Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Extending Manul Notifications to the web

In the last post I wrote about Manual Notifications and the Visual Studio extension for Manual Notification which I created. In this post I’ll show a solution to bring Manual Notifications to all clients and users of your project.

VS Extension a first step. When I started developing the TFS Notify VS extension I knew from the start that it would only server as a first quick fix, as it only is available inside Visual Studio. For the many users who interacts with TFS through the Web interface, we need to provide something different. Unfortunately Microsoft hasn’t released a supported way to extend the web interface, so we’re need to find another way to bring the notification feature to the web.

Customizing the Web through work item definition customizations
One of the things we can customize which affects the web interface is work item type definitions. Instead of developing a custom work item control with the wanted features, we can simply create and deploy a simple webpage and “plug” it into the work item form using the standard WebPage control, passing the needed data as parameters.

Tfs Notify Web project
As I had a decent layered WPF client, creating a web solution what does the same thing as the wpf client was most about adding a web project and providing a html view on the model, keeping the existing code shared and unchanged between the Web project and the WS extension.  The trickiest thing is probably to deploy the web solution to a server.

Tfs Notify work item customizations
Once we got a webpage, we need to add a Web Page control to the Work Item type(s) you want to enable manual notifications on. To connect it and send the parameters, just select the Control Settings property and click the button. This will bring up a form that lets you specify the URL and parameters to the webpage. You can use $(FieldName) to pass field as parameter.

The result
I choose to add the Manual Notify page in the history tab. This is the result...

Friday, April 4, 2014

TFS Notify – Manual Notifications for TFS

Ever wanted the possibility to pick a work item, email it to someone with a comment, change the state and have the comment added to the discussion of the work item? Many ticketing system have this capability, mostly called Manual notify, but as a TFS user, there hasn’t been a good solution, until now.

Manual notification
Moving a lot of teams and organizations to tfs, I sometimes come across the need for manual notifications, and this week I did again, then I occasional talked to a colleague over coffee and he complained about him being forced to do double entry of work item data, due to the lack of manual notifications in TFS.

Can’t be done
In the discussion one thing triggered me, apart from being a known feature gap, and that was the fact that my colleague had been told it couldn’t be fixed with TFS. After looking at the current solution he had in the other ticketing system, and matching it to what I have come across earlier, I had a clear picture of the need, and how to solve it.

A flu and a couple of evenings = Minimal Viable product
having a need and an idea how to solve it, the only thing lacking was time. (Un)fortunately, I had managed to catch a slight flu, which prevented me from normal, sensible,  activities during the evenings of the week. With the time at hand, and a little (but very important) help from Neno, I created the first minimal viable product to at least solve the problem for some people.

TFS Notify – a Visual Studio Extension available at Visual Studio Gallery
I choose to implement the solution as a Visual Studio extension at first hand, mainly because it is a solution that has the lowest distribution and adoption barriers and the best user experience. For me it’s also very easy to get started and productive. The extension is available for download at Visual Studio Galley http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/aa48c2c8-e420-469f-8d20-3bcea2c97b24

The future of TFS Notify
My immediate plans for TFS Notify is to develop a solution/extension that works with the TFS web access. Apart from that I got some ideas on the backlog for the Visual Studio extension, but as time is time is scarce and I have many ideas, the future of the TFS Notify extension is dependent on the on the traction and feedback it gets.

Alert me & Alert people for specific work items
An easy way to create alerts for me and for other people on a specific work item with one or two click, is also a fairly common ask from teams adopting TFS. The TFS Notify extension provides a platform for adding that capability fairly easy, but as usually, time is a scarce commodity 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Renewed !!!

I started the year 2014 sick in bed, and for one reason I actually think it might have been a good thing.  On the first day of the New Year, many MVP hopes to receive a renewal email, and so would I have done, if I wasn’t in bed with high fever and completely occupied with getting better.

The good thing is that if I hadn’t been occupied I would probably have become a bit nervous waiting for a renewal emails that never came. The experience of going through the mailbox a couple of days later, looking for the renewal email was enough, as there wasn’t any. Luckily I checked the Quarantined Email Summary email sent two days after, and there it was - Congratulations 2014 Microsoft MVP!  

Im both honored and proud for the recognition, but mostly Im looking forward towards another year with the warm and friendly ALM community.

Monday, September 30, 2013

New Release of TFS Scorecard for TFS 2012.2

The TFS Scorecard is one of my oldest projects, starting back at the tfs2005 days and based on Microsoft TFS dogfooding queries. With each new TFS version there has been a new release of the TFS Scorecard, adopting to changes in TFS and adding features.

Dependency on the TFS database schema

The TFS Scorecard is based on the Microsoft TFS dogfooding queries against the TFS Collection database, and therefore has a dependency on the TFS database schema. As you might know the TFS database schema is not public and subject to change with every release. Historical those schema changes has been limited to the major version upgrades every second year, and Microsoft has provided us with new updated dogfooding queries for each release.

TFS2012 Update 2 schema changes

With the new release cadence of TFS releasing new features with quarterly updates, the speed of the schema changes has picked up also. Although not all schema changes affects the dogfooding queries, but the TFS 2012.2 update did. Not much, but enough to break TFS Scorecard report.
TFS Scorecard 2012.2 released
After an update on the queries was published, I’ve implemented it and pushed a new release compatible with the TFS 2012.2 release. You can find the release at http://tfsscorecard.codeplex.com
Note that the new release only works with TFS 2012.2 or later versions, if your running TFS 2012 RTM download the old TFS 2012 RTM release

New Features in the TFS Scorecard 2012.2
Apart from fixing the dogfooding queries, I’ve also managed to do some work on the Activity logging part. One of the major things is that I redone the translation of the logs to user friendly names in the report. Hopefully it will make the report easier to read for you.  I also introduced some structure to group different tools and releases together. Making it easier to spot both who on VS 2008, 2010 and 2012 and at the same time be able to drill down to the different 2012.x updates.

Future directions of the TFS ScorecardA lot have happened since 2005, new report and visualization tools, clouds and new access methods for consuming data, and the new release cadence of TFS. It got me thinking about the future for the TFS Scorecard. Perhaps it would be time to split the TFS Scorecard report into independent peace’s and even moving some of the pieces to other technical solutions. Nothing is decided yet, so If you have any thoughts or ideas on this, I would appreciate the feedback.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Minor update: Tfs Admin Toolkit 1.3.1

I just uploaded a minor update to the TFS Admin Toolkit, addressing some user feedback and fixing some minor bugs. The biggest thing would be support for multiple filename masks!

You can find the new version at Visual Studio Gallery http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/96a425aa-9ef0-4a92-b874-217d544a74bf

Saturday, August 3, 2013

New release: Tfs Admin Toolkit 1.3

So it’s time again, a rainy day or two in an otherwise warm and sunny summer vacation, and a polite request in the same direction as my previous thoughts and I suddenly I had improved the Find In File feature.  I had also made some improvements to the Test Attachment Sizes feature earlier (the code for them have been available on CodePlex http://TfsAdminToolkit.codeplex.com).

Putting them both together and it's time for a new release of tfs Admin Toolkit 1.3 to Visual Studio Gallery, you can find the new version at http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/96a425aa-9ef0-4a92-b874-217d544a74bf

Preview and Open File in Find In Files
I made two improvements to the Find In Files feature, the first one is adding a preview pane showing the text and the matching string marked, from the selected file in the search result table , as shown on this picture.

The second improvement is perhaps a bit harder to notice, but if you right click (or double click) on a row on the search result and select open file, Visual Studio will open up the file and navigate to the line with your search match.

Splitting test attachment cleaning jobs
If you’re cleaning out large amounts of test attachments you may run into problems like performance, availability and even timeouts. To avoid those problems you may need to clean out your test attachments at small chunks, by manually editing the test cleaning config file and running the cleaner job multiple times, typically limit the date/age span for the clean, for each chunk.

I added the capability split a cleaning job into smaller chunks by age and automatically generate config files and execute statements. 

You can also select file types to include in the cleaning by selecting them in the UI.

By overriding those values, the tool will create project specific copies of the config file and modify the project specific config files for you. I also added a very basic capability to copy the content of the main grid to the clipboard.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My first book project completed - Pro Team Foundation Services

I’ve just completed one of the most fun and challenging hobby project I ever committed to. For the last 10 weeks I’ve been writing on a book on Microsoft’s hosted Team Foundation Services, together with 3 of my friends and colleagues Mattias Olausson, Joakim Rossberg and Jakob Ehn. It’s my first book project and to me it’s amazing to see the hard team work resulted in a real book – Pro Team Foundation Services, that’s now available in the stores now.

Writing a book – let’s make it challenging
Writing a book can be a challenge, but this project’s had two extra challenges. The first was a 10 weeks hard none moveable deadline. We had 10 weeks to get the Book done, turning it from a rough Table of Content to a 400 page book.
The second challenge was to write a book on a moving target like Microsoft hosted Team Foundation Service. Microsoft deploys a new version every third week, with new improvements and features. Thanks to the cooperation and support from Microsoft and hard work, we managed to align our plans and the book to Microsoft planed releases.

A book project is Team Work
As I said this was my first book project, even though I had some thoughts about writing earlier, but I can’t overstate how happy and grateful I am that I jumped aboard, and for the phenomenal team that worked together to make it happened.  Working with three other Authors with experience helped me a lot. But there is much more than just an author behind a book, there is a complete team with Book Editors, Technical Reviewers and many other people contributing -Thanks Mark, Matthew, Mary and Jonathan and the rest of the Apress team. But we also worked closely with other MVP’s and Microsoft Product Groups - Thanks Terje, Jamie, Will, Ravi, Anu, Vijay, Ed and Brian thanks for your invaluable support, input and feedback.

The book Pro Team Foundation ServicesI might as well tell you something about the book also  Pro Team Foundation Services aims to help you to implement agile and ALM practices with Microsoft Team Foundation Services. From deciding whether or not you actually should use the hosted service or not, to having your project setup, planned, developed, tested and released using agile practices.

You can read more about the book at Apress or Amazon .

I definitely learned a lot writing the book and I hope you will find the book useful.