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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 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.

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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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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:

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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.

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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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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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Say Hello to Chicago’s Newest ALM MVP

by Angela 3. October 2013 20:35

I’m totally stoked to be the latest Chicagoan to be named an ALM MVP. There are currently only 114 ALM MVPs worldwide (that I see on the site anyway), and I am proud to be counted amongst these awesome folks. Sadly, the site is not quite updated so you won’t see yours truly listed just yet.

Wait, “what the heck is an ALM MVP you say?” I know, that is a lot of acronyms there.  In case you’re not hip to Microsoft lingo, that’s an Application Lifecycle Management Most Valued Professional.  This essentially means that in the areas of ALM (TFS, Visual Studio, Microsoft Test Manager, SDLC, etc.), I’ve made significant enough contributions to the community at large to get some serious props. And it’s been a fun ride, and I certainly don’t plan to slow down :)

This is not to say I know EVERYTHING there is to know on the topic of ALM, oh how I wish there were enough hours in the day.  But on any given day you’re likely to find me Installing/upgrading/customizing TFS, scouring MSDN forums, leading a class through the ropes of agile development, or perhaps giving a talk at a local user group on adopting a new ALM strategy in the real world.  I’m definitely passionate about what I do.

Anyway, that’s it for now! Just a little update on the latest excitement in my professional life.  Hope to catch you at a conference or user group near you soon! And don’t forget to stop by the Chicago ALM User Group sometime.  We will be posting details on out October meeting soon!

 

And because I’m always striving to do thing my mom can brag about, here is a picture of me being all giddy about my award :)

V__7802

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | VS 2013 | VS 2012 | VS 2010 | Visual Studio 2013 | Visual Studio 2012 | Visual Studio | TFS Upgrade | TFS 2013 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS 2010 | TFS 2008 | TFS | SDLC | Process Methodology | MSDN

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DTDPS, What It Is and Why You’ll LOVE it

by Angela 19. July 2013 19:18

It sounds like an STD, I know, but I promise it’s not. and after you’ve given your customers a DTDPS, they will thank you for it Smile  So hopefully I’ve intrigued you enough to read a bit more about this mysterious program. I’ve created a short FAQ to walk you through it:

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 3 DTDPS offerings available: TFS deployment planning, Visual SourceSafe migration planning, and Microsoft Test Professional deployment planning. 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 a customer’s current environment in order to help them build a plan for implementation and adoption of TFS and/or MTM.

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 and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you in more detail. Also, the programs being offered may be changing soon so check the site occasionally to see if a program was added to fit your needs.  

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.  This means customers benefit from a wealth of relevant experience and established best practices that only comes from having deployed and leveraged the tools in a large number of environments.

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!

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Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group Meets July 31st

by Angela 15. July 2013 12:40

It’s that time again! We’re meeting on July 31st at the Aon Center in downtown Chicago to talk about one of my favorite features of the 2012 toolset, database management with TFS!  You can do some pretty slick stuff with the latest set of free data tools.  That’s right, they are FREE now.  Here are some more details on what’s being covered:

Abstract: One of the trickiest parts of ALM is tracking changes to database schemas related to building and deploying a particular release. The tooling from Microsoft once again changed in 2012 with the replacement of Visual Studio Database Projects (aka “Data Dude”) with SSDT. This hands-on presentation will discuss how to convert from previous versions of Visual Studio Database Projects as well as reverse engineering a schema from an existing database. The presentation will also look at changing and refactoring the database and how to incorporate the tool into the build and deploy cycles.

Speaker Bio: Daniel Sniderman is an Associate Principal Consultant for Magenic, one of the nation's premiere Microsoft Gold Certified Partners. Dan first learned to program FORTRAN in in the late 70’s using a keypunch machine and has thirty years of experience in software development. Since 1993, Dan has specialized on developing business applications on the Microsoft platform. Dan has worked at Magenic since 2004 specializing in customer software development and ALM consulting. In addition to a BA from the University of Illinois, Dan has a MCSD.NET and MCTS in Team Foundation Server 2010. Dan also is a professional trombonist performing regularly with the B.S. Brass Band and The Prohibition Orchestra of Chicago. Dan has two children: Joella age 7 and Elijah age 2.

Date:              Wednesday July 31st 2013

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

Agenda:          6:30PM Dinner followed by a presentation and demo at 7pm

Registration:      http://chicagoalmug.org/

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

Tags:

development | database management | Visual Studio 2012 | Visual Studio | Team Foundation Server | TFS 2012 | SQL Server 2012 | SQL Server | SDLC | SDET

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Are you managing your database along with your source code? Why not?

by Angela 23. April 2013 17:17

This is both a call to arms and a last notification of the awesome topic being covered at the Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group tomorrow night.

In my day to day dealings with companies I often find that they are not managing their database in any way  ::commence slow head shake:: And in my head I am screaming while I politely smile and calmly ask how they keep track of database changes, how they test updates to the schema, and what their rollback process is. Some companies do actually have some solid processes around those types of things, but many have nothing but a rosary and a case of Redbull. They just backup their servers nightly, and rolling back changes is a nuclear option. There is a better way people!

Ideally, you have you database schema, and any executable database code checked into SOME source control management system. By which I mean you have the SCRIPTS necessary to create those things in source code (see screenshot below). Without a good tool, establishing that can be tedious, daunting, and usually isn’t done, period. One of the things I love about Visual Studio  is its slick handling of database asset management (which has been around since VS 2008). In no time at all you can reverse engineer a database schema and all dependent objects into a database project in Visual Studio and check it in. Yes, just like that. That’s of course just the beginning but I’ll keep this soapbox rant short and expand in future musings.

The tools get better and better with each new version and the SDET tools that plug-in to VS 2012 are the best yet. Here is a quick preview of what that experience looks like in Visual Studio 2012.  I am running Ultimate but you would have the same look and feel in just plain old Professional as well.

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Now if you are still a hard core SSMS user, fear not. You can still get some of the awesomeness of TFS working for you in SSMS, but finding out where to set that up can be tricky. Quick tip, if you already have TFS installed at your company, really you just need the TFS connector and to flip the switch

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And now for the info on the user group, there’s still a little time left to sign up. Do it, DO IT NOW!!

Visual Studio and TFS 2012 for managing your SQL Server Database Assets

Do you have SQL Server database assets you should be managing? If you have a SQL Server database you certainly do! Do you use TFS to manage your other software assets like architectural diagrams, source code and build scripts? Are you using that same great toolset to manage your SQL scripts?  If not, you SHOULD be.

Did you that know some of the same great ALM features that you love about TFS for your source code can be applied to SQL 2005/2008/2012 stored procedures, table definitions, functions and other schema objects? And that's not all, there are also tools for doing schema comparisons, static analysis, unit testing and deployment of your database assets.  Jim will be giving an overview of the database tools available with VS and TFS 2012.

This is a meeting NOT to be missed.

Join Us Wednesday, April 24, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Location:Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

Speaker Bio: Jim Szubryt is the TFS Product Manager for the Enterprise Workforce at Accenture in Chicago and is a Microsoft ALM MVP. His TFS Team supports 2,500 developers in the global development centers and works with teams on implementing ALM processes. His blog can be found here.

Agenda:6:30PM Dinner followed by a presentation and demo at 7pm

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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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