We have been receiving a number of questions around the Rangers and it is time that I sit back and answer as many as we can. Please contact us if anything is unclear, needs further explanation or if you have more questions we should be investigating. The following are questions received over the past few weeks / months and the answer from my perspective … feel free to challenge my views with candid feedback:)

imageWhat is a Ranger?

VSTS Rangers … positioning the rangers and projects is a good starting point to explore the world of a Ranger. My personal view is that a Ranger is an explosive mix of technology passion, expertise, collaboration, personal time (lots of) and commitment to the community. Those that exceed even these challenging pre-requisites are elected as Ranger Champions by the Rangers community as highlighted in VSTS Rangers – Champion Survey Results … Finally we can ring the Swiss Cow Bells :).

At this stage we are working with Visual Studio Team System Microsoft Most Valued Professionals (MVP), Inner Circle partner members and technology specialists from the selected communities in terms of “external” Rangers.

With Visual Studio 2010 and the associated re-branding, what happens to VSTS Rangers?

image If you look at http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-ca/products/msdn/default.mspx#roadmap you will notice that the Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) brand appears on the left (past and present), but not on the right (2010 future). To ensure compliance the VSTS Rangers name will be changing (aligning) as well and we will be covering this change in more detail shortly. In the meantime you may have noticed that we are referring to Rangers in the interim, which implies VSTS Rangers when looking at pre-2010 solutions and will be changed as mentioned for 2010 and beyond solutions.

What is the Rangers Recognition program all about?

VSTS Rangers – Introducing the VSTS Rangers recognition program is a good starting point for the recognition program, which is intended to create a win-win situation for all Rangers.

What commitments do I have as a Ranger?

It depends on your role. In essence we have three Ranger roles within each ranger solution, namely: Lead, Contributor and Reviewer.

  • If you volunteer as a contributor, the expectation is that you contribute valuable content to the solution.
  • If you volunteer as a reviewer, the expectation is that you review the solution artefacts as they become available, giving candid feedback to the contributors. It is important that you give feedback as a reviewer, otherwise the feature area lead will not notice and acknowledge your “review” contributions. See question “Why are External Rangers not listed as part of the solutions on Codeplex?” below.
  • If you volunteer as a feature area lead, you take ownership of a specific feature area and collaborate with the dev lead in 15-30min scrum meetings every second week, which means that the commitment is primarily time to drive the feature area and attend the scrum.

The average commitment involves approximately 1-2 hours per week, with the obvious bandwidth crunch and effort spike during release periods. As part of the process improvements, discussed in the posts VSTS Rangers Process Improvements - We have listened to your feedback! Part 1 of 3, VSTS Rangers Process Improvements - We have listened to your feedback! Part 2 of 3 and VSTS Rangers Process Improvements - We have listened to your feedback! Part 3 of 3, we are hoping to minimise both the crunch and the spikes in future. The commitments are carefully scrutinised by the leads to ensure that the Rangers program and recognition program maintains a high level of quality and thus value.

Is the Rangers a “job” or “community”?

It is probably a bit of both, with community tilting the scale dramatically. For a small minority the Rangers program is their job, their commitment and their power cell. For the majority, however, the Rangers program is about sharing “passion” for technology, experience and personal time by contributing to Rangers solutions which are eventually published on Codeplex and shared with the “community”. It is for this reason that the recognition letters are invaluable for MVPs processing their annual renewal, for non-MVPs to bubble up on the MVP nomination queue and even for Microsoft full-time employees to confirm their community commitments.

Why are Microsoft Rangers not listed as part of the solutions on Codeplex?Nervous And Scared Blue Person Kneeling And Begging While Being Reviewed Or Intereviewed By A Panel Of Judges Or Bosses Clipart Illustration Image

At this stage are only listing External Rangers on the Rangers site. Discussions around this specific thread are ongoing and if there are any changes, you will be the first to notice and know.

Why are External Rangers not listed as part of the solutions on Codeplex?

Referring back to the recognition program it is important to highlight that the recognition is based on delivering value to a solution that has shipped. If your name does not appear against a solution it could mean that:

  1. The dev lead or the relevant feature area leads of the solutions have not confirmed your contributions. It is important that you maintain contact with the solution leads at all times, that you respond to contribution queries and that you meet all of the commitments you agreed to.
  2. The specific area of the solution you are contributing to has not yet shipped. For example, the TFS Integration Platform has parallel streams such as core guidance (which as shipped on http://www.codeplex.com/tfsintregration), extended guidance (in progress), samples (in progress) and delivery proof-of-concepts (in progress). In this case only External Rangers who have contributed to the first stream would appear on our Rangers solution site.

What is a Rangers Sabbatical?

A Rangers sabbatical is an organised visit by an External Ranger to Redmond, Vancouver or a combination of both, to work with Microsoft Rangers and the Product Group on one or more Rangers solutions. The intent is to maximise collaboration and focus on strategic Ranger solution components and to introduce the External ranger to the Microsoft ecosystem. Keep an eye on Robert’s blog here, as he will be the first External Ranger to complete a sabbatical in Vancouver and Redmond as part of the TFS Integration Platform solution.

Lime Green Man Using A Watering Can To Water New Grass Growing On Planet Earth, Symbolizing Someone Caring For The Environment Clipart Illustration What’s coming?

Keep an eye on this blog for announcements for the following solutions:

  • Team Foundation Server 2010 Upgrade Guidance
  • Team Foundation Server 2010 Requirements Management Guidance
  • Team Foundation Server 2010 Branching Guidance
  • Visual Studio 2010 Quick Reference Guidance
  • Visual Studio 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010 Virtualization Guidance

Also keep an eye on VSTS Ranger Projects – summary of projects covered on this blog which summarises activities on the listed and more Ranger solutions.

That’s it for today with Q&A… I hope that some of our Rangers will add their comments and views to this post to broaden my views with the Rangers family view :)