The Ramblings of Two Microsoft .NET Developers, TFS, and Visual Studio ALM Guys --- "Yes, we are both named Ed."

Book Review for Wrox Professional Application Lifecycle Management with Visual Studio 2010



During the first week of April, a little package was sitting on my front porch with the first book to be released on the Visual Studio 2010 release that deals with the new Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) features.  For those of you who don’t know, this essentially means the former “Team System” line of products as we were exposed to it in the 2005 and 2008 releases.  Although the entire Visual Studio suite of products is considered something that helps you with ALM, the book primarily focused on Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, Visual Studio 2010 Premium, Visual Studio 2010 Test Professional, Visual Studio 2010 Lab Management, and Team Foundation Server 2010.  During the Introduction, I even appreciated how the authors discussed about “where Team System went.”  It’s the best explanation of the branding change that I’ve seen to date.

I was extremely excited to start immediately reading the book.  Even though I have been closely involved with the 2010 release as a Microsoft MVP, when I started to read this book my goal was to be exposed deeper in the feature set being introduced in the 2010 release.

At the time of writing this blog post, the book was selling for $34.64 at Amazon.  The suggested retail price is $54.99.  It is currently #7 in the Software Development books category!

Strengths

If you are new to the ALM features in Visual Studio, I felt this book really offered you the ability to get the high-level overview of all of those features.  It’s essentially similar to a “survey” course that you would have taken in college.   It’s 696 pages that ends up going through all of the Visual Studio client and server features at just the right level of detail. There were even some areas that I felt that I learned more about and hadn’t been exposed to heavily in the past.

The architecture features were something that I had hoped to learn the most from.  They have just never been something that I dived into great detail during the 2010 release cycle.   All of the new UML diagrams that are available including the new architecture features like Use Case, Activity, Sequence, Component, Class, Dependency, and Layer Diagrams.  There was a also a great introduction to the Architecture Explorer.

The testing features have really been what has made up a majority of the Visual Studio 2010 release and the book definitely reflects that.  Going through the testing features, I really felt like I understood the end to end story.  It felt very rounded out!  These chapters are where I picked up a majority of the nuggets of information.  I can’t tell you how many times I said “wow, I didn’t know you could do that.”  I also feel like this is a great place to pick up some introductory knowledge about how Visual Studio Team Lab Management fits into the ALM story.  I also kept thinking how great this book would be for the testers on your team that are new to the Microsoft testing platform and Team Foundation Server.

There are so many changes to TFS, I can’t even begin to start describing them.  Thankfully, the book did a great job.  Especially with the revamp of Team Build to use Windows Workflow Foundation.  You can even download the Team Build chapter from the book for free here:  Team Foundation Build.  Other than automated builds, you’ll get a good pass by all of the rest of the new TFS 2010 features and architecture/topology changes.

There was a whole chapter dedicated to debugging with IntelliTrace!  That’s awesome.  I’m very much a fan of IntelliTrace and think that will truly change the way you develop.

Criticisms

I have been hoping to have a book available out there that really only discusses TFS.  The book definitely has a few chapters available on TFS and spends a good amount of time but that discussion is not the nitty gritty that I think some readers out there are really looking for.  With that said, I don’t think this book was positioned for the “TFS Administrator” exclusively.  Again, I really think this is a survey-level review of the entire ALM stack of features for Visual Studio.  That doesn’t allow you to go into the depths of any particular product.  There currently isn’t a book available for TFS 2010 with the level of detail that I am sure some readers out there are hoping for.  We’ll see what happens in the months to come…

My next criticism isn’t so much for the content of the book as what is media choices are available.  I own a Kindle DX and I imagine a few other techies in the world have some type of eBook reader as well.  I was hoping to have a CD that contained a DRM-free PDF that I could copy over to my Kindle DX whenever I’m traveling and need a quick resource for reference.  Wrox certainly does allow you to get a PDF of books but you have to order them separately even if you had purchased the hard copy.

Finally, the only other thing that I noticed was in that chapter about IntelliTrace (see above) there wasn’t a mention of Symbol & Source Server.  I couldn’t believe it.  There is definitely a discussion later in the book about Team Build’s integration with Symbol & Source server but I was hoping to have seen some more detail in the IntelliTrace chapter about the importance of having them setup for your organization.  You’ll want to put two and two together.

 

Now that I’m finished scrounging from the bottom of the barrel to find some criticisms… :)

My Recommendation

Hands down, get this book.  I think it’s well worth it.   I know each of the authors and it really looks like they put a tremendous amount of effort into writing the book.  The topics are really presented well and at the right level of detail for someone really wanting a crash course in all of the Visual Studio ALM features.  I can’t even tell you how many new nuggets of information that I ran across of things that I didn’t even realize were in the product.

It certainly gets my stamp of approval! :)  Kudos to the authors.

 

Very respectfully,

Ed Blankenship

Microsoft MVP of the Year, Visual Studio ALM and Team Foundation Server



How to Point to Report Builder 2.0 in SQL 2008 Reporting Services



Report Builder is an awesome tool in lieu of using Microsoft Office Excel or Business Intelligence Studio to create custom reports with SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services.  The version of Report Builder that shipped with SQL Server 2008 is Report Builder 1.0.  Report Builder 2.0 was later released with plenty of new features and a better report writing experience.

The only issue though is that the most discoverable way to install Report Builder using Click-Once is through Report Manager but it points to Report Builder 1.0 even after you install Service Pack 1 for SQL Server 2008.

SQL 2008 Reporting Services Report Manager Report Builder Link

If you installed Service Pack 1 for your Reporting Services instance, there is actually a way to change the behavior though to point it to the Report Builder 2.0 Click-Once install.  Click “Site Settings” in the upper-right hand corner and then fill out the Custom Report Builder Launch URL to “/ReportBuilder/ReportBuilder_2_0_0_0.application” if your server is setup in Native mode (which it should be if it is the RS instance for TFS) or “/_vti_bin/ReportBuilder/ReportBuilder_2_0_0_0.application” if it is in SharePoint Mode.

Custom Report Builder Launch URL

 

Alternately, if you want to download the full MSI installer you can over at Microsoft Downloads:  http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9f783224-9871-4eea-b1d5-f3140a253db6&displaylang=en.  Thanks to the Reporting Services Team Blog for the handy information.

 

Ed Blankenship

Posted in Reporting | SQL | TFS


TFS Performance Reports Pack



Grant Holliday, former Team System MVP, is now working on the VSTS product group on various things but most importantly helping keep the internal Microsoft TFS servers in tip-top shape.  They have the largest known TFS instances in the world so you could imagine it’s got to be tough keeping it up and running well.  Brian Harry posts their usage metrics regularly if you’d like to get an idea of how HUGE it is.

 

Keeping the performance manageable requires lots of monitoring and looking over the data that gets stored in the activity logging.  Grant has packaged up some of the reports they use internally and provided them to the world.  The download package is available on his blog post.

 

imageimageimageimageclip_image004clip_image002[4]image

 

Personally, I’m really glad that the product group is investing in dogfooding the early builds of the version of TFS that they are working on.  By putting the product under real use and under the load that only Microsoft can generate, we end up with a better product by the time it RTMs.

 

Thanks again for making this available to the world!

 

Ed B.

Posted in TFS | VSTS | Reporting


MSF Agile Quality Indicators Report for Conchango Scrum Process Template



So, if you didn't know I'm a huge fan of the Quality Indicators report in the MSF for Agile Software Development process template in Team Foundation Server.  Here at Infragistics, we're evaluating the Conchango Scrum Process Template for Team System and I don't get that wonderful report I love :-(  I've been stalling (because I haven't ever written a SQL Reporting Services custom report for TFS) but I finally did it today.  It really wasn't that bad.  Thank God I already had most of the report set up for me!  There are a TON of data and metrics you can get from the OLAP cube in the TFS Data Warehouse.

MSF Agile Quality Indicators Report

If you haven't read the Wrox Professional Team Foundation Server book, then it's a great avenue for learning TFS.  It also has a good section on how to creating custom reports with the Visual Studio Report Designer.

Really the only issue with just importing the original report to the Scrum team project is the fact that Bugs are actually Sprint Backlog Items with an Item Type of Bug (as opposed to the MSF Agile template that just has a separate bug work item type) and the status of an active bug is actually "In Progress."

Steps to Modify Report

  1. You need to get a copy of the Quality Indictors RDL file.  Take a look at Customizing Reports to get more information on how to do this.  I happened to create a whole new Reporting Services Project in Visual Studio called TFS Scrum Reports because I may be creating some new ones later.
  2. Be sure to add the two shared Data Sources to your new Visual Studio project.  You can use the settings of the existing shared data sources on your TFS SQL Reporting Services server.  (Usually found at http://[TFS Server Name]/Reports/ or you can right-click the Reports folder under your team project in the Team Explorer window and choose "Show Report Site...")
     image Reporting Service Visual Studio Project
  3. With the report open, navigate down to the section that gets the Active Bugs metric:
    Quality Indicators Active Bugs OLAP Metric  
  4. Notice what it grabs for the work item type and state:

    MEMBER [Measures].[Active Bugs] AS ([Measures].[Cumulative Count], [Work Item].[System_State].[Active], [Work Item].[System_WorkItemType].[Bug], STRTOMEMBER([Measures].[Build Date])) + 0
  5. Now, change these values to the following:

    MEMBER [Measures].[Active Bugs] AS ([Measures].[Cumulative Count], [Work Item].[System_State].[In Progress], [Work Item].[Conchango_VSTS_Scrum_SprintBacklogItemType].[Bug], STRTOMEMBER([Measures].[Build Date])) + 0
  6. All you have to do now is save the report and upload it to the SQL Reporting site in your team project's reports folder.
    SQL Report Services Upload Report
  7. Last thing, you may run into a problem with the report finding the shared data sources.  If this happens, go into the properties of the report on the SRS site and choose the shared data sources that are being used by SRS.

Really, you can use this method to port this great report into just about any process template you might be using.  Pretty much any of the OLAP metrics can be changed.

What other kinds of reports should we have?  Do you have any interesting custom reports that you find useful for the major process templates that are available on the Internets and what not? :-)

UPDATE:  I've attached a modified report if you don't want to go through all the steps of customizing.  Just download it and start at Step 6.  It's much more fun doing it yourself though!

Quality Indicators.rdl (65.25 KB)

 

Ed B.

P.S. We're changing up some of our tags to better organize all of our blog posts.  May take some time...