The Visual ALM Rangers are 5 years old, which is a huge milestone for the Rangers. In this blog post, I will try and consolidate my 3.25 years with the Rangers, 2.333 of which have been completed at Microsoft as one of the “blue badge” Rangers. There will probably be a few blog posts appearing around the 5-year milestone … this is my personal “quick” and “visual” view of 3.25 phenomenal years I have enjoyed to date.

What is really encouraging is the growth of the Rangers family in terms of External Rangers, whereby the following chart shows the number registered and active Ranger positions. After a rapid growth in 2009 and 2010, our focus has been on stabilizing the current family of Rangers and implementing a more formal process “Ruck”.

Crash courseCore and Extended Rangers are Microsoft employees, while External Rangers are partners, MVPs and community leads. While we are distinguishing between the core, extended and external Rangers for statistical purposes, the barriers and differences are slowly but surely dissolving, allowing us to talk about the Rangers “family” :)

… it is also great to see that the External Rangers now make up a third of the Rangers :)

Here are some of the faces of the just over 200 Rangers … perhaps you will recognise a few from your local communities.

So what have been the highlights during the past 2.5 years?

  • A few photos from the various events, such as TechReady, MVP Summit, team building and community days. I “love” some of the hats!
     
  • Champions
    We introduced the concept of champions amongst the external Rangers. See External Ranger Champions 2011.1 and “the” Champion of Champions are announced! for a list of the latest and the past champions, which have been nominated by the External Rangers
  • Projects
    The visible Ranger Projects are all mentioned in Ranger Projects – summary of projects covered on this blog and on our MSDN Rangers Solutions and Projects page.
    But there is more … in 2011 we worked on several other often hidden gems, such as:
    - Architecture Guidance Refresh
    - SubVersion Adapter and Guidance Documentation
    - Rational to TFS Migration Training
    - CodedUI Word Extension and Merge Prototype
    - Hosted TFS
    - Branching Guidance 2010 v2
    - Rangers Awareness
  • Infrastructure 
    A major focus  over the past two years has been to improve our infrastructure, used by Rangers within and outside of Microsoft and scattered around the globe. At first we maintained one extranet SharePoint portal for each Ranger project, but recently consolidated all “active” Ranger projects on one extranet SharePoint portal and where applicable a Team Foundation Server Team Project on the extranet for each project. The use of TFS, in particular, has improved the visibility and collaboration in terms of features, status, impediments and release planning. For the public domain, we have our MSDN landing page, which we updated recently to include featured articles outlined in Small tweak on the Rangers MSDN landing page … what else can we improve?.
    What is next? Will we consolidate everything in the cloud … time will tell :)
  • Process
    The recent projects have all been dog fooding the new Rangers process, which is commonly referred to as “Ruck”. See these posts for more information on the loose-scrum, the Epics and the new project voting process:
    - Agile, Scrum, Ruck … transforming the Rangers ecosystem
    - Ruck’ing along … what have I learned from more than six months of dog fooding?
    -
     Requirements Management for Ranger Projects Team/Personas and Epic/User Stories … some slides
    - Listening to the external Rangers … New project nomination process is first of many new innovations
  • Awareness
    During 2010 and 2011 we have appeared at several new events, have started a quarterly MSDN Magazine article and thanks to many of the extended and external Rangers have appeared in other articles and community events. One of the objectives in the next couple of months is to increase the awareness, to ensure that Rangers and their solutions are known and that all confusion, uncertainty and in some cases “black holes” are eradicated.
  • Collaboration
    Controller Vocab has allowed us to share all emails with all Rangers, letting the receiver decide what is important and what is not, the monthly Rangers flash presents an overview of what is happening and the Rangers Talk and Ranger/Core Talk sessions allow the Rangers to be more interactive and discuss “anything”.

I look at the Ranger past with pride for what the Ranger family has achieved under often very challenging conditions.

I look at the Ranger future, the new technology dreams and the vast opportunities to grow as a community family with great anticipation … we are in for an exciting adventure!