Brian Keller

Director of ALM Evangelism for Microsoft

  • Brian Keller

    C# 'that' keyword


    My younger brother, Danny, is doing the same graduate program that I did at the University of Florida. Recently he was given a pop quiz from one of my favorite professors where he was asked to describe what the that keyword does in C#. I must admit - I was also initially stumped because I didn't expect it to be a trick question... I figured maybe, since I focus on J#, I just hadn't encountered the C# keyword (perhaps it was part of C# 2.0 and I hadn't noticed). Ok, ok, so really I have no good excuse...

    But my question for the readers of my blog: If there was a that keyword for C#, what would it be used for? Accepting all answers, real or absurd. I'll post the best ones here. BrianKel at Microsoft dot com. Who knows, maybe I'll ask Dan to champion the best responses with Anders to consider for C# 3.0? :-)

  • Brian Keller

    RTM Version of Visual Studio 2013 ALM Virtual Machine


    The RTM version of the Visual Studio 2013 ALM virtual machine and hands-on-labs / demo scripts are now available!

    You can also find a consolidated list of all of the ALM virtual machines here:


  • Brian Keller

    Video: Application Lifecycle Management with Visual Studio 2013


    Yesterday at TechEd North America we announced that Visual Studio 2013 and Team Foundation Server 2013 will be shipping later this year. A preview will be available on June 26, and that preview will have a “go live” license so that you can use it in production if you’d like.

    Brian Harry posted a nice overview of the new ALM capabilities we announced yesterday.

    Brian and I also delivered a foundational session at TechEd which goes deeper into these capabilities. We spent most of our time in demos so that you can get a real sense for what will be shipping in the preview. I hope you enjoy it.


  • Brian Keller

    New Lab: Agile Planning and Portfolio Management with Team Foundation Server 2013


    When we shipped the Visual Studio 2013 ALM Virtual Machine earlier this month we were still in the process of finalizing one of the hands-on-labs / demo scripts. This work is done and you can now access Agile Planning and Portfolio Management with Team Foundation Server 2013.

    If you are not yet familiar with the agile planning tools introduced in Team Foundation Server 2012, you should start with Exercise 1 of this lab. In this exercise you will learn how these tools can be used to help a small team manage their backlog, break work down into iterations, and track this work using a task board.

    Exercise 2 introduces the new agile portfolio management capabilities introduced in Team Foundation Server 2013. These capabilities allow you to “scale agile” across your entire organization by providing you with a hierarchy for your backlog. This means that I can have several smaller teams sprinting together to achieve related objectives, and I can track that work in either a top-down or bottom-up manner.

    Finally, Exercise 3 will show you a few of the ways that Team Foundation Server 2013 allows individual teams to maintain some autonomy in the way they work without requiring core process template changes on the shared team project that you might be using across the entire organization. Features such as the Kanban board and work item tags can be customized on a per-team basis to adapt to the individual needs of those teams.


    We hope you enjoy this new lab, and as always your feedback is welcome.

  • Brian Keller

    Using a download manager to quickly download Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2


    10/21 Update: These instructions now include public links to the Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 ISO’s.

    The instructions in this blog post are meant to accompany 10-4 Episode 33: Downloading and Installing Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2. Please view that video for additional context, including a step-by-step walkthrough for installing Visual Studio 2010 beta 2.

    I suggest using a download manager for these files since they are very large. My download manager of choice is Free Download Manager. You can use your own favorite download manager, but you may need to adapt the instructions below as appropriate.

    Note that the ISO’s for Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Ultimate are are multi-part RAR files. After you download these files run the first file in each set (the EXE) and it will extract the ISO file for you.

    1. Download and install Free Download Manager. This utility provides:
      • Auto-resume support for interrupted downloads.
      • Multiple simultaneous download streams for (usually) a much faster download experience.
      • As the name implies, it's completely free.
    2. Select the following list of URL’s and copy (CTRL+C) them to your clipboard. You can select all files at the same time.
    3. Launch the user interface for Free Download Manager (either from the Start Menu or via the system tray icon if FDM is already running).
    4. Click File -> Import -> Import List of URLs from Clipboard.
    5. When prompted for a download group, accept the default ("Other") and click OK.
    6. You are now free to minimize Free Download Manager while the files download. By default, they will be saved to c:\downloads.
    Remember to watch 10-4 Episode 33: Downloading and Installing Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 for additional instructions on how to install these files.

    Download links for other Visual Studio 2010 SKU’s (e.g. Express, Agents, etc.) can be found here.

  • Brian Keller

    Students choose Visual J# over BlueJ, JCreator, and other IDE's


    I received this note from Brian Scarbeau, a high school AP Computer Science teacher in Orlando, Florida.

    Thought I’d pass this along. . . My AP students are now using the MBCS hands on.  I don’t require them to use an IDE and they choose either bluej, JCreator or VS. Some started to use Visual Studio for the first time today and they were blown away by the intellisense and how easy it was to use. Needless to say that got the attention of the other students that were using the other ide’s. Guess what IDE all my students will be using tomorrow in class?

    At Microsoft we spend lots of time, money, and energy educating the academic community about the merits of our tools and platform, but we obviously can't talk to every student or teacher out there. So when students independently choose Visual Studio over other IDE's - without any influence from their teacher - it reminds that we're building a development tool that makes life easier for millions of people - students and professional developers alike.

    One of the main reasons I came to Microsoft to do marketing in the Visual Studio group is because of my academic experience. I graduated from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) the same semester that Microsoft released Visual Studio .NET. I remember reading about the product and trying it for the first time and being so amazed at the capabilities. The only unfortunate part about my experience was that the timing of my education didn't permit me to use Visual Studio .NET as part of my college career since it wasn't released yet. So when I was given the opportunity to come work for Microsoft and help teachers and students realize how Visual Studio .NET could help them be successful in their college careers and beyond, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I am living my dream job every day, and my only regret is that I don't have more hours in the day with which to code. =)

  • Brian Keller

    Voicemail SPAM and other election woes...


    Virtually every phone call I get at home nowadays is a 30-second political ad. I've lost track of how many I've received but I think it's approaching double digits. I for one can't wait until the election is over if for nothing else to stop the barrage of these SPAM-calls. Are there really people out there who are swayed to vote a particular way based on these calls? If so, it's a sad testament to our voting community... I'm even on the Do Not Call registry but I guess it doesn't apply if you have a political message. What's the number for the "Do Not Call Even If You Have a Political Message" registry?

    Oh, and in other news, I got a call from one of those polling organizations conducting a survey of voting preferences. Now since I'm in marketing and we rely on such information regularly, I feel it's good karma to participate so I gave up 10 minutes of my time. But after a few minutes I could tell how offensive it was to me - a registerted libertarian - since all of their choices relied on me responding either Republican or Democrat! A few of the answers gave Green Party as an option, but none of them listed any of the Libertarian candidates. Before this turns into a blog about how biased our two-party system is I should cut it short... but I think I'm going to stop answering my phone until November 3rd.</rant>

  • Brian Keller

    Sponsoring YouTube Videos.


    I'll confess - I'm a YouTube addict. Sometimes I'll spend hours a week just looking for great videos. Of course there are plenty of terrible, non-interesting videos floating around, but with a little bit of patience and search know-how you'll find plenty of gems.

    In fact I now subscribe to more YouTube users than I do blog feeds. For example, here's a hilarious Mother's Day video done by two guys who call themselves Barats and Bereta. As somebody with 3 brothers myself, this video had me laughing out loud.

    Today I noticed a great new video from Barats and Bereta called "Cubicle Wars" - but this one said it was "created for Windward Reports." I did a double-take since Windward Reports is one of my favorite Microsoft .NET-based solutions for custom reporting and I couldn't understand why I was seeing their name in the context of my daily YouTube crawl...? So I emailed David Thielen over at Windward and sure enough, he explained that they recognized the talent of videographers like Barats and Bereta as well as the creative medium of YouTube and decided to sponsor a series of videos (I'm told that more are on their way). I think it was a brilliant marketing move. The video just went live on Friday and he's already getting "10,800 views per hour" - sweet!

    Of course, some people are worried about the proliferation of ads potentially ruining the YouTube experience. But I applaud David and Windward for their approach - the "ad" component isn't in your face at all, and at the end of the day if companies like Windward want to sponsor great talent like Barats and Bereta then everybody can win in the form of better content.

    Five years ago, guys like Barats and Bereta would have had to get lucky enough to be cast by Hollywood to make a living this way. But thanks to YouTube and innovations like the availability of hobbyist-friendly digital editing software the democratization of the video production industry has truly arrived.

    Which makes me wonder... how can I use this to increase the awareness of Visual Studio Team System? I'd love your ideas. Maybe I should sponsor a video by Renetto... "This next application lifecycle management tool which I am about to review..." ;-)

  • Brian Keller

    Visual Studio 2010/2012 Hands-On-Labs / Demo Scripts Upgraded to 2013


    The Visual Studio 2013 ALM Virtual Machine was upgraded today to include the sample content and hands-on-labs / demo scripts which were previously introduced for Visual Studio 2010 and 2012 capabilities. This brings the total number of hands-on-labs and demo scripts which work with this VM to 24.

    We also used this opportunity to address some fit-and-finish feedback we received on the initial release of the 2013 ALM VM, so it should be a nice improvement all around. As a reminder you can find the full list of ALM virtual machines here.


  • Brian Keller

    My TechEd Brasil 2010 Presentations


    This week I had the pleasure of speaking at TechEd Brasil for the third year in a row. I absolutely love this event. Everybody I spoke to this week was very knowledgeable, passionate, and friendly. We had some great discussions about Visual Studio application lifecycle management (Team Foundation Server, software testing, software architecture, etc.). “Obrigado” to all of my new friends who I met this week!

    As promised, I have uploaded the slide deck that I used during my presentations, although 80-90% of my presentation was based on live demos so the slides may not provide much content if you weren't able to attend my sessions (see the recordings below if you missed it).

    Almost all of my demos can be found as hands-on-labs if you want to try this out for yourself.

     I know that the sessions were recorded but I don’t know the timeframe for making them available online. When I find out I’ll update my post here. Meanwhile, you can watch me deliver similar content here:

     PS: During one of my presentations I asked the audience to teach me about a popular Brazilian dish so that I could use it as part of my build-deploy-test workflow to prove that it was a real, live deployment. The dish they taught me about is feijoada. It’s too bad I’m a vegetarian because it sounds delicious!

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