Stuart Kent - Building developer tools at Microsoft - @sjhkent

April, 2010

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    Tech Days UK videos now available

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    Videos of the VS2010 launch and deep dive sessions at the recent Tech Days UK event are now available. Also See my earlier post about this event.

    Goto http://www.microsoft.com/uk/techdays/ click on the Resources tab and then choose the video you’re interested in watching.

    I’ve embedded the video of my session below:

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    Talking about architect tools at VS2010 launch

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    Visual Studio 2010 and .Net 4.0 launches today across the world, and I have the pleasure of giving a talk tomorrow at the UK Tech Days event in London as part of a set of deep dive sessions into the new release. For details see http://www.microsoft.com/uk/techdays/daydev.aspx.

    I’m going to be demonstrating the new visualization and modelling tools in Visual Studio, which I’ve helped to build and have been enjoying using on our own development projects.

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    What went wrong with my demo at the Architect Insight Conference

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    I recently gave a talk at the Microsoft Architect Insight Conference held in London recently. I gave a demo of the visualization and modeling tools in Visual Studio 2010, and received some very positive feedback about the tools from a number of those attending.

    In the final part of my demo, I showed how to create an extension of the UML tools, but couldn’t work out why the extension seemed not to work when I installed it in Visual Studio. On the train home, I figured out the reason. The extension was designed to work with the Use Case UML designer, but I forgot to change the attribute on the class defining the extension to reference the Use Case Designer. As far as it was concerned, this was an extension registered to be used with the Class Designer. That is, instead of:

    // Custom gesture (drag-drop and/or double-click) extension
    // See
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee534033(VS.100).aspx
    [Export(typeof(IGestureExtension))]
    [ClassDesignerExtension] // TODO: Add any other diagram-types on which you want your gesture to work
    class GestureExtension : IGestureExtension
    {

    }

    I should have had:

    // Custom gesture (drag-drop and/or double-click) extension
    // See
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee534033(VS.100).aspx
    [Export(typeof(IGestureExtension))]
    [UseCaseDesignerExtension] // TODO: Add any other diagram-types on which you want your gesture to work
    class GestureExtension : IGestureExtension
    {

    }

    I changed this on the train and it worked immediately. I won’t make that mistake again!

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    VS2010 – Useful links on getting started with ALM features

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    I just came across this post from Charles Sterling with a bunch of useful links:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/charles_sterling/archive/2010/04/09/getting-started-with-visual-studio-2010-alm-features.aspx

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    Visualizing work item graphs in VS2010

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    In Visual Studio 2010, released today, there is a new visualization tool which, in-the-box allows you to generate a quick graphical view of your code, amongst other things. Chris Lovett was a key architect of this tool, and has some great blogs about it’s features and how to get the most out of it. See http://www.lovettsoftware.com/blogengine.net/

    The tool visualizes data expressed in a markup language called DGML, which means you can visualize any data which can be rendered in this form. I’ve been using it internally to help understand the wealth of project management data we have stored as work items in TFS. In particular VS2010 supports typed relationships, which means you can express much richer information about the relationships between work items, which is great, except that it can be difficult to track what’s going on even by using tree-based queries. So being able to visualize the work item graphs as graphs is a real boost. It’s great, then, to find a project on codeplex which shows you how to visualize your TFS work item data using DGML: http://visualization.codeplex.com/. A screenshot is given below.

    If you think this would be useful to you, you may like to think about other ways of visualizing the data. One thing we’ve managed to do is group stories by area rather than iteration, and then create a graph per iteration which is filtered only to show the stuff for that iteration, as well as a graph that spans all iterations, or some appropriate subset. Then you can nest tasks under stories, and use colouring to indicate % completion of tasks, which can also be aggregated up to stories, and then up to feature areas containing the stories. If there are no tasks, then the estimates against the stories are used to calculate completion and amount of work remaining. This allows us to see, at a glance, how much we’ve completed per sprint and at any time in the sprint, as well as for the whole project.

    By Iteration.png

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    VS2010 Visualization and Modeling SDK

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    It’s great to see that the RTM version of the Visualization and Modeling SDK is also available at the launch and release of Visual Studio 2010. For details check out http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/vsvmsdk. See also Jean-Marc’s announcement of this.

    As well as the DSL Tools which has been much improved in this release (see What’s new), it also includes some project templates to get you started with extending the UML Tools in Visual Studio. Enjoy.

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    Interesting case study in using VS2010 architect tools

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    Just came across this. Check it out: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?casestudyid=4000006781

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    Tech Days in London

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    Writing this as I come back from speaking at Tech Days in London, in a series of deep dive sessions following the launch of VS2010. The venue was a cinema in Fulham Broadway. The place was full (between 500 and 600 people), indeed over-subscribed. I understand that some folks who turned up were turned away (Health and Safety dictates that you can’t go over capacity in this kind of venue); desperately sorry for those unlucky few, but perhaps they enjoyed a day in London instead. It’s great to see so much enthusiasm for the new tools in Visual Studio. Yesterday’s VS2010 launch was packed out as well.

    The decision to use a modern cinema was inspired. The seating is very comfortable, much better than you usually get in conference centres, and I think this must be the largest screen I’ve ever given a presentation on; there were no worries about people not being able to see the text. Though slightly disconcerting to see a few participants tucking into their popcorn! The audience was attentive, and I could see some heads nodding in the front rows, with, of course, the usual politeness and reserve to be expected from a British audience. I’ll be interested to see the feedback scores. A couple of questions: one asking about the version of Visual Studio you need to use these tools (Ultimate for all the functionality, though some limited functionality is available in lower versions), another about the relationship to M and Oslo (M is now part of SQL Modeling Services, and we look forward to being able to hook some of our visualizations to models in databases at some point in the future).

    The speaker after me was Colin Bird, formerly of Conchango and now founder of a new company RippleRock. He gave a very interesting talk on Agile Development, making the point that Microsoft is really providing a tooling platform, with some tools, templates and so on in the box to get you started, but to get the most out of it you need to invest some resource every sprint into building up and maintaining your tools and automation, which should include customizing and extending Visual Studio to fit your own engineering practices and particular circumstances. I couldn’t agree more, and I think that it is our job in Microsoft to make it as easy as possible to implement and deploy those customizations. As an illustration of how far we’ve come, towards the end of my talk I was able to create a new extension to the UML designers and deploy it to VS in less than a couple minutes, as well as create a new DSL from scratch. A few years ago, I’d have been much more careful about demonstrating DSL Tools because of the wait times it took to do the code generation and build. Deployment was also a case of adding another project to create a .msi. And I wouldn’t have dared tried creating other kinds of VS extension during a demo.

    This trip also made me realize how old I must be getting (that and the recently acquired reading glasses). I used to live in London when a PhD student, and would have expected to have needed to go outside at least once to get to my destination. I travelled on the high speed rail service from my home town of Canterbury which takes you straight into St Pancras station. It’s the first time I’ve used this service (I usually take the slower train into Charing Cross), and I have to say that St. Pancras really is beautiful, with a broad arching roof over the platforms. So I arrived under cover, and from there you can walk to Kings Cross tube without stepping outside, then round on the Circle line to Edgware Road, and a step across the platform onto the District line service to Fulham Broadway. The entrance to Fulham Broadway is integrated into the shopping complex and multi-screen cinema, so no need to go outside there, either. The experience was slightly surreal.

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