Brian Keller

Director of ALM Evangelism for Microsoft

July, 2006

  • Brian Keller

    Sponsoring YouTube Videos.


    I'll confess - I'm a YouTube addict. Sometimes I'll spend hours a week just looking for great videos. Of course there are plenty of terrible, non-interesting videos floating around, but with a little bit of patience and search know-how you'll find plenty of gems.

    In fact I now subscribe to more YouTube users than I do blog feeds. For example, here's a hilarious Mother's Day video done by two guys who call themselves Barats and Bereta. As somebody with 3 brothers myself, this video had me laughing out loud.

    Today I noticed a great new video from Barats and Bereta called "Cubicle Wars" - but this one said it was "created for Windward Reports." I did a double-take since Windward Reports is one of my favorite Microsoft .NET-based solutions for custom reporting and I couldn't understand why I was seeing their name in the context of my daily YouTube crawl...? So I emailed David Thielen over at Windward and sure enough, he explained that they recognized the talent of videographers like Barats and Bereta as well as the creative medium of YouTube and decided to sponsor a series of videos (I'm told that more are on their way). I think it was a brilliant marketing move. The video just went live on Friday and he's already getting "10,800 views per hour" - sweet!

    Of course, some people are worried about the proliferation of ads potentially ruining the YouTube experience. But I applaud David and Windward for their approach - the "ad" component isn't in your face at all, and at the end of the day if companies like Windward want to sponsor great talent like Barats and Bereta then everybody can win in the form of better content.

    Five years ago, guys like Barats and Bereta would have had to get lucky enough to be cast by Hollywood to make a living this way. But thanks to YouTube and innovations like the availability of hobbyist-friendly digital editing software the democratization of the video production industry has truly arrived.

    Which makes me wonder... how can I use this to increase the awareness of Visual Studio Team System? I'd love your ideas. Maybe I should sponsor a video by Renetto... "This next application lifecycle management tool which I am about to review..." ;-)

  • Brian Keller

    Supporting Agile Development at Microsoft with Next-Gen Workspaces.


    This week there was a great article in Microsoft's internal newsletter (MicroNews). The article profiled one of the next-gen workspaces at Microsoft where our patterns & practices team works. MicroNews graciously allowed me to re-post the article as an article on my blog:

    Workspace of the Future: Is Writing on the Wall?

    This is one of four such pilot workspaces at Microsoft which our Real Estate and Facilities (RE&F) team is using to help them learn how to optimize future workspaces. The truly great thing about this partnership between the RE&F team and the software engineering teams is that it shows how serious teams across Microsoft are about adopting Agile development methodologies.

    I went over to Building 5 because I had to see this area for myself - it's truly amazing. Here are just a few of my favorite features:

    • The teams using this workspace rely on Visual Studio Team System to support their development methodology. (Ok, you had to know this was going to top my list <g>)
    • Walls you can write on to sketch architecture diagrams, class models, or my favorite, a scribbling that simply said "Don't feed the devs."
    • Walls you can move. Need to create a bigger space for more team members? No problem - just move the walls!
    • About 80% of the area was oriented as pockets of open workspaces, but there were some personal offices reserved for people who needed some peace and quiet to do their work. But even those offices had plexiglass walls which created a sense of openness and allowed others to easily see who was around. Not to mention the fact that now everybody effectively had a window office since you could see outside from anywhere in the building.
    • Outlets and cables could easily be moved anywhere because they were situated on a raised floor with removable tiles like you'd find in a data center.

    I'm trying to arrange for a Channel 9 video so that you can see everything for yourself. Stay tuned... If you have specific questions you want answered during the tour please leave a comment or email me.

  • Brian Keller

    Learn how to Phrogram.


    No, that's not a typo. "Phrogram" is the new name for the Kid's Programming Language (KPL) developed by Morrison-Schwartz. KPL was designed to help first-time programmers have fun learning to code. It has attracted a wide interest from kids, parents, and educators worldwide who have downloaded KPL over 100,000 times since its release. Robert Scoble first introduced me to the creators of KPL last year because he knew I was working on Visual Studio Express and Coding4Fun. So I downloaded their free product and took a look. I was immediately blown away by how easy it was to get started with KPL. I even invited Jon Schwartz to write some fun articles on Coding4Fun showing off how KPL can be used to build some classic arcade games.

    One great thing about KPL is that it allows you to take the programs you write in KPL and immedietaly see what the equivelent C# or Visual Basic syntax would look like. In this way a user who starts out learning with KPL can gradually move on to building more advanced applications by graduating to another tool such as Visual Studio Express.

    KPL Phrogram
    As Jonathan points out, it's time to change the name from Kid's Programming Language to Phrogram. The fact is that it's not just for kids - if you hang out on the KPL forums you'll read about many adults who have also used KPL to learn programming, which is simply awesome. And of course, even some kids don't want to play with something that says "kid" the name. When we are young, we all strive to be more like adults... and as we get older, we wish we were kids again. <g>

    I think Phrogram is a great name, and I love the new logo (see below). It's called the Vitruvian Phrog (there's got to be a "DaVinci Code" joke in there somewhere). But I still have one question - hey Jon, how are we supposed to pronounce Phrogram? Does it rhyme with "Program", or should we say "Frog"-ram?



  • Brian Keller

    I need a new laptop.


    Check this out - Scott Quibell and Rob Cecil figured out how to make the LED lights on their Dell XPS laptops change color based on the status of their project's latest build status in CruiseControl.NET. Sweet!

    Mike Swanson just cross-posted this to his blog along with a lot of other great information about Continuous Integration, including more fun and creative ways to publish and monitor your team's build status. In his post Mike reminded us that while Team Foundation Server doesn't support Continous Integration out of the box, you can easily add that functionality with a sample by Microsoft which was later refined by Vertigo. Or, if you wanted to try to take advantage of the Dell XPS project by Scott and Rob you may want to integrate CruiseControl.NET directly with Team Foundation Server using the CC.NET Source Control Add-on found here.

    Note to Self: Mike just so happens to be my new manager... which means that now I have the perfect business justification for asking him to order me one of these Dell XPS laptops. ;-)

  • Brian Keller

    Windows Live Search: My new preferred search provider.


    I've recently fallen in love with the new search features on, otherwise known as Windows Live Search. To-date I've been using MSN Search as my default search provider, and I even blogged about how I think it ranks better than Google's search for relevance and presentation of information. But takes the great MSN Search engine and makes it even better by putting an amazing presentation front-end on it.

    My favorite feature is the image search with Now instead of clicking through page after page of images I can just get the entire image search result set in a single frame. This frame contains thumbnails of all of the images in that result set. I can quickly browse this page and just hover over an individual thumbnail to get more informaton and a zoomed in view of that image. Cool!

    Once I click on the source URL for an image I still have the option of using the left nav to browse the other thumbnails until I find the source page I'm looking for.

    You can also change the size of the thumbnails by using the Vista-style slider bar near the top of the page. Sweet!

    And I've just scratched the surface - check it out for yourself. What's your favorite feature of What could they do better? What's your favorite search engine?

    If you like, here's how you can make it the default search provider in your browser of choice:

    In IE7:
    Use the "Search Autodiscovery" feature.
    1. Visit
    2. Click the orange dropdown arrow at the top right of the window next to the search box.
    3. Click "Add Search provider"

    In FireFox:
    1. Click here to visit the Mycroft Project.
    2. Search for "" in the Site Name box.
    3. You should get a link for Windows Live - click this link.

    Now when you use the Search box in your browser's toolbar your results will be displayed using Windows Live Search. I hope you like it as much as I do!

  • Brian Keller

    Yes, R2 is supported.


    I've seen a few people asking whether or not Windows Server 2003 R2 is a supported operating system for installing Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server. According to the Team System product team R2 is in fact a supported platform.

    Remember to check out the latest versions of the Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Installation Guide as well as the Administrator's Guide.

    For people who saw "R2" and thought this might be a post about Star Wars, sorry about that. Today I'm blogging about software development. You might be more interested in Death Star development.

  • Brian Keller

    Using Visual Studio Team System in Microsoft Legal.


    I wanted to highlight this Channel 9 interview with Richard Murillo who is a lead developer at Microsoft responsible for building and maintaining the internal applications used by our legal teams.

    In this video Richard does a great job of demonstrating how his team makes heavy use of Visual Studio Team System to collaborate on projects and implement software development processes. Richard's team actually uses each of the process templates included with Team System: MSF for Agile Software Development and MSF for CMMI Process Improvement. In this manner they can adapt their processes to the requirements of each project they undertake.

    Richard makes a pretty compelling argument for using Visual Studio Team System. If I didn't know better I'd say he's gunning for my job... <g>

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