TFS Phone Explorer. Another TFS client for WP7


When only I few days ago I wrote TFS and Windows Phone 7 I was far from guessing that only a few days later I would be writing again about this topic. So this should be probably title TFS and Windows Phone 7 II, but I don’t want to take a chance of writing a third series so I’m not using another title. Smile

Black Marble just released on WP7 Marketplace TFS Phone Explorer.

The name is a bit misleading (probably because they may have greater plans for future versions Smile).

For now it’s mainly a build monitor, it allows you to see the builds on your server. Given a build you can do two things. Queue another build (great feature) and see the detail of a build (this opens a full chest of options). You can see detailed information about the build (time taken, the person who queued,etc,etc) the (number) of tests (passed, failed and inconclusive), the compilation status (errors and warnings), the work items that have been associated with the build. Unfortunately the associated changesets are not available (perhaps this will be an incentive for people to use the best practice of associating work items with checkins Smile).

You can also see a work item detail and make changes to it (not all fields are shown and I’m still trying to understand how the app chooses the fields to be displayed)

You can also create work items, which can be a great feature if you are on the road and remembers something that needs to be entered as a workitem (it has happened to me and had to write it down on onenote since I have a terribly memory Smile).

In order to use this application on your own TFS you need to install a service (available from Black Marble)

I think this is a great V1 that has room for improvement. Specially if capability to see work items and changesets.

Something that I miss on this application (and TFS Monitor) is the lack of filtering, on a big TPC you can get be information overload pretty fast. But I’ve found this to be a common issue with WP7 apps since the Metro (I could be wrong since I haven’t read the spec <g>) UI doesn’t seem to have a way to filter information (other than using panorama for it).


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

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)))


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)



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