Best Practices when customizing Work Items in Team Foundation Server (TFS)


So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to customize work items while still making sure the TFS instance is able to upgrade smoothly to future versions. In my Internet research, I actually came upon a good article on this from of all sources, Rational (Microsoft’s main competitor). This is due to the fact that they use almost the exact same data model for work items in their product (Rational Team Concert) as TFS does. They both even call them work items! Anyways, the article does a good job of dividing customization’s into “Safe”, “Cautious”,and “Harmful”. Based on my experience and expertise, these are some good principles to follow when customizing work items in a process template. You don’t want to over customize and be stuck on TFS 2005 for the next 10 years!
Enjoy!

https://jazz.net/library/article/1002

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A Review of TeamSpec – a TFS plug-in for MS Word


Two years ago I did an evaluation of TeamSpec and pointed out some areas of improvement. I’m very happy to report that the company took these to heart and updated their product to address these. Here is my updated review based on TeamSpec v.4.2.1.

TeamSpec is a 3rd-party add-in for MS Word that connects it to Team Foundation Server.  It works with the newest version of TFS 2012 and Office (2013).  It is the only commercial add-in for Word currently on the TFS platform. There are other companies that have add-in’s as part of their overall suite or solution, but TeamSpec is the only product to concentrate on just Word and it does it quite well.

How It Works

Work item attributes are linked to sentences or words in your Word Document.  This is a bi-directional sync between TFS and Word.  For example, say you have  a requirement work item with the ID of 3 and the title is “Login to system”.  You could create a line in Word with the tool like so:

REQ ID 3 – Login to System, State: Proposed

When you changed the state of the requirement work item from “Proposed” to “Active” in TFS, the line would change in Word to:

REQ ID 3 – Login to System, State: Active

This could also be done the other way by changing the state in Word and publishing the change to TFS.

Additionally, you can create “Skins” which are basically pre-defined layouts for work items. You could say that you want the state of work items to always be in bold and italicized in a skin for example.

Added Functionality

The new functionality that I really like and makes it a valuable product is the ability to use work item queries from TFS with Word. Writing custom reports in Reporting Services for Word is not easy, especially since the HTML fields are not stored in the TFS Data Warehouse. This product makes it a cinch! No more writing a huge SRS! Just generate it! :)

Linked worked items are supported in queries and test cases are supported as well!!! So you can do your testing documents here as well.

The documentation has improved tremendously, but a few more “behind-the-scenes” articles in the documentation would be nice. I also hold some small reservations about the long term stability of the company as it appears to be small, so be sure to ask for the source code when you buy the product. But to be fair, they have been in business since 2005.

Conclusion

I highly recommend you look at this product if you are using TFS as your ALM platform. Microsoft majorly overlooked Word integration in TFS (although they got Excel and Project), but alas, this is where partners like TeamSolutions step in! Thank you TeamSolutions for stepping in so well!

Use the TFS Process Template used by Microsoft


Found this interesting post that explains the “ISD” process template that is used by Microsoft Consulting Services. I always get asked by customers what Microsoft uses for TFS, well now here’s a process template used by a branch of MS. Enjoy!

An Example Coding Style Guide for .Net


This is a great example of code style guide used by Microsoft for internal coding. I’ve included a sample of it below. Enjoy!!!

All-In-One Code Framework Coding Standards

TFS on Azure is publicly available!


Brian Harry announced it today on his blog.  I’ve tried it out and it’s awesome!  They’ve got much of what you would find on a local tfs install, but of course it’s using the new tfs 2012 stuff and the web access is much better.  They’ve got the Scrum 2.0, CMMI 6.0, and Agile 6.0 templates to choose from, but they all have a “Scrum-ish” feeling to them.  For instance the CMMI one has a backlog!  Interesting development….

Go check it out today and use it while it’s still free!

New Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Group in Washington, DC Area!


Are you interested in Software Engineering?  How to use ALM tools to make your software development organization?  Then come join us on Thursday, June 21 for the inaugrual meeting of the DC ALM Group!  Hope to see you there!

Kick-Off and Continuous Deployment with Team Foundation Server

GovDev Process Template for TFS 2010


I have collaborated with Microsoft through my company CEI to create a new process template for TFS.  It is tailored to Government clients that have requirements like CMMI, but also want to be agile.  The main work item we have added is a Use Case.  It is intended to be the child of Requirement work items and replaces the User Story work item in the Agile template.  Many of the work item queries from the Agile template have been integrated into the GovDev Process Template. The following graphic nicely shows how the linking between work items is intended to be done.

GovDev Process

One of the most significant reports added was the Requirements Traceability Matrix!  I have heard many clients ask for this in the past, especially in regards to government requirements.  A screenshot is given below.

RequirementsTraceabilityReport

The best part is this is all open source!  Here’s the link to the Codeplex site, go download it today!

Installing Microsoft Test Professional and all its updates (KB’s, QFE’s, Service Packs, Feature Packs, etc.)


Microsoft Visual Studio Test Professional is a new SKU in Visual Studio 2010.  The tool Microsoft Test Manager (MTM) within it is a great start but notoriously buggy as it is a first release.  So when you install Test Professional you will want to make sure you get ALL the updates and service packs to eliminate a lot of the bugs.  These steps are based on this post from Microsoft.

Soooo, here’s the order you should do things:

  1. Install the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) version of Visual Studio Test Professional 2010 that was released on 4/12/2010.  You can get this at msdn.com through your MSDN subscription.
  2. Install KB2387011
  3. Restart your computer
  4. Install Visual Studio Service Pack 1
  5. Restart your computer (what else did you think? :) )
  6. Install KB2581206
  7. Restart your computer (again for the 100 millionth time!!!)
  8. Optionally install KB2608743 if you’re concerned about your TFS database becoming too big with test results and that ruining your GUI experience in MTM.

You’re done!!! Hallejuah!  Now go home :)  Wait a minute!!! Did I see you sneaking out the door!  You have more installing to do!!  Come back over here you!

  1. Install Feature Pack 2.  You can find it on MSDN.
  2. If you want to use the Firefox feature of playing back automated tests, download Firefox 3.6 here.
  3. Then configure it using these instructions.

Now, I’ll think about letting you go home…..

Team Foundation Server on Windows Azure Preview!


Brian Harry just announced on his blog that a preview is available for TFS on Azure.  If you’d like to get in, I can hand out 5 accounts to this service.  Soooo, as a reward to my readers, the first 5 people to comment on this post will get an account from me.

Thanks!

Windows 8: My initial reaction


At the Build conference today, Steven Sinofosky unveiled a “developer preview” of Windows 8.  The GUI, dubbed “Metro”, reminds a lot of Windows Phone 7.  Lots of “tiles” that are just like Apple’s “apps”, but with information on the icons.  A nice twist and a real marketing edge to say “We are not copying Apple, again!” :).

Now, since it is a “developer preview”, here are my thoughts as a developer.  Apparently, they’ve taken the Win32 API’s, .Net CLR, and other OS API’s and unified them into one layer called the “Windows Runtime API’s” or WinRT for short.  The real change is allowing JavaScript to call into this Win RT.  This effectively means that JavaScript is now on a level playing field with C#, C++, and other major languages for producing Windows apps (in terms of features).  I suspect C and C++ will always have a performance edge (given that is what the Win kernel is written in).  But still, this is a MAJOR development.

Exalting JavaScript to this position I think is good overall, but not without possible negatives.  These are:

  • JavaScript-only developers tend to be hobbyists turned developers and have not learned all the intricacies of real software engineering (should get a few comments on that one)
  • JavaScript is not strongly typed (but neither are some dynamic .net languages)

The positives far outweigh the negatives though:

  • Microsoft is finally following standards!!!!  And W3C standards to boot!! (You can also use CSS and HTML 5)
  • Web apps will have a level playing field with native apps!
  • So many developers know JavaScript, so the market for getting developers just got a lot bigger!

Soooo, in all a very good audition.  And as this article points out, this is the way Microsoft has always operated.  They steal, copy, and conquer!

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