The evolution of Microsoft’s solution for Application Lifecycle Management: Team Foundation Server – Part III

November 8, 2013

Part I: Introduction

Part II: Diving into the basics of ALM and how did Microsoft start with an ALM solution?

Part III: Heterogeneous Software Development

What about cross-platform development in the early versions of Microsoft Visual Studio Team System? Microsoft did not have a solution for this. Teamprise – founded in 2006 as a division of SourceGear – developed a suite of client applications for accessing Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server from outside the Visual Studio client environment. Teamprise enabled developers to use the source control and work item tracking features of Team Foundation Server from other platforms (operating systems that support a Java Runtime Environment), including Linux, Solaris and Mac OS, and from within the Eclipse IDE through a plug-in.

TeamPrise

This plug-in was also compatible with IBM’s Websphere Studio and Rational Application Developer IDE. There was also a stand-alone Teamprise client application (written in Java) which featured an Explorer-style user interface for developers not working within an IDE. The product was written by accessing the Team Foundation Server SOAP web services. A bit later in 2007 the company also started working on a Java SDK for use with Team Foundation Server. Big enterprises and third-party software vendors were interested in using libraries developed by Teamprise in order to link existing Java products with Team Foundation Server data. This addition was opening up a large set of core libraries to expose functionality to Java developers in the form of an API they can use to build their own TFS-enabled applications.

TFS 2008

Back in November 2007, Microsoft released a new version of the Team System product: Visual Studio Team System 2008. This release can be seen as the first update to the Team System brand. Visual Studio 2008 Team Foundation Server delivered improvements in several areas, such as enhanced features in Team Build and version control, better performance, scalability and more flexible configuration. But it was only in November 2009 that Microsoft acquired Teamprise to provide cross-platform support for Visual Studio. It was announced that functionality from the Teamprise Client suite would be integrated into the Visual Studio product line, beginning with the next version of Visual Studio (Visual Studio 2010). TFS in combination with the Teamprise Client Suite technologies would enable development teams to use a single tool to overcome core development challenges, regardless of the core platform in use. This decision by Microsoft was a commitment to provide ALM tooling support across the entire enterprise, a desire to avoid the artificial technological boundaries inside big companies. Heterogeneous development was at that time officially a new focus for the TFS/ALM product team inside Microsoft and the old TeamPrise (Java) developers joined the team. A few months later in April of 2012, Microsoft came up with a (temporary) name for the product: Microsoft Team Explorer 2010 codename “Eaglestone”, or TEE in short. The Program Manager for the new addition to the Visual Studio product suite was Martin Woodward, a senior software engineer from the former TeamPrise employees.

TFS 2010

At the global Visual Studio 2010 launch event in Las Vegas (April 2010) Visual Studio Team Explorer Everywhere (TEE) was announced. The Teamprise features were now completely integrated and part of the Microsoft solution set for development teams.

TEEBox

Announcement details:

Previously sold as a separate product, Visual Studio Team Explorer Everywhere 2010 works with your favorite Eclipse-based IDE, in the operating system of your choice, and helps you collaborate across your .NET and Java development teams using Team Foundation Server 2010. It’s an easy-to-install standalone plug-in that’s now a free download.

TEEScreenshot

Java developers of course also need to run builds and are adopting continuous building/integration practices. So, why not provide this via TFS Builds?

The Team Foundation Build Extensions (to be installed on the Team Foundation Build Agent) offered the ability to execute Ant or Maven 2 builds from Team Foundation Server and publish the results of the build along with any associated JUnit test results back to Team Foundation Server. This release was compatible with Team Foundation Server 2005, Team Foundation Server 2008 and Team Foundation Server 2010.

Team Explorer Everywhere and the Build Extensions got also updated in the newer versions of TFS to improve the Team Explorer experience in the non Visual Studio world.

I would also like to add a link here to a previous blogpost I made in March 2012, where I write more in detail about the benefits Team Foundation Server may offer in a heterogeneous software development environment: TFS as a true cross-technology ALM platform.

Next Part (Part IV) will tackle the integration of new Testing tools into the ALM solution with the release of Team Foundation Server 2010.

Part IV: A fully integrated testing experience with TFS 2010

Part V: TFS 2012 and Continuous Value Delivery

Part VI: TFS 2013 and Visual Studio Online

Part VII: Conclusion

 


The evolution of Microsoft’s solution for Application Lifecycle Management: Team Foundation Server – Part II

November 8, 2013

Part I: Introduction

Part II: Diving into the basics of ALM and how did Microsoft start with an ALM solution?

According to Wikipedia:

Application lifecycle management (ALM) is the product lifecycle management (governance, development, and maintenance) of application software. It encompasses requirements management, software architecture, computer programming, software testing, software maintenance, change management, project management, and release management.

For each specific technology, there exist one or more dedicated ALM tool(s) in the market. Only a few tools offer true support for cross-technology Application Lifecycle Management. Serena offers a number of related tools for requirements management, version control and release management. Serena Dimensions CM integrates for example with many popular application development tools straight out of the box like Visual Studio (.NET) and Eclipse (Java). Another example is Rational Team Concert (RTC) from IBM which is positioned as a lean collaborative lifecycle management solution. IBM also offers a rich RTC client plugin for Eclipse and Visual Studio. Atlassian is an Australian software company which focuses on issue tracking, collaboration and other related software development products to work faster and smarter, together. Their tools are very popular in the Java community, but they also offer a Visual Studio Connector to interact with JIRA issues and Bamboo builds right from Visual Studio. The Atlassian tools in combination with a powerful version control system like Git or Mercurial can also be seen as a competitor in the cross technology ALM space.

But for now I want to highlight Microsoft’s Application Lifecycle Management solution. Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 will actually be officially released on November 13, 2013 at the Visual Studio 2013 Virtual Launch Event. The RTM version has been made available for a few weeks already and can be downloaded at http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/downloads.

Some history about Team System

Let’s get back in time when it all started. Microsoft released in November 2004 (9 years ago) their first version of an integrated application lifecycle management solution (codename Burton): Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2005. Before, Visual Studio was only a dedicated tool for developers/coders. This shifted completely with the release of Team System where multiple stakeholders were involved in the software development process.

TeamSystem

Microsoft studied the way how software teams developed software and decided to build a new product that would substantially increase the likelihood of project success, predictability and software quality. Team System actually transformed the Visual Studio IDE into a powerful collaboration tool for the entire software development team. Visual Studio 2005 Team System was designed to achieve four primary goals:

  • Be productive by reducing the complexity of delivering modern service-oriented solutions
  • Be integrated with all tools, and facilitate better team collaboration
  • Be capable by being robust, secure, and scalable, and by having the ability to work remotely
  • Be extensible by allowing processes to be customized

The complete solution consisted of a series of different editions, targeted to the various stakeholders:

  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Architects
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Developers
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Tester
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server

A common misconception was that TFS replaced Visual SourceSafe as just a new version control system. This is of course incorrect because version control is only a small part of the TFS feature set. Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC) was written from scratch (no link with SourceSafe) and uses a SQL Server database as a means of scaling to large environments and infrastructures.

TeamSystemOverview

Team Foundation Server is the central and key component in the ALM solution which offered extensible team collaboration. Team System was clearly designed as a lifecycle platform that enabled third-parties, customers, and solution providers to extend the base functionality with new features and customize the tool for the unique aspects of certain businesses. The Microsoft Solution Framework (MSF) – a set of software development processes, principles, and proven practices – was merged into the product via two Team Project process templates: MSF for Agile Software Development and MSF for CMMI Process Improvement.

At this time, the target audience for Team System were (large) enterprise development teams with a focus to improve the joint outcome of software development on the Microsoft platform (.NET). No sign yet of cross-platform development tools or support for multiple (non-Microsoft) development languages. Visual Studio 2005 Team System can be seen as v1 of the ALM offering from Microsoft. Later in 2006 another client Team System edition was added to the offering: Visual Studio 2005 Team System for Database Professionals. The DB Pro or Data Dude edition worked in conjunction with version control to manage database changes next to application code changes.

In Part III I will cover how Microsoft is extending their ALM offering in the next versions to typical non-Microsoft customers: a look at heterogeneous software development.

Part III: Heterogeneous Software Development

Part IV: A fully integrated testing experience with TFS 2010

Part V: TFS 2012 and Continuous Value Delivery

Part VI: TFS 2013 and Visual Studio Online

Part VII: Conclusion

 


The evolution of Microsoft’s solution for Application Lifecycle Management: Team Foundation Server – Part I

November 7, 2013

In the light of the upcoming official release of Visual Studio 2013 (November 13, 2013), I was planning to write a small blog post to have a quick look at how the product of today evolved over the years. My intention drove me eventually to come up with an elaborated article on this topic which I have splitted in different parts. Thanks to my fellow Visual Studio ALM MVP René van Osnabrugge for reviewing my text and for giving some tips to link it all together!

Part I is setting the scene and covers the introduction …

Software development is so much more than only writing technology specific code (.NET, Java, PHP, Mainframe, …). Applications are also becoming more complex due to numerous distributed services and the boundaries of an application are becoming less clear. Nearly all large enterprises struggle with communication, collaboration and cultural gaps between business users who drive the competitive need for software development, software teams who create the software, and the IT Operations team who manages application deployment and maintenance. IT departments are still often siloed internally with poor hand-offs between development teams and inconsistent approaches to core project life cycle phases and roles (architect, project manager, developer, database administrator, tester, configuration/release manager, …). This negatively affects design, quality, code management and the final deployment of software applications into a production environment.

On top of these issues, it’s quite interesting to see how different technology stacks are coming together in the bigger traditional enterprises. Product features or requirements are not only managed anymore for a specific technology stack but go way beyond specific implementation choices. A complete release/solution can easily consist of a customer facing website written in .NET which connects to Java Web Services for business transactions. The data used for processing could easily come from multiple other applications/sources (don’t forget the existence and importance of many Mainframe applications!). And I didn’t mention yet the different options that pop up if you want to offer a mobile solution on various devices and platforms. At a time of increasing costs, competitive pressure and greater complexity for business requirements, organizations require intuitive, accessible and integrated products. Most organizations have highly constrained resources and add outsourcing to the mix, which further drives the need for better prioritization and metrics for measuring IT success. In addition, regulatory compliance legislation is pushing organizations towards greater rigor with regards to application lifecycle management. On the other side of the spectrum we can identify the need for continuous delivery. Business expects IT to deliver new incremental features as fast as possible. Time-to-market has never been as important as now and can create an important competitive advantage. But let’s face it, many organizations are still far away from the continuous delivery dream. It’s not something which can be easily adopted over the week-end.

In this article I will write about the interesting evolution of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and the increased importance of (heterogeneous) software development processes. What I described above about continuous delivery should obviously be the ultimate goal to achieve, but it’s important to set out a realistic roadmap. Don’t run before you can walk and take your time to introduce important changes in your organization. A well-defined ALM strategy is essential to achieve the goals of the IT organization while closely aligning the direction of the business. The key for success is finding a balance between processes, tools and people.

In my next blog post, I will cover Part II to dive into the basics of Application Lifecycle Management and how Microsoft released the first version of Team System.

Part II: Diving into the basics of ALM and how did Microsoft start with an ALM solution?

Part III: Heterogeneous Software Development

Part IV: A fully integrated testing experience with TFS 2010

Part V: TFS 2012 and Continuous Value Delivery

Part VI: TFS 2013 and Visual Studio Online

 

Part VII: Conclusion


Confusion about agile forecasting in TFS

August 5, 2013

Microsoft introduced with TFS 2012 a nicely integrated set of Agile Project Management features (Planning and Tracking) which became part of the redesigned Team Web Access portal.

One of the interesting features is the ability to forecast which product backlog items will (potentially) be delivered in future sprints, based on the velocity of the development team.

Forecasting

This view is your ideal partner when you want to discuss the release schedule of individual product backlog items with the business. It will become clear that moving things up/down will have impact on the delivery date (Sprint). It will visually show the business that each Sprint has boundaries and it’s not possible to quickly add more stuff to the upcoming Sprint. Other PBIs will be dropped from the Sprint. Sure, the business is entitled to move things up, but as a result other things will automatically go down.

Unfortunately, the view is a bit confusing and I already had a number of discussions during my ALM training sessions on this topic. The image above shows horizontal lines as the boundary for future Sprints. Forecasting in the example is enabled and based on a velocity of 10 Story Points. The key here is to understand whether the Sprint number is set above the top line of the Sprint “box” or if the Sprint number is set above the bottom line of the Sprint “box”. Almost everyone believes at first sight that Sprint 2 will contain PBI 4, 5, 6 and 7. But that’s incorrect because the Sprint number is set above the bottom line of the Sprint “box”. So, PBI items 1, 2 and 3 are forecasted to be delivered in Sprint 2 (total of 9 Story Points) and PBI items 4, 5, 6 and 7 are forecasted to be delivered in Sprint 3 (total of 10 Story Points).

SprintOverviewForecasting

The forecasting feature is currently incorrectly explained in the ALM hands-on exercise about the Product Backlog and Sprints.

A nice way to avoid the confusion could be for example to use some alternate coloring to show exactly what belongs to a specific Sprint or to add the Sprint number to each line in the Forecast column.

Hope this helps to get it right!


Update TFS proxy account (small bug)

July 8, 2013

A few weeks ago I ran into a small bug when updating the TFS proxy account (domain account) via the TFS Administrator Console on the TFS 2012 proxy server.

Proxy1

Proxy2

So, the UI does not provide a way to immediately switch to another domain account. The bug has been reported to the TFS product team and a fix will be provided in the (near) future.

Here’s a possible workaround (until it gets fixed in the product):

  • Unconfigure proxy in TFS Administration Console
    • Select Root node in TFS Administration Console
    • Click on the “Remove Feature” link on the right
    • Choose “Team Foundation Server Proxy” and click “Remove”
  • Reconfigure proxy
    • Select “Proxy Server” node and “Configure installed features”
    • Run “Configure TFS Proxy” wizard

Community Day Belgium 2013: session about Team Foundation Service

June 21, 2013

This year’s Community Day event was again great with no less than 5 parallel technical tracks, a good mix of Dev & IT Pro oriented sessions.

I had the pleasure this year to present together with Kevin DeRudder. Our goal was to show how easy it is to use Team Foundation Service (TFS in the cloud) for storing your source code and for making use of the cloud ALM features like Agile Project Management, Build Automation and Test Case Management.

We demoed how to build a Windows 8 App and how you can remotely test the application on a Surface RT tablet with Microsoft Test Manager 2012. Along the way we also touched a number of new features in VS/TFS 2012: My Work, Suspend & Resume, Code Review, Code Maps.

Slides of our session can be downloaded here.


Slides for sessions at TechDays Belgium

March 11, 2013

Last week was extremely busy with TechDays Belgium where I presented two sessions on Application Lifecycle Management.

My company Sparkles was also present with a conference booth and it has proven to be very valuable to listen to your feedback. Sparkles will continue to invest in offering the best advanced IT Training classes (Dev + IT Pro) with local and international experts.

Thank you all for attending one of the sessions and/or for showing up at the booth. Don’t forget to register for the Sparkles newsletter as you might still win free IT Training Vouchers.

Link to slides:

There are still a few seats left for the 3 day hands-on ALM training class in Ghent.


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