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ThatConference – Mark Your Calendars and Call for Speakers is OPEN

by Angela 1. April 2013 16:43

So as a Midwesterner I often feel like we get screwed when it comes to big, cool tech conferences.  ALM Summit is always in Redmond, TechEd is always in Vegas or L.A. (blech), and there are a large number of other big tech conferences that are primarily only held on the West Coast (Mix, VS Live, etc.). So this big news so far this year has been that VS Live is coming to Chicago in May, for one. I’m pretty excited about that, especially with the sweet discount I was able to get for it (see the blog post I linked to above for a $500 discount code to VS Live Chicago). 

Now don’t get me wrong, we have a lot of great, smaller conferences, for instance Chicago Code Camp in a few weeks, and Deeper in .NET in Milwaukee next weekend, are both very good conferences and are both FREE to boot. But another awesome conference you may have missed out on last year was ThatConference. What conference? ThatConference. Yeah, I know, the name is clever, and sometimes confusing, but mostly clever.  It is the next big thing in my opinion, because not only is it owned by, organized by, and delivered by people you know from your local community, but the range of topics is pretty amazing too.  .NET, Ruby, Java, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Tablet, Surface, iPad, you name a technology/platform and it is probably going to be represented there.

As an added bonus, it is a VERY family friendly conference being held at an awesome water park in the Wisconsin Dells, just 3.5 hours from Chicago if you live in my neck of the woods.  Kalahari Resort also has go-karts, laser tag, a large arcade, an indoor ferris wheel, a number of great restaurants and bars, and even a salon and spa if you need a little R&R with your tech!  Stay a few extra days, the room rates are amazing and last year we also got some pretty nice perks (a.k.a. free stuff) from the resort because we were attending the conference.

Call for speakers just opened today and is only open for 2 weeks so hurry up and get your submissions in! Don’t worry if you think your topic is too broad, too niche, too whatever, just get it in there.  There is a great submission guide available on the session submission site too so check it out! The range of topics being accepted is pretty large, as we hope to provide a really well rounded set of options for attendees.  If you have more questions, or would like some help creating your session write-up, join us every Wednesday at noon CST for Q&A on G+.

 

Hope to see you, and your sessions, at ThatConference this summer!

August 12th - 14th, 2013

Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells, WI

 

ThatConference is also on facebook, or Google Groups if you have questions or comments for the world at large.

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Chicago Code Camp 2013–It’s Awesome and it’s FREE

by Angela 22. March 2013 12:54
What is Chicago Code Camp? Well, it’s in its fifth year of awesomeness and if you haven’t checked it out, go do it now.  CCC is a free, community-driven developer conference. Over 350 people have already registered so far! This year, they’ve even adding a full day of Windows Azure boot camp.

 

So if you’ve been to CCC before, go ahead and stop reading because you’ve already registered and know what an amazing free event this is, right?  If you’ve never been, well, it is worth the trip up North (or South if you are in Wisconsin)!  Chicago Code Camp is free, and covers a WIDE variety of great tech topics.  As someone clearly passionate about ALM, I was particularly happy to see the number of ALM related topics at CCC this year, and as usual the speakers are really great too. 

So mark your calendars (April 27th to be specific) and register right now!

 

Here is just a sampling of the ALM sessions:

- Introduction to Git and Github - [Joshua Gall, Aurora Healthcare]

- This *IS* Agile Development - [Gary Pedretti, Centare]

- Version control TFS 2012 - [Prasanna Ramkumar, Magenic]

- ALM with Visual Studio 2012 - [Raj Krishnan, Microsoft]

- TFS 2012 - [James Szubryt, Accenture]

 

More great sessions and speakers are outlined here: http://www.chicagocodecamp.com/Public/Schedule.  Stoked yet? You should be.  Did I mention this is also FREE?

 

Click here to register for Chicago Code Camp 2013

 

19351 W Washington Street Grayslake, IL 60030

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Tags:

.NET 4.5 | ALM | ASP.NET | Agile | Application Lifecycle Management | Azure | Cloud Computing | HTML5 | MSDN | SDLC | TFS 2012 | Powershell | Productivity | TFS | Team Foundation Server | Testing | Visual Studio 2012 | Visual Studio | Windows 8 | development | git

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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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VS 2012 Web Client for Manual Testing

by Angela 11. March 2013 11:53

So in case you’ve missed my excited tweets/blog posts on what is coming in VS2012 Update 2, I wanted to spend a little time covering one of my favorites. If you’re a TFS Service user you’ve probably already seen this, but occasionally I run across people who go into autopilot and miss the new bells and whistled that magically appear every week or two. I know I have done it.

One of the features that recently showed up on TFS Service is a web client for Microsoft Test Manager, specifically around manual test execution. “WHAT?!” you say? YES, indeed. Now you can view test plans and test suites (they need to be created using the MTM client right now), create and manage test cases, execute manual test cases and create rich bugs FROM YOUR BROWSER ::head explodes from the awesome:: This will revolutionize tesst case execution for some of my clients that have been a little uneasy about installing the MTM client on all of their environments, and on end user tester’s machines. It does not have full feature parity with the full Microsoft Test Manager product (yet) but Microsoft has discussed the possibility of growing these tools over time. Here is a sneak peak of where those tools appear from within the Agile Planning web tools while logged into TFS Service (or if you have a test instance of TFS 2012 with Update 2 CTP 4 installed).

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Don’t laugh at my burndown report, it’s a demo project so it isn’t updated in real-time and sometimes looks less-than-ideal if I’ve gone too long without doing a demo. 

Again, unless you have installed VS 2012 Update 2 CTP4 on your on-premise TFS server you will only be able to access these testing tools from a TFS Service instance, and I would NOT recommend putting a CTP on production (YMMV of course). That being said, let’s take a super quick look at what else you get with this new feature. 

Here is a view of a simple test plan with a couple of Test Suites and a handful of test cases already assigned to those suites.  Note you have options to: create new manual test cases, edit existing manual test cases, remove test cases from test suites, set Outcome to Pass/Fail/Blocked/Not Applicable and quite a bit more! I specifically say MANUAL test cases because exploratory testing is not currently supported on the web. You can also, at a glance, see who is assigned to execute each test case, the target environment configuration, as well as recent Outcome. You can even filter by tester and outcome!

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On of my favorite productivity features is the ability to open the test case in the same window as the management tools, and edit it on the fly. You have similar capabilities in MTM in the Track Tab, ir if editing other types of work items in Team Explorer, and I definitely have wanted this ability in MTM for a while now so I love this!  Maybe a small enhancement, but as I spend a lot of time in MTM, any avoided clicks are a time saver for me and it adds up over time. In the upper right-hand section of the web tools you can see a “test case pane” option which can be set to Off, bottom or right. What you see below is the “bottom” option, and in the previous screenshot you may now notice it was set to “off”.

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Another feature I will show off in this post is the actual running of a manual test case, which is similar to the desktop client version of the Manual Test Runner tool with a few caveats.  Note you still see each step, expected results, and data driven fields are still provided for the user running the test.  You can also set Outcomes for each step (pass/fail) as well as for the test case as a whole (pass/fail/blocked/not applicable). Notice you also have the ability to pause test case execution which is a feature of MTM 2012 in general :

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An important thing to notice that is absent is rich text support in the test runner itself. You also do not have a built-in tool for snagging screenshots. A bummer, but not the end of the world when you consider the major benefits that a light-weight, no-install testing tool gives you. 

The last feature I want to highlight is rich bug creation from a test execution session. The support for rich bug creation has always been a really nice advantage of MTM, and the web tool gives you many of the key features that makes TFS such a clear win for defect tracking. Not all of the data collection is supported right now, but the big ones for me have always been repro steps and traceability which is there, as you can see:

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Again this is meant to be lightweight, and hey, you never know what you might see in a future update!

There is a LOT more that I could cover, but this is really just a pleasure cruise around the highlights of the new web client for doing manual testing. If you want to learn more about MTM, agile testing, and pretty much anything new and cool in the area of Quality Assurance, check out Anu’s blog, it has always been an INVALUABLE resource. Also be sure to download and read the Test Release Management Guidance released very recently by the ALM Rangers.  It can help lead you down the right path in terms of managing your test plans based on your team’s process and product release cycles.

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VS Live is Coming to Chicago this May! Special Discount for ALM User Group & Friends

by Angela 1. March 2013 10:27

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So in case you haven’t noticed, Visual Studio Live is coming back to Chicago after many, many years of not being here.  This makes me very happy because a) I don’t have to pay for a flight and hotel in L.A. or Seattle, and b) well, see a) because cost is one factor that makes attending great conferences like this so hard to do for some of us.  Regular price of admission is $1,995 for the full 4 days, which isn’t bad when you think of all the awesome content you get.  Early bird registration ends soon and saves you a paltry $200 but wait, I can get you a MUCH better deal than that.

In case you did not make it out to the last Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group you may have missed out on the discount code that I was able to get for all of you.  Sign up right now using the links in this email (or the code UGCH1) and you’ll save $500 off of the $1995 registration too, so it would be only $1495 for the full 4 day pass! This discount only applies to the “Best Value” package including all pre-conference workshops. So no travel costs, no hotel stay, AND save 25%. How can you NOT go? 

 

Visual Studio Live! Chicago tracks include:

  • ASP.NET
  • Azure / Cloud Computing
  • Cross-Platform Mobile
  • Data Management
  • HTML5 / JavaScript
  • SharePoint / Office
  • Windows 8 / WinRT
  • WPF / Silverlight
  • Visual Studio 2012 / .NET 4.5

 

Hope to see you at our next meeting, and at VS Live Chicago this May!

Tags:

.NET 4.5 | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | ASP.NET | Azure | Cloud Computing | git | HTML5 | Microsoft Office | MSDN | SharePoint | Silverlight | Team Foundation Server | TFS | TFS 2012 | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2012 | VS Live | Windows 8 | WinRT

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Chicago ALM User Group Talks About TFS For Automated Deployment in February!

by Angela 20. February 2013 12:43

Hi Gang!  After a short hiatus for the holidays, we are back for a great discussion on using Team Foundation Server in conjunction with Powershell and TFS Deployer for automating the build and deployment of your applications. What kinds of applications you ask? ALL KINDS! And not even just .NET applications. Crazy talk!

Ismail Ahmed Syed is our first speaker of 2013, and he is graciously returning to the podium to demonstrate how you can utilize TFS build quality change events of TFS for deploying .Net Applications using TFS Deployer and custom PowerShell scripts.  He will also be talking about how you can achieve automated build and deployment processed for Non.NET Applications Such as JavaArch11, Tibco AMXBPM, IBM SPSS etc. Lastly, he will demonstrate how web transformations can be used for getting away from the manual task of writing configuration files for each environment  and  how the config files will be transformed automatically as part of the automated deployment using TFS Deployer.

This is a topic ANYONE using TFS should get a lot out of. Who doesn’t want a more streamlined and effective way to do automated build and deployment of their applications? Can't wait to see it myself!  Here are some important details and a link to registration:

Date: Wednesday February 27th, 2013

Location: Microsoft Office - 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove, IL

Agenda: 6:30PM dinner and networking, 7:00pm presentation and demos

As always, please be sure to RSVP at least 24 hours before the event to ensure that we can get you registered with security. If you need to cancel, we’d also appreciate a heads up so we can have the appropriate amount of food, soda and supplies on hand.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Build Automation | Power Tools | TFS 2012 | TFS Power Tools | Team Foundation Server | Powershell | Deployment | Web transformations

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Making TFS 2012 Work Item Types Read-Only Based on User Roles

by Angela 14. January 2013 09:35

Warning: this is most certainly NOT the most elegant solution to the problem. It’s a known shortcoming, or maybe it’s a feature, that you cannot limit access to an entire work item based on a user’s role in TFS.  I can limit transitions, and access to individual fields, but for very large and complex work item types, this is cumbersome and fragile. In a nutshell, I am trying to limit access to specific work item types, so that they are only editable by specific groups of people, and I had posted it to the forums to no avail.  So here is my ugly solution which for now, is sufficient. 

I started with Gregg’s post from 2009 that provided a workaround to my issue, but the error message thrown has changed in such a way as to make it even less intuitive as to what is going on. Below is the implementation of his suggestion and the resulting user experience:

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The other issue with the above solution, is that it only prevents a user from CREATING that work item type, I need the user to also not be able to edit the item.

 

So I decided to try something a little different. I created a custom field, that is never displayed on any form, specifically for the use of locking down work items since we have several scenarios where we have to enforce read-only access to a work item type for certain users. I called it “UserAccessDenied”, since that is at least indicative of the issue when displayed to a user.

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Like I said, the field is never displayed to a user, so it should never be populated.  We make that field required for any user that should NOT be editing the work item as below, which prevents them from saving it since it will always be empty:

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Still not an awesome solution but at least now the provided error is a BIT more helpful, and the client was happy which is all that matters right? Smile 

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You can provide a better experience to the user if you have the ability to create custom controls or write listeners that capture work item events to handle this. Where I am, they want something easy to maintain that does not require any kind of code to be written or maintained. So it is what it is.  If you, like me, would find the ability to set access permissions at the work item level, vote on my suggestion here.

 

And as always, if YOU have come up with a better way to do this, I’d love to hear about it!

Tags:

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

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Untangling TFS Connectivity to SSRS Snafus

by Angela 5. December 2012 08:55

So, as you may know, SSRS cannot host up reports for multiple instances of TFS, or for other applications period.  IOW, TFS SSRS instances MUST be dedicated. The reason is pretty obvious once you dig around in the properties of the reporting databases on your report server, but trust me on this unless you really WANT to know how it all works under the covers.

Long story short, we accidentally configured two different TFS application tiers (TFS1 running TFS2012 and TFS2 running TFS2010) to use the same instance of SSRS, doh!  We only need reporting on TFS1, for the record. After some troubleshooting we found that the connection strings for the TFS2010OlapReportDS and TFS2010ReportDS databases on the report server pointed to TFS2 and not the original one any more (TFS1). But oddly, the reports on the new TFS instance don't work either, I would have assumed that ONE of the instances would have had reporting that worked. I went to the Reports folder, and could see all of the reports for all of the team projects across the both TFS1 and TFS2 but always received this error, on every single report:

  • An error has occurred during report processing. (rsProcessingAborted)
    • Query execution failed for dataset 'dsIteration'. (rsErrorExecutingCommand)
      • For more information about this error navigate to the report server on the local server machine, or enable remote errors

 

Anyway, I digress. 

I figured a good first step was turning off Reporting on TFS2, and then reconfiguring SSRS for TFS1 in an effort to "reset" the connection.  But I could turn off reporting on TFS2.  I assumed that normally I *should* be able to do this, just un-check the "Use Reporting" feature and it's gone right? Maybe there is something amiss with the TFS 2010 instance? It is brand new, so not sure how it could already be corrupted.  Here is the error I receive when I try to "turn off" reporting on TFS1:

 

I did a lot of searching of MSDN and forums and couldn’t find anything that seemed to help.  I got desperate and tried a different order of operations, a "Hail Mary" if you will, and it worked!

I could not turn off reporting on TFS2 for some reason, but it occurred to me that the error message I was getting ("the database is not properly configured") was rather generic and could mean a LOT of things. And alas I do not have remote login access to the SSRS instance (don't get me started on the why or what of that!), so I couldn't even do research on it.  So instead I focused on getting TFS2 WORKING with SSRS even through the end goal was turning off reporting.  I went to the TFS1 app tier that had been connected to SSRS successfully originally, went into the Admin Console and unchecked "Use Reporting" to break the connection. That worked great, of course.

Next I went back to TFS2, and via the Admin Console verified the SSRS configuration information to hit the report server was all correct (it was), re-started all the jobs, and rebuilt the warehouse. Once reporting was working again on TFS2, I tried to turn it off again, and this time when I unchecked "Use Reporting" it was successful.  So apparently if reporting is broken, you cannot turn it off. Great.

Anyway, next I went back to TFS1, reconfigured reporting through the admin console and now all is well with the world again. Oy, I need a drink.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | SDLC | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS Power Tools | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio 2012 | Visual Studio

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Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group - Holiday Party on Dec 12th 2012

by Angela 1. December 2012 12:48

Are you a regular attendee? Someone who hasn’t been to a meeting in a while? Someone who has never been and has been looking for the perfect topic? Well, c’mon down! Next week is our annual holiday meeting. In the past few months there has been a release of Visual Studio as well as an update, and not just any update but a MASSIVE update with lots of good new functionality. So go download it today!

We'll have fun giveaways for everyone who attends, but some particularly awesome giveaways for people who are willing to get up and demo their favorite VS 2012 (so anything related to VS, MTM or TFS) feature! It doesn't have to be a long or complicated demo, but it does need to highlight something about the latest release or the update that you find particularly useful or cool. Shoot me an email at Angela.Dugan@PolarisSolutions.com with the feature you want to highlight so I can ensure we don't end up with duplicates. Everyone that does a demo gets an additional gift, but we will also vote for one or two big winners to receive something extra cool! More details to come...  We will have many speakers that night, hopefully including you!

So far we have the following presenters and topics:

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When: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Location: Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

Agenda:6:00PM Food, drinks and prizes. 7:00PM VS 2012 Demo contest. 8:00PM Grand prizes awarded

Register here: http://chicagoalmug.org/
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Hmm, So Apparently TFS 2012 Power Tools Require VS Pro or Better

by Angela 19. November 2012 15:37

So I had gotten used to installing a VS 2010 Shell on my TFS app tier for doing basic administration type activities that required a Team Explorer. One of my most common tasks was editing the TFS process template using the TFS Power Tools. So when I upgraded TFS to 2012, I immediately downloaded the TFS 2012 Team Explorer and Power Tools and installed them so I could get to work.

Today I discovered that is no longer a supported scenario once you have upgraded to TFS 2012, not that the error message is AT ALL helpful for figuring this out, shocking. I loaded up the VS Shell, opened Tools | Process Editor | Work Item Types | Open WIT from Server like I always do

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and got a strange error I hadn’t seen before. I tried a few other options, projects, work item types, kept getting errors. I was able to export work items, just not open them. ::sad trombone::  So this is an error you might end up encountering after upgrading if you haven’t seen the update I am talking about.

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Cannot load ‘C:Users37653\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft Corporation\Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2012\11.0.50727.1\usnbka366p_Str_Enterprise_User Story,wit’: Could not load file or assembly Microsoft.VisualStudio.XmlEditor,Version=1 1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral,PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.

 

When I dug around, I discovered a few MSDN posts referring to a licensing change for VS 2012.  I suppose if I still worked at Microsoft I wouldn’t have missed that valuable little nugget. So no longer can you get away with a free VS Shell and the Power Tools for simple administrative tasks on your server, you must install at LEAST VS Professional.  Lame.

If you are lucky, like me, your boss bought you a copy of VS Ultimate and it’s not an issue since with MSDN benefits, you can install it on pretty much any server YOU are going to use. Just be sure if it is a shared server, that everyone is properly licensed for whatever you install there. And alas, this is at my client, so now I need to work with their server folks to get that installed and make sure they are licensed properly for it ::sad face::

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | Power Tools | SDLC | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS Power Tools | Team Foundation Server

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