TFS and Windows Phone 7



A long time time I entered on my backlog the user stories for a WP7 application to get data from TFS, when Microsoft release the beta for OData Service for TFS I reckoned I could dispose those entries on my backlog since it was merely a question of time someone wrote a WP7 client for TFS that would allow to easily visualize data stored on TFS.

I was not very far from the truth, yesterday I was browsing WP7 marketplace and found TFS Monitor that allows you to see data from TFS. It supports viewing builds, work items, team projects and also allows to see events (apparently work item changes, check ins and failed builds).

I’m still not totally sure but I think it also supports live tile notifications.

It comes pre configured with a demo server on the company site, it doesn’t has any instructions of how you can connect to your own server (the settings allows you to configure your server URL and auth parameters) however it doesn’t say if you need to install anything on the server.

I haven’t investigated that part yet, but from what I’ve seen (the first version threw some exceptions Smile) it seems you just need to install OData Services for TFS and configure TFS Monitor to use that URL.

The application is available on the Marketplace for free.

I’ve done some digging and found a presentation from one of it’s authors on slideshare.


Getting updated info on TFS and Visual Studio with little effort



There are dozens and dozens of high quality blogs on TFS and Visual Studio that helps up not only keep up with the latest information but also have a huge amount of high quality information that allows us to make a better use of TFS and Visual Studio.

Unfortunately the day only has 24 hour and people are typically so busy that the available bandwidth to keep up with the deluge of information that is thrown at us every day is very low.

If this is your case I would recommend that you follow three blogs. The first one is quite obvious since it’s probably the _authoritative_ source of information on TFS. The posts are not very frequent but when he posts they have a high informational value. Either explaining Microsoft vision on some TFS topic or on important things that are released or coming in the near future.

if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about Brian Harry’s blog.

The other two links, are two high frequent highly condensed information with pointers to interesting posts that are written on several blogs. These two guys scorch the web for high interest posts and give you a list of posts around the wed. These two blogs are a great way of having a good digest of what is happening on TFS and Visual Studio with very little effort on your part.

I’m talking about the venerable Mickey Gousset and his Team System Rocks which has been regularly writing VSTS Links series for as long as I can remember.

The other is Visual Studio and TFS Daily in which Trenton Nix write daily uptakes on posts that he considers interesting.

If you have little time and yet feel the need to keep an eye on what it’s interesting these would be the resources I would recommend for you to follow and will allow you to keep up with very little effort.


OData Service for Team Foundation Server 2010: Beta now available



Microsoft has released a beta version of an OData service for TFS 2010. This is great way for people wanting to get data from TFS without having to use the object model.

[Update: If you are having problems installing this, there is a know issue. More details and workaround on Brian Keller’s Post]

Besides exposing all TFS capabilities via Web Services, TFS provided from day one an object model SDK that allows you to interact and extend TFS capabilities (incidentally this is the same object model Microsoft uses to write Team Explorer, so Microsoft  can’t do on its own client  anything that you  can’t do yourself). The object model is the recommended way to interact with TFS, since not only provides a good abstraction over the web services but it also isolates you from changes made to the web services from release to release.

But this meant that in order to interact with TFS you had to use .NET (or any language capable of talking to .Net) in your applications. With the new OData service you can now get data from TFS from any other client that can talk OData.

This opens up great possibilities, like writing clients in WP7, Android,tables, Linux, Mac, Web Servers or for example showing up data in Sharepoint with no programming at all (basically any client that can speak HTTP)

For non programmers this also opens a tremendous opportunity for exploring data since you now use Power Pivot in Excel to get data from TFS and correlate them with other sources quite easily.

Here you can see a (small) list of consumers that are able to consume OData.

You can read more details about the OData Services on this Brian Keller Post which explains this more better than me.

For those to lazy to follow the click I’ve embedded the video (Silverlight) right here Smile you can also download the video to your Zune, Ipod, WP7,etc here


Improving Visual Studio source offline support with TFS



When TFS 2005 was released there was no offline support, if you went somewhere to which you had no connection to TFS you couldn’t be considered an happy camper.

After a few months, Microsoft released a version of the Power Tool that had the ability to work offline. But it was a very manual process. You had to remove the read only attribute of a file and when you got your connectivity back, you would invoke the (command line) Power Tool command so changes could be reconciled (files without the read only attribute would be checked out, new files would be added, etc.).

With the 2008 release things got a little better. Offline support was added.  If you opened a solution which was binded to TFS source control and you didn’t had network access to TFS Visual Studio would be asked if you wanted to work offline. (Most) changes would be recorded and when you went online changes would be reconciled (much like the power tool capability but integrated with VS and the GUI).

It wasn’t much better than 2005, but it was surely an improvement. However a feature was still missing. You couldn’t go offline when you wanted. You could only go offline when the solution was opened. So if you disconnected from the network and wanted to work offline you had to close and reopen the solution (which can take some time on large solutions).

TFS 2010 didn’t provide any love to the offline support and things are the same as in 2008.

If you miss the ability to go offline without closing/reopening the solution you can go to Visual Studio Gallery and install GoOffline Extension

The action is available at Files->Source Control to go online again, just use the use go online button available on Visual Studio



Organizing your build definitions in folders



As most people know from experience Team Projects who have a lot of build definitions are hard to navigate. The list of builds is endless and presented in a flat view.

Something that would a lot on these cases would be a search/filter and a way to organize your build definitions in an hierchical mode.

The community has been asking Microsoft for this for a long time. Since 2010 didn’t introduced this feature, fellow ALM MVP Terje Sandstrom as taken matters into his own hands and developed a Team Explorer addin that allows you to organize you build definitions in a tree.


You can download a copy of this Team Explorer extension here