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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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How a Pinterest Hack for FireFox broke my TFS Web Tooling

by Angela 11. May 2015 11:43

Because I am sure you ALL use Pinterest right? Whatever, you do, you can admit it. Anyway, I ran across a weird case where a grease monkey script that I was using to hack Pinterest caused really odd behavior with my TFS web tools, and surely one or more of you will have this happen to you, or one of your fellow TFS users.

I logged into my TFS web portal today, and all of a sudden the TFS web tools were acting REALLY weird. The Code, Build, and Test tabs worked fine, but anything related to areas/iterations or work items was blank. A good portion of the admin screens were blank too.

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First I panicked a little because we had been having some serious issues on the data tier and had to reboot the server. I couldn’t imagine what would have caused this to happen. I was a TFS admin with god rights, and I could see code, builds, and test plans. Then I confirmed it was just me, and then I also confirmed it was only in FireFox. Whew!!

I cleared my cache, restarted the browser, and rebooted, still busted.I figured it HAD to be something I changed in my browser settings, or maybe an update I recently installed. I couldn’t remember what I had changed in FF lately, then it came to me, I had added a grease monkey script over the weekend to remove all of the “picked for you” items from my main Pinterest feed. Because Pinterest is important. And reasons, shush you. Anyway, I turned it off and everything went back to normal. Yippee!

Here was the blog post with the grease monkey script that I had installed: http://bethmcmillan.com/blog/?p=1254. I haven’t had time yet to figure out exactly which part of the script was killing my TFS app. All I care about for now is I can work again.

So if you have Pinterest users who are also using TFS, this may happen to you.  Hopefully if it does, you remember my lesson learned instead of panicking and going down a rathole of troubleshooting that will lead you nowhere.

Tags:

Application Lifecycle Management | Visual Studio 2013 | Visual Studio | VSOnline | VS 2013 | TFS 2013 | TFS Administration | Team Foundation Server

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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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FREE webinar on April 9th - Lifecycle Analytics with TFS 2013 and Office 365

by Angela 16. March 2015 13:34

More and more businesses that I work with rely on software for their growth and success, today more than ever before. But businesses often feel a lack of control and visibility around their software processes, and fail to achieve the agility and efficiencies needed to succeed.

Microsoft has revolutionized software Application Lifecycle Management with a robust and highly collaborative toolset focused on transparency, quality, and efficiency. Visual Studio ALM provides a powerful collaboration and automation platform in Team Foundation Server (TFS), while offering a wide variety of interfaces to TFS including Visual Studio, Microsoft Test Manager, cross-platform development tooling such as Eclipse, and Office.

Microsoft Power BI is a complete self-service business intelligence solution that can be used to visualize the patterns and trends in your TFS data.

Please join us for this free online webinar to learn how to harness the powerful integration and reporting capabilities available in this suite of Microsoft tools to not only manage your software ALM, but to improve it!

Key Experiences:

· Overview  of Visual Studio ALM

· Overview of Power BI

· Capturing the right data in TFS

· Applying analytics and business intelligence to inspect and improve your processes

When:   Thursday, April 9th from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Register Now

Presenters:

clip_image002Angela Dugan is the Microsoft ALM Practice Manager for Polaris Solutions.  She has been working in the software industry for 16 years, is a certified scrum master, and a Microsoft ALM MVP.

clip_image004Tom Jaskula is the Data Analytics Practice Manager for Peters & Associates and is the president of the Chicago BI PASS chapter.   He has been architecting and implementing solutions using Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Business Intelligence products for 16 years.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | VS 2013 | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2013 | Team Foundation Server | TFS 2013 | SQL Server | SQL Server 2012 | Business Intelligence | Office 365 | o365 | PowerBI

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Setting Default Values on a Readonly work item field in TFS 2013

by Angela 4. March 2015 14:07

It’s actually a bit more complicated than that… What I was trying to do was set the Assigned To field on a NEW work item to a particular person, and then lock it in.  So new work items of a specific type can only ever be assigned to a particular person… The Assigned to dropdown would only ever get the full list of team members after it was transitioned away from the New state.

I tried a lot of things that felt like they SHOULD have worked. It appeared that I could do either set a field default, or make it read-only, but not both.  Here are the things I tried:

  1. I tried setting the field itself to both have a default value and be read-only at the field definition level, but it appears as a read-only blank field.
  2. I tried setting the field to have the default value, then added a WHEN clause to the field to set it to read-only when System.State = new. It appears as a read-only blank field.
  3. I tried setting the field to be read-only, then added a WHEN clause to set the field Default value during the transition into the new state (see below). It appears as a read-only blank field.
  4. I tried setting the field to have the default value, then set the field to read-only during the transition into the new state (see below). It appears as a read-only blank field.
  5. I tried setting the Assigned to field to be both set with a default value, and set to read-only in the New transition. Nothing was set at the field level. It appears as a read-only blank field.

Is read-only always processed before default value rules are set regardless of how you do it? I wasn’t sure, and I did run across the order of operations docs and it does not address read-only. :: SIGH::

If I remove the Read-only rule from every approach, the field defaults properly, making me think what I want to do is just not supported.  After scouring a lot of MSDN documentation, I have no reason to think otherwise but when I find out for sure I’ll let you know. Anyone see something else I am doing wrong? Or know for sure if it is supported or not? If so, please let me know! It’s kind of driving me crazy.  In the meantime, I did think of a workaround.   Instead of making the field read-only, I reduced the valid choices in the drop down while the item is in the new state to the one person it can be.  Not exactly read-only, but they can't change it to another value so it is effectively read-only...

<FieldDefinition name="Assigned To" refname="System.AssignedTo" type="String" syncnamechanges="true" reportable="dimension">
  <ALLOWEXISTINGVALUE />
  <ALLOWEDVALUES expanditems="true">
    <LISTITEM value="[project]\Analysts" />
  </ALLOWEDVALUES>
  <DEFAULT from="value" value="Joy" />
  <VALIDUSER />
  <WHEN field="System.State" value="New">
    <ALLOWEDVALUES expanditems="true">
      <LISTITEM value="Joy" />
    </ALLOWEDVALUES>
  </WHEN>
</FieldDefinition>

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Chicago Code Camp returns to IIT in Chicago in 2015

by Angela 3. March 2015 17:42

So did you hear that Chicago Code Camp is returning to IIT in Chicago?! Very exciting news. And a much shorter commute for me Smile 

What is Chicago Code Camp? Really?! I hope that isn’t a serious question. It’s a fantastic 1-day event! Here is the blurb from the website, because I don’t know that I can sum it up much better than this:

Chicago Code Camp is a community event where developers learn from fellow developers. The one day polyglot code camp's goals are for developer to share ideas, learn from one another, and then develop upon topics of interests that were discovered during events. Our topics from previous years included development (and/or trending practices) in .net, java, open sourced frameworks, web, mobile, cloud, robotics, testing, soft skills, agile and scrum practices, and more.

Sessions range from informal talks and panel discussions to formal presentations. There will be a mix of presenters – some experienced speakers with years in the industry, some that may be speaking in public for the first time, as well as students and first time developers. We are expecting to see people from throughout Midwest region and beyond.

2015 will be our 7th year of Chicago Code Camp and we are happy to return to the City of Chicago and to the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Call for speakers is OPEN so be sure to submit your best ideas! And keep in mind that we do get a lot of submissions, and voting is blind, so bonus points for very detailed submissions and creative content.

 

Lastly, and most importantly because this is a community supported event, there are also sponsorship opportunities. If you are looking to support the community, maybe even use the opportunity to do some networking, advertising, and recruiting of some great local talent, this is a great one to consider! Sponsorship opportunities start at just $500. Find out more on the Sponsors page.

 

 

***********UPDATE**********

Registration is now open, and the event is, as it always has been, completely FREE!

Tags:

.NET | Agile | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Azure | C# | Chicago Code Camp | Cloud Computing | DevOps | Mobile | Mobile development | Release Management | SDLC | Team Foundation Server | Testing | TFS 2013 | Visual Studio | VS 2013

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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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      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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      St Louis Day of .NET – Links to Blogs and Decks for all Polaris Speakers

      by Angela 24. November 2014 15:22

      This year was the second year that Polaris Solutions sponsored St. Louis Day of .NET.  In case you’re wondering why were sponsor a conference in St Louis, a) it’s a really great conference, and b) we have an office down there, a quickly growing one too! So if you missed it this year, stay tuned for STLDODN 2015! Outside of ThatConference, it is one of the most affordable, local conference that I have even been a part of. It was focused on Microsoft and .NET technologies, but also included a lot of talks around test automation, deployment and release management, and agile and scrum.

      If you did attend, I wanted to make sure to point you at my slide decks, as well as the blogs and slide decks of some of our other presenters. If you missed them, I spoke on both TFS deployment and management as well as agile adoption, Josh did presentations on machine learning with Azure and ASP.NET identify framework, Clint did a really great presentation on Application Architecture and another on Advanced OOP, and Jeff talked about a topic near and dear to my hear as well – TFS Consolidation and migrations.  If you attended the pre-compiler sessions you may have even run across our newest Polarian – Alejandro Ramirez. Great stuff, all of them! Here is a roundup of how to find more information on those speakers, and to get their slides:

      • Angela Dugan: You’re already on my blog :) slides are here
      • Clint Edmonson: Blog and slides
      • Josh Gillespie: Blog and slides
      • Jeff Przylucki: Blog and slides to be posted soon, check back in a few days!
      • Alejandro Ramirez:Blog and slides

       

      A couple of us even made it into the podcast line-up while there as well! I’ll be appearing on an upcoming edition of Technology and Friends, and both myself and Alejandro got a chance to sit down with the great team behind St Louis Tech Talks

      Lastly, be sure to check out the STLDODN twitter feed (and search on #STLDODN) for some great tweets, links to the other great podcast episodes recorded live during the conference, as well as links to some of the other presentations.

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      My First Clumsy Attempt With Application Insights

      by Angela 9. November 2014 22:42

      So maybe you’ve been hearing some buzz around Application Insights (referred to as AI after this because I’m lazy).  I first heard of it a year or so ago when it was in Preview. Well, technically it is STILL in Preview, but if you’re running VS 2013 Update 3 or newer you may have noticed a slight facelift in the tooling. I wanted to get my hands into it so I could experience it for myself, and my experience was so awesome I figured I’d share. So if you’ve stuck with me this far and are wondering, “what the heck IS AI anyway?”, it’s like Google Analytics on steroids. But like, get kicked out of MLB steroids.

      So to get started you’ll need Visual Studio 2013, the VS 2013 add-ons that support AI, and either access to a web application that you can deploy with the AI telemetry installed, or an MSDN subscription or a personal Azure account so you can easily create and publish your own web app. If like me you are NOT a developer, but still want to see what AI can do for your organization with a super simple web application, I also included a link to a How To article for getting a web app up and running in Azure really quickly.

      Getting started with Azure and ASP.NET

      How to: Migrate and Publish a Web Application to an Azure Cloud Service from Visual Studio

      Application Insights Tools for VS

      At this point I had my super simple ASP.NET web application deployed to an Azure website, and can even monitor the Azure website from within Visual Studio in the Server Explorer. Nice, right? I know.

      image

      image

      And right now it’s FREE to host my website on Azure too.  I have a really simple site that doesn’t require a lot of resources, so that may not always be the case, but if you’re just evaluating Azure and/or AI this is a really nice way to get there! More pricing can be found here on azure websites if you’re interested in learning more.

      Now, before I move on I want to make something clear, it doesn’t matter where your application code is, or where it is hosted. There is a common misconception that you can only leverage AI if you are using VSOnline for your application development and SCM. And I don’t want to imply from my example that hosting in Azure is required either. Azure was just the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way for me to publish my web application, and heck, as a bonus I got some experience publishing to Azure. My source code is stored in an on-premise TFS server, but it could be anywhere.  What is important is that the telemetry data is configured to send information to the AI dashboards, which are currently available through the VSOnline portal. So at a minimum you will need access to a VSOnline instance.

      Even before adding any telemetry to your application in VS, you can setup a new Application Insights dashboard against any existing website and start getting some limited data points back. Just look for the link on your VSOnline Homepage under Recent Dashboards, create a new dashboard, and add the application URLs to be monitored.

      ai

      Perhaps starting at the dashboard was a bit backwards, I’ll admit to often charging ahead on new tools to figure it out as I go rather than reading the instructions first, but luckily the AI tools do a great job of walking you through everything you need to do to “light up” the different sections. In some cases, it requires adding small snippets of code the the HTML of the web pages you wish to monitor, for other metrics you may be required to install the MMA tool on your server (assuming you have the ability to do this). 

      image

      So without all the fancy telemetry tools deployed with your app, there is not much on your dashboard yet. But without any additional configuration, it will at least start pinging your website on regular intervals to ensure it is up and running and to pull back some response time data. Pretty neat huh? But I want more data!

      image

      image

      You also may have noticed that so far I’ve actually been leveraging the OLD AI dashboard experience instead of leveraging the Azure portal experience. For now, regardless of which portal you use to set up your AI dashboard, it will be available in both the old and new portals. I personally found it easier to start in the old experience, and once the basics were configured I then jumped into the new portal to dig into the data.  You may also find that you need the old portal if you are testing one of the few application types not yet supported by the new AI, more details here.

      Given how much ground we covered in this session, I wanted to let all of this marinate before diving deeper into AI capabilities, and walking through some of the detailed metrics that can be pulled from your application. Truth be told, I’m still tweaking my configuration, processing data, and figuring out what it all means. Seriously, check out some of the awesome data I am able to dig through in the new AI portal:

      image

      So, stay tuned for my next post, where we really get deep into the data weeds using Application Insights!

      Tags:

      ALM | ASP.NET | Azure | Microsoft | MSDN | Visual Studio 2013 | VS 2013 | Visual Studio | Application Insights

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