Insight from Agora Consultants

Top 5 Features of Team Foundation Server 2015

Microsoft’s Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2015 was release in August 2015 and is packed with new features and usability improvements.  Agora Consulting Partners specializes in installing, configuring, and assisting teams use Team Foundation Server (TFS).  If you want to maximize your usage of Team Foundation Server contact Agora today to find out how we can help. The following are my five favourite new features and improvements. #5 Split columns on the Kanban board Kanban boards now have “split columns”. If your team uses a pull model to move work through the board you will like this. On our projects we often did not have a way to indicate work was ready to move to the next state. Now you can split your state into two subcolumns—Doing and Done. Moving a card into the Done column provides a clear signal that work is ready to progress, and that the card can be pulled by the person/team who owns that next stage. To split any of the columns on your board, simply click the Customize Columns link on the toolbar. #4 Customize and configure your cards by adding fields & tags Not only can you customize how your cards look on your Kanban board, but you now have configuration options for the data showing up on your cards in the Customize Cards dialog box. You can turn the ID on or off, select how the assigned to field is displayed, and choose to show tags directly on your cards. Most people want fields like "title" and "assigned to" on every card, but it's a time saver to bring a bit more information to the cards so you can take action on them without having to open them for more details. For example, notice that both "Priority" and "Severity" have been added to the following bug cards:   The Custom fields added to your cards are directly editable from the board. And, these options are per team (or backlog) and per work item so that you have maximum flexibility. #3 - Taskboard: Bugs on your backlogs and boards Teams can choose if they want to show bugs on their backlogs, regardless of process template. Teams can now choose to show bugs on the backlogs and taskboard with requirements (user stories or product backlog items), with tasks, or not at all. #2 Show un-parented tasks in sprint backlog and task board The tasks in the sprint that do not have a parent story will now show up on the sprint backlog and task board, under an "Un-parented" category. The un-parented row is highlighted with a grey-colored bar. You can move tasks from an un-parented row to any user story, and vice versa. (Note: Drag & drop of an un-parented row is not allowed; it will always appear on the top of sprint backlog as well as the task board.) #1 - Current iteration query token This one is a small one, but my favorite.  This feature gives you the ability to specify a token that represents the current iteration in iteration-based queries. This release brings the addition of a new query token, @CurrentIteration, that returns the current iteration based on today's date. There are some limitations with this new token, however. For example, it doesn't work in Excel. The token relies on understanding your team context, and unfortunately Excel doesn't have all the information needed to determine which iteration is current. Learn more about the current iteration query token. Newsletter If you would like to receive a short newsletter from us twice per year please complete go to our newsletter registration page.

Team Foundation Server 2013 Released–New Features

Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2013 has been officially released.  This article is a quick summary of the features that I think are most noteworthy. For lots more information about Visual Studio 2013 join the virtual launch on November 13, 2013.  See for more information. Portfolio Management: Backlogs across multiple teams In Team Foundation Server 2013, you can manage your work in a portfolio backlog that provides a management team insight into work across several agile teams. A management team defines the high-level goals and tracks work across multiple agile teams. Agile teams are the ones doing the work, breaking down items into tasks, fixing bugs, and contributing to the overall picture. All teams will have their own backlogs and boards, and will also have a roll-up view of the customer experiences supported by their work. The screen shot below shows a management view of a backlog rolled up to the feature and product backlog items. Features A new work item type named Features has been added. Features are used to facilitate the portfolio management noted above, but on their own I think they are a great addition. Shown below a Feature is a rollup work item that can have one or more child requirements.  This work item is a great addition since it allows high level stakeholders to have visibility into the project at the feature level without the need to see all the requirements or user stories. Team Rooms Team room provides an area for fostering and capturing communication among team members.  By using the team room instead of email threads, you automatically receive an audit trail of conversations and decisions. By reviewing the archive, you can quickly catch up with the team when you’ve been away or in a different time zone.

Light Weight Testing with TFS

Visual Studio Update 2 added a light weight browser based test management to the TFS toolkit.  This capability allows testers to perform step-based testing with only a browser. The tester no longer requires Test Manager to get to the functionality they need to perform their tasks. This is a significant piece of functionality because in my experience many of our clients have been turned off by the fact that they need to install Test Manager for “casual” testers. Test Manager still plays an important role, but now this product can be used by the Test Leads to plan and review test plans while the testers focus on a simpler set of functionality. Accessing the Test Plans To access the Test Plans click the Test link in the top menu and then select the appropriate test plan from the drop down list. Selecting a specific Test Suite shows the associated test cases. Creating a Test Case To create a new case select the New menu item in the results pane. The new test case screen will open which allows you to create full test case including the steps. Run a Test In order to run a test you select the test case from the results pane and click Run in the menu. The test case steps will now open in a narrow browser pane that allows the tester to view the steps and indicates pass or fail for each step while viewing the application at the same time. Testers have similar functionality to Test Runner – they can pass or fail individual steps and pass or fail the entire test case.  Taking screen shots and video is not supported directly, but the tester can add attachments. Reviewing Results Reviewing test suite results in the browser can be performed quickly by just clicking on the test suites in the tree and viewing the status in results pane. Summary The browser-based access to test plans is a great addition to Visual Studio/TFS.  Testers can now perform tests and record results using just the browser.  Test Manager can still be used for more complex testing that might required recordings or IntelliTrace.

Team Foundation Server 2012 Updates

The Microsoft TFS team has been busy releasing updates to TFS 2012 on rapid pace as promised.  Some of the highlights of the releases are listed below. Update 1 TFS 2012 Update 1 (2012.1) was released in November 2012 and contained a long list of improvements and fixes including: Extend TFS server side path limits from 260 characters to 400 characters Usability improvements for Version Control Kanban support in TFS Web Access TFS web access usability improvements Sharepoint testing improvements Manual testing improvements Coded UI testing improvements SCVMM 2012 SP1 support with Lab Management for Windows 2012 hosts VSUpdate support for Microsoft Test Manager for automatic update notification Unit testing improvements Easier installation of unit test adapters on TFS build machines using Nuget Code Map – Incremental discovery and visualization of your application architecture and dependencies IntelliTrace Integration with System Center Integrate Blend Windows Phone Tooling Multiscale image support for manifest content JavaScript Memory Profiling Mixed Managed/Native Debugging Support for Store Apps ARM Native Dump Debugging Support Enable XP targeting with C++ More info on TFS 2012 Update 1 (2012.1) can be found here. Update 2 TFS 2012 Update 2 (2012.2) was released in April 2013.  The full list of improvements and fixes is too long to list here, but can be found here. Some of the improvement highlights include: Team Foundation Server You can now send a work item as an email message in TFS Web Access. UI testing Support is now provided for extended cross-browser use. Support is now provided for UI testing for Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7. Test Case Manager (Web Access) You can now view and edit test cases in a test plan from TFS Web Access. You can now run manual test cases, and file bugs from TFS Web Access. SharePoint Support is now provided for web and load testing for SharePoint applications. Support is now provided for record and playback through Coded UI to perform UI validations on SharePoint 2013 applications. IntelliTrace support is the same as that provided in SharePoint 2010. Phone tools The program enables unit testing for Windows Phone. The program lets you build and deploy workflows of Windows Phone projects from the command line. Update 3 TFS 2012 Update 3 (2012.3) was released in June 2013.  The full list of improvements and fixes can be found here. TFS 2012.3 is a small releases, mostly containing high priority bug fixes and a few changes to improve the compatibility/interop story with VS 2013.

Agora presenting at the Microsoft Project Conference

Microsoft held their annual Project Conference last week in Phoenix.  At the event, they invite customers and partners from around the world to attend presentations and meetings about all of the Microsoft technologies built around Microsoft Project and Microsoft Project Server. Agora was invited to give a session called “Be Loved by your Development Team” about the integration between Project Server and Team Foundation Server (TFS).  The audience was mostly project managers and we were helping them understand how software development teams work and how a tool like TFS can help project managers better manage software development projects.  We are uniquely qualified to do this, being one of the few companies in the world that is a Microsoft Certified Partner in both Project and Portfolio Management (PPM – built around Project Server) and Application Lifecycle Management (ALM – Built around TFS). Kevin Walker and Gord Schmidt delivered the presentation and received very strong ratings from the attendees.  To view the presentation slides, please go to the following link: - Be loved by your development teams - March 2012.pdf

New Visual Source Safe Upgrade Tool is Available!

From MSDN… The Visual Source Safe Upgrade tool provides a Wizard Based UI for upgrading Visual Source Safe repositories to Team Foundation Server 2012, 2010 or Team Foundation Service ( Upgrades the follow from Visual SourceSafe to Team Foundation Server (TFS) version control: Code projects Files Version history Labels User information Documentation can be found at:

Team Foundation Server–Project Server Integration Pack: Timesheets

Customers using the timesheet capabilities of Project Server will be interested to know how the TFS-PS Integration Pack impacts timesheets. In a typical scenario tasks are created and assigned to a user either in Project Pro or Visual Studio. In the example below the task “Tax Calculator” has been created and assigned to Lina. After publishing the plan Lina will see the task in Visual Studio. Lina can update the remaining work and completed work in Visual Studio.  In the example below Lina updated the task to show 22 hours of work completed with 2 hours remaining. Project Server will take the 22 hours of work and time phase the hours according to the planned time phase.  Since the task was supposed to start on 2/21/2012 the profile of the task is 8 hours on the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd.  Project Server enters 8 hours for 21st and 22nd and then 6 hours on the 23rd (since 2 hours of work remain).  In the example below approval is still required for this update. After the project manager has approved the update the timesheet entry is complete. Once the time has been entered into the time sheet the user can still modify the timesheet and submit.

TFS–Project Server Integration: Multiple Resource Assignments

One of the key differences to be aware of when using the TFS – Project Server Integration Pack is that TFS only allows one resource to be assigned to a task and Project Server allows multiple resources to be assigned to a task.  So what happens if you have multiple resources assigned to a task in Project Server when you see the task in TFS? Project Server View In Project Pro create a task and add multiple resources.  Save and publish the plan.  During the publish process the following dialog box will open. Project Server has detected that you have a task that requires a single owner to be identified.  You must select one of the users that you added to the task as being the primary owner. Team Foundation Server View In Visual Studio the task is shown with the primary owner only.  Note the remaining work matches what is in Project Server.  The primary owner could get updates from the other resources and update the Remaining Work field on behalf of the group.  The multiple resource assignment is maintained in the project plan.