Brian Keller

Director of ALM Evangelism for Microsoft

  • Brian Keller

    3 Easy Ways to Learn About Visual Studio vNext Application Lifecycle Management


    As you may have noticed, last week at TechEd North America we began to unveil the application lifecycle management (ALM) capabilities of Visual Studio vNext. It was an exciting week with a flurry of activity! I had the pleasure of working on our ALM demo for Jason Zander’s keynote, and co-presenting a foundational session with Cameron Skinner. Now that the dust has settled, I wanted to provide you with 3 easy ways to come up to speed on what we’ve announced so far.

    I should preface this by saying that you don’t have to look at everything in here to understand the vision; these are simply three different formats for consuming what is – essentially – the same set of information, with varying levels of depth.

    1. SpeakFlow: A SpeakFlow is a Silverlight-powered way of delivering rich, interactive content. This SpeakFlow allows you to follow the lifecycle – from development to operations and back again – and view short demonstrations of how Visual Studio vNext will help you embrace better application lifecycle management. I suggest starting at the “STORYBOARDING” video (at the top) and then following the circle counter-clockwise.
    Tip: To go up a level after drilling in, use your mouse wheel or the UP key on your keyboard.
    The SpeakFlow diagram can be downloaded for offline use from here. (46MB)


    2. Foundational Session: This 60-minute, demo-heavy presentation by Cameron Skinner and me paints a broader picture of our ALM story than we had time for during the keynote. The demos here are almost identical to the demos from the SpeakFlow above, but with a bit of a broader story woven around them, and some nice Q&A at the end.


    3. Whitepaper: Our marketing team put together a great PDF whitepaper which reinforces the value propositions for what we’re delivering in vNext. I carry a copy on my Kindle.


    I hope you enjoy these materials, and more importantly, the vision they present for the future of Visual Studio application lifecycle management.

  • Brian Keller

    May 2011 Refresh of Visual Studio 2010 RTM Virtual Machine with Sample Data and Hands-on-Labs


    The May 2011 refresh of the Visual Studio 2010 RTM Virtual Machine with Sample Data and Hands-on-Labs is now available. This new version includes Service Pack 1 (of both Visual Studio 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010), 5 new hands-on-labs / demo scripts, and an extended expiration date of November 1, 2011. Please note that if you are using the last version of the virtual machine it will stop working on June 1, 2011.

    Follow the instructions here to download the new virtual machine and hands-on-labs.

  • Brian Keller

    New Book: Professional Scrum with Team Foundation Server 2010


    Are you using Team Foundation Server, or are you considering it?
    Are you practicing Scrum-based software development (or do you want to learn how to)?

    If the answer is YES to these questions then I can’t say enough good things about this book. Professional Scrum with Team Foundation Server 2010 will provide you with everything you need to know about Team Foundation Server 2010 to really unlock the power of using it for Scrum-based software development. Team Foundation Server 2010 is especially suited to this goal since it was built with such tooling in mind, such as the ability to decompose larger workstreams into smaller child tasks, to manage a common backlog of work and break this down into iterations/sprints, to calculate the capacity of your team and of individuals, and to generate burndowns and other interesting reports in real time.

    I’m personally a huge fan of Scrum. I even had the pleasure of spending the day with Ken Schwaber last week (one of the two co-developers of scrum) and we spent the day talking about Scrum, its origins, and where it’s headed. I think that the real popularity of Scrum stems from its simplicity. In order for everybody on a team to work better together, they have to first be able to understand the process whereby everybody is going to work together towards a common goal; unless everybody can understand what the process is and what the common goal is, how can you work together? Scrum addresses this issue head-on by using simple, fun terminology and clearly-defined communications channels and methods that everybody on a team can easily understand.

    But you don’t have to take my word for it… I’d suggest adding this book to your backlog.

  • Brian Keller

    Two great uses of the OData Service for Team Foundation Server 2010


    It’s been less than two weeks since I released the beta of the OData Service for Team Foundation Server 2010 and my inbox has been overwhelmed with positive feedback, suggestions for future enhancements, and people telling me how they are using this service in their own projects. Thanks to everybody who has taken time to share your experience with me!

    Some of those projects are not yet public and I don’t want to steal the thunder from the teams working on them, but I did want to share two quick examples of how people are using this service.

    First Windows Phone 7 app for Team Foundation Server in the marketplace
    Ordina Belgium built a really nice free Windows Phone 7 app called TFS Monitor. You can install the application from here if you have a Windows Phone 7 device and the Zune software installed, but be sure to read their installation instructions for how to enable this service with your own TFS server. I’m using this app with the public OData Service we deployed for CodePlex to monitor my projects. It works great! I especially like the notifications, offline support, and really nice UI that Ordina delivered with this app.

    PowerShell Commandlets
    Doug Finke, a Microsoft MVP, created some really nice PowerShell commandlets which allow you to interact with your CodePlex projects via OData. Doug has published all of the source code here, so you could use this with CodePlex or even adapt it for use with your own private deployment of the OData Service.

    Thanks to Ordina and to Doug for creating these great experiences. If you are working on a project which uses the OData Service for Team Foundation Server 2010 I’d love to hear about it.

  • Brian Keller

    Getting started with the Team Foundation Server 2010 and Project Server 2010 Integration Virtual Machine


    ***April 17, 2013 update: A new version of this VM is now available which showcases the integration between Team Foundation Server 2012 and Project Server 2013.

    **Update: There is a 4-part video series on Channel 9 which demonstrates each of these scenarios as a video screencast.

    Last month we officially released the Team Foundation Server 2010 and Project Server Integration Feature Pack. This integration enables the Project Management Office (PMO) to see a consolidated view of the progress and resource availability across all software development projects in Team Foundation Server 2010.  Software teams using Team Foundation Server 2010 can choose to manage their projects using a formal process or an agile process and flow their status and schedule updates into Project Server and Project Managers can preview changes as they flow in, track the work at a high-level and provide live updates to their stakeholders.

    To help people evaluate and demonstrate the capabilities of this integration, we have published a virtual machine which is pre-configured with this integration along with sample data and several walkthroughs (which can either be used as self-paced hands-on-labs, or demo scripts to present these capabilities to others). Unfortunately, the virtual machine download contains 20+ files weighing in at over 10GB. The good news is that once you have the virtual machine there’s not much left to configure; you can open it up in Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and begin exploring this integration using the guided walkthroughs. The following instructions should make it easier for you to batch download all of the files required for this release.

    Downloading the virtual machine and associated files:
    I suggest using a download manager for these files since they are very large. My download manager of choice is Free Download Manager. You can use your own favorite download manager, but you may need to adapt the instructions below as appropriate.

    1. Download and install Free Download Manager. This utility provides:
      • Auto-resume support for interrupted downloads.
      • Multiple simultaneous download streams for (usually) a much faster download experience.
      • As the name implies, it's completely free.
    2. Select the appropriate URL’s depending on your preferred virtualization platform and copy (CTRL+C) them to your clipboard.
      ###Select This Section and Copy It (CTRL+C) - Do Not Include This Line### with the Project Server 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010 Integration Virtual Machine.docx - Top-Down Planning of Business Requirements with Project Server and Team Foundation Server.docx - Managing Project Details in an Enterprise Project Plan Mapped to a Team Project.docx - Making Agile Team Progress Visible to the Project Management Office.docx - Managing Field Mappings for Integration of Team Foundation Server and Project Server.docx
      ###End - Do Not Include This Row In Your Selection###
    3. Launch the user interface for Free Download Manager (either from the Start Menu or via the system tray icon if FDM is already running).
    4. Click File -> Import -> Import List of URLs from Clipboard.
    5. When prompted for a download group, accept the default and click OK.
    6. You are now free to minimize Free Download Manager while the files download. By default, they will be saved to c:\downloads.


    Once you have download the release, extract it to a directory by running the EXE. The document “Working with the Project Server 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010 Integration Virtual Machine.docx” (included in the list of files to download above) provides more details about how to load this virtual machine within Hyper-V, and how to activate the operating system to get a full 180 days of usage from this virtual machine. After 180 days from the time you first boot the virtual machine it will expire. If you need additional time you can re-extract a fresh copy of the virtual machine, or restore to a Hyper-V snapshot if you took one at a time prior to booting it up for the first time.

    After you have successfully setup this virtual machine within your Hyper-V environment you can begin using the walkthroughs to learn more about the scenarios enabled by this integration. Those walkthroughs are also included in the list of files above as Word documents, and are numbered 1-4. It is recommended, though not required, that you complete these labs in the order they are numbered. You should also consider using Hyper-V snapshots prior to following the steps in a walkthrough so that you can roll back to an earlier snapshot if you would like to complete a walkthrough multiple times, or if you make a mistake.

  • Brian Keller

    Known Issue with OData Service for Team Foundation Server 2010 (beta) Dependency Checker


    April 13, 2011 Update: This issue was fixed in a refresh of the beta that is now available for download.

    If you’re using the beta of the OData Service for Team Foundation Server 2010 you might be hitting the following issue when you try to run the setup.cmd file for setting up your local machine with all of the components.


    Notice the error on the Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. The problem is that the Azure tools were actually updated within the last few days to be version 1.4, whereas the dependency checker is checking for either of the 1.3.x versions which were published within the last few months (which are no longer available for download).

    This is a bug which we’ll address in the next release. Meanwhile, the workaround for this is easy. You can simply ignore this error message and download the latest version of the Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010.

    Keep in mind also that you only need these tools if you want to optionally deploy your own OData Service endpoint to point to your Team Foundation Server instance. If you intend to use CodePlex with this service then you can just take advantage of the OData Service endpoint we are hosting at

    Thanks to Girish Pillai and Mathias Olausson for reporting this issue. If you have feedback on the beta please send it to

  • Brian Keller

    OData Service for Team Foundation Server 2010


    October 26 2011 Update: The beta has been replaced by v1 of this release. Please visit this page.

    I’m pleased to announce the beta of the OData Service for Team Foundation Server 2010 is now available!

    What the heck is an OData Service for Team Foundation Server 2010?
    I’m glad you asked. The purpose of this project is to help developers work with data from Team Foundation Server on multiple device types (such as smartphones and tablets) and operating systems. OData provides a great solution for this goal, and has been embraced by numerous developers for building great device-specific applications. OData is accessible from any device and application stack which supports HTTP requests. This OData service interacts directly with the
    TFS client object model.

    What is OData?
    OData exposes a way to work with data over the web. If you’re new to OData, I suggest spending a few minutes at reading about this evolving standard. It uses interfaces similar to REST, so that you can programmatically consume and manipulate data from any device or application stack which supports HTTP requests. DPE has been working with several organizations (such as PayPal, Facebook, and Netflix) and product groups to enable OData where it makes sense to do so. Team Foundation Server was an obvious choice since it not only allows developers to extend TFS in new and interesting ways, but it also allows us to further showcase support for this evolving standard with the developer community at large.

    Can I see a demo?
    Of course! I filmed a
    video for Channel 9 which shows you how to get started using this service. When you’re ready to get started, just download the beta which includes full documentation. The service can be easily hosted in Windows Azure to front-end your own Team Foundation Server instance, or if you want to use this with CodePlex we’ve already hosted this service for you at As long as you have contributor rights on any CodePlex project backed by Team Foundation Server 2010 you can start making OData calls immediately. We also have included a sample Windows Phone 7 application, and WebMatrix Helpers, which show you how to get started building applications which consume this service.

    (ignore the blank stare on my face in the screen grab above – this is really far more exciting than the picture implies!)

    So this is a beta – when will the official release happen?
    That all depends on the type of feedback we get, but we’d like to release v1 of this service in the next few months. We are asking users to email their feedback to We’ll do our best to incorporate all feedback into the final release. But the license permits you to take this now (even in beta) and begin using it for real projects. All of the source code is available so you are free to customize it and make it your own. This project is provided as-is and is not officially supported.

    If I build an application using this service, will users need client access licenses (CAL’s)?
    In most cases, they will. Connecting to Team Foundation Server via OData has the same licensing implications as connecting via Team Explorer, the web, or any other client. But there are a few exceptions where users working with Team Foundation Server don’t need CAL’s. Please refer to the
    Visual Studio 2010 licensing whitepaper for all of the details.

    I hope you enjoy this – if you build something interesting please be sure to drop us a line and let us know!

  • Brian Keller

    Book: Professional Team Foundation Server 2010


    It seems like only yesterday that I was writing about shipping the last book I worked on; I’m pleased to say that another book I worked on is now available!


    Professional Team Foundation Server 2010 was written to appeal to a wide range of audiences who are interested in evaluating, adopting, or using Team Foundation Server 2010. Whether you’re a developer, a tester, a project manager, or the IT person responsible for standing up and maintaining your Team Foundation Server, this book should have something for everyone.

    How does this book compare with Professional Application Lifecycle Management with Visual Studio 2010?

    I’m often asked how this book compares with Professional Application Lifecycle Management with Visual Studio 2010 in the same Wrox series. Think of the Pro ALM book as a broad, intermediate-level introduction to all of the application lifecycle management capabilities across the Visual Studio 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010 family of tooling. A lot of times I talk to people who bought this book who realized that there were valuable tools in Visual Studio that they never even knew existed! The Pro ALM book is designed to help you discover ways that Visual Studio 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010 can help your team built great software – whether you’re a project manager, an architect, developer, or tester.

    Professional Team Foundation Server 2010 book goes deep on Team Foundation Server 2010. Whether you’re brand new to Team Foundation Server, or if you’ve been using it for years, I’d suggest having this book should be on your shelf. It covers Team Foundation Server setup, administration, work item tracking, process template customization, disaster recovery, extensibility, advanced branching and merging, high availability, build automation, migration, and even a guide for helping to acquaint SourceSafe users to Team Foundation Server 2010. I would also recommend this book to anybody studying for the Team Foundation Server 2010 Administration certification exam (Exam 70-512).

    It was a labor of love, and one I was happy to work on it with my friends Martin, Grant, and Ed. I have read all of their chapters as well and I have to say I learned a lot from them – I hope you will too!

  • Brian Keller

    Visual Studio 2010 ALM Virtual Machine + Labs: December 2010 Refresh


    As promised, I have updated the Visual Studio 2010 ALM Virtual Machine with a new version that will expire June 1, 2011. If you are using the previous version please note that it expires December 15, 2010, so you should consider downloading this refresh.

    Download instructions and details on what changed in this release can be found here.


  • Brian Keller

    My TechEd Israel 2010 Presentations


    This week I presented 2 sessions at TechEd Israel 2010 in Eilat. This was my first time presenting at TechEd Israel and I hope to come back in the future – it was great meeting lots of people who I have been working with virtually over the last few years. The Israeli development community sure is active and is full of some very talented people.


    As promised, I have uploaded the slide decks for my presentations. You can download them here.


    A Lap Around Visual Studio 2010 Application Lifecycle Management: This was a demo-rich session during which I highlighted some of the many enhancements we’ve made to the application lifecycle management tooling across the Visual Studio 2010 family, which includes Team Foundation Server 2010. During this session we installed Team Foundation Server 2010 (in under 5 minutes!), showed off the new support for branching and merging visualizations with TFS, dove into IntelliTrace for some historical application debugging, showcased build management (included gated check-ins), and touched on reporting and software testing (each of which were covered in depth during other presentations). I love presenting these “Lap Around” sessions since I get to touch on a lot of different technologies. The only downside is that a single session is never enough time to cover everything that I want to cover!


    Agile Project Management with Team Foundation Server 2010: In this session I showed off how the MSF Agile for Software Development v5 process template and associated Agile Planning Workbooks allow you to effectively plan, manage, and track your agile software projects with Team Foundation Server 2010. This session was modeled after a session presented by Aaron Bjork and Peter Provost on the same topic. For their session they used the Visual Studio Scrum template, and for mine I used the MSF Agile process template, in order to show a comparison between the two approaches. Unfortunately this session was not recorded, but you can find Aaron and Peter’s excellent session here.


    I also collaborated on the developer keynote that Jason Zander presented, and I delivered a demonstration of our new Silverlight automated testing features towards the end. You can watch the video of that presentation here. (Unfortunately neither of my other sessions were recorded this time.)


    Here are some other resources that I mentioned during my session:

    If you were at my sessions please take a moment to complete a session evaluation if you haven't already done so. Your feedback helps me fine tune my content, and if you liked it, this helps ensure that I get invited back and continue to invest my time developing content for you.


    Thanks to everybody I interacted with at TechEd Israel who helped to make this a truly awesome experience!

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