Steve Lange @ Work

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

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    August 2010 - Steve’s Monthly Developer Tools Newsletter (First Installment!)


    [UPDATE – To allow comments and better tracking, I’m going to be publishing my newsletter as a regular blog post instead of a static page.]

    imageIt happens often:  I meet with a customer who asks a terrific question which makes me think, “Man, I have a lot of other customers who’d love to know about that as well!”

    So I’ve decided to (try and) put together a monthly newsletter which provides announcements, tips, event notices, and other information that I think will interest you.  (And yes, I’m open to ideas/topics as well!)

    Earlier today, I posted my first installment for August 2010.  As I post more, I’ll maintain an archive as well, I’ll be tagging my newsletter posts as well so you can see an archive.  While I will be posting these newsletters online, I will (and already have!) sent notifications to some of you.  If you’d like to be notified of new newsletters, send me an email or fill out the contact form and let me know.  (Yep, opt in.  I don’t want to just spam.)

    I hope to publish at the beginning of each month, detailing news from the past month and covering upcoming items for the next month.

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Microsoft’s Visual Studio ALM is a leader in the the Gartner Magic Quadrant


    The brilliant minds at Gartner have positioned Microsoft in the “leader” quadrant for Application Lifecycle Management, in their June 5th, 2012 publication, “Magic Quadrant for Application Life Cycle Management” (available for 12 months following publication).

    Their evaluation was based on Visual Studio 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010. I can’t wait to see what they think of the 2012 version once it releases!

    Magic Quadrant for Application Life Cycle Management (Gartner June 2012) 

    I’ll let you read the report (Microsoft section) for full details, but notable quotes include:

    “By virtue of its position in the market as a provider of key platforms and development tools, Microsoft acts as an overall thought leader in the ALM market”

    “Unlike all of the other tools in this Magic Quadrant, Microsoft's is the only one that tightly binds its versioning system to the rest of the ALM planning tool.”

    “..the company has made good strides with support for Eclipse and the ability to extend TFS with Java code.”

    This is truly a great accomplishment for our teams at Microsoft.  Congratulations to all!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Desert Mountain Events Calendar


    I'll be making a big effort to keep this calendar updated.  This calendar is designed to capture developer-related events in the "Desert Mountain" area.. There are several user groups which I'm sure I don't have, mainly because I'm still learning where they all are in the region.  So if you have a calendar item you want to let me know about, please do!

    Here's the calendar link:


  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Requirements Management in TFS: Part 3 (of 4): Integrations


    In Part 2, I discussed how you can begin to manage requirements using the built-in facilities of Team Foundation Server.  While hopefully you can see how the infrastructure for a great requirements management solution already exists in TFS, the interface and client-side functionality isn't there.

    Enter Microsoft's amazing partner ecosystem.  Several technology partners have provided integrations (or at least interfaces) to help fill the requirements management gap.  If your organization needs a more requirements-specific solution for your RM practice (and you don't want to wait for Rosario), you might want to take a peek at the below partner integrations.  They are listed in no particular order, and I have pasted abstracts from each products' respective web sites along with my personal comments (based on my exposure to the tools as well as comments from my peers and customers).  Also, I'm sure there are a few others, and I'll try to add more as they are brought to my attention:

    CaliberRM by Borland Software

    Abstract: Borland® CaliberRM™ is an enterprise software requirements management tool that facilitates collaboration, impact analysis and communication, enabling software teams to deliver on key project milestones with greater accuracy and predictability. CaliberRM also helps small, large and distributed organizations ensure that applications meet end users’ needs by allowing analysts, developers, testers and other project stakeholders to capture and communicate the users' voice throughout the application lifecycle.

    About CaliberRM for Visual Studio Team System:  CaliberRM for Visual Studio Team System allows teams to manage requirements throughout the software delivery process.  By integrating Microsoft Visual Studio Team System and Borland CaliberRM, you enable the free flow of requirements between business analysts, developers, testers, and business stakeholders. Software developers are able to respond rapidly to requirements authored by analysts using CaliberRM, through traces from requirements to tests and work items such as Change Requests and Tasks.

    CaliberRM is a client-server application that focuses on requirements management.  It's server is an object-oriented database (OODB) that stores requirements artifacts as uniquely identified objects in its data store.  It supports rich-text, document generation (think mail merge on steroids), requirement hierarchies, glossaries, and traceability. 

    TeamSpec by Personify Design

    Abstract: Personify Design TeamSpec™ provides a rich project requirement management experience directly inside Microsoft Word. By making Team Foundation Server (TFS) project artifacts such as Scenarios, QOS Requirements, Risks, Issues, Bugs, Tasks, among others, first class citizens inside Microsoft Word, TeamSpec enables Application Lifecycle contributions by the Business Analyst, Project Manager, and Executive roles.


    MindManager by Mindjet

    Abstract: Use MindManager to create software requirements documents and turn those requirements into work items on Microsoft Visual Studio Team System.  The requirements map then becomes a bi- directional link to the work items.

    MindManager Pro 7 enables companies and individuals to work smarter, think creatively and save time by revolutionizing the way they visually capture and manage information.

    With MindManager 7, you will:

    • Align organizational strategy and objectives by visually conveying information in a single, centralized and coherent view.
    • Empower people to accelerate business processes by enhancing strategic thinking, facilitating quicker project planning and increasing team productivity.
    • Engage and excite employees by engaging people in stimulating real-time interactions during process planning.
    • Bring better products and services to market faster by enforcing best practices and making existing plans, processes and ideas accessible.
    • Stay ahead of the competition and foster innovation by increasing team interactions during the early stages of strategic planning.
    • Win new business faster and improve business relationships by quickly capturing relevant information and improving communication with clients.


    RavenFlow by Raven

    Abstract: RAVEN is an automated collaborative solution for detecting requirements errors early. It enables enterprises to elicit, specify, analyze, and validate requirements. RAVEN produces functional specifications, both graphical and textual, that everyone can understand.

    RAVEN automatically generates visual models of requirements, making errors easily visible to all stakeholders. Common requirements errors, such as ambiguous, conflicting, or missing requirements, can be detected and corrected early, reducing software costs and development time while increasing software quality.


    stpBA StoryBoarding by stpSoft

    Abstract: stpBA Storyboarding for Microsoft® Visual Studio® Team System allows a business analyst or analyst developer to capture, define and validate requirements and scenarios in a Team System project through GUI storyboarding. Requirements can be imported from stpsoft Quew. The tool seamlessly integrates with Team System process templates and generates screen flow diagrams, HTML storyboards, UI specifications, functional specifications, Team System work items and test scripts.


    RASK (Requirements Authoring Starter Kit) - MSDN Offering

    Abstract: The Requirements Authoring Starter Kit (RASK) provides a customizable requirements-authoring solution for software development teams. RASK serves two purposes. It provides the basis of a Requirements Authoring solution and illustrates how to access Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server programmatically from Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the Microsoft Office System (Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office). RASK has broad functionality that you can extend with minimal effort.

    RASK integrates several Microsoft products into the solutions: Microsoft Office Word 2003, Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office, Microsoft SQL Server 2005, and Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services. In addition, RASK uses Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite and Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server, which are part of the Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System.

    RASK is not a complete requirements-authoring application and is not intended to compete with existing requirements-management applications.


    Optimal Trace by Compuware

    Abstract:  Optimal Trace is Compuware’s business requirements definition and management solution, built to enable IT and the business to collaborate more effectively and improve IT project delivery outcomes. According to CIO magazine, ineffective requirements are the cause of over 70 percent of IT project failures. Compuware Optimal Trace addresses this problem with “structured requirements.” This approach captures software requirements from the perspective of the user, complete with visual storyboards and traceable relationships throughout the project lifecycle to business needs. Using structured requirements, IT organizations ensure that they are accurately and completely capturing the right requirements, communicating them effectively and dramatically improving their ability to deliver on the expectations of the business.



    Next:  Summary


  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Quick Way to Integrate PhpED and Team Foundation Server


    phpedlogo So when I’m asked, “How can I integrate my PHP IDE with Team Foundation Server?”, my first response *should* be, “Why not use Visual Studio instead?”  That’s an idealistic reply, admittedly.  There are several great tools out there for PHP development, with followings that would collectively shudder at the thought of *having* to use Visual Studio.

    PhpED by NuSphere is a popular PHP development tool.  It boasts (among a lot of other things) the ability to plug-in to various version control systems, although it comes set up to leverage CVS.    There’s not much documentation out there to explain how exactly to tie into other version control systems besides CVS.  So what about Team Foundation Server?

    The fast answer?  Use the TFS Power Tools, more specifically the Windows Explorer extension.  This power tool allows you to perform version control operations on files directly from Windows Explorer:

    The TFS shell extension power tool

    All that’s really required (besides having the TFS Power Tools installed) is that the files you want to work on reside in a folder that’s in a TFS workspace

    If you use PhpED for PHP development, you probably see where I’m going with this.  ;)

    Let’s say I have the below workspace and project in PhpED:

    A sample project in PhpED

    I set up this project in C:\Work\NotDotNet\Test, which is already mapped to a TFS workspace.  As soon as I start populating files into this project, I can see that the Windows Explorer extension power tool is already working if I look at the file system:

    The TFS shell extension

    Now for the fun part.  PhpED has a nifty little feature that allows you to access the Windows shell from within its IDE.  Right-click, select “Shell Menu”, and there it is!

    Accessing the TFS shell extension from PhpED

    To add all these files to TFS version control, I right-click the project and select Shell Menu->Team Foundation Server->Add.

    The “Add to Source Control” dialog pops up:

    Add to Source Control dialog

    Hit “Finish”, and I’ve added all my files as pending changes to TFS.  Last, all I have to do is check them in by again going to the Shell Menu, only this time selecting “Check In”.

    Selecting Check In

    That gives me the TFS check-in dialog we all know and love.  I can do everything I normally would with this dialog, such as choosing specific files to check in, comments, check-in notes, and linking to work items.

    TFS Check-in dialog

    Click “Check In” and I’m done (in my case, check check-in created changeset 270)!

    Check-in completed!

    BTW, notice I’m getting the TFS version control icons displayed in PhpED (the green triangles in at the bottom-right of an item’s icon indicates it’s “seen” by TFS, a pencil indicates a checked-out file, etc.):

    TFS version control icons in PhpED

    Now to test that I can check out and check in, let’s make a little change.  (My big preface here is that I know almost nothing about PHP development, so I’m just going to insert some arbitrary text so I have a modification.  This is not a PHP lesson!)

    First, I noticed that PhpED won’t even let me modify a file (may be a setting somewhere, but I’m not sure) if it’s read-only.  So that tells me right away that my file is not checked out.

    So I check out the file via the Shell Menu extension (Shell Menu->Team Foundation Server->Check Out for Edit).

    Checking out a PHP file for edit

    Now I can make a small change.

    My simple change

    Once I’m done making my edits, I save the file and check it in (again using the Shell Menu, you probably get this by now).

    Selecting check-in

    Again, I get the beloved check-in dialog again.

    Check in Dialog

    Fill in the information I want, click “Check In”, and  I’m off!

    Now, just to make sure I’m not looking at smoke and mirrors, let’s switch to Team Explorer and view the file’s history.

    File history in Team Explorer

    There’s my change!  Now, for a final check, let me diff the two versions.

    Comparing the two versions of the PHP file in version control

    Make sense?  Not bad for a free integration point!

    Now, this all said, there is one main caveat which is worth mentioning – it shouldn’t prevent you from leveraging this shell-type integration, but it should be known nonetheless.  The TFS Power Tool shell extension only provides the basic version control operations.  Others, such as getting historical versions, viewing history, branching, merging, and shelving are notably absent from the shell extension’s menu.  You can still do all this from Team Explorer – you’ll have this installed on your machine, as it’s a requirement for the TFS Power Tools to be installed.  So yes, for some operations you’ll need to pop open Team Explorer, but the bulk of your daily operations are available right from the shell.

    BUT, PhpED is also has a very extensible menu system (that’s how it ties in with CVS), so you may also be able to leverage that to create TFS-specific menu options (such as creating workspaces, diffing files, etc.).  I had a little fun with this and was able to quite easily create a couple of TFS-related menu options to help me view a file’s history, as well as create a shelf.  All I did was drop the path to tf.exe (by default it’s "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7\IDE\”) into my PATH environment variable (just easier than putting in the full path to tf.exe each time), and away I went.

    In PhpED, go to Tools->Settings, then scroll down to Integration under Tools.  Here I created a new menu called “Team Foundation Server” and added a few submenu items with the following options (I’m sure you can figure out how to add a few more if you want):

    Option Name Command Options Selected
    View History tf history “@FName@”
    • Show this command in workspace popup, for files
    • Show this command in Explorer popup, for files
    Shelve tf shelve
    • Show this command in workspace popup, for files, for directories
    • Show this command in Explorer popup, for files, for directories


    tfpt annotate “@FName@”
    • Show this command in workspace popup, for files
    • Show this command in Explorer popup, for files

    And I end up with this:

    PhpED Settings - customized menus for TFS

    As you can see, I can leverage the command-line interface for both Team Explorer (tf.exe) and the Power Tools (tfpt.exe, which gets added to your PATH automatically upon installation).

    So now, when I right-click on certain objects in PhpED, I can take advantage of these options.  They simply shell out the specified commands and the appropriate CLI takes over.  For example, if I select “View History”,

    Selecting the View History custom menu option

    I get this:

    Viewing History of the selected file in PhpED


    So that’s about it!  There of course may be other ways to integrate these two products (perhaps using SVNBridge on CodePlex), but I found this above method to be quick and relatively painless.

    I hope this helps a couple people!  Please let me know what you think, or if you have any questions.

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Visual Studio Team System for Database Professionals Workshop


    Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition provides advanced tools for database change management and testing and offers functionality to enable database developers and administrators to be more productive and increase application quality in the database tier.

    Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition delivers a market shifting database development product that provides a foundation for managed database evolution through the use of an offline, Visual Studio project-centered source code control system together with a suite of tools designed to help understand the impact of proposed changes.

    Schemas, DML and metadata can be versioned, code can be automatically reviewed using static analysis, unit tests can be created and executed to ensure quality, and comparisons can be made with test and production systems prior to deployment.

    Integration with Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server helps increase the productivity of the database professionals by enabling them to become an integral part of the application team.

    Please join Microsoft and Adventos for this one-day course to learn how the Developer and Database editions of Team System work together in the application lifecycle.

    image  Course Outline

    • Core Features of TFS
    • Team Projects
    • Source Control and Team Foundation Build
    • Managing Databases in a Team Environment

    Who Should Attend?

    Database Administrators, Database Developers


    imageBasic Agenda

    • Welcome: 8:30 PM
    • Seminar: 9:00 AM-4:30 PM

    Denver, CO

    • February 18, 2009
    • Click here to register with invitation code: 982D4B .

    imagePhoenix, AZ

    • February 19, 2009
    • Click here to register with invitation code: 15B18A.

    Los Angeles, CA 

    • March 3, 2009
    • Click here to register with invitation code: 31A402

    Irvine, CA

    • March 4, 2009
    • Click here to register with invitation code: E4995A

    San Diego, CA

    • March 5, 2009
    • Click here to register with invitation code: 3B9F3B

    To Register by Phone –

    • Call 1.877.MSEVENT (1.877.673.8368) with invitation code.
  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Thanks, RM Tech Trifecta!


    I had a great time on Saturday hanging out with 400-ish of my closest friends at the Rocky Mountain Tech Trifecta!  Many of you braved iffy road conditions to make it downtown for this incredible event.

    Big hats of to the Yacks for putting this together!


    View Rocky Mountain Tech Trifecta (Feb 2009)
  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Take TFS for a Test Drive with a Hosted Trial


    There is a new option for taking TFS for a test drive:


    Free 6-week hosted trials of TFS are being offered by TeamDevCentral.  It includes:

    ·         Accounts allowing customers to experience different team roles and to collaborate within a project

    ·         Up to 4 hours of guidance and/or support for the trial can be used for any type of advice related to TFS or Visual Studio Team System


    You can sign up for the trial at their website, or read the press release:  Press Release: TeamDevCentral Offers Free Trials of Hosted Microsoft Team Foundation Server


  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Sssshh!!! The Team System Big Event is Coming..


    We’ve got a cool event in the works.  Covering all aspects of Team System.  Presented by Microsoft, partners, and community influentials.

    Where?  Denver, Phoenix, Irvine, Mountain View, Portland.

    Don’t tell anyone! (Okay, do tell people – bring them along, but don’t give up your seat!)

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Phoenix: Awesome Upcoming SDLC/VSTS Event




    June 12, 2008 | Phoenix, AZ |Event ID: 1032374283


    Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2008 (VSTS) is an integrated Application Life-cycle Management (ALM) solution comprising tools, processes, and guidance to help everyone on the team improve their skills and work more effectively together. VSTS 2008 provides multi-disciplined team members with an integrated set of tools for architecture, design, development, database development, and testing of applications. Team members can continuously collaborate and utilize a complete set of tools and guidance at every step of the application lifecycle.

    This one-day seminar will walk through VSTS 2008, highlighting new features that are available in the most recent release. Presentations will include demonstrations, best practices, and discussions on all four role-specific editions. We will also cover project management with Team Foundation Server (TFS), leveraging TFS source control, and new features such as integration with MOSS, and managing the build process with continuous integration. .  During lunch, we will also have a discussion around the adoption of methodology within the enterprise including lessons and experience from customers that have been through that process.

    Please join Microsoft and Neudesic, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner for this one-day seminar. Thank you, we look forward to seeing you there!


    Interactive seminar and demonstrations

    • VSTS Role-based Editions
      • Architect
      • Developer
      • Test
      • Database Professional
    • Team Foundation Server
    • Adopting a Methodology (lessons from other customers)
    • Best Practices
      • Version Control
      • Project Management using VSTS
      • Working with Continuous Integration


    To register, please visit and search on the event code listed below, or call 1.877.MSEVENT (1.877.673.8366).

    Date: June 12, 2008
    Time: 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
    Microsoft Corporation
    2929 N. Central Ave., Ste. 1400
    Phoenix, AZ 85012
    Phone: 602.280.8600
    See map and/or driving directions

    Registration Link:

    Event ID: 1032374283

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