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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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Free Half Day Events in Oct/Nov: Efficient Testing with Microsoft Test Manager

by Angela 18. September 2013 18:08

Been curious about Microsoft’s latest release of their testing tools? Want to know more about managing your test environments, both on premise and in the cloud? How about when to use test automation and what tools Microsoft has to meet your automation needs?

There is a great half-day testing event coming to a city near you if you live in the Midwest area, wanted to be sure to share it with everyone before it filled up. Since I am delivering the content I can tell you there are going to be some great topics being covered! Best part, it is free. Check out the details and agenda:

How do I integrate better with the team?

QA is near the end of the process chain, so one of the best things they can do to be successful is improve their efficiency and collaborate better with the development team.

In this session, we want to answer all of these questions:

  • What if you could draft and select test cases early in the project and ensure you have test coverage by assigning them to requirements?
  • What if the bugs you discover could automatically include data about the underlying behavior of the application and the machine it’s running on?
  • Are you getting enough information about a release to know what to test?
  • Which new features have been implemented? Which haven’t?
  • Which bugs are supposedly resolved?

We’ll discuss how to take advantage of the opportunities for improving collaboration between testers and developers.

What should I automate?

While manual testing is always going to have its place, there are several types of tests that can be automated for efficiency.

In this session, we’ll discuss everything from automating functional and load tests to the automation of writing test case steps and designing for reuse.

How do I set up a dev/test environment?

Today’s applications are more complex than ever and it can be very challenging to set up and maintain these environments. Many organizations resort to a small number of shared environments, but you are trying to keep up with frequent developer builds, concurrent projects, and ever-changing data.

This session introduces Microsoft’s Lab Management solution which allows developers and QA to self-provision their own environments. We’ll look at you can take advantage of virtualization (on-premises or cloud) to create environments, roll them back to known states, and attach them to bugs while minimizing the labor in your data center.

During this event, your local MTM Specialist will provide you an inside look and show you the capabilities of Microsoft Test Manager. Furthermore, we’ll cover how quality is an accountability and addressable by the entire development organization.

REGISTER NOW at a city near you using one of the links provided:

10/10 Southfield, MI

10/22 Milwaukee, WI

10/23 Chicago, IL

10/24 Indianapolis, IN

10/28 Nashville, TN

10/29 St. Louis, MO

10/30 Kansas City, KS

11/4 Columbus, OH

11/6 Cleveland, OH

11/6 Edina, MN

Event starts promptly at 9am. Complimentary Food & Beverages provided in the morning

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DTDPS, What It Is and Why You’ll LOVE it

by Angela 19. July 2013 19:18

It sounds like an STD, I know, but I promise it’s not. and after you’ve given your customers a DTDPS, they will thank you for it Smile  So hopefully I’ve intrigued you enough to read a bit more about this mysterious program. I’ve created a short FAQ to walk you through it:

Now what exactly IS DTDPS? Well first of all it’s a Microsoft offering, so expect MANY acronyms to follow. DTDPS stands for Developer Tools Deployment Planning Services. Specifically, the development tools that these services are meant to be used in conjunction with are the Microsoft Visual Studio ALM platform - Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio, and Microsoft Test Manager (TFS, VS, and MTM for good measure). 

So what does this really do for me? While most people are already very familiar with Visual Studio from a .NET development perspective, many people who own the other tools within the TFS platform are not taking full advantage of them. DTDPS is the solution to this problem, connecting customers with the right partners to make sure they are getting the full value of their ALM investment. Software that sits on the shelf is a huge waste of money.  And from Microsoft’s perspective is something you’re not likely to buy again, so it is of course in their interest to offer such a program.

What kinds of services are included in DTDPS? Currently there are 3 DTDPS offerings available: TFS deployment planning, Visual SourceSafe migration planning, and Microsoft Test Professional deployment planning. You’ll notice a theme here, the word “planning”. These engagements are not meant to be used to implement the tools. Instead, they are short, fixed-length (3 and 5 days) engagements for gathering data and analyzing a customer’s current environment in order to help them build a plan for implementation and adoption of TFS and/or MTM.

But what if I don’t need one of those services, but need other assistance with TFS? Well, it depends. I know, I know, typical consulting answer. These programs can be expanded upon to assist customers with other ALM related concerns, so drop me a line and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you in more detail. Also, the programs being offered may be changing soon so check the site occasionally to see if a program was added to fit your needs.  

Who delivers the engagement? DTDPS is a program delivered through certified and experienced ALM partners like Polaris Solutions to help customers with SA (Software Assurance) benefits to take full advantage of the tools they own.  This means customers benefit from a wealth of relevant experience and established best practices that only comes from having deployed and leveraged the tools in a large number of environments.

OK, I’m intrigued, but how expensive is it? It is FREE. Seriously, and absolutely.  This benefit is available to customers who purchase Microsoft products with SA, think of it as a rewards program. In fact, you may have DTDPS credits without knowing it!  Many of the customers I work with did not know they had DTDPS credits available until I turned them onto the program.

I want in! How do I sign up?  Start at the DTDPS site. Here you can peruse the various services available and see which ones are right for you and your organization.  Then check out the DTDPS QuickStart guide which walks you through the steps of accessing your benefits.  Then you just pick a partner to work with, like us, and you’re on your way to a better way of doing ALM!

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ThatConference – Mark Your Calendars and Call for Speakers is OPEN

by Angela 1. April 2013 16:43

So as a Midwesterner I often feel like we get screwed when it comes to big, cool tech conferences.  ALM Summit is always in Redmond, TechEd is always in Vegas or L.A. (blech), and there are a large number of other big tech conferences that are primarily only held on the West Coast (Mix, VS Live, etc.). So this big news so far this year has been that VS Live is coming to Chicago in May, for one. I’m pretty excited about that, especially with the sweet discount I was able to get for it (see the blog post I linked to above for a $500 discount code to VS Live Chicago). 

Now don’t get me wrong, we have a lot of great, smaller conferences, for instance Chicago Code Camp in a few weeks, and Deeper in .NET in Milwaukee next weekend, are both very good conferences and are both FREE to boot. But another awesome conference you may have missed out on last year was ThatConference. What conference? ThatConference. Yeah, I know, the name is clever, and sometimes confusing, but mostly clever.  It is the next big thing in my opinion, because not only is it owned by, organized by, and delivered by people you know from your local community, but the range of topics is pretty amazing too.  .NET, Ruby, Java, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Tablet, Surface, iPad, you name a technology/platform and it is probably going to be represented there.

As an added bonus, it is a VERY family friendly conference being held at an awesome water park in the Wisconsin Dells, just 3.5 hours from Chicago if you live in my neck of the woods.  Kalahari Resort also has go-karts, laser tag, a large arcade, an indoor ferris wheel, a number of great restaurants and bars, and even a salon and spa if you need a little R&R with your tech!  Stay a few extra days, the room rates are amazing and last year we also got some pretty nice perks (a.k.a. free stuff) from the resort because we were attending the conference.

Call for speakers just opened today and is only open for 2 weeks so hurry up and get your submissions in! Don’t worry if you think your topic is too broad, too niche, too whatever, just get it in there.  There is a great submission guide available on the session submission site too so check it out! The range of topics being accepted is pretty large, as we hope to provide a really well rounded set of options for attendees.  If you have more questions, or would like some help creating your session write-up, join us every Wednesday at noon CST for Q&A on G+.

 

Hope to see you, and your sessions, at ThatConference this summer!

August 12th - 14th, 2013

Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells, WI

 

ThatConference is also on facebook, or Google Groups if you have questions or comments for the world at large.

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March 27th - Chicago VS ALM User Group Talks About VS 2012 Updates Released So Far

by Angela 11. March 2013 12:21

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In case you missed it, the Visual Studio ALM product team has been BUSY.  While they release cool, new goodies to TFS Service on a weekly basis, releases to on-premise TFS happen about once a quarter these days. In the last 5 months, they have made available 2 major updates to Visual Studio and TFS 2012; specifically VS 2012 Update 1 and recently, CTP 4 of Update 2.  Just a few of my favorite new features that we plan to demo on March 27th include a web client for Microsoft Test Manager, customizable Kanban columns, support for Git, and work item tagging.  And there is a LOT more that we probably won’t even have time to talk about in depth.  Can’t make it to the user group meeting? Be sure to download and install Update 1, and Update 2 CTP 4 and see the new features for yourself! It is even a “go-live”, which you can read more about on Brian’s blog.

 

Join Us Wednesday, March 27, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

Description:  As you probably know, the Microsoft Team Foundation Server team has moved to a more regular cadence of pushing out updates to Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Visual Studio. In the last few months we've seen 2 major updates released to on-premise TFS 2012 and Visual Studio 2012 (Update 1, and Update 2 CTP 4), and many smaller and more frequent releases to TFS Service. There are far too many to cover in just one meeting so on March 27th we will be talking about the updates specific to the web-based Agile Planning tools, MTM and the TFS-Git integration.

Agenda:6:30PM - Dinner and networking, 7:00PM - Presentation and demos

Speaker Bios:  Edward Thomson is a Software Development Engineer at Microsoft, where he works on cross-platform version control tools for Team Foundation Server. Before joining Microsoft, Edward worked on numerous source code control tools for Microsoft and Unix platforms.  Angela Dugan is the ALM Practice manager for Polaris Solutions and spends most of her time migrating customers to TFS and streamlining their software delivery processes. She has over 14 years of experience in the software industry including 5.5 years as a Microsoft ALM Tools evangelist and over a year as Polaris Solution’s practice manager focusing specifically on Visual Studio and TFS.

Bonus speaker: Martin Hinshelwood is going to be in town and is going to tag-team with Ed and I to cover even MORE great Update 1 & 2 features! Martin is a Senior ALM Consultant at Northwest Cadence, is a Microsoft Visual Studio ALM MVP and a certified Professional Scrum trainer.

 

Location: Microsoft-Chicago 200 E Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago – 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.

As always, please be sure to register as Aon Center security will NOT allow individuals to access the building without being pre-registered. http://chicagoalmug.org/

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VS 2012 Web Client for Manual Testing

by Angela 11. March 2013 11:53

So in case you’ve missed my excited tweets/blog posts on what is coming in VS2012 Update 2, I wanted to spend a little time covering one of my favorites. If you’re a TFS Service user you’ve probably already seen this, but occasionally I run across people who go into autopilot and miss the new bells and whistled that magically appear every week or two. I know I have done it.

One of the features that recently showed up on TFS Service is a web client for Microsoft Test Manager, specifically around manual test execution. “WHAT?!” you say? YES, indeed. Now you can view test plans and test suites (they need to be created using the MTM client right now), create and manage test cases, execute manual test cases and create rich bugs FROM YOUR BROWSER ::head explodes from the awesome:: This will revolutionize tesst case execution for some of my clients that have been a little uneasy about installing the MTM client on all of their environments, and on end user tester’s machines. It does not have full feature parity with the full Microsoft Test Manager product (yet) but Microsoft has discussed the possibility of growing these tools over time. Here is a sneak peak of where those tools appear from within the Agile Planning web tools while logged into TFS Service (or if you have a test instance of TFS 2012 with Update 2 CTP 4 installed).

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Don’t laugh at my burndown report, it’s a demo project so it isn’t updated in real-time and sometimes looks less-than-ideal if I’ve gone too long without doing a demo. 

Again, unless you have installed VS 2012 Update 2 CTP4 on your on-premise TFS server you will only be able to access these testing tools from a TFS Service instance, and I would NOT recommend putting a CTP on production (YMMV of course). That being said, let’s take a super quick look at what else you get with this new feature. 

Here is a view of a simple test plan with a couple of Test Suites and a handful of test cases already assigned to those suites.  Note you have options to: create new manual test cases, edit existing manual test cases, remove test cases from test suites, set Outcome to Pass/Fail/Blocked/Not Applicable and quite a bit more! I specifically say MANUAL test cases because exploratory testing is not currently supported on the web. You can also, at a glance, see who is assigned to execute each test case, the target environment configuration, as well as recent Outcome. You can even filter by tester and outcome!

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On of my favorite productivity features is the ability to open the test case in the same window as the management tools, and edit it on the fly. You have similar capabilities in MTM in the Track Tab, ir if editing other types of work items in Team Explorer, and I definitely have wanted this ability in MTM for a while now so I love this!  Maybe a small enhancement, but as I spend a lot of time in MTM, any avoided clicks are a time saver for me and it adds up over time. In the upper right-hand section of the web tools you can see a “test case pane” option which can be set to Off, bottom or right. What you see below is the “bottom” option, and in the previous screenshot you may now notice it was set to “off”.

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Another feature I will show off in this post is the actual running of a manual test case, which is similar to the desktop client version of the Manual Test Runner tool with a few caveats.  Note you still see each step, expected results, and data driven fields are still provided for the user running the test.  You can also set Outcomes for each step (pass/fail) as well as for the test case as a whole (pass/fail/blocked/not applicable). Notice you also have the ability to pause test case execution which is a feature of MTM 2012 in general :

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An important thing to notice that is absent is rich text support in the test runner itself. You also do not have a built-in tool for snagging screenshots. A bummer, but not the end of the world when you consider the major benefits that a light-weight, no-install testing tool gives you. 

The last feature I want to highlight is rich bug creation from a test execution session. The support for rich bug creation has always been a really nice advantage of MTM, and the web tool gives you many of the key features that makes TFS such a clear win for defect tracking. Not all of the data collection is supported right now, but the big ones for me have always been repro steps and traceability which is there, as you can see:

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Again this is meant to be lightweight, and hey, you never know what you might see in a future update!

There is a LOT more that I could cover, but this is really just a pleasure cruise around the highlights of the new web client for doing manual testing. If you want to learn more about MTM, agile testing, and pretty much anything new and cool in the area of Quality Assurance, check out Anu’s blog, it has always been an INVALUABLE resource. Also be sure to download and read the Test Release Management Guidance released very recently by the ALM Rangers.  It can help lead you down the right path in terms of managing your test plans based on your team’s process and product release cycles.

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