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A few more little nuggets of goodness in TFS 2013.2

by Angela 22. May 2014 13:59

Are you still hedging on installing update 2 for TFS 2013? OK, c’mon now, we’ve installed it for a number of clients and are running it ourselves.  It’s stable, it’s OK, just install it.  Not convinced?  Well on top of the great features I mentioned in my initial post about TFS 2013.2 RC, here are some additional features that might just push you over the edge to install the RTM version. None of the are mind-blowing, but honestly, they made a big impact on me personally.  Any less click I have to do to finish a daily task equates to a lot less annoyance in my life.  So here we go…

Team Days Off

So hopefully you’re not looking at this wondering “what the heck is THAT for?”. Because capacity planning is a must for any team, but entering time off could be a pain when you were looking at large teams with upcoming holidays. But if you look closely you might notice a new button at the bottom of the capacity planning tab called “Team Days Off”.

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Loved this for Memorial Day! Small change, but big impact for people managing teams in TFS.

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Sure maybe it’s only happening once per iteration, but what if you have weekly sprints? Even a small team of say 7 people equates to setting up days off 7 times a week as opposed to once. That’s like 30 clicks they just saved me, for just this one team! I have many teams on many projects. MATH.

Shared Parameters

OK, so this is a pretty big one. Something I hear a LOT is that parameter management can be really daunting for large teams where a lot of the same parameters get used across multiple test cases that are not leveraging common shared steps. How on earth do you keep track of them, update them consistently, and coordinate across teams to prevent duplication? Well, now you don’t have to! So in the client tools you’ll notice when working with parameters, that there is a new link to manage shared parameters on the web. Why only on the web? Because agile, and this is what you have NOW, which is better than 3 weeks ago which was NO shared parameters anywhere. My hope* is that it gets into the client in a future sprint, but right now it’s only on the web.

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So once you click the client link you’ll be redirected to the TFS web tools, where you will find it in the Test tab. Don’t see the Test tab? Well you need to be licensed for Visual Studio Premium or Test professional AND you have to be in the right Access Level.

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From here you can manage parameter sets to be reused across multiple test cases. 

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Any changes you make to these parameters effect every test case using them. HUZZAH!  It might not be entirely intuitive how to use them though. So in each test case work item, you now have the opportunity to not only use shared parameters, but to create shared parameters from existing ones. Simply open a test case work item and scroll down the the bottome where the parameter section is.  Here you’ll see both options:

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Lets create a shared parameter so we can reuse the set of usernames:

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It works much the same way that reverse engineering shared steps did. Pretty easy! And now I have another set of shared parameters I can leverage across my test cases:

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And here is the icing on top, there’s traceability, yes, traceability.  So you can even find out what test cases are using the shared parameters that you create, and vice versa.  Just switch to the properties view of the shared parameter in question.

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Did you hear that? I think it is a chorus of cherubs singing :)  If you don’t do a lot of QA like me, this may not seem earth-shattering, but trust me. This is going to save me a lot of time, and a lot of clicks. Hey, I have carpal tunnel, saving clicks is a big deal to me, and not just because I’m lazy.

So there you go, 2 more very compelling features to hopefully convince you to upgrade your TFS instance to TFS 2013.2. Stay tuned for more TFS goodness…

 

*seriously, I don’t know for sure and even if I did I wouldn’t tell you.

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What Conference? Yeah ThatConference

by Angela 15. May 2014 08:49

With so many conferences, it’s easy for one to get lost in the noise. But don’t let that happen with ThatConference. I know, “but Angela you’re on the conference committee, of course you think I should go”. It’s true, for several years now I’ve been working with the ThatConference gang to keep this thing growing and thriving, but it’s because I believe in it. We don’t get paid, we get nothing out of being on the committee other than knowing we got to help provide this awesome event to the community we are so proud to be a part of. OK, now I’m getting all sappy so let’s move on. The point is, this conference is literally organized by a bunch of us techies and geeks like you, not huge corporations or software vendors with an agenda or licenses to sell.  We strive to make the conference fun, educational, and family-friendly. So I mean it when I say this conference is FOR YOU.

Tickets went on sale today, and you may have noticed a slight uptick in prices. Yeah, things get more expensive every year, that’s life, but is STILL an incredible value at $399. That includes 3 full days of amazing sessions (125+ to choose from!) AND lots of networking opportunities AND a pig roast AND a private water park party just for ThatConference attendees AND a Bacon bar AND multiple social events AND a game night (I might be biased as I am running this one, but seriously, BOARD GAMES!!). That was a lot of ANDs for your money. And if you buy soon you can get an Early Bird discount of $25 making the conference just $374.99. You also get a discounted nightly rate at the water park resort if you’re not a local, which gets you some nice additional perks (last year we got free passes to the Ducks and Tommy Bartlett show with our room). That’s an incredibly inexpensive conference that you can combine with a great family summer vacation in the Wisconsin Dells! The topics being covered this year are incredibly diverse, I’d need a few paragraphs more just to cover them all and no one wants to read that much so check out the full conference schedule here. And don’t be afraid to ask your boss to sponsor your ticket, and maybe send a few of your coworkers too!  If they have any budget set aside for training, I can’t think of a better way to use it.  You’ll get exposed to a far wider range of topics and our food is WAY better too ;)

As you might know if you are a returning camper, we also have a great program for the families, so bring the significant others and kids if you have them. It’s a last hurrah before school at a water park and indoor amusement park. You’ll be a HERO and you still get to go geek out at a tech conference! If you purchase family tickets along with your conference ticket, family members are just $39.99 per person, or $29.99 if purchased before 5/22. That means the entire family can join us at ThatConference social events, the pig roast, game night, a craft night that I organize just for the kids, and of course an entire track devoted to family friendly geekery. And trust me when I say the family sessions will blow their minds! Last year my 10 year old nephew was introduced to programming for the first time (he even used Visual Studio for one session!), and ended up stealing my laptop so he could play around with it some more. How cool is that?!  This year we even have a couple of session being run by kid campers from last year! There’s even a session on writing Minecraft Mods. I know right? The family schedule is here, and it’s REALLY good so look it over, show it to your kids, then sign them up!

Hope to see you In August! Now go sign up, seriously right now, go do it.

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I’m Talking TFS ALM at the Chicago SharePoint Developer Group May 15th

by Angela 13. May 2014 07:51

So often people hear that I focus on TFS for ALM and think I can’t possibly help them because they’re not doing traditional .NET WinForms or WebForms development. Not true! TFS ALM is cross platform and technology agnostic.  Well, within reason, if you’re using a tool with embedded and proprietary SCM you might not be able to use TFS VC, but the rest of TFS’ capabilities certainly still apply.

This month I’m talking to the local SharePoint developer meetup group to talk about TFS for SharePoint ALM, how TFS 2013 can help them reach a higher level of agility, and where it can streamline their processes with build, test, and deployment automation.  During this meeting I’ll be doing a lap around TFS, pointing out what’s new and cool for SharePoint, and doing some demos of my favorite tools. If you’re a SharePoint developer, come join us this Thursday and learn more! I’m nice, and usually pretty entertaining :)

Learn more and sign up here: http://www.meetup.com/Chicago-SharePoint-Developers-User-Group/

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It’s THAT Time Again – ThatConference Call for Speakers is Open

by Angela 3. April 2014 12:00

So if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably already know about ThatConference? If you’re already a raving fan, skip ahead to the next paragraph. If not, well, let me tell you a little bit about it. There are a LOT of conferences going on if you’re in the Chicago area, but don’t think of this as just another conference. ThatConference kicked off in 2012, we had a lot of enthusiasm and an impressive turnout for a year 1 conference, it was definitely a success! In our second year, things really exploded. We had a lot more speakers, so many amazing sessions to pick from, and the family participation was out of this world. My own nephew, who lives in California, said that he couldn’t see why we wouldn’t just make ThatConference a family vacation every year. He had SO much fun, and really loved the kids programming classes.

So back to my original thought. ThatConference 2014 call for speakers is LIVE, and it’s already several days in which means you have just 11 more days to submit your talk! After April 14th, we have to start sorting, categorizing, and sifting through all of the amazing options to create a schedule that lives up to the ThatConference goal of offering a wide variety of interesting and in-depth topics that spark ideas, and will appeal to the community at large. We accept talks on any technology, platform, or language. We also love seeing talks on career development, user experience, quality assurance, it doesn’t have to be purely related to code! When you submit, please be detailed, be passionate, be unique, and be sure to follow the guidelines outlined on the submission site. We do not know who submits when voting on the talks that will make it into the agenda, we truly focus on CONTENT. And a word of advice, I can’t stress enough how important the quality of the submissions are. We get many HUNDREDS of submissions and we only have space for about 1/4 of them, so talks with vague descriptions or that cover really basic and common topics that a dozen other people are also submitting are less likely to stand out.

So hurry up! You DO have something valuable and interesting to share. And don’t worry, if you’re not the type of person who likes speaking in front of large crowds, but knows you have something to share, there are lots of opportunities to network and there are plenty of open spaces sessions too. Hope to see you at ThatConference this year!

Tags:

conference | ThatConference | technology | Azure | Open Source | Quality Assurance | Software Testing | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio | Windows 8 | Windows Phone | .NET | Application Lifecycle Management | C# | career

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Data Driving a Web Service Performance Test in VS 2013

by Angela 20. March 2014 17:35

Now, I’ll admit that all of this is technically documented on this page on MSDN, but it isn’t super obvious sometimes exactly what something should look like when it is done. And for non-technical folks, having a nice handy tutorial with images can be a huge help. I have a few client folks right now that needed something like this, so rather than only share it with them I thought I would post this on-line for everyone’s benefit.  ANYONE can follow along with this, I am using a public web service. I specifically was doing this on VS 2013, but this should on any version back to 2005, so long as it is either Ultimate or Team Suite.  I am assuming you already have some basic knowledge of web performance testing, but if you don’t check out this exercise first.

First identify a web service you would like to test, and choose and operation. You could also wrote your own web service, I’m not feeling THAT ambitious today. I am using a public Weather service and the “GetCityForecastByZip” operation as seen below:image

1) Create an empty web performance test, so immediately stop recording when the recording tool starts up in the browser.

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2) Let Visual Studio resume. Add a web service request to the empty web performance test:

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3) Enter the URL for the web service via the Properties panel (“http://wsf.cdyne.com/WeatherWS/Weather.asmx”). It should look like this:

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4) Grab the Soap Body from the Web Service page, it should look like this:

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5) Enter “text/xml” for content type and place the soap body from your clipboard in the String body of the web service via the Properties pane. It should look like this:

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6) Add a header to the service request:

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7) Grab the SoapAction from the Web Service page:

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8) In the Properties pane, add a key value pair of “SoapAction”, and the SoapAction from your clipboard. It should look like this:

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9) Now the basics are configured, but we want to be able to pass in a zip code. To keep things easy for the first pass, let’s just hard code that sucker. I know, bad practice, but we’ll change it soon. Open the StringBody and replace the parameter with a value:

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Now run the test and see weather for my town, it’s quite lovely today :)

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But this is not really exciting, we should data drive this.  Let’s create a data source with some zip codes to truly exercise this service.

1) Add a few rows to an excel sheet with valid and even invalid values, use a column header of Zip and save as CSV. Save someplace easy like the desktop, you’ll need to refer to it later:

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2) Add a data source to your web service test:

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3) Use the data source wizard to choose the CSV file that you just created, and add it to your solution. We could point to a shared repository instead, but for now let’s keep it simple and add it to our project when you are prompted to do so.

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You should now see something similar to this:

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4) Now we want to data drive the the Zip code rather than use a single hard coded value. To do this, we need to embed a reference to the data source inside the String Body. So where before you just hard-coded “60304” we now add a reference to the Zip field in the data source we imported with the following syntax {{DataSourceName.TableName.ColumnName}}. It should look like this:

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5) Now most likely your test settings are still defaulted to running web performance tests just once. Let’s open your testsettings and make sure we spin through every row in the data source:

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6) Now go to the Web Test section, and choose “One run per data source row”. Your settings should look similar to this:

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7) Run the test again. It should now run once for each row, returning an appropriate response for each.

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Huzzah! Super easy right? Now give it a try yourself…

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Come Join Polaris at CCC 2014 on April 26th

by Angela 10. March 2014 14:53

So if you haven’t been to Chicago Code Camp yet, you should! I know, I know, there are SO MANY conferences in the Chicago area, how do you choose? It’s true, there are a lot of good ones but here are some benefits to CCC:

a) Because it is community- driven, there is some amazing sessions, including a few sessions on TFS and agile. Here are the ones I am hoping to attend (to be fair I am GIVING two of those talks):

 

Other great sessions cover a wide variety of topics like Windows 8, TypeScript, PowerShell, Unity 3D and Azure, JavaScript and Elixir.

b) it’s FREE for a full day of techie goodness, lunch included. Yeah, you read that correctly, FREE.

c) it’s super easy to get to. It’s right off of 294 and the parking is free.

d) it’s on a Saturday so you don’t even have to miss work! OK, so maybe you don’t see this as an advantage, but I do.

e) Polaris Solutions is a Platinum sponsor and will have a booth. So stop by, say hi, and pick up one of our sweet little booklets on Agile practices.

 

So register now before it sells out, and check out the full list of sessions here: http://www.chicagocodecamp.com/Public/Sessions

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An Upgrade is a Beautiful Thing, Especially When It’s TFS 2013 Update 2

by Angela 6. March 2014 18:09

This is one of my favorite dialogs :)

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Not RTM of course, I am not THAT cool. Hopefully that is coming soon because not everyone has the freedom to install pre-release software and this one is CHOCK FULL o’ goodness. I was hoping to upgrade my company’s server last weekend, but thanks to Comcast’s unreliability I ended up barely getting it downloaded, and then upgraded my personal on-premise TFS instance. And I’m loving all the new stuff! Here are just a few of my favorite things ::cue Julie Andrews!::

1) Tags.  Tags have always been a nifty way to add useful metadata to work items so they could be easily identified, sorted, and filtered on the backlog. But everyone, EVERYONE, wanted to be able to query on tags.  Also, they wanted to work with tags outside of the WebUI.  Now you can! (requires VS 2013.w2 as well)

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2) Charts. I *love* the work item charts as you may have figured out from my previous post on them.  Such a simple and easy to learn way to visually slice and dice your shared work item query results. My customers love them too! Another frequent request is “why can’t we pin these to our team dashboard?”  Well, guess what, that is an option too! So now that Team home page just got EVEN MORE useful :)  Keep in mind you can only pin charts based on the types of queries you can make a team favorite, so SHARED queries.  Also notice that now to pin something to the team homepage, you have a new option:

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3) Test Plan printing. I know right?! Before your only option was Test Scribe and while it was handy, and free, it was not really customizable. Now from a quick click from the Test Hub on the web, you can request a “hard copy” of Test Plan artifacts for sharing with others via email, or as HTML. Sweet huh? And notice all the links, so an active TFS user could jump right into MTM to see or edit the items he is reading about.

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There is a lot more than this, but it’s already a pretty long blog post.  So check out Brian’s blog post and the MSDN download page for the CTP to find out more about the new features available in TFS 2013 Update 2.

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So many conferences, so little time

by Angela 9. January 2014 10:17

So since it is the beginning of the year, I am re-evaluating my conference choices this year. I always assumed that after I left Microsoft I would attend LESS conferences, and do less public speaking, not more. Turns out I have more time to do fun things like that now :)  Here is what is on my radar for 2014:

ALM Forum: April 1-3, Seattle WA. This is a rebranding of the ALM Summit from year’s past.  Some great speakers lined up including Sam Gu and Ken Schwaber! I may be going to Agile 2014 instead of this one sadly, only so many conferences I can attend in one year. Reasonably pricey at about $1,400 for a conference pass with an extra fee for some of the pre and post conference workshops. But even at that price, it’s been well worth it every year I’ve gone.

QAI Quest: April 7-11 Baltimore, MD. A global quality engineered software based conference.  I’ve attended 4 of the 5 past conferences but this year I just have too many to also make it to this one. Mainly focus on Quality Assurance, and in the past year or two they have started adding a lot of agile talks as well.

Build: San Francisco CA. Sold out in record time, as usual. Glad I got to go to a PDC before I left Microsoft because this is one of the hardest tickets to get, second only to CodeMash which is going on right now!

NewCodeCamp: Northeast Wisconsin Code Camp (Formerly Fox Valley Day of .NET) March 22nd, This is an expansion of Fox Valley Day of .NET, and will encompass whatever sessions community members wish, not just Microsoft technologies. Still FREE!

CCC: Chicago Code Camp. April 26, Grays Lake IL. Always FREE! Always packed with great speakers, definitely not missing it this year.  Polaris Solutions is a Platinum Sponsor so look for our booth, and stop by and say hi while you’re there. I will be there!

ALM Chicago: May 1-2 Chicago IL. A Chicago conference run by a local consulting firm out of Wisconsin focusing on agile practices and tooling. Cost is between $249 and $499 depending on when you register. So register before the end of this month, before the price doubles. I will be there!

VSLive Chicago: May 5-8 Chicago IL. $1800 early bird. I attended one once, about 8 years ago. I remember it being pretty valuable as long as you weren’t focusing on bleeding edge stuff. Great speakers and topics, but not as wide a range as what you get at events like Build and TechEd.

TechEd NA: May 11-14, Houston TX. I’ve actually never been to a TechEd, can you believe it? I’ve always heard there was some amazing content and speakers at this one too.

Microsoft WPC: July 13-17, Washington DC. This is for Microsoft Partners, so not sure how many of you would really be interested in this one. Lots of great content and networking opportunities for sure. Also, last year I finally got to meet Mary Jo Foley in person :)

Agile 2014: July 28 – Aug 1, Orlando FL. I’ve never been to this one, but I always know when it’s happening because my twitter feed lights up with exciting chatter about all of the awesome things people are learning. Hoping to attend, and maybe present there this year. A bit pricey at $2400 but it’s 5 days long!

ThatConference: August 11-13, Wisconsin Dells WI.  I admit, I am biased, but I love this conference! Organized and run by a bunch of techies like yourself (including me!), it’s for the nerds, by the nerds. Also, inexpensive (~$400 for a full conference pass) and super family friendly.

MVP Summit: Novemberish, Redmond WA. Only for MVPs, so if you’re not an MVP and you’re a passionate Microsoft technologist this is something to work towards. I went last year, and the access to product team people, industry experts, and other MVPs was priceless. Hoping I earn another pass this year.

STLDODN: mid-Novemberish, St Louis MO. Attended last year for the first time and it was a blast! Great people, awesome sessions, pre-compilers for some deeply technical hands on learning experience. Another really inexpensive one too, coming in at about $300 for a pass, with the pre-compilers being just a little bit extra.

 

Are there any big ones that I have missed? What are you planning to attend this year?

Tags:

Agile | conference | ThatConference | Microsoft | technology | Quality Assurance | Quest | Chicago Code Camp

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