Look the good news that MS Teched US is bringing us for Visual Studio


Being a MVP has one downside, you can’t talk about a lot of things that you know. Things that are going to available on future releases, because we know about them, we have seen them (screencasts, conference calls, documentation,etc) or in case some we have already played with them (early bits). Sometimes people ask specifics questions how a certain thing can be accomplished or complain about something that is missing and we simple can’t say that they will be getting that in the next version.

We are allowed to talk about it, when it becomes public information, so here _some_ of the things that we can already talk about the next version of Visual Studio at North America Teched

So here is my take on what has _been announced_. I’m not going to talk about anything that has been announced but I will add some things that I would to be available on the next version (either they will be there or not). This is solely my opinion and interpretation on what HAS BEEN announced, I’m NOT filling any gaps with other information I may or may not have (no a lawyer has not me made write this Smile) 

It’s not be read as something that will be available on next version.


One of the objectives of vNext is going to reduce the gap between the stakeholders and the developers (being the other the operations and developers). This former will be achieved in the following ways

  • Storyboarding tool – Today there are many ways for the developing team (either analysts, developers or designers) communicate with stakeholders what they are going to implement in order to collect their feedback. Some people use Visio, Powerpoint, a paint program or a mockup tool (my favorite is Balsamiq which is a tool simple enough to be used even by me, a person with designing skills of a neardenthal) to communicate intent and how they are planning to articulate the user interface. In order to reduce miscommunication and to set the right expectations Visual Studio is going to include a powerpoint addin which will help you easily design your mockups. Interacting with stakeholders is more than just communicate intent and sharing a (rough) preview of the interface. It is sharing something that they can (slightly) interact, that it can collect feedback (with inline comments, image annotations,some sort of traceable feedback or even allowing changes made by the final user), something that resembles a two way communication and not just unilateral thinking. I place great hopes on this tool.
  • Feedback tool – A tool that works in the spirit of test manager, but that is meant to be executed before the software is ready. Allows persons to run the software in it’s early phases, either interactive mockups, prototypes or early releases. The same way MTM collects information from the running code, so does this tool but with a different objective to learn how people are using the application (for example by recording video , audio or action recording) and specially to allow them to easily add their feedback about the application. Either through annotations, comments, ratings or other imaginative methods. In other words make the process more interactive and traceable (without the need to have a deluge of emails Smile)

For the teams

  • Teams – The concept of teams is going to be introduced. At first glance it may seem like the team members functionality currently available on the power tools, but it’s going to be a lot more deeper than that, it will allow you to organize your teams in a team project and work on that view only in isolation from other teams allowing you to cluster your work and your team work without distractions from the entire worksteam. My wish on this one is that work item queries can also use this information.

For the agilistas

  • A new browser based taskboard (and touched enabled)  planning tool -  that will allow to manage your backlogs and do capacity planning using drag & drop
  • Unit Testing – Visual Studio is going to be more agnostic about unit testing frameworks without forcing you to write your unit tests using MSTest, essentially having feature parity between MSTest and other frameworks with a single runner. This is open, so I expect that people will write the integration glue between visual studio and the huge number of unit test frameworks that exist out there. You can even mix unit tests from more than one framework and have a unified view of all unit tests regardless of their implementation.

Goodies for the developers.

  • Code review will be integrated into Visual Studio/TFS – I don’t think this needs much description. Fully integrated code review with TFS and your collaboration activities
  • Easy detection of duplicated code  – If you dig enough on any code base there probably a lot of duplicated code (code & paste should be disabled on some developers IDEs Smile). The reasons are not very important, but it’s tipically rush to get working code out, lack of time (famous last words: I will refactor this later…), laziness or some other valid reasons make the code reach a level with some degree of unneeded duplication. But finding duplicates is  not an easy task. There are a lot of tools out there that do this like simian (disclaimer: I hold a license that has offered by Simon Harris), atomiq or the free Clone Detective that integrates directly into Visual Studio (unfortunately only VS2008). In the next version VS is going to have an integrated way to easily find code duplication so you can refactor the code to make it more maintainable. This will work not only with code that has been cut & pasted but will find similar code at the semantic level. Code duplication detection is something very powerful, I have a recollection of an incident (I wasn’t involved <g>) in college, when an teaching assistant wrote a code duplication detection tool that worked at the semantic level (it could find identical code at a structural level even if you changed that variable names and other minor changes) and applied it to all students code. Let’s just say this incident consequences affected a large number of people (in some cases due to a similar function only). Smile

somewhat related: Microsoft Research has a very interesting paper on mental models that talks about different types of code duplication

  • Intellitrace – In the next version you will be able to use intellitrace to collect logs from production environments (it works on my machine is getting harder and harder to say <g>)
  • Task based operations in Visual Studio – I don’t have a better naming for this one sorry, but it will mimic more easily the way people work (if you are not a chaotic and totally unstructured kind of person). You can basically say you are working on this task (and pause, stop) and it will remember what kind of operations and which files you have done, allowing you to commit code to your source tree based on the task you are performing. It allows you to make context switches more easily without doing a lot of leg work.

Assorted news

  • Team Web Access (TWA) – The UI of the team web access is going to be revamped and it’s going to have a Metro UI look & feel. I’m still seating on the fence on this one. I love the metro UI on my WP7, it is usable on the Zune software but I’m not that sure on applications that have less linear flows. Let’s wait and see, perhaps I’m just conservative and averse to change <G>.


There has also been an announcement of an integration that will exist between TFS and System Center to reduce the gap between operations people and the development team. BUT this is not going to be available only in dev11, it is going to be available for TFS 2010. A CTP has been announced so I suppose it will be downloadable soon, you can read more about this on this Brian Harry’s post.

You can watch the keynote here all of this has been announced (you will have to click on the keynote tab no direct link sorry. Skip to 1h 14m to see Jason Zander talking about VS. ). This site has interesting videos, but I haven’t found a way to link directly to them individually. Sad smile

You should also watch the Cameron Skinner’s Teched session on The Future of Microsoft Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management (Cameron also has an interesting video with Brian Keller where he summarizes the features he demoed on the keynote)

You can get more specific information about all of thise (and more) on a whitepaper that Microsoft just released about the vision that is going to be materialized on the next version of Visual Studio. It’s called Visual Studio vNext- Application Lifecycle Management whitepaper.

Other posts on this topic that I’ve read so far

From Microsoft Visual Studio Team

Microsoft Institutional blogs

From Microsoft ALM MVP’s

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


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)