contend there is some black magic involved, but more likely it was a lot of late nights by some wicked smart TFS dudes. Essentially, you need to create a new copy of the legacy template that was used to create the team projects that you wish to upgrade to 2013, and then retrofit some new shinies from both 2012 and 2013 into it. I first downloaded CMMI v5.0 (which they had customized and re-uploaded without renaming – ACK!). Next I had to do things like add in a handful of work item types (Code Review and Feedback for 2012, Features for 2013), update my WIT categories, as well as add the Process Configuration file specific to 2013.  For all other work items I was able to simply replace the 5.0 WIT definitions with the 2013 versions, and then retrofit the client’s customizations back in. I used the heck out of the Team Project Manager Tool to compare them and see exactly what was customized.  Be careful here and read both the 2012 changes AND the 2013 changes that need to be incorporated, so you don’t duplicate effort.  For instance, the 2012 changes have you add 2 configuration files, but then both of those files are replaced by the single Process Configuration file for 2013. When I was done, I had a new version of the process template (with a new name!) that I could use with the wizard to convert the old TFS 2010/CMMI 5.0 TPs to 2013. It also contained all of the customizations that were done on the template before the TPs were created.  Last, I uploaded that bad boy to the TFS Server, navigated to my legacy TPs one-by-one, and launched the Configure Features Wizard. I ignored the recommendation of CMMI 2013, and picked my updated CMMI 5.0 template:

      clip_image002

      When the wizard runs, the super-simplified explanation is that it performs a DIFF on the team project and the modified process template, and applies the changes to the TP so it now matches the template. I KNOW!! So update the template once, run as many times as you need.

      clip_image002[5]

      Now, if after the team projects were created off of that old template, you had some template cowboys who went in customized the crap out of team projects in an inconsistent manner, or did not also make that change to the underlying base template as well, you may end up needing to upgrade those team projects by hand and/or resolve any issues encountered during the wizard to upgrade them to 2013 completely. No easy button there. And maybe start being more careful about who you let customize process templates and team projects going forward! ;)

      Now you have a simple way to upgrade all of the team projects created off of that old, custom template up to 2013.  At least for 2010.  Next we tackle all of the 2008 TPs.  And my understanding is that if you have 2005 TPs, just play some Taps and migrate what you need to a fresh, new 2013 TP.

      Tags:

      Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | Power Tools | SDLC | Team Foundation Server | TFS | TFS 2013 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS Power Tools | TFS Upgrade | Visual Studio 2013 | Work Item Tracking

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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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