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

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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.

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You can download a copy of this Team Explorer extension here

Visual Studio and TFS Books

 

I’m asked fairly frequently which books I recommend about Visual Studio or TFS, so I decided to write some words about it to see if I get this asked less frequently.

Before Visual Studio 2010 there were not a great number of books that I (could) recommend. If a person wanted to have a light yet complete view out TFS was all about then I would recommend Richard Hundhausen introductory book Working with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System (Pro-Developer) (this was the first I ever read about Team System (I’ve read the edition it was still targeting Team System Beta and was still called Introducing Visual Studio 2005 Team System Beta Edition (Pro-Developer)))

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If you wanted a general book on TFS that covered the entire platform and with a great level of detail then I would recommend THE book Professional Team Foundation Server . A book which was not only very complete, but it also had a lot of gory details on how to do things on TFS that you couldn’t find anywhere else (for a long time).

if you wanted to learn how to do some project management with TFS then the book to recommend was  Managing Projects with Microsoft Visual Studio Team System.

There was also a book that I would somehow recommend  Global Outsourcing with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System (the title is somehow misguiding) the book isn’t great, but I would recommend it since it contained some code samples from which I’ve learned a few tricks (this was in a time the documentation for TFS object model was pretty scarce).

And that was it. There were some more books but I can’t remember any that I would recommend (either I’m being unfair because my memory is foggy or I can’t remember any because there wasn’t anything else to me memorable enough so I have a recollection that I would recommend it Smile).

For the 2010 release, things have changed. There are a lot of great books, and there a bunch a of them that I would recommend without hesitation.

If you want a generic book, that covers the entire Visual Studio ALM stack, then the book to get is Professional Application Lifecycle Management with Visual Studio 2010. It is a great book that covers the entire Visual ALM family from toe to toe. This is an amazing book that has been able to cover in more than 600 pages, every major area and feature of Visual Studio. Both the IDE (including features from all SKUs) and the server (TFS including lab management). Highly recommended.

Disclosure: I have two copies of this book. One that I bought and another that has been sent to me by the Publisher so I could review it.

If build automation is your kind of thing, then THE book about builds is Inside the Microsoft Build Engine: Using MSBuild and Team Foundation Build. It is a great book on MSBuild and building with TFS. The second edition has been greatly enhanced with information about Team Build 2010 and has a bonus it has a nice chapter on MSDeploy to be used in conjunction with Team Build (or independently)

Disclosure: I have written a small commentary that has been included in the book based on a review that I did before the book was published

If you are interested in learning more about testing with Visual Studio, then no list  of books would be complete with referencing Software Testing with Visual Studio 2010. The intended audience of this book is not developers but people who primarily test software (traditionally there has been a great gap between testers and developers. A gap that Visual Studio team is working hard to reduce). I still haven’t finished reading the book, so I can give you my full impression about it. But from what I’ve it is a great book, although it could have gone a little deeper and provide more details on some topics. Overall it is a great book

Last but not the least is Professional Team Foundation Server 2010. I can’t give you a first hand opinion on this one because my copy hasn’t arrived yet. This book focus solely on TFS, although I haven’t read it yet I can recommend it without even reading it since I personally know all the authors but one and I’m pretty confident in recommend it since they are unable to produce something that isn’t great.

In summary (in no particular order)

 

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I’m sure there are other books out there that are equally good, but I’m not aware of them (yet. Smile)

Bootstrapping my blog. Round III

This is my third attempt to start blogging regularly.

I’ve started blogging in 2004 in the asp.net blogging platform. A blogging platform started by Scott Watermasysk using his .Text project, that later has been passed to Microsoft (and used as the showcase for Telling Community Server), there i kept my blogging pace at a regular level (although irregular)

When i become a founding partner at Agilior, it made sense to blog under the company wing, as (poor man) marketing  campaign (one of the many cheap tactics we used) :-) .

Since it has never never been our intention or strategy that the company and the founding partners were perceived as  synonyms (that inevitably happened in the beginning. But we fought hard to dismiss that perception and I think we somehow succeeded).

So now I’m reclaiming my identity back and will start blogging under my own bran (ironic that I objectify myself, when I’m a critic off marketers that treat people as numbers and objects :-)).

Let’s see how this goes and if i can now blog more regularly.