Steve Lange @ Work

Steve Lange's thoughts on application lifecycle management, Visual Studio, and Team Foundation Server

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Events in LA & Irvine: PaaS & the Cumulus Cloud


    Hey there!  Check out this upcoming event series from our friends at Northwest Cadence!

    “Cumulus” means heap or pile in Latin, and cumulus clouds are typically the beautiful, white puffy clouds with a flat base and puffy rounded towers. PaaS is like the cumulus cloud <pun intended>. PaaS allows you to grow vertically and horizontally – it actually gives you extreme scalability – when you need it. Then, scale PaaS back down when you don’t. It’s really just that simple.

    when does scalability matter?

    Some customers are seeing 40% reduction in costs through on-demand scaling! Application loads vary over time. By auto-scaling PaaS applications in Azure, you only pay for what you actually use, not for your spare capacity. If your seasonal spike requires a massive server farm, why pay for that all year? 

    how do I evaluate the cloud?

    Choosing an application to put into the cloud isn’t always an easy undertaking. We’ll discuss which metrics are most important to measure, what types of apps make the transition easily, and where you can get the most ROI for your development and operations spend.
    what are the PaaS gotchas?

    There is power, flexibility, and ease of PaaS in Azure. And there are also a few gotchas. Join us in a city near you for the latest tips, tricks, and traps on Azure PaaS.


    • breakfast: 9:00-9:30AM
    • discussion: 9:30-12PM
    • lunchtime Q&A: 12-1:30PM

    Register Now!    LA on August 19   |    Irvine on August 20

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Activating Visual Studio 2013 on an Offline Machine


    (File this under “I already know that”, but I get asked this question quite frequently..)

    Visual Studio 2013 likes to go online every so often to validate that it’s being used by a licensed user.  That’s all well and good, but what if that user is working in a permanently offline environment? 

    Fear not.  As an MSDN subscriber, you can download a “static” activation key to use.  Here are the steps:

    • Go to from a computer that has internet access.
    • Click on “MSDN Subscriptions” link toward the top right.
    • Sign into MSDN with a valid MSDN subscriber account (Microsoft Account, formerly Live ID)
    • Click on “My Product Keys”


    • Scroll down to the VS 2013 edition you have installed.  You should see the term “Static Activation Key.”  That is the key you need to enter into Visual Studio to turn off the internet activation check (which normally runs every 30 days).



    Make a note of that key, and head over to your offline computer.


    • Launch Visual Studio 2013
    • Go to Help->Register Product


    • Click on “License with a Product Key”


    • Enter the static key you noted from MSDN.


    • Click Apply, and you should be set!
  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Woot! Visual Studio 2015 Product Line Announced


    Visual Studio

    I’ll refer you to the official Visual Studio blog post for more details, but just a heads up that the lineup for Visual Studio 2015 was announced this morning!

    Again, full details on the VS blog, but here are the highlights:

    • Visual Studio Premium and Ultimate are condensing into a single, awesome product.  Meet Visual Studio 2015 Enterprise
      • If you have 2013 Premium or Ultimate today, you’ll automatically get upgraded to VS Enterprise whe it’s released.
      • The full comparison of features for the VS 2015 lineup are now available here.
      • Go here for more information on the Visual Studio 2015 product line, including pricing (and yes, Enterprise will be much cheaper that Ultimate!)
    • Are you using VS Professional or Test Professional?  Take a look at the offer that will be coming out in May.  Upgrade from Visual Studio Professional with MSDN or Visual Studio Test Professional with MSDN to Visual Studio Premium with MSDN for 50% off the regular list price and get a free upgrade to Visual Studio Enterprise with MSDN automatically when we release Visual Studio 2015.

      This exclusive offer is only available for 2 months!


    All in all, Visual Studio 2015 is going to add tremendous value!  Not just to the product itself, but MSDN as well.  Look for more information about this upcoming release as it becomes available (I’ll try to post more as well!).

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    March Webinars from InCycle Software


    Our friends at InCycle Software have some great webinars coming up this month.  Take a look!

    Webinar March 17th @1pm (PST): Update to Microsoft Development Tools and Platforms in 2015

    Join us for a super charged session showcasing the top Visual Studio features that increase developer productivity. Learn first-hand how easy it is take your skills and team to the next level.

    Webinar March 19th @11 am (PST): Moving Your Business to Azure

    During this webinar, we'll discuss a planning and decision making framework focused upon leveraging PaaS for successful application migration to the Microsoft Azure.

    Webinar March 26th @11am (PST): Best Practices on Migrating Your Application to Azure

    Migrating applications and services to the Microsoft Azure can offer a number of attractive benefits. During this session, we'll discuss best practices for the migration of applications to the Azure platform.



    Keep updated on other events and webinars from InCycle by visiting their events page.

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Come to a CloudFest and Get Started with Azure



    We’ve done quite a few of these around the country so far, and they’ve proven to be very valuable experiences!  Take a look at the schedule below.  I encourage you to attend one in your area – even if your team doesn’t currently have a cloud strategy, it’ll be worth your while!


    Build, run, and explore the potential of cloud-based computing

    We’ll help you get right to work setting up cloud-based apps that will dazzle your users while driving down costs. Join Microsoft experts at a CloudFest near you to explore how to build real-world apps using Microsoft Azure.

    You'll learn to create and use virtual machines (VMs) in seconds to solve many common issues. Explore the hyperscale web and get the inside scoop on all that Microsoft Visual Studio and Azure have to offer modern development teams. We’ll give you hands-on experience with all the tools you need to succeed.

    Upcoming CloudFest Schedule:


    Note: you MUST bring a wireless, Internet-ready laptop to participate.

    In addition, you need:


    I hope to see you soon at a CloudFest in your area!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Notes from my 2/27 Office Hours


    Thanks to those of you who joined my office hours last Friday!

    I’ve noted some of the more direct questions asked during our time, and have included some information below to help answer them.


    Q: When will TFS 2015 come out?

    A: The first TFS 2015 CTP is out now, actually. It dropped on 2/23. It brings in several new capabilities, as well as some that have been a part of Visual Studio Online for a while now. Some of these include: better license alignment w/ VSO, Rest API's, Service hooks (yeah!), text filtering on backlogs, and folder history

    Q: Can I use Release Management to deploy to an Azure website from Visual Studio Online?

    A: Why not? Rather than re-invent the wheel in a more detailed reply, I'll direct you to the great Donovan Brown's blog post on this very topic.

    Q: What is a Service Hook?

    A: Great question! A service hook is an integration point with VSO (and soon TFS) to allow you to perform tasks in other services or applications when something happens in VSO. I while ago I provided a basic example of a service hook which would allow you to post to a Team Room via email.

    There are quite a few services which already leverage service hooks, such as Jenkins, Azure Service Bus, ZenDesk, HipChat, and Campfire (full list here).

    Service hooks can also be used in custom applications and services, too! For more information on how to integrate service hooks into your app, start here.


    So thanks again for joining me today. I hope to chat with more of you in a couple weeks!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Notes from my 2/13 Virtual Office Hours


    Thanks to those of you who joined my office hours earlier today!  It was great to chat!

    I’ve noted some of the more direct questions asked during our time, and have included some information below to help answer them.

    Q: What’s coming for the build system for TFS?

    Chris Patterson blogged about this very topic just yesterday, but in short, a lot is changing!  In short, the model of XAML-based builds, while still supported, is getting shifted to a much more open, extensible one.  Additionally, the team is not re-inventing the build wheel - rather, they’re looking to embrace all the other great build engines out there, such as MSBuild, Ant, Maven, script, etc.  This means several things:  You get access to build for multiple platforms right out of the box (not just Windows!), using a Web UI if you want, and get full real-time access to the build’s progress.

    Q: Can I capture my own telemetry with Application Insights?

    Certainly!  Once you understand all the metrics options for Application Insights, you can insert a little code here and there in your application to capture whatever telemetry you want.  More here.

    Q: I like all the Azure benefits I get via my MSDN subscription.  How can I share my Azure “stuff” with others, since the resources are bound to my MSDN-based Azure subscription?

    Great question.  While you can’t currently pool together benefits/credits from multiple MSDN subscriptions, you can certainly share resources.  For example, Bob can create a VM in Azure using his MSDN-based benefits and share access to it with Sally, Tom, whomever.  No restrictions there.  The only item to remember is that since Bob created it, the VM’s consumption will go against his MSDN monthly credits, and no one else’.  For a more collaborate environment that’s all billed collectively, consider a corporate Azure subscription, or an Enterprise Agreement (more on pricing & options).

    If you’re not familiar with Azure benefits you get with your MSDN subscription, check out this short video.

    Q: Visual Studio Online is great, but it seems to be changing quite frequently.  How can I keep up on what changes have occurred, and what ones are coming?

    Simple.  Go to the Features Timeline page on the Visual Studio site.  It gives you a great list of features that have been released (and their release dates), as well as features that are mid-flight.  It pays to be prepared!


    Again, thanks for joining.  And I hope to talk to you again in a couple weeks!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    My Office Hours are Back!


    I’ll let the office hours landing page do the talking, but just a heads up that I’ve set up recurring office hours for the Spring!

    More here:

    I hope to “see you in my office”!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    More CloudFests! Hello, Portland!


    On February 10th (next week!), Microsoft will be hosting a CloudFest in Portland!  Click here to register (more details below)!

    CloudFest: An Exclusive Azure Workshop

    Microsoft, Northwest Cadence, and Marquam Group invite you to participate in an all day event, featuring hands-on labs after lunch!



    • Welcome & Breakfast
    • Keynote
    • Presentation Sessions (choose one)

    Option 1: Transform your software development process with Azure (Northwest Cadence)

    Join Northwest Cadence to see how Azure can play an important role in modern continuous delivery practices, as it supports extremely rapid development cycles, near-infinite scaling, and dramatically reduced up-front costs. DevOps and DevTest become accessible to mere mortals when Azure infrastructure and platforms are used!

    A real-world example of PaaS

    Are you considering a move to the cloud? Hear a real-life story from Northwest Cadence about how they approached architecting, hosting, and developing a software product that uses the power of Azure.

    Creating an Azure VM

    Azure Virtual Machines provide flexibility for you DevTest practices and can support your need to move on-premise production machines to the cloud.  Learn how to create Azure virtual machines that will support your ALM practices during this hands-on hour.



    Option 2: Azure Active Directory Premium (Marquam Group)

    Join Marquam Group for a presentation about Microsoft’s strategy to simplify control of identities and access across the cloud and enterprise. This presentation, targeted at systems administrators and developers, will provide an overview of the Azure AD service that an organization receives when signing up for Azure or Office 365.  We will discuss the features of the Azure AD Premium service and how your organization can leverage it.

    The Azure AD service provides a compelling and affordable Identity and Access Management suite: integration with on-premise Active Directory, multi-factor authentication for security, self-service for employees, and integration with thousands of applications. With Microsoft making such significant investments into Identity and Access Management, how will it affect your organization? What is Azure AD? How can it be used in my organization? Does it work with DirSync? How does it practically tie in with non-Microsoft SaaS applications and services? What’s the real difference between Free, Basic, and Premium? Do I need the Enterprise Mobility Suite, or is there other ways to integrate this Azure service into my existing technologies?

    Lunch and Q&A Panel


    Afternoon session: CloudFest Hands-on Labs*

    (Proctored by Northwest Cadence & Marquam Group)

    Join us to explore how to build real world cloud applications using Windows Azure. You will receive hands-on experience with the tools necessary to succeed, and learn about:

    Virtual machines
    Create a virtual machine in seconds. Solve many common issues, such as proof-of-concept development that requires quick provisioning of one or more servers to validate code.

    Hyperscale web
    Explore a day in the life of a web app developer implementing a continuous deployment model and embracing DevOps. Use awesome tools that will help you develop, build, and deploy a modern responsive web application.

    Go mobile
    Develop an application and create a mobile backend that will give you the ability to scale to multiple device platforms and form factors. Transition or extend your current application to any mobile platform.

    Azure Powershell
    Microsoft Azure has a software development kit and command-line tools that can help you create your cloud solutions for almost any current development language and device.

    Desired State Configuration (DSC)
    Prepare an Azure Virtual Machine to receive a SharePoint 2013 installation using Desired State Configuration


    • A PC that is wireless internet-ready, so you can participate in the hands-on exercises
    • An Azure subscription (or use Free Trial)
    • Visual Studio 2013 Premium or Ultimate (or use Free Trial)
    • Azure SDK 2.4 (download here)
    • Visual Studio Online subscription (or use Free Trial)


    There will be cool prizes, and complimentary breakfast & lunch will be served. Hope you can join us!

    Parking: A pay-to-park garage is located at the nearby Safeway on NW 14th Ave, and additional on-street parking is available in the area.


    Date, Registration & Location

    Date: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (PST)

    Location: Microsoft - Portland
    1414 NW Northrup Street
    Suite 900
    Portland, OR 97209



    Thanks, and we hope to see you there!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    More CloudFests! Hello Bellevue!


    I wanted to let you know about a really exciting Azure Hands-on Workshop event that we have coming up in the Bellevue area on February 26th!

    Microsoft, Northwest Cadence, and Neal Analytics invite you to participate in an all-day event, featuring hands-on labs after lunch!

    We hope you can join us for a look at the future of Azure and what promises to be exciting hands-on experiences and lively discussions.


    Welcome & Breakfast


    Presentation Sessions (choose one)

    Option 1:

    Transform your software development process with Azure (Northwest Cadence)

    Join Northwest Cadence to see how Azure can play an important role in modern continuous delivery practices, as it supports extremely rapid development cycles, near-infinite scaling, and dramatically reduced up-front costs. DevOps and DevTest become accessible to mere mortals when Azure infrastructure and platforms are used!

    Option 2:

    Azure Machine Learning (Neal Analytics)

    Neal Analytics will be conducting an introductory workshop with Azure Machine Learning. This is highly relevant across all areas of a business, and is designed to be understood from developers to CEOs. We will start by demonstrating the business value through several of Neal’s solutions, and we will move into Azure ML and show you how to model your data.

    Lunch and Q&A Panel

    Afternoon Session (everyone)

    CloudFest Hands-on Labs

    Join us to explore how to build real world cloud applications using Windows Azure. You will receive hands-on experience with the tools necessary to succeed, and learn about virtual machines, hyperscale web, going mobile, Azure Powershell and Desired State Configuration (DSC).

    We look forward to having you!


    Date & Location

    February 26, 2015, 8am – 5pm


    Civica Office Building (Directions)

    205 108th Ave NE

    Suite 400

    Bellevue, WA 98004



    Register using this link!

    Complimentary continental breakfast and lunch will be served. Hope you can join us!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Check out the Cloud Platform roadmap


    Microsoft recently added a new resource for all you folks with your heads in the Cloud: the Cloud Platform roadmap.

    It's a website that gives you an at-a-glance view of what Azure is up to.  There are sections that talk about recent releases of new capabilities and services, items that are in preview (but available), projects mid-flight, and even canceled programs and services.

    In each of those sections, you'll also find information neatly categorized by cloud infrastructure, enterprise mobility, data management and analytics, application development, and internet of things (IoT).

    So if you've ever wondered what our Cloud Platform team is up to, look no further!

    Cloud Platform roadmap:


  • Steve Lange @ Work

    More CloudFests Coming your Way!


    Learn Azure hands-on!

    imageThe cloud has moved way beyond novelty—more and more of us live and work there every day. That's why we’ve put together CloudFest, a set of Hands-On Labs (HOL) that will be sweeping North America.   I hope you can attend one or more of these no-cost events.


    Here's what you can learn:


    Virtual machines

    Create a virtual machine in seconds. Solve many common issues, such as proof-of-concept development that requires quick provisioning of one or more servers to validate code.


    imageHyperscale web

    Explore a day in the life of a web app developer implementing a continuous deployment model and embracing DevOps. Use awesome tools that will help you develop, build, and deploy a modern responsive web application.


    Go mobile

    Develop an application and create a mobile backend that will give you the ability to scale to multiple device platforms and form factors. Transition or extend your current application to any mobile platform.


    Azure PowerShell

    imageCreate your cloud solutions for almost any current development language or device using Azure SDKs and command-line tools.


    Desired State Configuration (DSC)

    Prepare Azure virtual machines for SharePoint 2013 installation using DSC.



    So where is CloudFest? All over!  Below are some dates & locations that I know about, and there are surely more to come!  Simply click on the city you want, and register.





    Irving, TX


    Alpharetta, GA


    Reston, VA


    Tampa, FL


    Ft. Lauderdale, FL


    Mountain View, CA


    Southfield, MI


    Tempe, AZ



    There will be prizes and a complimentary lunch will be served. We look forward to you joining us!


    Please feel free contact me if you have any questions!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    In case you missed it, do more with VSO Basic!


    You can read the full announcement here, but here are some core changes made to VSO Basic plans (don’t worry, it’s all good!)

    Any user with a VSO Basic license can now take advantage of these features (in addition to everything you could do before):

    • Web-based test execution
    • Agile portfolio management
    • Work item chart authoring
    • Team Rooms


    Sweet!  Brian Harry also talks about this in more detail on his blog here.

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Go Big with the New Azure G-Series Virtual Machines


    The new G-Series VM’s in Azure are big.. They provide a lot more memory and increased SSD storage than before.  They also employ the latest Intel Xeon E5 v3 family of processors for increased performance.

    Here are the new G-Series VM sizes:

    Size Cores RAM (GB) SSD Storage (GB) Persistent Data Disks (Max)
    Standard_G1 2 28 412 4
    Standard_G2 4 56 824 8
    Standard_G3 8 112 1,649 16
    Standard_G4 16 224 3,298 32
    Standard_G5 32 448 6,596 64


    If you want to play around with these in dev/test, go ahead.  But shut them down when you don’t need them to avoid overage charges!

    For more information on all the available Azure VMs, go here.

    Go big or go home! 

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    New Updates Rolling out to Visual Studio Online (VSO)


    I’ll let you read about these updates in more detail on the Visual Studio News Page, but there are a couple killer new capabilities rolling out to VSO:

    Code Editing in the Browser

    You will now have the ability to manipulate files in version control directly from the browser!

    • When looking at a source file, you can use the Edit command to edit the contents of a file, including color coding and formatting.
    • You can also add, delete, or rename a file directly from the browser, without having to download the entire branch.
    • This capability extends to the Welcome hub, too!


    Filtering on Backlogs & Queries

    Think of this as a quick search for text on either a backlog or query result.  As you filter, the results will show only items that contain the matching text (in the displayed columns, including tags).

    Sprint backlog and task board improvements

    • You can now drag and drop on the sprint backlog or task board to reprioritize or reparent items.  This means you can reparent tasks to other stories on the task board if you need to.
    • On the task board, collapsed stories/PBIs will show summary information about the linked tasks.


    Preview APIs for adding and updating files in source control

    REST APIs for adding, editing, renaming, and deleting files in TF Version Control and Git projects are now available for preview.  See Visual Studio Online REST API Versions and History.


    CodeLens for Visual Studio Online in Preview

    Woot!  CodeLens is showing up when using VSO!


    Just another example of how fast and responsive this team is delivering new capabilities.  For further proof, check out the features timeline (which also shows stuff under development).

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Live Webinar: Leverage Microsoft Azure for Next-Gen App Development


    Please check out this upcoming webinar!

    Event LogoWhen:   Starts: December 18, 2014 10:00 AM-11:00 AM
    Time Zone:    (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada); Tijuana
    Welcome Time:   09:55 AM

    Registration: Click Here

    Vineet Arora, Chief Technology Officer, has over 20 years’ experience in the IT Industry. Vineet is Microsoft Azure – certified Architect and Microsoft’s virtual Technical Specialist (vTSP), helping Microsoft technical sales team as a part of the managed partner program. 


    Are you looking for developing powerful applications on Cloud? Is creating highly-available, infinitely-scalable, mobile-enabled applications in a short time frame and limited budget a challenge for you? Join our webinar session to learn how you can do it easily by leveraging Microsoft Azure and how it fits into Application development lifecycle for any developer using Microsoft technology stack.


    The session will discuss the following in detail:

    • Azure-based Application Development Lifecycle: An Introduction
    • Challenges during Plan-Build-Operate lifecycle
    • Windows Azure Environment Concepts
    • Build and Deployment Overview
    • Deployment: Cloud vs. Web Deployment vs. SQL Azure Deployment
    • Azure Platform Management Tool: Demo


    Who should attend?

    • Developers building multi-platform applications (mobile Services, websites, Developer Services)
    • Architects thinking about the next generation of applications (Cloud Services)
    • DevOps and IT Pros who host and configure environments for Development and QA (Management, automation, Compute and Storage)



    **No Purchase Necessary. Open only to webinar attendees. Game ends 12/18/2014. Email  for full Official Rules.



  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Quick Reminder for Windows Phone 7.x Developers


    Just passing along this reminder!

    This is a reminder that effective January 1, 2015, it will no longer be possible to unlock Windows Phone 7.x devices for app testing. We recommend that you unlock your Windows Phone 7.x devices prior to January 1, 2015 in order to continue testing your apps with those devices. Please note this unlock will be good for 24 months.

    On January 1, 2015, if you have not unlocked your Windows Phone 7.x device, deploying and testing of apps from Visual Studio on that device will no longer be possible. However, app testing can still be done on other unlocked phones, via the Windows Phone Emulator, or by submitting beta apps through the Windows Dev Center.
    Please note that this change will not impact apps available in the Windows Phone Store, nor will it impact customers with Windows Phone 7.x devices. Additionally, if you have apps that only have a Windows Phone 7.x package, now is a good time to update these apps to Windows Phone 8 or 8.1.

    In preparation for this change, on Wednesday December 10 between 9am and 11am Pacific time, the Windows Phone 7.x device unlock service will be unavailable due to maintenance.

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    What the What? Why Microsoft is Open Sourcing the .NET Framework


    Watch this great video posted on Channel 9 featuring Immo Landwerth and David Kean from the .NET team as they discuss how they’re going to be open sourcing .NET, and why.

    Click here to view it on the Ch9 site.


  • Steve Lange @ Work

    First Coding Lesson to my Son: Coding Saves Time


    must-notFirst of all – it’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  The craziness of the fall, combined with some (what I feel was) much-overdue vacation, has dropped of my posting frequency.  I’m hoping to remedy this going forward!

    So to jump back into things, I want to share a short, at home anecdote about the value of coding.  I wanted to show my son (9 years old) how coding can add efficiency to repetitive processes. 

    To start, I told him to pretend he was in trouble (not a stretch for him..) for hitting his little brother.  I then told him that as his punishment he had to write “I will not hit my brother” 25 times on a piece of paper.  It took him about 10 minutes to do that.

    During that time, I wrote this uber-basic method:

    public static string WriteOnChalkboard(string WillNotWhat, int HowManyTimes)
               var sb = new StringBuilder();
               for (int i = 0; i < HowManyTimes; i++)
                   sb.AppendLine(string.Format("I will not {0}", WillNotWhat));
               return sb.ToString();


    I showed it to him, and then ran it from a console app.

    static void Main(string[] args)
                string ChalkboardText = WriteOnChalkboard("hit my little brother", 25);


            public static string WriteOnChalkboard(string WillNotWhat, int HowManyTimes)
                var sb = new StringBuilder();
                for (int i = 0; i < HowManyTimes; i++)
                    sb.AppendLine(string.Format("I will not {0}.", WillNotWhat));
                return sb.ToString();

    Maybe not the best life example since this scenario shows him how to “cheat” a punishment, but he got the point. ;)

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Visual Studio & TFS 2013 Update 4 (CTP 1) is Available


    floppy disksDidn’t we just release Update 3? 

    Brian Harry explains the awesome details of this CTP on his blog post, but below are my highlights.

    As you’ll see, this update (as of now) is more substantial for TFS:

    • Pull Requests for Git in TFS – This was released to VSO a little bit back, but it’s coming to TFS.
    • Area Path Search – We added this into Web Access to make it easier to search larger area path hierarchies
    • Full-Screen View - As it sounds, a larger (more content) view for backlogs and boards.
    • Work item charting – trend charts – Now you can show trends (up to a year) on your work items, not just “current state” stuff.  The initial charts added are Stacked Area, Area, and Line.

    A couple items for the VS IDE:

    • C++: Visual Studio now scans or rescans a solution and then updates the database much more quickly for large solutions, making updates more responsive.
    • C++: Collect and analyze GPU usage data for Windows applications by using the Performance and Diagnostics hub.

    For a full list of stuff included in this CTP, be sure to check out the Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 KB article.

    Keep in mind that this is just a CTP, so use caution if you decide to go nuts and use it in production.  As more CTP’s come out, you may find additional functionality getting shoved in, so keep an eye out!

    You can download the Update 4 CTP 1 here.


  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Upcoming Visual Studio Webinars Series


    TestHouse and Comparex are running a webinar series in September covering some core topics of the Visual Studio Family.  Take a look below and be sure to register!

    Visual Studio provides testing tools that help you adopt testing practices such as manual, automated, exploratory, and load testing. Testers can be more productive planning, executing and tracking tests, both with the web-based test management tool or the rich experience provided by MTM.

    We are running a series of webinars covering some of these key functionalities within Visual Studio 2013.
    Explore MTM (for Test Management), Coded UI (for Automation) and Web Performance Testing (for Performance Testing).

    Join us now for an opportunity to hear and ask questions to our certified Visual Studio Speakers.
    We will present/demo the capabilities of VS2013.

    (click on the event title to register)

    September 4th, 2014 – A Guide to Using  MTM within Visual Studio 2013

    • Create & Execute test plans
    • Data Driving
    • Exploratory Testing and more...

    September 23rd, 2014 - Automated Testing Using VS2013 Coded UI

    • Creating basic Coded UI tests
    • Data Driving
    • Using action recording and more...

    September 30th, 2014:  An Overview of Web Performance Testing Using VS2013

    • Recording, running & editing web tests
    • Validation& Extracting rules
    • Other web tests and more...

    Testhouse Comparex

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    QuickHit Video – Getting Started with Visual Studio Online


    I just posted a new video in the series (is it a series yet if there are only two?): QuickHit Video -  Getting Started with Visual Studio Online

    It’s actually a re-post of a FlashCast video I did earlier in the summer, with a few annotations to catch you up on updates as well.

    Getting Started with Visual Studio Online

    Hope you enjoy it!  As always, please let me know if there are any topics you’d like to learn more about!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Send Email to a Team Room with VSO Service Hooks and Zapier


    If you haven’t read up on some of the great work the VSO team is doing around Service Hooks, you should do so now.  It’s a great, easily-consumable, extensible way to integrate VSO with other tools you may use.  Service Hooks can also make VSO even easier to leverage in your organization.

    In this post, I’m going to address a question I get from time to time: “The Team Rooms are great.  Can I send an email to VSO and have it show up in a Team Room?”  With a service hook, sure!

    To do this, I’m going to use Zapier, a free service that allows you to build triggered actions between systems (called “zaps”).  They just so happen to have a service hook into VSO, and an email parsing service that they provide themselves (they give you an email address to use, and it parses emails received at that address to perform in subsequent actions).

    Here’s what I did:

    I head over to Zapier and sign up for an account.  They have several plans, including a free one.

    I select to create a new Zap


    When asked to choose a trigger or action, I select the Zapier Email Parser


    Note that it ask me to also set up a parser mailbox at  I went over there real quick and set one up:


    After creating a parser account, I set up a parser mailbox (this is effectively an email address that captures and parses email messages).

    You’ll get an screen like this, with an email address for you to send to.


    Send an email to the cryptic email address on  your screen, and soon after it will capture the email and take you through the remaining steps to set up a mailbox parser.  This will allow you to later customize the display of the email message in the VSO Team Room.

    Once that’s done, on the page where you’re setting up your “Zap”, select “New Email” as the action under the “Zapier Email Parser”.

    On the right side (“..Do This.”), select Visual Studio Online, and “Send Team Room Message” as the corresponding action.  Your “Zap” should look like this:


    I click the “Continue” button, which takes me to step 2, where I’m asked to connect to my Zapier Email Parser account, which I do.  I click “Test this Account” verify.


    After clicking “Continue” again, I’m taken to step 3, where I specify my VSO account.


    I select the account I want to use, authenticate to it and authorize Zapier to access it.  I can also give it a friendly name.  When I’m done, it looks like this (in my example), after testing it.


    I click “Continue” again, and am taken to step 4 where I specify triggers for the email parser.  I simply choose the mailbox that I set up earlier.


    Note that I can add custom filters if I want.  For this example (all I’m using this mailbox for is VSO Team Room messages), I’m not.

    I click “Continue” to go to step 5.  On this step, I specify the Team Room that I want my emails to be pushed into (in my case, I choose “Awesome Calculator Team Room”), and set up the message that will be posted (based on the fields that you set up when you created  your Zapier Email Parser mailbox.  Here’s what mine looks like:


    Lastly, I click “Continue” one more time to go to step 6.  This step lets me test my Zap.


    Let’s test it!  I click on the “Test Zapier Email Parser trigger” and choose the sample data set to use (it will be the content from the test email you sent earlier to set up your mailbox). 


    I head over to the VSO Team Room.  And voila! There it is!


    That’s really it!  Now any time someone sends an email to that garbled email address set up via the Zapier Email Parser, the email will be parsed and posted to the Team Room. 

    A couple suggestions:

    • Keep the email somewhat cryptic so no outsiders can guess it (the Parser will let you customize it).
    • Use a Welcome Page on your VSO project site to tell team members what the address is.

    Now to be fair, there are other services that can help you respond to email events – the one depicted here was simply a straightforward one for me to figure out.  This is a simple example – I’d love to hear what extra fun people are having with service hooks.

    Hope this helps!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    VSO is Happy to See You! Project Welcome Pages


    The August 18th news article on the Visual Studio site announced a fun new addition to VSO: Project Welcome pages.

    Think of Welcome pages as documentation, a greeting, or basic contextual information for the Team Project.  You can use a Welcome pages for things like:

    • Describing the purpose/business value of the project.
    • Basic tips and tricks for navigating the VSO project.
    • Project-specific nomenclature or acronyms
    • Project sponsors or contacts
    • You get the idea.. whatever!

    The implementation of these pages is surprisingly simple.  Pages are really just Markdown files (.md) which are checked in/committed to the root of your project.  The default page is named “”.  For example, in my “Awesome Calculator” project, I checked in a “”:


    Now if I got to my project’s homepage, I see a “Welcome” tab.  If I click on that, I get to any/all of my Welcome pages:


    Adding additional Welcome pages is simple as well.  Just check in/commit more markdown files! 


    My new markdown file, “The”, then renders like this:


    If you’re not familiar with markdown, don’t fear.  It’s a simple and fast markup.  VSO utilizes of GitHub Flavored Markdown, a common convention already used in some open source version control systems, based on then “marked” open source library. You can use virtually any editor (they are just text files) to work on your markdown files, including VIsual Studio, MarkdownPad, and others.

    For additional details, please read Martin Woodward’s post on the Visual Studio ALM blog.


  • Steve Lange @ Work

    First QuickHit video – MSDN Azure Benefits


    This year I’m going to start making some video recordings of the more commonly requested topics I hear from customers.  Many of these topics are relatively introductory (100/200 level) – the frequency of which I’m asked to discuss these topics leads me to believe that maybe building a small library/playlist of videos covering these topics will be useful.

    So over the next few months, I’m going to try and crank out some easy-to-digest, but helpful, videos covering various ALM/Visual Studio/TFS/VSO topics.  If you have any specific topics to suggest, I’m all ears as well!

    Here is my first one – it’s a short video (<3 minutes) that talks about Azure Benefits for MSDN Subscribers. 

    QuickHit Video – MSDN Azure Benefits


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