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Join Polaris for a TFS Release Management Webinar in February

by Angela 22. January 2015 16:29

So in case you have not heard, the licensing for Release management just got CRAZY inexpensive, if you have MSDN anyway. More about licensing can be found on MSDN.

Wondering what Release Management is? Well I don’t want to steal Zaneta’s thunder, so I’ll sum it up. Imagine a TFS extension that allowed you to easily deploy an application across a host of environments, including approval workflows for release to each environment, with the click of a button. If you’re an agile shop looking to achieve continuous deployment across a number of environments, this is a must have! 

Join us in February to learn more from one of our RM experts! Register Now

Continuous Delivery with Release Management

DevOps is an increasingly important part of application lifecycle management and is a growing area of interest as businesses need to develop and deploy quality applications at a faster pace. Release Management for Visual Studio is a continuous delivery solution that automates the release process through various environments all the way to production.

With Release Management in Visual Studio you can configure, approve and deploy your applications for any environment. Create automated deployment orchestrations for each environment no matter how complex the configuration. Delivering your software more frequently and easily to an environment allows your testers to get to work validating your system and keeps your stakeholders involved in giving feedback.

Please join us for this free online webinar to learn more about this powerful ALM toolset.

Key Experiences:

· Overview of Release Management

· Installation and Setup

· TFS integration

· Approval workflows overview

· Release Template creation

· Authoring and maintaining releases

 

Event Info: Thursday, February 12,2015 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CDT

Presenter: Żaneta Surdel has been developing software for the last 10 years. She has worked on a variety of projects utilizing various Microsoft technologies and filled a number of roles – programmer, (human) release manager, ALM consultant. She holds a MCSD ALM certification and is a certified Scrum Master. For the last 4 years, she’s been a Senior Consultant with Polaris Solutions.

Register Now

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Free Azure Dev Bootcamp in Chicago next Monday

by Angela 16. January 2015 09:02

Sorry this is so last minute but I just discovered this myself!

Been interested in kicking the tires on Azure? I got a sneak peek at this one when Dan Gartner was delivering it, and it’s not a bunch of marketing fluff and power point, you get your hands DIRTY.  Did I mention it’s free? Sign up now before it fills up! https://msevents.microsoft.com/cui/EventDetail.aspx?culture=en-US&EventID=1032611219

Master the new Microsoft Azure features and services to build, deploy and move apps to the cloud

Roll up your sleeves and get ready to master the latest Microsoft Azure development tools and technologies. Join us at an expert-led Microsoft Cloud DevCamp and leave with code running in the cloud! DevCamps are fun, FREE events for developers, by developers. That means no fluff or filler – just valuable coding skills you can immediately put into action.

What will I learn?

With lively demos and hands-on labs, you’ll see how to use the new Microsoft Azure features and services (such as Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines, Websites, and Visual Studio 2013) to build and move apps to the cloud – including websites, enterprise-class applications, and mobile apps. We'll also give away a $100 Microsoft Store gift card to one lucky attendee at each event!

What is Cloud DevCamp?

Good question! Jump-start your knowledge of Microsoft Azure development or learn what’s new with the latest Microsoft Azure features and services. Either way, we’ll start with the basics and build up to more advanced topics – and developers of all languages are welcome. With Microsoft Azure, you can use almost any framework, language or tool to create or move existing applications to the cloud.

Instructor-led, hands-on labs will focus on:

 

• Microsoft Azure Websites and Virtual Machines using ASP.NET & Microsoft SQL Server

• Deploying Cloud Services in Microsoft Azure

• Exploring Microsoft Azure Storage for Microsoft Visual Studio 2013

Fees

This FREE event is brought to you by your local Microsoft office. Delegates are responsible for booking and funding their own travel and accommodations, as required.

 

Note – you MUST bring a laptop to participate in this event. In addition:

· Activate a free 30-day trial Azure account here

· If you subscribe to MSDN, activate your free Azure MSDN subscriber benefits here

· Download the free Cloud DevCamps Training Kit here. Save time at your event by completing the download now.

· Have Visual Studio 2013 installed

You will also need to bring:

· Computer power supply

· Notebook & pen

· Identification

· Your own wireless Internet hotspot (if you have one), just in case Internet connectivity is limited.

Tags:

.NET | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Azure | Cloud Computing | Deployment

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National Mentoring Month Workshop with PMI Next Weekend

by Angela 9. January 2015 14:03

So at our Chicago ALM Christmas meeting, I met up with some great folks from the local PMI chapter.  They invited me to participate in their upcoming mentoring workshop and it looks like it will be a really great day, so I wanted to be sure to share it out with the larger community. This meeting is being held during “National Mentoring Month” - which I didn’t even know was a thing until today – and appropriately the event is a mentoring workshop based around some fundamental agile team building activities based on Atlassians FedEx days. I’m really looking forward to participating, and learning how to become a better mentor, and agile team member and leader myself! :)

 

Here are the details, hope to see you there:

National Mentoring Month Workshop

January 17, 2015
10:00 AM CST to 4:00 PM CST
Add to Calendar

DePaul University O'Hare Campus
8770 W Bryn Mawr Ave
Chicago, IL 60631
Directions

Register Now

Students              No Charge **

PMI Members       $10.00**

Non-Members      $15.00*              

*  note:  non-member incentive to join the PMI-Chicagoland chapter, your registration fee may be applied toward your PMI Chicagoland membership. 

** note:  attendees may make an optional donation toward a mentoring organization at the event.  all donation proceeds from this event will be donated to a qualified 501(c)3 mentoring organization. 

Tickets
$15.00 Non-PMI Chicagoland Chapter Member

$10.00 Regular Member Fee

$0.00 Student (Must Show ID)

Tags:

PMI | mentoring | Agile

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January 2015 ALM User Group with Uncle Bob

by Angela 2. January 2015 15:32

We ended 2014 on a high note by having none other than Doc Norton with us to talk about agile metrics. It was a fantastic thought and I’m sure many of you walked away with some great ideas of how to improve the way your team works together.

Well, we are also starting off 2015 with another great speaker, Uncle Bob! You may be familiar with his work on SOLID principals, or perhaps the Agile Manifesto, of which he was one of the original signers. I know right?!  So come chat with Uncle Bob about being a professional in today’s world of IT. I can imagine that this talk will be no less inspiring than last month’s talk. Here are the details for the Chicago ALM user group this month:

When: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Where: Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

What: The time has come for software developers to define our profession, and to define ourselves as professionals. We must choose the disciplines, attitudes, and practices that comprise our profession, and then we must choose to live within those bounds. We must decide what standards we will keep, and we must pledge to say "No" when asked to breech those standards. In this talk Robert (Uncle Bob) Martin reviews this history that has led us to this culmination, and suggests a suite of disciplines, attitudes, and practices that follow from that history and may well become a definition of our profession.

Who: Robert "Uncle Bob" Martin is a software consultant and author. Martin has been a software professional since 1970 and an international software consultant since 1990. In 2001, he initiated the meeting of the group that created agile software development from extreme programming techniques. He is also a leading member of the software craftsmanship movement. He founded Object Mentor Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in training their clients in C++, Java, OOP, patterns, UML, agile methodologies, and extreme programming. From 1996 to 1999 he was the editor-in-chief of the C++ Report.

In 2002 he wrote Agile Software Development: Principles, Patterns, and Practices, which gives pragmatic advice on object-oriented design and development in an agile team. He has also published a number of popular books and articles on programming and software methodologies.

You can also keep up with Uncle Bob on his blog, and on Twitter.

Agenda:5:30pm dinner 6:00pm Presentation

 

As usual, please be sure to register to ensure that you are on the security list!

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Agile | development | personal growth | Process Methodology

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Some highlights from Doc Norton’s talk at the ALM user group in December

by Angela 29. December 2014 17:10

From the very first time I saw Michael (Doc) Norton present “Let’s Start an Epidemic” at ThatConference, I knew I wanted to get him to come to Chicago to speak at my group. His overall messaging about community, teamwork, and influence was one that needed to be shared with my local community. Timing was on my side, and in December Doc Norton spoke at the Chicago ALM user group, and it was phenomenal! It was the week before Christmas and I had some SERIOUS piles of Microsoft and TFS swag at home to share as well. Including some great, re-sable Visual Studio shopping bags. Check it out, I was a busy elf!

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Now, on to the main event.  Doc’s talk was on agile metrics, and it was a FULL house. Even snapped a little selfie to prove it :)

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You might be thinking “Wait, AGILE metrics??” Did you just shudder in fear, because most agile metrics evoke feelings of big brother and bring back bad memories associated with “earned value management”, and pitting teams against each other. That was NOT what this talk was about. As a matter of fact, the title of his talk was “Velocity is NOT the goal” and I swear I heard a giant sigh of relief when that title went up!

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This also may have been one of the first meetings where I saw not a single person on email or YouTube the whole time. The only apps running were OneNote and notepad because people were taking down all kinds of tips and tricks on how to do agile metrics the right way. And this was no small mom and pop shop where you’d think to yourself “of COURSE it was easy for them!” You see, Doc works for Groupon, you may have heard of them. They have gone through exponential growth over their short lifespan, and Doc has been largely in charge of making sure they do not implode culturally along their journey. Some of my favorite ideas from this talk were the Hawthorn Effect/Goodwin’s Law connection,360 reviews, joy meters, and too much work in progress. 

The Hawthorn effect is pretty brilliant and absolutely true in my experience.  The idea is simple, once people know they are being measured based on a specific behavior, or on their improvement on a specific metric, they will do everything they can (for a time anyway) to continue performing in whatever way they need to in order to hit those measurements. Goodwin’s Law “when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to become a good measure”. Some might call this the “I’m going to code myself a minivan” effect.  In other words, metrics can often be gamed, so again, be careful what you wish for when it comes to metrics and reporting.

360 reviews is something we sort of did when I was at Microsoft.  Part of your end-of-year review process allowed you to request anonymous feedback from up to 10 people that you worked with throughout the past year, looking for overall ratings as well as personalized feedback. I honestly found it far more valuable to my professional and personal growth than all of the canned metrics we were graded on. 360s allow people to get feedback from a variety of angles, not ONLY from your boss. I also found that it made me feel more personally accountable for being a good team member, knowing that every year I’d be hearing back from my team as to whether or not I had a positive impact on them.

Joy meters provide even more interesting data, though that data can be tricky to collect.  essentially, you are asking people to give fairly regular feedback on the joy they receive from doing their job, whether it be team meetings, checking in code, running tests, whatever. Docs example was a bit easier to collect and “enforce”, because a joy rating was required with every code check-in. As a TFS user I can already picture ways of handling that for code check-ins, but collecting it for other types of activities is not as straightforward. As a start, I want to look at adding a joy meter check-in policy to our own internal TFS instance and start crunching numbers!

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And this last one is not only a great point, a really GREAT point, but it references one of my favorite “I love Lucy” episodes! But seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a standup near the end of the sprint, where every task is active and very few things are done. But everyone was productive and busy! And yet, the team rarely made it’s sprint goals and their velocity was all over the map.

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So, don’t want to steal any more thunder, and Doc said it so much better than I could. If you’re completely kicking yourself for missing the talk, lucky for you it is posted on Vimeo and Doc was more than happy to share it with us.  Check it out, it’s well worth your time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags:

Agile | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Productivity | Metrics | ThatConference

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Chicago ALM User Group - Christmas 2014 Edition with Doc Norton

by Angela 5. December 2014 16:44

Join us on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM for this very special event!

December is always a special meeting for us!  We will have great food, lots of great giveaways, and I'm excited to say that we have an amazing speaker flying in from California for this event - Doc Norton.  You may already follow him on Twitter, read his blog, or maybe you have seen him speaking at one of many conferences.  If not, I highly recommend checking out his blog, and then be sure to sign up for our December event so you can hear him in person.

In December, Doc will be tackling effective metrics.Velocity is one of the most common metrics used-and one of the most commonly misused-on agile projects. Velocity is simply a measurement of speed in a given direction-the rate at which a team is delivering toward a product release. As with a vehicle en route to a particular destination, increasing the speed may appear to ensure a timely arrival. However, that assumption is dangerous because it ignores the risks with higher speeds. And while it’s easy to increase a vehicle’s speed, where exactly is the accelerator on a software team? Michael “Doc" Norton walks us through the Hawthorne Effect and Goodhart’s Law to explain why setting goals for velocity can actually hurt a project's chances. Take a look at what can negatively impact velocity, ways to stabilize fluctuating velocity, and methods to improve velocity without the risks. Leave with a toolkit of additional metrics that, coupled with velocity, give a better view of the project's overall health.

Speaker Bio: Doc is Global Director of Engineering Culture at Groupon. Once a dedicated code slinger, Doc has turned his energy toward helping teams, departments, and companies work better together in the pursuit of better software. An agile practitioner and coach since 1999, Doc's 20-plus years of software development experience have provided him with exposure to a wide range of topics. Doc declares expertise in no single language or methodology and is immediately suspicious of anyone who declares such expertise. A frequent speaker, Doc is passionate about helping others become better developers, working with teams to improve delivery, and building great organizations.

Location:Microsoft-Chicago 200 East Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago

Register here: http://chicagoalmug.org/

As always, please be sure to register soon so I can order the right amount of food and so that the security folks will let you in! You can park in the Aon center for a discounted rate after 6pm, but your best bet may be SpotHero if you choose to drive. I’ve seen $8 parking ½ block away using their service.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Agile | development | SDLC | Culture | Metrics

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St Louis Day of .NET – Links to Blogs and Decks for all Polaris Speakers

by Angela 24. November 2014 15:22

This year was the second year that Polaris Solutions sponsored St. Louis Day of .NET.  In case you’re wondering why were sponsor a conference in St Louis, a) it’s a really great conference, and b) we have an office down there, a quickly growing one too! So if you missed it this year, stay tuned for STLDODN 2015! Outside of ThatConference, it is one of the most affordable, local conference that I have even been a part of. It was focused on Microsoft and .NET technologies, but also included a lot of talks around test automation, deployment and release management, and agile and scrum.

If you did attend, I wanted to make sure to point you at my slide decks, as well as the blogs and slide decks of some of our other presenters. If you missed them, I spoke on both TFS deployment and management as well as agile adoption, Josh did presentations on machine learning with Azure and ASP.NET identify framework, Clint did a really great presentation on Application Architecture and another on Advanced OOP, and Jeff talked about a topic near and dear to my hear as well – TFS Consolidation and migrations.  If you attended the pre-compiler sessions you may have even run across our newest Polarian – Alejandro Ramirez. Great stuff, all of them! Here is a roundup of how to find more information on those speakers, and to get their slides:

  • Angela Dugan: You’re already on my blog :) slides are here
  • Clint Edmonson: Blog and slides
  • Josh Gillespie: Blog and slides
  • Jeff Przylucki: Blog and slides to be posted soon, check back in a few days!
  • Alejandro Ramirez:Blog and slides

 

A couple of us even made it into the podcast line-up while there as well! I’ll be appearing on an upcoming edition of Technology and Friends, and both myself and Alejandro got a chance to sit down with the great team behind St Louis Tech Talks

Lastly, be sure to check out the STLDODN twitter feed (and search on #STLDODN) for some great tweets, links to the other great podcast episodes recorded live during the conference, as well as links to some of the other presentations.

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Join the Chicago ALM User Group Next Week for Application Insights 101!

by Angela 11. November 2014 19:05

So maybe you’ve been hearing some buzz around Microsoft's Application Insights technology.  Application Insights, in case you aren't familiar with it, is like Google Analytics on steroids. But like, get kicked out of MLB steroids :) Technically it is STILL in Preview, but if you’re running VS 2013 Update 3, you may have noticed a slight facelift in the tooling and dashboards. 

In this presentation, Angela is going to spend an hour or so walking you through the basics of setting up Application Insights on your web application and navigating some of the awesome data that it allows you to collect about your applications reliability, performance, and usage data.

When: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Where:Microsoft-Chicago 200 East Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago

Who: Angela Dugan, ME!  

Agenda:6:30pm dinner 7:00pm Presentation

I hope to see you in Chicago next week. Please be sure to register soon so I can order the right amount of food and so that the security folks will let you in! You can park in the Aon center for a discounted rate after 6pm, but your best bet may be SpotHero if you choose to drive. I’ve seen $8 parking ½ block away using their service.

RSVP Now to Attend

Tags:

Application Insights | Application Lifecycle Management | Visual Studio 2013 | Visual Studio

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My First Clumsy Attempt With Application Insights

by Angela 9. November 2014 22:42

So maybe you’ve been hearing some buzz around Application Insights (referred to as AI after this because I’m lazy).  I first heard of it a year or so ago when it was in Preview. Well, technically it is STILL in Preview, but if you’re running VS 2013 Update 3 or newer you may have noticed a slight facelift in the tooling. I wanted to get my hands into it so I could experience it for myself, and my experience was so awesome I figured I’d share. So if you’ve stuck with me this far and are wondering, “what the heck IS AI anyway?”, it’s like Google Analytics on steroids. But like, get kicked out of MLB steroids.

So to get started you’ll need Visual Studio 2013, the VS 2013 add-ons that support AI, and either access to a web application that you can deploy with the AI telemetry installed, or an MSDN subscription or a personal Azure account so you can easily create and publish your own web app. If like me you are NOT a developer, but still want to see what AI can do for your organization with a super simple web application, I also included a link to a How To article for getting a web app up and running in Azure really quickly.

Getting started with Azure and ASP.NET

How to: Migrate and Publish a Web Application to an Azure Cloud Service from Visual Studio

Application Insights Tools for VS

At this point I had my super simple ASP.NET web application deployed to an Azure website, and can even monitor the Azure website from within Visual Studio in the Server Explorer. Nice, right? I know.

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And right now it’s FREE to host my website on Azure too.  I have a really simple site that doesn’t require a lot of resources, so that may not always be the case, but if you’re just evaluating Azure and/or AI this is a really nice way to get there! More pricing can be found here on azure websites if you’re interested in learning more.

Now, before I move on I want to make something clear, it doesn’t matter where your application code is, or where it is hosted. There is a common misconception that you can only leverage AI if you are using VSOnline for your application development and SCM. And I don’t want to imply from my example that hosting in Azure is required either. Azure was just the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way for me to publish my web application, and heck, as a bonus I got some experience publishing to Azure. My source code is stored in an on-premise TFS server, but it could be anywhere.  What is important is that the telemetry data is configured to send information to the AI dashboards, which are currently available through the VSOnline portal. So at a minimum you will need access to a VSOnline instance.

Even before adding any telemetry to your application in VS, you can setup a new Application Insights dashboard against any existing website and start getting some limited data points back. Just look for the link on your VSOnline Homepage under Recent Dashboards, create a new dashboard, and add the application URLs to be monitored.

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Perhaps starting at the dashboard was a bit backwards, I’ll admit to often charging ahead on new tools to figure it out as I go rather than reading the instructions first, but luckily the AI tools do a great job of walking you through everything you need to do to “light up” the different sections. In some cases, it requires adding small snippets of code the the HTML of the web pages you wish to monitor, for other metrics you may be required to install the MMA tool on your server (assuming you have the ability to do this). 

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So without all the fancy telemetry tools deployed with your app, there is not much on your dashboard yet. But without any additional configuration, it will at least start pinging your website on regular intervals to ensure it is up and running and to pull back some response time data. Pretty neat huh? But I want more data!

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You also may have noticed that so far I’ve actually been leveraging the OLD AI dashboard experience instead of leveraging the Azure portal experience. For now, regardless of which portal you use to set up your AI dashboard, it will be available in both the old and new portals. I personally found it easier to start in the old experience, and once the basics were configured I then jumped into the new portal to dig into the data.  You may also find that you need the old portal if you are testing one of the few application types not yet supported by the new AI, more details here.

Given how much ground we covered in this session, I wanted to let all of this marinate before diving deeper into AI capabilities, and walking through some of the detailed metrics that can be pulled from your application. Truth be told, I’m still tweaking my configuration, processing data, and figuring out what it all means. Seriously, check out some of the awesome data I am able to dig through in the new AI portal:

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So, stay tuned for my next post, where we really get deep into the data weeds using Application Insights!

Tags:

ALM | ASP.NET | Azure | Microsoft | MSDN | Visual Studio 2013 | VS 2013 | Visual Studio | Application Insights

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Demystifying TFS 2013 .3 Access Levels and Licensing, a bit

by Angela 7. October 2014 09:58

In case you’re wondering, yes I specifically included the TFS update number because the licensing for TFS changes so often these days, that you really do have to be know what version of TFS someone is talking about to be sure you’re telling them the right thing. Anyway, I work with a lot of customers who get really confused about TFS Access Levels, in terms of what they mean and how you know who belongs in each “bucket”. You may even be thinking “what are access levels?” depending on what version of TFS you are running today.  Access levels were introduced with the release of TFS 2012, to ensure that users of the TFS web tools were only accessing the features they paid for.  You can find the access levels administration page in your TFS admin console, at the TFS instance level (so make sure you are in the Control Panel and not at a lower level, like at the Collection or Team project levels).

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You may have noticed (default) in the Full Access level row, this means that if you do not EXPLICITLY assign anyone to an access level, they will get Full access by default.  Not a big deal on my personal TFS instance because I have Visual Studio Ultimate and am the only user.  On your own instance however, best to leave the default at Limited, and add Active Directory groups to each Access Level to give your TFS users the right level of functionality, based on their licensing. Otherwise you risk unintentionally giving people access to features they have not paid for, being out of compliance with Microsoft, and having very unhappy users when you later have to fix things and end up taking away your TFS user’s features because they haven’t paid for them. There unfortunately isn’t obvious documentation on how this works for TFS 2013 so you may not have even realized that’s what was happening, but I did find reference to it in the TFS 2012 docs.

Now your next question is probably “What features does each access level give you?”

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  1. 3) With Limited access, users can create and modify only those work items that the user creates and can query on their own work items only.

  2. 5) Read-only.

This list only applies to on-premise TFS, access to web features on VSOnline are slightly different these days, and access is controlled by your license level automatically since you have to sign in with your MSDN account or Live ID. Note the major differences between each level, since this may even influence what license you decide to buy for your users. Most people fall under at least Standard access, but your QA, developer, and support teams often require a Full license for Web-based test management and the feedback tools. If you’re not familiar with them, definitely look up some videos and watch them in action, or reach out to me for a quick demo! :)

OK, so now you understand where to set access levels, and how they control what a user has access to on the web. How does each access level map to a license? This is pretty simple actually.

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You may be wondering, “well what about Visual Studio Professional?”.  Yeah, not sure why they left that one out, but since VS Pro includes a CAL, those users would get Standard access. Note that this means that VS Pro users do NOT get access to some really cool features listed above.

Now what about security? It’s very possible that your Active Directory groups are currently mapped to a user’s role, and does not necessarily coincide with access levels.  Particularly if your developer group has a mix of VS Pro, Premium, and Ultimate.  Now you cannot just assign your TFS_Developers group (or whatever you call it) to one access level, since some fall under Standard and some fall under Full. My advice is to create 3 Active Directory groups that map to your 3 access levels and chuck people into those AD groups as you buy or renew your licenses with Microsoft.  Technically, you could set one Access level as the default, not create an AD group for it, and anyone “unassigned” to an access level gets the default. I avoid that because it assumes too much, and that is how users fall through the cracks.  Just create Active Directory groups for each level, assign that AD group to the corresponding level, and whenever you add new TFS users they get added to that access level AD group to allow them access to the right TFS web features.

Limited access level, Add Windows user or group

 

Hopefully this shed some light on how Access levels work, and does not further confuse you. TFS licensing is rather complex, but sitting down and planning out your security and access model, and leveraging Active Directory as much as possible can make this really simple to administer in the long run. You can also find out more about licensing from the Visual Studio and MSDN Licensing White Paper, it’s honestly a blog series in and of itself, and again it is so complex and changes often enough that I’m not even going to try to untangle it just yet.

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