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Chicago Coder Conference is Next Week! Hope to see you there

by Angela 1. June 2016 16:41

There are a lot of conferences in Chicago this summer, well I suppose technically it’s still spring but from these temps you’d never know it! Anyway, I was invited to speak at Chicago Coder Conference this year (not to be confused with the awesome CCC = Chicago Code Camp conference), and I’d never really considered it before.  With all of the other conferences I am involved in and speaking at, it just hadn’t made the cut. I recently checked out their session list and holy cow are there some great people speaking, including a few of my coworkers. There is even a full day of hands-on sessions where you can dig in deep. It’s an seriously action-lacked 3 days. A few of the bigger names you might recognize are Doc Norton, Uncle Bob Martin, and Joel Tosi.

Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the great topics being presented by some of the folks at Polaris Solutions, including yours truly:

 

Steven Contos

June 7, 2016 - Session 1 – Coding the Most Complex “Hello World” Program Ever Written and More Hyperbole

Room 600 from 10:00 AM  -  11:00 AM

Florin Ciobanu

June 6, 2016 - Session 1 – Xamarin! The Babel Fish in the Developer’s Guide to the Mobile Apps

Room 621 from 10:00 AM  -  11:00 PM

Kevin Fitzpatrick

June 6, 2016 - Session 4 – Dear Coder: The Problem is Over Here!

Room 600 from 2:30 PM  -  3:30 PM

Angela Dugan

June 7, 2016 - Lunch & Learn – Improve your Retrospectives with Agile Kaizen!

Room 621 from 12:15 PM  -  1:15 PM

June 7, 2016  - Session 4 – Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework

Room 404 from 2:30 PM  -  3:30 PM

 

It’s not too late to sign up, and I may still have some discount codes I can share if you want to get in on it.  If you are interested, hit me up through the contact link on my blog for more info!

And while you’re in the mood to check out AMAZING local conferences, be sure to check out ThatConference!  I wrote a blog post about it here, including a great overview and some pictures. Check it out.  Hope to see you at Chicago Coder Conference next week, and at ThatConference in August!

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Chicago Code Camp Call for Speakers is Open

by Angela 17. February 2016 08:52

In case you haven’t heard, Chicago Code Camp call for speakers opened last week and we need you! Not heard of Chicago Code Camp? Well, grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair because we have a great story! This is our 8th year, and once again we’ll be staying in downtown Chicago at the Illinois Institute of Technology to make sure we are centrally located and easy to get to by car, train, or subway. It is a day to learn from the community. It is a day to contribute to the community. Please join us by sponsoring, attending, speaking, or all three! We cannot be successful without you. 

The mission of Chicago Code Camp is to provide a credible resource within the IT industry. Our goal is to offer a wide range of opportunities to learn about advancements in our field, to share knowledge from our experiences, and to develop valued relationships with our peers. To that end, Chicago Code Camp is a FREE, day-long event. We are here to connect the talent and expertise within the Developer community of the Windy City, and that includes YOU. Discussions for the day have previously included development and trending topics in .net, java, open sourced frameworks, web, mobile, cloud, robotics, testing, soft skills, and more.

So what ideas, technologies, or strategies do you want to share with us? Everyone has something to contribute, whether its information on a new JavaScript framework, teaching us how to leverage Docker to strengthen our DevOps practices, sharing experiences adopting scrum, or how to handle ourselves better in job interviews. We are looking for a broad set of experiences across just about any topic related to being a technology professional.

Note on our selection process: In order to be fair towards all the speakers who submit for sessions for the Code Camp, the speakers are chosen via a blind voting process by the Chicago Code Camp Advisory Council (CCCAC). The advisory council is made up of various local and regional user group leaders and industry experts. The council will only see the topic title, abstract, and level of difficulty of the talk when voting for the abstract. The council does not have access to the presenter's information. The abstracts with highest votes are then placed into tracks and presenters are notified.

So take a few minutes to absorb some caffeine, think about some topics you’d be willing to share with the rest of the tech community in Chicago, then submit your ideas here: http://www.chicagocodecamp.com/Submissions/WantToShare

 

Hope to see you at Chicago Code Camp this April!  Oh, and general registration is not open yet, but stay tuned for news on that Smile

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Will I see you at St Louis Days of .NET this year?

by Angela 9. November 2015 14:19

St Louis Days of.NET is definitely a favorite of mine. This will be my third year both attending and speaking at the conference, Polaris Solutions is also sponsoring the conference again! Everyone involved is so passionate about the community and great to work with, I’m excited that my company can be a part of it. And for the money, it’s hard to beat these speakers and sessions! Speaking of, I hope you have your ticket because they are SOLD OUT!

Be sure to stop by the Polaris Solutions booth and chat with one of us about ALM, TFS, agile/scrum, and any number of other topics. You can also keep up with all of the STLDODN news and announcements on their website,on Facebook, and of course Twitter. Many of us at Polaris will also be speaking at the event, and posting regular updates on twitter as well. Hope to see you there and on Twitter! Smile

My Sessions:

Friday, 8am in Discovery C

I know it’s early but I’m super energetic so I’ll do my best to kick off the conference in an awesome way for you!

How TFS 2015 is Going to Rock Your Agile world!

If you’ve been using Team Foundation Server for a while, you know it can do everything short of making you a latte as you walk into your morning scrum. TFS has come a long way in the last 10 years, and with the release of TFS 2015 and all of the features being released to VSO at break-neck speed, it’s hard to know why you should consider upgrading or even adopting in the first place. With the release of TFS 2015, Microsoft has laid down some SERIOUS awesomeness with a reboot of Team Build, a ton of new agile based team planning features that will melt even the saltiest scrum master’s heart, and easy integration into collaboration tools like Slack, Hipchat, and Trello with service hooks. And lastly, there are some cool new testing capabilities, some which are open to people with no licensing, yeah, FREE STUFF. Join me for a tour of the best of TFS 2015, IMHO anyway.

 

Saturday, 12:30pm in Discovery D

Yikes, right after lunch! Again, I think my energy will come in handy, have to keep everyone awake, ha!

Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework

With so many process frameworks and methodologies out there, it’s hard to know where to begin. And just when everyone seems to be warming up to agile, here comes SCALED agile. But how is SAFe really different than agile? When is it appropriate? Does using the SAFe framework prevent a company from having scrum teams? How big or complex do you need to be for SAFe to make sense? Isn’t SAFe just a glorified version of waterfall that companies adopt when they can’t handle “real” agile? I found myself overwhelmed with choices, and confused by all of the conflicting articles out there on what SAFe was, and how and when to consider using it. I decided the best solution was to go through the training and spend some time practicing it in the field. Since becoming an SPC, I have coached a number of clients on improving their processes leveraging techniques from SAFe. In this session I plan to walk through the tenets of SAFe and help you to understand how SAFe can benefit your team!

 

Find the full detail with speakers and rooms here.

 

Follow us, we’re nice,and we’re on twitter!

Polaris twitter account: https://twitter.com/teampolaris

Angela’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/OakParkGirl

Alejandro’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/alejandrormz

Josh’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/jcgillespie

Chris’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/cbkadel

Clint’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/ClintEd

 

 

All Polaris Sessions

Alejandro Ramirez - Specflow for Agile Teams

Angela Dugan

  • Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework
  • How TFS 2015 is Going to Rock Your Agile World!

Brian Yuan - How to Climb the AngularJS Learning Curve

Chris Kadel

  • Introduction to Dev-Ops: 2+2=5
  • Team Foundation Server Building Extravaganza 2015

Clint Edmonson

  • Agile Metrics that Matter
  • Application Architecture Jumpstart

Josh Gillespie - Discover PowerShell DSC

Nathan Gomez - Entity Framework for Non-Sadists

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Slick and Easy Integration of TFS with Slack

by Angela 26. August 2015 20:42

Maybe you’ve been lamenting the lack of robust chat functionality in TFS, or maybe you’re just already in love with the chat tools you have, and would love to have a way to make it a more integral part of your TFS experience. With the latest release of TFS, this is easier than you think! If you’ve been using VSO, or if you upgraded to 2015, you can do just that! Now while you can get super fancy and do some integration acrobatics programmatically, you can also do some quick integrations right through the TFS web UI. And I’m all about quick and easy integrations when I can get them.

In my case, I wanted to setup TFS and Slack so that I could receive important notifications from TFS right in my active chat window. It’s not hard, but there was quite a bit of bouncing around so I wanted to share the basic steps and hopefully lead you quickly down the right path to get it set up.  So fire up your TFS instance and follow along, or just grab a cup of tea and take a peek at just how simple it is to get these two great tools talkin’.

Start right here in the TFS admin tools, in the Service Hooks tab:

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When you add a new hook, there are actually quite a few options including Campfire, Jenkins, Slack, and a host of others.Once you select the service, just choose the event that you want to subscribe to, and specify any other filters or options based on the service event you are subscribing to.

Currently you can setup subscriptions for a number of events including:

build completed

code pushed (for Git team projects)

pull request create or updated (for Git team projects)

code checked in (TFVC team projects)

work item created, updated, or commented on

message posted to a team room

In this example, I am just keeping it simple and asking to be notified any time a new work item is created in the team project, at any level. I *could* have narrowed it by work item type, or even area path.

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Next you’ll need to set up an Incoming WebHook for whatever tool you are looking to send messages to from TFS. In Slack, you would go to the Configure Integrations menu to start this process:

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Assuming this is your first integration into Slack, you’d need to setup a channel to post to next. If you do have existing channels, you may select one of them assuming you don’t mind merging multiple streams of information.

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Channels give you a way to tap into a feed of messages within Slack, rather than have information from many sources all jumbled up into a single flow of data. Since it’s super simple to switch between channels in Slack, I just created a separate one for this new stream. 

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Once you have your channel setup, add the incoming WebHooks integration by grabbing the URL that will be used to send the JSON payload to Slack, and paste it into the Service Hooks dialog back in TFS.

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Make sure to hit the TEST button to ensure that everything is working as expected.

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You should see a notification from Slack about the test message (if you’ve enabled notifications), as well as in the Slack channel feed. Rinse and repeat until you’ve setup all the types of integrations you want. It’s that easy!

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Now whenever any of those configured events are triggered, you’ll get notified in Slack!

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Hopefully that quick walkthrough gave you a good idea of the kinds of integrations you can setup between TFS and some other great automation and collaboration tools using just the TFS ServiceHooks available right in the TFS web console.

Have fun and happy integrating!

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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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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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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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It’s almost Fall, and that means more Conferences

by Angela 6. October 2014 09:39

So conference season is kicking in full force again, and I already have quite a few on my radar, though sadly I doubt I can attend them all.  Here are a few worth taking note of, and some are coming up FAST so be sure to register if you’re at all interested because you may lose out!

 

DevOps Days Chicago (10/7 and 10/8): I am particularly bummed that I cannot make it to this one.  Not just because it is organized by my friend Matt Stratton of Arrested DevOps, but because it’s guaranteed to be chock full of topics relevant to ANYONE in the software biz.

DevOpsDays is a community-driven technical conference that focuses on bridging the gap between development and operations. The first DevOpsDays took place in Ghent five years ago, and there have been over forty events worldwide since then. Now, it is finally coming to Chicago.  DevOpsDays provides a collaborative environment where people can interact with their peers, learn about tools and automation, and discuss best practices. The topics covered are relevant for developers, system administrators, infosec engineers, QA engineers, product managers, technical managers, and anyone else responsible for delivering software.

This 2 day event is only $149. You can even receive a 10% discount on registration by using the promo code DEVOPSMATT when registering: http://devopsdays.org/events/2014-chicago/registration/

Also, seriously listen to Arrested DevOps, it’s a great podcast.

 

St Louis Day of .NET (11/13 through 11/15): Just a 5 hour drive (or Amtrak ride) away is this fantastic conference.  I attended, ran a booth, and spoke at this event last year.  There are over 140 sessions with a full day of “pre-compiler” sessions where you can get your hands dirty for a very small additional cost. It’s currently still in early bird pricing, so just $200 for the conference, and $84 for a full had precompiler session. If you register after October 13th the price jumps to $300, and it’s $600 at the door.  So register quick!

They have top quality speakers, a great conference space, a full roster of local tech sponsors (like Polaris Solutions of course!) fun events to network (and just have fun), and is a really good value given how little it costs to attend.  Also, the hotel is pretty swank too, so bring the family if you want to just spend the weekend there :)

 

Agile Day Chicago 2014 – (October 9th) This as a new one (to me anyway) and seems really promising.  For just $99 I get an entire day of learning, collaborating, and sharing ideas with other agile practitioners in the Chicagoland area. The theme this year: Product Driven Learning - Listening, Learning, and Doing. 

  • Learning - Learn patterns and ideas that are currently being done for product learning
  • Listening - New ideas for product learning
  • Doing - An all interactive track where you will be doing things hands on

Sessions will speak to various topics like product design, leadership, technology and development practices all with a focus on outcomes.

More information can be found here - http://devjam.com/2014/07/31/agile-day-chicago-2014/

 

I’m also super stoked to be attending the Microsoft MVP Summit again! But this one is just for Microsoft MVPs. Hope to see you there if you;re an MVP!  And if you’re not an MVP yet, chat with me some time about the benefits, and what kinds of activities qualify you for MVP, it’s an amazing program to be a part of :)

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Something a little Different for the Chicago ALM User Group in October

by Angela 17. September 2014 15:54

So you may have noticed that the Chicago ALM User Group has been a little quiet this summer. Summer is always a tad slow and everyone would rather be out enjoying some time with the family, or maybe by heading up to the Wisconsin Dells for ThatConference like I did :)  Well, summer break is over and the Chicago ALM user group is back! We’ll be meeting in early October for something a little different.

I recently started working with a local firm who has come a long way in their quest for agility and a healthy corporate culture. They've accomplished some amazing positive changes in their use of ALM tooling, in their software delivery process, and most importantly in their corporate culture. Join us in October to hear their story, and maybe pick up some tips on how to make similar changes within your own teams.

Story-telling and panel discussion: Ever wonder how agile is supposed to work in real life, like how it’s described in the books? We did too and tried it out. We want tell our story, “There and Back Again”, a development team’s tale of how we are becoming agile including the thrills of victory and agonies of defeat, then open it up for a panel discussion.

Speaker Bios:

Daniel Porrey has 24 years’ experience in the IT industry with a range of skills from networking and hardware to software development. He has worked for several international based organizations striving to achieve high efficiency while driving the greatest levels of business value. Having been "classically" trained in IT as an Engineer, he has successfully completed numerous large scale projects under the waterfall methodology. With the need to gain even higher performance from his teams, the desire to hire and retain high performance talent, and the ability to deliver more automation, he converted his group to agile over the past several years with great success. In all endeavors, his primary focus has been on the quality of the delivered product.

Anthony Perkins has been part of developing software almost two decades. He has experienced being developer, software architect, and now manages a .Net application team. After working in the waterfall environment most of his career, Anthony is in the midst of transitioning to agile methodologies. Driving for continuous improvement, he looks for ways to improve the delivery of high quality software and overall development process.

Raja Tirumala Rao Guna  has over 9 years of software development experience in Microsoft.Net technologies.   He worked in different roles starting as developer and moving up the path as Dev lead, Tech Lead and Architect, though always a developer at heart.  For the past 2 years he been working on agile projects and using TFS to help on board his teams with Agile engineering practices.

Chris Steele has more than 14 years of professional software experience, and has been working with agile for over 9 years, with a heavy focus on Scrum. Working independently, with consulting agencies, or internally, in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia has provided him with a wide range of experiences and a keen insight into the common problems and solutions that companies find when embracing agile, as well as how to present and sell it to clients ranging from the smallest to global enterprises. Having worked as a development team member, a ScrumMaster, a Product Owner, a resource manager, and an agile coach, in a variety of settings, Chris has had the opportunity to directly experience the day-to-day pulls and stresses inherent in each role, and in almost every organization type imaginable. Passionate about organizational change, and the benefits of agility, Chris also has experience as a speaker both locally and internationally.

 

Register now to secure a seat! http://chicagoalmug.org/

Tags:

Agile | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Collaboration | Microsoft | Process Methodology | Productivity | SDLC | Scrum | Team Foundation Server | TFS 2013 | TFS | Visual Studio 2013 | VS 2013 | development

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Referencing and Copying Test Cases in MTM 2013, a Lesson in Patience

by Angela 22. August 2014 15:49

Recently, I’ve had some lengthy discussions about test case, suite, and plan copying in Microsoft Test Manager (MTM), and it something that a lot of people are struggling with. In some cases, people are not even aware that you can do all of these things, let alone the subtle differences around what they are doing behind the scenes. Either way, hope this sheds some light on another way that MTM helps you to manage your testing efforts. There are a handful of methods for reusing test cases across multiple test suites and plans.

1) Add existing test cases – also known as re-using a test case by referencing it. So, in MTM, test cases are by default REFERENCED when you add them to test plans/suites.  You do this through the Add button in the Plan tab of MTM.

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The implication for using Add is that you need the EXACT SAME test case in multiple places, and if the test case changes it needs to change everywhere. So if I add a test case to 3 different test suites, any change to the test case is reflected in all 3 places automatically. Think of the test case instances that you see in the suites as pointers back to the original test case. Handy! Or annoying depending on your test versioning strategy. As an added bonus, with Add you can pull in test cases from any test plan in the team project collection by simply removing the @Project clause on the query!

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2) Create test suites by referencing existing test cases performs a shallow copy of test suites from a different test plan within the current team project, allowing you to easily reference its test cases. There are 2 places where you will find this option, in the context menu of the Test Plan, as well as in the MTM menu bar of the Plan | Contents tab.

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In MTM 2010, this option was called “Copy test suites from another plan” , which to most reasonable folks sounded like it copied everything. But it was not really a full copy of everything, it was actually a brand new test suite based on the original suite, and the suite contains REFERENCES back to the original test cases. As you can see, in MTM 2013, the menu option is now more explicit about what it is doing. The brand new suite has a new ID and the same name as the original test suite, it also includes all of the original test cases but is just referencing the test cases and their associated requirements. Changing the new test suite does not affect the original suite, but remember that changing the test cases in the new test suite would change the test cases in the original test suite. Also, note that this can only happen across different test plans in the same Team Project, so you cannot use this feature to duplicate test suites into the test plan you are currently in, or to duplicate test suites across Team Project boundaries. Maybe that is an edge case, but people have asked me if they could do it.

But what about the cases where you really do need to effectively BRANCH those test cases?  Say you have a new version of some functionality, but you still need to support the original functionality, and so you need to have two slightly different versions of the same test case. Well, you have yet another option – Copy. Technically you have a few more options yet.

3) Create copy and add to suite is a shallow clone operation on just a single test case. Accessible in the MTM client, you just right click on any test case, and use this tool to create a new copy of the test case, and save it into the test suite that you are currently in. All links, comments, steps, parameters (shared and otherwise), and properties are carried over - but new versions of all of these related items were not created. The new test case refers back to the same links, parameters, etc. of the original test case, and even links back to the original test case so you can see how it originated. Test run results associated to the test case are NOT copied over. Attachments are NOT copied in this case either. And again the scope is the current Team project, current test plan, and current test suite. I cannot cross Team project, test plan, or test suite boundaries with this command.

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But we’re not done!

4) You might have noticed a Copy (CTRL + C) option in that context menu in the MTM desktop client as well. Don’t be fooled, this just creates another reference to the original test case wherever you paste.  So while it is similar to using the Add button, I can only Copy a test case using this command into another test suite within the same test plan. In other words, it does not work across Team Project or Test Plan boundaries, but it MUST be used across test suite boundaries. And in this case, Copy actually means reference, instead of you know, copy. I know, really? OK, one more option to cover in this blog post.

5) Create a copy of this work item (including links) is the Copy option available only on the web, and it is slightly different than the options available in the desktop version of MTM. This appears to just be the standard Copy Work Item context menu option that you can access anywhere on the web, and nothing specific to the test tools. Clear as mud, right?

Honestly, I’m also having a hard time understanding how it is SUPPOSED to work because it has some odd behavior in my opinion (on VSOnline anyway). It allows you to specify a “Project” in the creation dialog, which I assume means TEAM PROJECT, like it does when you are creating copies of any other work item type from the web. The new test case work item is created in the specified project, with the same references as the original work item, but also adds it to the existing test suite in the current project. I assumed it would only create the new test case in the team project specified. Apparently not. So it does the same type of copy that Create copy and add to suite does, but allows you to do it across team project boundaries. image

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Frustrated yet? I know I am and I’ve been using these tools for years. It’s a lot to keep straight, and even I sometimes forget which options bring over which links and artifacts so I have to refer back to the handy tables available on MSDN.  Definitely talk to your team and decide which options to use and when.

Oh, yeah, and cloning is also an option now, but that is another larger discussion so stay tuned for another blog post on that one.

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