Steve Lange @ Work

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

October, 2012

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    VS/TFS 2012 Tidbits: TFS Feedback Management Behind the Scenes

    • 3 Comments

    In this post, I’m going to take a closer look at how the new Feedback capabilities in TFS 2012 works under the covers.

    In general, TFS users can request “feedback” from stakeholders about particular elements/areas of an application.  This can be either specific or general scenarios.  TFS manages the feedback process using work items and email notifications.  But how does this work, really?  Let’s find out!

    You initiate a feedback request from your project (or team) dashboard by clicking on “Request Feedback”

    image

    In this example, I’m soliciting feedback for Bing searches.  And I’ve asked for two items of feedback (called “feedback items”, see Step 3 in the screenshot).

    So what happens when I actually click send?

    Well, as far as the stakeholder is concerned, they just get an email with some simple instructions to get started:

    image

    But on the TFS side, TFS creates two work items (of type Feedback Request), one for each feedback item specified in the previous request (see #142 and #143):

    image

    Let’s look at #142 (Search for ‘Steve Lange’) and see what’s stored.

    The Title field obviously houses the name of the feedback item.  On the Details tab, the Description field holds the specific instructions that correspond with the feedback item.

    image

     

    On the Application tab you’ll find the details from step 2 on the request form (“Tell the Stakeholders How to Access the Application”).

    image

    And lastly, you’ll notice that the feedback items (Feedback Request work items) are linked together to form the more composite request.

    image

    So how can we see to whom this request was sent?  Look in the comments of the history for the work item (at the bottom of the screenshot):

    image

    The benefit of this approach is that it allows feedback items to be tracked individually.  If you submit a feedback request, but ask stakeholders to check out features that align with different backlog items/requirements/whatever, this method provides more specific tracking.

    Reuse or Making Corrections

    Another less obvious, but equally nice benefit to managing feedback requests this way is that you can make changes to the request without creating an entire new one.  This is possible because the link that’s inserted in the email sent to the stakeholders references the work item ID’s of the feedback request items, rather than embedding all the instructions in the URL (or statically somewhere else).

    So if I make a mistake I don’t have to create a brand new request, but instead the Title, Description, and other applicable fields on the Application tab and have the stakeholder simply reuse the previously-sent link.

    In this example, the URL provided in the email looks like this (see bolded area):

    mfbclients://<my_subdomain>.tfspreview.com/DefaultCollection/p:Sandbox?rid=142%2C143

    By updating either of the work items specified in the URL, the feedback session will subsequently be updated.

    More on the feedback URL

    You can modify the URL and send it directly to someone without filling out the feedback request form.  For instance, if I requested feedback of work items 142 and 143 from certain people but also wanted feedback on work item 143 from an additional person I can augment the URL and send it to that one-off person.  In this example it would look like:

    mfbclients://<my_subdomain>.tfspreview.com/DefaultCollection/p:Sandbox?rid=143

    Here’s the basic breakdown of the URL:

    mfbclients://<TFS_URL>/CollectionName/p<Project_Name>?rid=<work_item_ids>

    <TFS_URL> The URL of your TFS instance
    <Project_Name> The name of your Team Project
    work_item_ids Comma-separated list (or use %2C) of work item ID’s.  These work item ID’s need to correspond to Feedback Request work items or the Feedback Client will throw an error.

    Moving On

    So let’s say I walk through the process of providing feedback using the Microsoft Feedback Client.  For summary, here’s the feedback I provide:

    image

     

    Once I submit my feedback through the Feedback Client, a work item (of type Feedback Response) is created for each individual reply.  (See #144 and #145 below)

    image

    Again, this allows teams to track individual responses to discrete items.  So if a stakeholder skips feedback for a particular item, it doesn’t interfere with feedback on other items.

    Revisiting and Providing More Feedback

    Here’s one last great feature.  As the stakeholder, let’s say I want to either review or amend feedback I’ve already provided, or submit additional feedback.  I’m covered!  If I simply click on the link provided in the original feedback request email, upon entering the “Provide” step of my feedback session TFS is smart enough to see that I’ve already provided feedback.  In doing so, it inserts the feedback details I provided earlier into the Feedback Client.  So now I can make changes to existing feedback, or enter more information. 

    For example, here’s the Feedback Response work item created from my first submitted feedback:

    image

    If I click on the URL in the original email sent to the stakeholder, the Feedback Client runs again, and I can instantly see the feedback I’d previously supplied:

    image

    (Look familiar?)

    Really all it’s doing is looking at the Feedback Request work item, checking to see if there is a Feedback Response item submitted by me already.  If there is, it pulls the content of the Stakeholder Comments field and sends it over to the Feedback Client for the stakeholder to make further edits.  Sweet!

    Basically..

    The basic thing to remember here is that the Feedback Management process in TFS uses TFS work items to manage the storage and workflow of providing feedback.  Think of the Feedback Client as a very lightweight TFS client.  Changes you make in the Feedback Client either create or update Feedback Response work items in TFS.  Direct changes made in TFS to the work items are reflected in the Feedback Client when those work items are accessed.

    I hope this helps better explain how feedback actually works in TFS 2012.  It’s terrific and easy way to engage stakeholders to get feedback at various points in the development lifecycle.  But it’s a flexible implementation as well, providing mechanisms for reuse and more granular tracking.

    Enjoy!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Upcoming ALM Webcasts from Neudesic

    • 2 Comments

    The events just keep comin’ from our awesome partners!  See below for the latest schedule of ALM webcasts from Neudesic.

    October 30th Scrum and Agile Management with Visual Studio 2012, Presented by Clementino de Mendonca

    Find out how Visual Studio has become the tool of choice to manage your Scrum projects, and how it stands out of the way allowing you to do Agile in your own terms instead of forcing you to adapt your development process to a tool. We will take a tour on how you can enact Scrum best practices and cycles, allowing the team to always have a clear picture of Done should look like at the end of a sprint through using Team Foundation Server as a team communication hub.

    November 1st Requirements and Stortyboarding in the Visual Studio 2012, Presented by William Salazar

    Many teams use mockups or storyboards to describe general application appearance and flow.  This session will demonstrate new features in Visual Studio 2012 that support creating, presenting and maturing storyboards using tools you already know. And then we’ll show how this process fits into the rest of your application’s lifecycle.

    November 6th – Creating a Branch Strategy, what it is, why you need one, and how you get started, Presented by Clementino de Mendonca

    Do you know for sure which code base snapshot in your source control system matches what is in production? What is the best strategy to manage source code for team members working in parallel in different features? In this talk we will take a look at creating branching strategies that answer these and other questions, and allow you to balance simplicity, isolation, and speed in your software development efforts.

    November 8th – DevOps: Integrating Operations for Continuous Delivery, Presented by William Salazar

    Integrating Development and Operations teams deeply using new practices and tools is critical to delivering on the promise of shorter cycle times, improved mean time to repair, and increased business value that all companies that build software want to fulfill. Organizations that use practices and tools to integrate development and operations can significantly speed up their Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) process and enable continuous delivery of software to their customers, whether internal or external. Developers and Operations engineers are increasingly working closer together to maintain always on services. Visual Studio 2012 with System Center 2012 give developers and operations the tools to work seamlessly together to reduce the mean time to repair for defects in production applications.

    Learn about some of the newest features in Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 and System Center 2012, including:

    • Features to help improve the interactions between development and operations, creating better, integrated workflows
    • New lab management tools that allow teams to quickly spin up an advanced Build-Deploy-Test infrastructure
    • Deployment management features such as support for multiple package types, virtual machine management, automated deployment to private and public clouds
    • Integrated production monitoring and diagnostics tools

    Register:

    November 14th – Collecting Actionable Feedback with Visual Studio, Presented by Clementino de Mendonca

    Most teams collect feedback from customers in one way or another but it fails to trickle down as something that developers can use to improve the product. See how Visual Studio can help you capture, structure and tie feedback into your existing development efforts with Microsoft Feedback Client, allowing you to provide actionable starting points for your development and testing efforts. REGISTER TODAY!

    November 15th – Developer Testing with Visual Studios, Presented by William Salazar

    From the ground up, the developer testing experience in Visual Studio 2012 was designed to allow developers to focus on their code and avoid unnecessary distractions. Test Explorer is now easily extended, allowing you to add third-party testing frameworks in addition to those shipped with Visual Studio. Visual Studio also includes the new Fakes framework to let developers create fast running and isolated unit tests. In this session, we will review the new developer testing experience in the context of a typical day-to-day workflow, showing how these features will help you quickly write better quality code.

    November 27th – Improving Small Team Productivity with Team Foundation Server, Presented by Clementino de Mendonca

    Team members in smaller teams have always had to wear multiple hats: talk to customer, develop, test, talk to customer, fix bugs, retest, talk to customer, deploy… did I forget to mention you also have to plan your releases?  No way you can do this without some automation. Visual Studio 2012 is the suite that will boost your productivity to the max by augmenting your skills with powerful tools that will help you trace your way out of a development cycle labyrinth.

    November 29th – Making Developers More Productive with Visual Studio Team Foundation Server, Presented by William Salazar

    In this session, we will talk about those “fit-and-finish” scenarios in Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012 which will make developers more productive as they write code and collaborate with other team members. You’ll find out about the new integrated code reviews; the new “My Work” experience for managing your active tasks; and once you’re “in the zone” Visual Studio will now help you stay focused on the task at hand, no matter how much you’re randomized, with a new suspend/resume experience. You’ll also find out how to work offline seamlessly, how the new merging experience works, and how you can more easily find work items.

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012 Installfest - Denver (October 9, 2012)

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    My colleague (and ridiculously knowledgeable) Harold Wong will be hosting a Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012 Installfest in Denver next week.  I highly encourage you to attend if you have an interest in getting a solid start on these platforms.  In his own words:

    “With the recent RTM of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, I am hearing a lot of interest from people who really want to start kicking the tires of these two new flagship products from Microsoft. If you are interested in getting an evaluation version of Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 installed onto you machine to start playing with, I can help you. I will have bootable thumb drives with Windows 8 Enterprise 90-Day Eval (RTM) and Windows Server 2012 Evaluation (RTM). In addition, I will also provide VHD files that have Windows Server 2012 Evaluation and Windows 8 Enterprise RTM 90 Day Evaluation preinstalled so that we can configure your machine with Boot to VHD (no repartitioning required and keeps your existing OS intact). I will show you how to build your own VHDs so you are armed for the future.”

    This is an informal event where you can come and go at any point during the event window.

    To register, sign up here:  http://hwdenverinstallfest2.eventbrite.com/# (The registration page also lists prerequisites for your laptop, as well as some other stuff to have ready/downloaded prior to arrival).

    This event is also listed through the Colorado Microsoft Developers Meetup group here:  http://www.meetup.com/ColoradoMicrosoftDevelopers/events/82056702/

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Upcoming Coffee Talks from Northwest Cadence

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    Here are some upcoming webcasts from our ALM partner Northwest Cadence!  Simply click on the links in the “Code” column to register!

     

    Coffee Talk: Northwest Cadence – A Lap Around Visual Studio 2012

    Summary: An introduction to the major new features and improvements in Visual Studio 2012. Expect to see the new enhanced User Interface, Agile Planning Tools, Requirements Gathering Tool, Stakeholder Feedback Tool, Updates to the Developer and Tester Experience, Version Control Improvements, and DevOps Integration. The list goes on but the ride starts here, so buckle up and join us for this lap around Visual Studio 2012.

    DATE

    TIME

    CODE

    September 28, 2012

    October 12, 2012

    October 26, 2012

    8:30 AM –9:30 AM PST

    8:30 AM –9:30 AM PST

    8:30 AM –9:30 AM PST

    nwclaparound928

    4171027656

    4171109902

    Visit http://nwcadence.com/events for a full list of upcoming events.

    Coffee Talk: Northwest Cadence – Leveraging your SA Benefits

    Summary: Join Northwest Cadence as we provide you with an overview of the three (3) DTDPS offerings. We will explain how to activate and strategically utilize these benefits to enhance your software deployment planning. In addition, we will review how you can connect DTDPS to other Software Assurance benefits within your agreement to ensure you gain the highest return on your investment.

    DATE

    TIME

    CODE

    October 8, 2012

    November 12, 2012

    9:00 AM –10:00 AM PST

    9:00 AM –10:00 AM PST

    4184219112

    4184237166

    Visit http://nwcadence.com/events for a full list of upcoming events.

    Coffee Talk: Northwest Cadence – Introduction to Kanban

    Summary: Kanban is a Lean-inspired approach to software development. Although the rules of Kanban are simple, they are also remarkably powerful. By simply visualizing work, limiting work in process, and monitoring the flow of work, the team begins a powerful process of discovery and improvement. This has resulted in impressive improvements in nearly all areas of software development time and time again. During this event, we will talk about the five basic principles of Kanban adoption, the benefits of adoption, and the pitfalls along the way.

    DATE

    TIME

    CODE

    October 10, 2012

    October 24, 2012

    8:30 AM –9:30 AM PST

    8:30 AM –9:30 AM PST

    162401

    162402

    Visit http://nwcadence.com/events for a full list of upcoming events.

    Coffee Talk: Northwest Cadence – Migrating Without Fear: Visual Source Safe to the new TFS2012

    Summary: Moving code from one repository to another has never been the hard part of migrating from VSS to TFS. It’s fast, it’s safe, you keep backups, so what’s the holdup? If your developers have been pushing back because they’re afraid TFS will totally disrupt their daily coding practices, you’re not alone! (And they weren’t entirely wrong.) Local Workspaces in TFS 2012 may be just the thing you need to change the conversation. Learn more about these and other first-class code management features and get your team ready to make the leap!

    DATE

    TIME

    CODE

    October 31, 2012

    November 14, 2012

    8:30 AM –9:30 AM PST

    8:30 AM –9:30 AM PST

    162403

    162406

    Visit http://nwcadence.com/events for a full list of upcoming events.

    Coffee Talk: Northwest Cadence – Refactoring Without Fear: Architecture in the new Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate

    Summary: Refactoring a production application feels an awful lot like trying to swap out the hydraulics on a jumbo jet in the air. On the other hand, sub-standard hydraulics don’t sound so great either. That’s what refactoring is about: improving code to provide long-term stability and maintainability. Done right, it can reduce overall costs and dramatically increase user satisfaction, even accelerate new feature development. In this session, learn the basics of refactoring: what and why to refactor, when and how to work it into your team’s overall process, and key technical strategies like unit testing, automated build, and architectural verification that make technology renewal on-the-fly safer and simpler than ever.

    DATE

    TIME

    CODE

    November 7, 2012

    8:30 AM –9:30 AM PST

    162404

    Visit http://nwcadence.com/events for a full list of upcoming events.

    Coffee Talk: Northwest Cadence – Embracing Modern App Development with Visual Studio 2012

    Summary: Whether it’s Test-Driven Development, Test-First Development, or just plain figuring out whether your code does what you want it to do, unit testing is the standard for modern application development and a must-have for agile teams—but getting started can be a real challenge. What should you test? How granular should your tests be? How do you isolate code? How much code coverage is reasonable? If you’ve hit a wall, you’re not alone.

    Get straightforward, practical guidance you can use today to jump-start your team’s unit testing efforts and finally see for yourself what the big deal is.

    DATE

    TIME

    CODE

    November 19, 2012

    9:00 AM –10:00 AM PST

    162405

    Visit http://nwcadence.com/events for a full list of upcoming events.

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Team Foundation Service is Live!

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    That’s right!  FKA TFS Preview has graduated to a fully-released service!

    For a graduation present, the official URL has been updated to http://tfs.visualstudio.com.

    TFS Preview will continue as a valid URL for a little while longer, but now that “TFS in the Cloud” is officially online and available, you can start using the new URL.  http://[youraccountname].visualstudio.com.

    The first real pricing option was also announced, the FREE one!  TF Service will be available for free for teams of up to 5 users, and includes all the bells and whistles that you know and love from TFS: version control, work item tracking, agile planning, feedback management, and more.  And not to mention there’s no limit on number of projects.

    Additional pricing plans will be announced as they become available, according to Brian Harry on the TFS news page.

    Enjoy!

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