Steve Lange @ Work

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

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    VS/TFS 2012 Tidbits: Using SkyDrive/OneDrive with Team Foundation Service (or Server)


    April 2014 Updates:

    • SkyDrive is now OneDrive
    • Team Foundation Service is now Visual Studio Online

    Team Foundation Server has always had a great integration with SharePoint by allowing organizations to leverage the goodness of SharePoint’s web parts and document libraries.  TFS can surface reports and other statistics to SharePoint so roles that are on more of the periphery of the lifecycle can still check in and see how the project is progressing.  For teams that use document libraries in SharePoint, these libraries can be accessed directly from Team Explorer, allowing developers to stay in Visual Studio (or whatever development tool they’re using) while still consuming supporting documents such as vision documents, wireframes, and other diagrams.

    And in TFS 2012, this integration continues.  However, if you’re using Team Foundation Service (AKA TFS Preview - think TFS in the cloud), it does not currently support SharePoint integration.  So this shortens the ability for teams to leverage document collaboration. 

    This is very applicable to the new Storyboarding with PowerPoint capability in TFS 2012.  You can associate storyboards with any work item in TFS; but to follow those associations and access the artifact on the other end of a link in TFS, that artifact needs to be accessible to people on your team.  Which means that your docs should be somewhere in the cloud or on a public share somewhere on your network.  If you’re using the TF service in part because your team is distributed, a public share may not be viable.  Which leaves the cloud.

    Enter SkyDrive.  SkyDrive is a great way to easily store, access, and share documents online (I share every customer presentation I deliver on SkyDrive).  And with TF Service, you’re most likely using a Live ID/Microsoft ID for authentication, that account gives you at least 7GB of space to play with for free.

    Now, you can use SkyDrive for all sorts of artifacts; but for this post I’ll be doing storyboards.  So consider my basic product backlog below (again, on my TF Service instance): 

    Sample product backlog

    Let’s say that I want to create a storyboard to support and better define “Sample PBI 4”, the second item on my backlog.  Effectively what I need to do is put my PowerPoint storyboard on SkyDrive and build the link between the PPTX and my PBI work item.

    The first thing you need to do is set up a folder (or folder structure) on SkyDrive to support all the documents you will want to associate with items in TFS.  You can create this structure either via the SkyDrive app or on the SkyDrive website as well.  For this example, I created a “TFS” folder in my “Documents” default folder, then added subfolders to store “Documents” and “Storyboards”.  Here is what it looks like:

    SkyDrive folder structure

    Regardless of how you create your structure, you’ll need to go to SkyDrive via the browser and grant permissions for others on your team to view/edit the root folder (in my case “TFS”) and its contents.  Select the root folder, choose the “Share” action, and either have SkyDrive send an email to your teammates or grab the View & Edit link and send it yourself.  Be sure to send it to your teammates’ Live/Microsoft email addresses that are associated with their TF Service account.

    There are two ways to do this, and the best path for you really just depends on if you use the SkyDrive app/client on your local computer.  I’ll describe both ways to do it below; but the end goal is to get your PowerPoint document open from SkyDrive and not your local computer.  This ensures that when you actually create the link from it to the work item in TFS, that the path that’s inserted in the link is a SkyDrive path and not a local one.

    With No SkyDrive App/Client

    If you don’t have it, or don’t’ want to use the SkyDrive app, that’s fine.  It’ll just take you a couple extra steps.

    • On the SkyDrive website, go to the folder in which you want to store your storyboard(s) (in my example TFS\Storyboards).
    • Select Create, then PowerPoint presentation

    Creating a PowerPoint presentation on SkyDrive

    • Specify a name for your storyboard.

    Naming your storyboard

    • After your PowerPoint document is created, it will be opened (blank) in the Microsoft PowerPoint Web App Preview

    PowerPoint Web App Preview

    • Select “OPEN IN POWERPOINT” at the top right.  Allow/confirm all prompts that come your way.



    • This will launch PowerPoint on your machine and open the storyboard you initialized on SkyDrive.

    Skip down to “Once You Have Your Storyboard Open From SkyDrive..”

    With the SkyDrive App/Client

    If you have the SkyDrive app, it’s even easier

    • Open your SkyDrive folder from your file system.
    • Right-click and select to create a new PowerPoint document.

    Creating a new PPTX from the file system

    • Give it a name.
    • Double click on you new PowerPoint document to open it.

    Alternatively, you can also launch PowerPoint, create a new presentation, and save it to your SkyDrive folder. 


    You’ll just want to be sure to save it to SkyDrive before you create any links back to TFS.

    Once You Have Your Storyboard Open From SkyDrive..

    There’s a very quick and easy way to double-check that PowerPoint has opened your document from SkyDrive. Look at the “Save” button and see if it has a smaller “refresh”-looking overlay on the icon.

    Save button detecting an online document.

    Now move on and build your storyboards.

    • When you’re ready to associate it with a work item in TFS, on the Storyboard tab/ribbon, click “Storyboard Links” in the “Team” group.


    Selecting the Storyboard Links button

    • Create your link by connecting to your TF Service instance, finding and selecting your work item.  Again in my example, work item #138, “Sample PBI 4”.


    • Save your document (always a good measure, right?)
    • You should now be able to open the associated work item and see the link to the storyboard (by default, the Product Backlog Item work item type has a tab to just show storyboard links.  If you don’t have such a tab, go to the All Links tab and you should see it there.  You can quickly verify that the link to the storyboard is an online link/URL and not a local path (if you see a local path, you didn’t open the PPTX from SkyDrive).  Notice in my example the long HTTPS link to my storyboard that contains and trails with my SkyDrive path (Documents/TFS/Storyboards..).




    That’s it!  My instructions are probably more detailed than you need, but you’ll see that it’s remarkably easy to do.  The most important thing about linking work items to documents (storyboards, files, whatever) is to make sure that the location passed to TFS for setting up the link is an accessible one.

    Hope this helps, and enjoy!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Visual Studio 2012 Launch Roadshow!


    Visual Studio 2012 Launch Roadshow

    If you’re not heading to Seattle for the Visual Studio 2012 Launch Event on September 12th, don’t worry: We’re coming to you!

    Be our guest and attend in person to experience all of the incredible new capabilities of Visual Studio 2012 first hand.


    For those of you who have attended the events so far and are looking for the slides/content, look no further! Everything is here:

    I’ll be there, will you?

    Discover how Visual Studio 2012 allows you to collaborate better and be more agile. See how it helps you turn big ideas into more compelling apps. Experience how it integrates best practices that accelerate development and deployment.  You’ll enjoy several sessions which will take Visual Studio, Team Foundation Server, and Test Professional through their paces to show off what’s possible with this incredible release!

    Register today for a city near you (dates and locations listed below), we hope to see you there!

    Cities & Dates


    Denver, CO


    Lehi, UT


    Tempe, AZ


    San Diego, CA


    Irvine, CA


    Mountain View, CA


    San Francisco, CA


    Portland, OR


    Boise, ID


    Registration/check-in begins at 8:30.  The event runs from 9:00AM to 4:00PM.

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    VS/TFS 2012 Tidbits: When to Use the Feedback Client


    As the Visual Studio family of products (Visual Studio, TFS, Test Professional) nears its 2012 release, I thought I’d bring some short hits – tidbits, if you will – to my blog. Some of these are pretty obvious (well-documented, or much-discussed), but some may be less obvious than you’d think. Either way, it’s always good to make sure the word is getting out there. Hope you enjoy!

    When to Use the Feedback Client

    FeedbackOne of the “new” new features of TFS 2012 is the addition of the Microsoft Feedback Client for collecting feedback from stakeholders, end users, etc.  This tool integrates with TFS to provide a mechanism to engage those stakeholders and more seamlessly include their insights in the lifecycle.

    Several of my customers however, perhaps with brains overloaded with the possibilities of this capability, have asked me, “So when exactly do I use this? When do I request feedback?”

    Well, the answer, as it often times is, is “it depends.”

    First, if you aren’t aware of the two ways to use the Microsoft Feedback Client, check out (shameless plug) my previous post covering this.

    The more I play around with this tool and talk about it with customers, the more scenarios I find in which this new 2012 capability adds value.

    Now back to that “it depends” answer.. The key thing to remember for using the feedback capability is that there is no hard and fast rule for when you should use it.  But here are three main scenarios:

    • Voluntary, Unsolicited Feedback – When a stakeholder/end user has something to say, let them say it with the Feedback Client.  Instead of an email, entry on a spreadsheet or SharePoint list, using the Feedback Client leverages the goodness of Team Foundation Server (not to mention proximity to the actual development team) to log, manage, relate, and report on the stakeholder’s insights. If a business analyst or project manager likes the feedback provided, it’s just a few clicks to get a backlog item created from the feedback and shoved onto the backlog.  The feedback then becomes a supporting item for the PBI, helping address any questions as to why the PBI was added to the backlog.
    • User Acceptance Testing (UAT) – When a new feature has been developed and made available for UAT, request feedback from one or more knowledgeable stakeholders to get sign-off.  Linking the feedback request to the PBI/task/bug being tested for acceptance not only gives additional traceability in validating sign-off; but it provides the team additional “clout” if a stakeholder later voices a concern about a feature completion (“You said you liked it, see?”).
    • Checkpoints/Continuous Feedback – Feedback doesn’t have to be just at the beginning and end of a sprint. Any time there’s something new that QA’s already had a run at, why not involve a stakeholder? While you can, you don’t have to wait until a sprint’s over to get feedback.

     From MSDN, “Planning and Tracking Projects”:Planning and Tracking Projects

    What other scenarios can you think of where you could leverage the new feedback capabilities in VS 2012?

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    VS 2012 ALM Tidbits: The Feedback Client’s Two Modes


    As the Visual Studio family of products (Visual Studio, TFS, Test Professional) nears its 2012 release, I thought I’d bring some short hits – tidbits, if you will – to my blog. Some of these are pretty obvious (well-documented, or much-discussed), but some may be less obvious than you’d think. Either way, it’s always good to make sure the word is getting out there. Hope you enjoy!

    The Feedback Client’s Two Modes

    One of the “new” new features of TFS 2012 is the addition of the Microsoft Feedback Client (download) for collecting feedback from stakeholders, end users, etc. This tool integrates with TFS to provide a mechanism to engage those stakeholders and more seamlessly include their insights in the lifecycle.

    It’s important to know that this new tool provides a mechanism for collecting feedback in two distinct manners, voluntary and requested. The rest of this post will walk through each of these “modes”.

    Regardless of the mode used to provide feedback, this feedback gets stored in TFS as a work item (of type Feedback Response) which then gets all the benefits of being a work item (auditing, assignment, linking, reporting, etc.). As you can imagine, this is a much more effective way of tracking feedback than email, lists, and forms. We’ll talk about that (plus licensing) toward the end of this post.

    Voluntary Feedback Mode

    This mode is used naturally by a stakeholder (I’m using the term “stakeholder” to mean anyone that may want to have a say in how a product evolves) to provide unsolicited feedback about a product or application. This means that if a stakeholder is using an application and thinks of an idea to improve it (or maybe even to report a problem), they can fire up the Feedback Client and include annotated screenshots, record video or audio, and notes.  

    Voluntary feedback

    In this screenshot, I provide “voluntary” feedback that I should be more prominently featured on Bing. Yes, I’m that way.. ;)

    This is an incredible light and easy way for a stakeholder to feel like they have a say/vote in the direction of an application.

    Requested Feedback Mode

    As the name implies, this kind of feedback is given in response to a request for feedback from another user. Requesting feedback begins in Team Web Access on a project’s home page, by clicking on the “Request feedback” link under Activities. 

    Request feedback

    The requestor fills out the Request Feedback form:

    Request feedback form

    Which sends the following email to all included stakeholders (yes, you can send a single request to multiple recipients, as well as request multiple items of feedback in a single request):

    Feedback request email

    When the stakeholder clicks the link in the email, the Feedback Client will launch and walk the stakeholder through the process.Requested feedback in Feedback Client

    Once the feedback is submitted, everything shoots back into TFS and is automatically linked to the Feedback Request work item.

    Response linked to Request

    Looking at the feedback response in my example:

    Feedback Response work item

    Okay, Now What?

    Now that you have feedback in TFS, what do you do with it?

    Several things, actually.  First, leverage the linking capabilities of work items to associate feedback with the appropriate task, backlog item, bug, or whatever. In my example, I linked my feedback request to a PBI:


    This provides an even more cohesive story for “covering” the PBI.  Now not only can you see from a PBI all the tasks, storyboards, bugs, etc. related it to it, but you have a way to track “sign-off”, or at least unofficial support from stakeholders about the “doneness” of the backlog item.

    Also, you may want to is create a few shared queries to better help you view and track feedback.

    Feedback queries

    In this example, I created 4 queries to help me manage feedback (again, just an example):

    • All Feedback – Flat list showing all feedback responses (voluntary or requested).
    • Feedback Requests & Responses – Direct links query showing all feedback request and any associated responses.
    • Feedback without PBI – Flat list showing all feedback requests and responses that are not associated with a Product Backlog Item.
    • Unsolicited Feedback – Flat list showing all voluntary feedback.

    Lastly, if stakeholder feedback is important to you, add one of your feedback queries as a Team Favorite, which will make it show up on your team’s home page.

    Team Favorites


    • To provide feedback (i.e. use the Microsoft Feedback Client), there is no licensing requirement at all. The Feedback Client tool is free to download, and there is no TFS CAL requirement to use it.
    • To request feedback (i.e. solicit feedback from others), you need to be part of one of the following licensing groups: Visual Studio Premium, Visual Studio Ultimate, or Visual Studio Test Professional.


    There’s plenty of documentation on stakeholder feedback, but something that can fall through the cracks is the fact that there are indeed two modes of using this capability.

    Hope this helps!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Want More VS 2012 ALM Training? You Got It!


    VS_Purp526_rgbOur friends at Northwest Cadence are offering a FREE two-event series in August.  These online events cover four individual sessions:

    • Session 1: A Lap Around Visual Studio 2012
      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.
    • Session 2: Visual Studio 2012 for Agile Teams
      Getting the tool out of the way and letting you stay in the zone is a big part of Visual Studio 2012. Come experience the new developer experience and workflows for work items, version control, unit testing, and code reviews. Visualizing your current work and updating status is almost effortless, version control is much more flexible, continuous testing made possible by a new unit testing interface, and a true code review workflow is available for collaboration and feedback.
    • Session 3: Storyboarding and Feedback Manager
      Bringing people with the good ideas into the software development process! Storyboarding and Feedback Manager can dramatically improve the quality of your requirements, and provide the voice of the customer to your development team. Storyboarding allows you to leverage the familiar features of PowerPoint to drive a completely new requirements-gathering experience. Feedback Manager provides a clean, intuitive interface to provide video, voice and image feedback. Both allow for powerful interaction between stakeholders, business analysts, developers, and testers, smoothing out the handoffs to ensure continuous delivery of customer value.
    • Session 4: Leveraging your Microsoft and Northwest Cadence Benefits for Visual Studio 2012
      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.

    To reserve your space in an upcoming series, please choose a date:

    For more information, please email

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Additional VS 2012 ALM Webcasts by Imaginet


    Take a look at the below webcast series from Imaginet focusing on Visual Studio 2012 ALM.  If something looks good, don’t forget to sign up!

    “Imaginet is thrilled to provide you with exclusive invitations to our Summer Webcast Series. Over the last year, Microsoft has made some significant announcements that affect software developers, architects, information technology professionals, and businesses profoundly. This is your exclusive opportunity to gain incredible insights, learn new skills, and understand how to best leverage some incredible new technologies from Microsoft.
    Space is limited to 500 participants per webcast!”

    Requirements and Storyboarding with Visual Studio 2012

    The saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" is true for requirements. 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. Come join us for this free Web Workshop!

    • July 31, 2012 - 1:00-2:30pm CT   Register (free)

    Scrum and Agile Management Using Visual Studio 2012

    Scrum and agile management methodologies focus on iterative planning, development and release. This session will demonstrate how agile planning, management and tracking are streamlined with Visual Studio 2012. Come join us for this free Web Workshop!

    • August 7, 2012 - 1:00-2:30pm CT   Register (free)
    • August 21, 2012 - 1:00-2:30pm CT Register (free)

    A Day in the Life: Developer Enhancements with Visual Studio 2012

    The next version of Visual Studio is rich with new tools that enhance standard developer activities. In this session we'll review and demonstrate some of these new features, such as Unit Testing, Code Reviews, Code Clones and other developer tools. Come join us for this free Web Workshop!

    • August 14, 2012 - 1:00-2:30pm CT   Register (free)
    • August 28, 2012 - 1:00-2:30pm CT   Register (free)

    For questions or more information on Imaginet's webcasts, please feel free to contact us at or by calling 1-800-989-6022.

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    VS/TFS 2012 Tidbits: Requesting a Code Review on Code Already Checked in


    As the Visual Studio family of products (Visual Studio, TFS, Test Professional) nears its 2012 release, I thought I’d bring some short hits – tidbits, if you will – to my blog. Some of these are pretty obvious (well-documented, or much-discussed), but some may be less obvious than you’d think. Either way, it’s always good to make sure the word is getting out there. Hope you enjoy!

    Requesting a Code Review on Code Already Checked in

    There’s been great hype about the new built-in code review capabilities in TFS 2012, and for good reason. The process is easy, effective, and most of all, audited.


    But did you know that “My Work” is not the only place from where you can kick of a code review?  You can also do a review on code that’s already been checked in. Go to the file in Source Control Explorer, then view its history. In the History window, right-click on the changeset/revision and select “Request Review”.


    This will load up the New Code Review form in Team Explorer:


    Notice that it not only brings in the files from the changeset (5 of them, in this example), but also any work items that were related to this changeset as well.  The check-in comments are used to populate the title of the code review, as well as the optional description.

    Off ya go!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    VS/TFS 2012 Tidbits: Merging Changes by Work Item


    As the Visual Studio family of products (Visual Studio, TFS, Test Professional) nears its 2012 release, I thought I’d bring some short hits – tidbits, if you will – to my blog. Some of these are pretty obvious (well-documented, or much-discussed), but some may be less obvious than you’d think. Either way, it’s always good to make sure the word is getting out there. Hope you enjoy!

    Merging Changes by Work Item

    This is something that existed in VS 2010, but it wasn’t talked about as much.  While it’s pretty straightforward to track changes merged across branches by changeset, sometimes it’s even more effective to track merges by work item (i.e. show me where changes associated with a work item have been merged/pushed to other branches).

    Let’s catch up. Consider the relatively simple branch hierarchy below:


    A work item has been assigned to Julia, Task #80.


    Julia makes some code changes, and checks in against (linking to) the work item (Task #80).

    She checks in 2 individual changes to create links to 2 discrete changesets from the task.

    Now, it’s easy to go ahead and track an individual changeset by selecting the option from the History window.


    That’s all well and good, but if I didn’t know the exact changeset ID (#17), or if there was more than one changeset in associated with the task, this tracking process becomes less effective.

    What Julia can do is right-click on the work item and select “Track Work Item”.    (Note that this option will be disabled if there are no changesets linked to the work item.)


    She can also click the “Track Work Item” button at the top of the work item form:


    I get a much clearer picture now of all the work and where it’s been applied, and the “Tracking” visualization will now include all changesets (in my case, 2 changesets) in the window.

    Now I know exactly what changes to merge.  I merge them, and now I can see that the entire work item has been merged to Main from Dev (i.e. both changesets were merged).


    And just as effectively, I can see these changes in the Timeline Tracking view:


    So that’s it! Tracking by work items are pretty easy to do, and paint a much clearer picture of how a change from a work item perspective can, or has been, applied across branches.

    Again, I know this isn’t exactly a new feature, but there are a lot of people out there who are looking for ways to “merge by work item” and aren’t aware of this feature.

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    VS/TFS 2012 Tidbits: Agile Planning - Drag & Drop to Assign Sprints


    As the Visual Studio family of products (Visual Studio, TFS, Test Professional) nears its 2012 release, I thought I’d bring some short hits – tidbits, if you will – to my blog.  Some of these are pretty obvious (well-documented, or much-discussed), but some may be less obvious than you’d think.  Either way, it’s always good to make sure the word is getting out there.  Hope you enjoy!

    Agile Planning: Drag & Drop to Assign Sprints

    TFS 2012 places a greater emphasis on “agile” planning, enabling teams to more readily plan, monitor and augment their iteration assignments.  Regardless of the methodology used (Scrum, Agile, CMMI, or your own), this tool “just works” to help you in the planning process.

    One new, and welcome, addition to TFS 2012 is the added support of start and end dates on iterations.  This allows you to simplify the process of building iteration-specific queries, and provides better insight as to what sprint a team is currently working on.

    To assign a work item (PBI, task, bug, whatever) to an iteration in the past, you had to open its dialog, set the correct iteration path value, and save it. Not a big deal, but excessive if you need to assign several work items in a single planning session.

    Fast-forward to TFS 2012.  When viewing your product backlog (however you have defined a “product backlog”) in the new TFS Web Access (which looks WAY cooler than the WA of old, right?) interface, you’ll see all your sprints/iterations listed on the left.  To assign a backlog item (in this case) to a sprint, you can instead drag the work item from the backlog to the sprint you want to put it in.  In the below screenshot, I’m dragging the second backlog item (“The calculator should perform division”) to Sprint 4.  The new web access client automatically updates the work item accordingly.  Done!

    Assigning a PBI to a sprint via drag and drop

    Assigning work items to iterations can be done pretty easily when looking at a work item query result as well.  If you’re in a view which doesn’t show the iterations to the left, for example, looking at “Assigned to me”, you can simply right-click on a work item and choose “Move to iteration –> <your iteration>”.  See the below screenshot of my doing exactly that.

    Moving a work item to a specific iteration

    Simple, yet effective!

  • Steve Lange @ Work

    Denver Event: SQL Server 2012 Breakthrough Insights


    Looking to go deep into SQL Server 2012’s BI capabilities? Then this event may be what you’re looking for!

    Date/Time: Friday, July 20, 2012, 09:30-2:00 PM Mountain

    SQL Server 2012 "Breakthrough Insights." This will be a "deep dive" into the SQL Server Business Intelligence model including PowerPivot, Power View and SharePoint integration. This will be taught by Microsoft's Ted Malone. Ted works with large Microsoft customers to help them engage with emerging technology to solve complex business problems. Ted also has extensive experience as a software architect designing and developing enterprise storage solutions for EMC. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from one of Microsoft's best.

    To register, go here:

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