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Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group - Holiday Party on Dec 12th 2012

by Angela 1. December 2012 12:48

Are you a regular attendee? Someone who hasn’t been to a meeting in a while? Someone who has never been and has been looking for the perfect topic? Well, c’mon down! Next week is our annual holiday meeting. In the past few months there has been a release of Visual Studio as well as an update, and not just any update but a MASSIVE update with lots of good new functionality. So go download it today!

We'll have fun giveaways for everyone who attends, but some particularly awesome giveaways for people who are willing to get up and demo their favorite VS 2012 (so anything related to VS, MTM or TFS) feature! It doesn't have to be a long or complicated demo, but it does need to highlight something about the latest release or the update that you find particularly useful or cool. Shoot me an email at Angela.Dugan@PolarisSolutions.com with the feature you want to highlight so I can ensure we don't end up with duplicates. Everyone that does a demo gets an additional gift, but we will also vote for one or two big winners to receive something extra cool! More details to come...  We will have many speakers that night, hopefully including you!

So far we have the following presenters and topics:

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When: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Location: Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

Agenda:6:00PM Food, drinks and prizes. 7:00PM VS 2012 Demo contest. 8:00PM Grand prizes awarded

Register here: http://chicagoalmug.org/
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Hmm, So Apparently TFS 2012 Power Tools Require VS Pro or Better

by Angela 19. November 2012 15:37

So I had gotten used to installing a VS 2010 Shell on my TFS app tier for doing basic administration type activities that required a Team Explorer. One of my most common tasks was editing the TFS process template using the TFS Power Tools. So when I upgraded TFS to 2012, I immediately downloaded the TFS 2012 Team Explorer and Power Tools and installed them so I could get to work.

Today I discovered that is no longer a supported scenario once you have upgraded to TFS 2012, not that the error message is AT ALL helpful for figuring this out, shocking. I loaded up the VS Shell, opened Tools | Process Editor | Work Item Types | Open WIT from Server like I always do

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and got a strange error I hadn’t seen before. I tried a few other options, projects, work item types, kept getting errors. I was able to export work items, just not open them. ::sad trombone::  So this is an error you might end up encountering after upgrading if you haven’t seen the update I am talking about.

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Cannot load ‘C:Users37653\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft Corporation\Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2012\11.0.50727.1\usnbka366p_Str_Enterprise_User Story,wit’: Could not load file or assembly Microsoft.VisualStudio.XmlEditor,Version=1 1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral,PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.

 

When I dug around, I discovered a few MSDN posts referring to a licensing change for VS 2012.  I suppose if I still worked at Microsoft I wouldn’t have missed that valuable little nugget. So no longer can you get away with a free VS Shell and the Power Tools for simple administrative tasks on your server, you must install at LEAST VS Professional.  Lame.

If you are lucky, like me, your boss bought you a copy of VS Ultimate and it’s not an issue since with MSDN benefits, you can install it on pretty much any server YOU are going to use. Just be sure if it is a shared server, that everyone is properly licensed for whatever you install there. And alas, this is at my client, so now I need to work with their server folks to get that installed and make sure they are licensed properly for it ::sad face::

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | Power Tools | SDLC | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS Power Tools | Team Foundation Server

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Application Quality Enablement with TFS 2012 and MTM 2012 at SDC Tomorrow

by Angela 14. November 2012 05:00

Not sure if you’ve been to any of the sessions held by the Software Development Community in Chicago but they are always good. This month I get the opportunity to speak there myself and wanted to let folks know.  If you cannot make it to my session tomorrow, I will be presenting the information again at the Visual Studio launch event in Chicago (“The New Era of Work”) later this month as well.  Be sure to sign up for notifications of future SDC meetups, it’s a great group! 

In the meantime, here is the info for my session tomorrow:

When: Thursday, November 15, 2012 -- 5:45

Where:  i.c.s -- 415 N Dearborn, Chicago, IL (map) -- 3rd Floor, Sign will be posted at the door.

Session: Application Quality Enablement with TFS 2012 and MTM 2012 - With the rise of modern apps and the modern data center, we require a modern lifecycle approach that supports the need to increase velocity, deliver continuous value and manage change while enabling quality. See a unique and full lifecycle perspective on quality enablement with rich demos infused along the way to illustrate our the software testing/QA story. Demos will include:
• Product Backlog
• Storyboarding
• Exploratory testing
• Client Feedback

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Multi-Tenant TFS Data Tiers? Yes You Can!

by Angela 6. November 2012 08:27

Multi-what TFS? In other words, hosting multiple instances of Team Foundation Server data tiers and all of their associated databases on the same data tier.

So we ran into quite the conundrum here, wherein we had just one physical server available to act as a TFS Data Tier, but needed to host at least 2 TFS 2010 instances on it to try some stuff out in relation to a coming upgrade. I needed to upgrade a number of our project collections to TFS 2012, while leaving some number still on TFS 2010 until we could do further validation on some customizations. It seemed risky, maybe even impossible, but mostly because I had never tried.  I certainly never saw that as an option in the installation docs or on MSDN.  It wasn’t until I sat down with a DBA who looked at it purely from a database perspective that I thought to just give it a try and see what happened. Obviously this is a development environment and NOT their production TFS Smile  You certainly COULD do this in production but it would make me nervous when it came to things like DR, so I’m not going to even entertain that notion.  But, in my situation, I already had a dual tier TFS 2010 environment setup in DEV, and I had a second AT server to use as a test bed for the upgrade to TFS 2012, but my main issue was how I could take collections from a single TFS instance, and upgrade only half of them to 2012 while the others were still available on 2010. I wondered, “can I upgrade the new app tier to 2012 while leaving the other app tier, hitting the same data tier, on TFS 2010?” The answer is, “sure you can!” 

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Now if you look at TFS merely from the front end perspective this might seem odd, or risky, but like I said, I had a DBA who knew nothing about TFS but knew databases really well helping me to noodle through it.  I knew just enough about SQL Server to be dangerous, so together we made quite the team when it came to “let’s just try it and see what happens, it’s only DEV after all!”.  What I came to understand, and maybe I should have realized this sooner, is that when you upgrade TFS, or do any operations on it from the App Tier, it only affects the databases that are referenced by its configuration database.  So, 3 separate App Tiers have 3 separate Configuration databases, and 3 separate sets of databases (Collections, warehouse, etc.) that can coexist on a single data tier. So upgrading an AT from TFS 2010 to TFS 2012 only updates the schemas of the databases specified in the Configuration database associated to that AT.  Main requirement here is that it is a version of SQL that can support both products, so SQL 2008 R2 + current Service Packs.

So here is what I am running today:

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Looking back, knowing what I now know, it makes sense too. Now, once again, I spent many many hours researching this on-line and could not find any documentation to confirm or deny that this was even possible. It took a few emails to some folks in North Carolina, you know – the dudes who WROTE the software – to confirm that yes indeed, you can host multiple instances of TFS on a single Data Tier. Turns out, they do it too! So I was pretty stoked to discover that I could in fact host 2 different TFS instances on a single Data Tier machine AND that it was a supported (although completely undocumented) scenario.

Rad huh? When you dig into the SQL Server instance it can become a confusing mess of config databases, and collection databases to manage, but it can also be a useful thing to know for upgrade and testing scenarios where you simply cannot get additional hardware for the DT.  Now yes, this absolutely can make things tricky for the DBA too if you are not using the TFS Backup and Restore Tools for backing up data. I certainly recommend using the built in TFS Backup tools if it is an option. But that is a discussion for another day… and another blog post.

I will happily accept dark chocolate in tribute Smile

Tags:

ALM | Agile | SDLC | Power Tools | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS Power Tools | Team Foundation Server

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Why Isn’t TFSService In My Service Account Dropdown List?

by Angela 5. November 2012 09:45

Ever been migrating a TFS 2010 server and when you got to the place in the Application-Tier Only Wizard where you had to specify a Service account and POOF, your TFSService account did NOT appear as a possible option? Ruh-roh!  This is a known issue in TFS 2010, and you won’t encounter this in 2012 thankfully, but nonetheless. If it happens to you, hopefully this also works for your implementation!

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Now you certainly don’t want to be specifying a user account for this, but what on earth is a TFS admin to do? I got into this situation and fear not, there is NOTHING documented on-line to help you ::maniacal laughter:: Maniacal mostly because I beat my head on my desk for at least half a day trying to figure this out.  Nothing I could find on MSDN, the MSDN forums or any other searchable resource shed any light on the issue. I found the solution by calling in a favor with a couple of folks I know on the TFS product team.  I might seriously send them a cookie basket for being so awesome.  Seemed silly not to share my good fortune because this is a DOOZY if you ever run into it yourself.

Turns out, the values that go into this dropdown get collected by taking a poll of all of the TFS related SQL databases (configuration, warehouse, collections) referred to by the configuration file selected in the previous step. Obviously you need to select an account that can access all of the databases.  The account should a) not be dbo, b) not be db_owner, and c) needs to be a valid user with TFSADMINROLE and TFSEXECROLE. In my case, some folks had been having issues creating new Team Project Collections (because their TFS Admin accounts did not have proper permissions on the Data Tier) and so they logged into the AT as TFSService to create the collections ::head explodes::  Doing that makes TFSService dbo and dbo_owner and therefor pulls its name out of the proverbial hat to be used as the service account going forward.

So how do you fix it? a) make sure your TFS Admins have the appropriate rights on all of the servers they need to get their jobs done going forward and DO NOT take no for an answer.  Trust me, it’s brutal otherwise; b) Take TFSService OUT of the administrators group on the local server so no one can login as that user in the first place; c) go fix the TFSService account in the TFS related databases in SQL Server. This may seem scary, but I don’t know of another way.  Ask your DBA if you need to, it’s possibly their fault you got in this situation anyway Winking smile 

So what you need to do in SSMS to fix it?

  1. 1) Iterate through all of the TFS databases and change the Owner to something OTHER than TFSService; this will also reset the login associated to the dbo user. Keep in mind if this user is already in the Users group for that database, then they will need to be deleted from there first.
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2) Add TFSService as a database user (Database | Security | Users –> New user…)

3) Assign them the following roles: TFSADMINROLE and TFSEXECROLE.

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And after you’ve given yourself carpal tunnel with the billion mouse clicks necessary to do this, you can restart the Application Tier Only wizard and you will find that now TFSService appears in your list. HUZZAH! ::throws confetti::

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Now ideally you will never get into this situation in the first place, but if you do, it’s not really documented other than this blog post – at least not that I know of. BIG THANKS to Brian MacFarlane and Ed Holloway on the TFS Product Team for helping me noodle through this issue.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | TFS | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | Visual Studio

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So I ran into this issue today while creating a TFS 2010 Backup Plan

by Angela 31. October 2012 13:30

So as you would expect, I as a consultant do not have god-like access to things in production like I do in the dev and test environments.  So occasionally I get tripped up on access rights, and when it comes to TFS, well, they could do a much better job of listing out all the places where you do and do not need Admin rights, sysadmin rights, farm admin rights… Well, it’s all out there between the Ranger Guidance, best practices documents, install docs and MSDN documentation but you have to do a LOT of cross referencing to get it all.  And sure, ideally anyone who is a TFS admin would be able to just ask nice and smile and get all those rights, but this is the real world and many large companies are PARANOID about handing out access like that to production.  I had to fight to get the minimal rights documented in the TFS guidance, let alone anything extra.

While upgrading TFS 2010 to 2012 at this current client, I am stopped dead in my tracks at least a few times a week, sometimes a few times a day, by “Access Denied”. My most recent one was extra tricky because it involved a Power Tool and as you know, those are often not documented very well. So, on to my story…  I was setting up a Backup Plan on TFS 2010 using the nifty Power Tools feature (see screen below) from the Admin console.  I login to the TFS application tier with my account, a TFS Admin user.  I know that my account has sysadmin rights on SQL because I am a TFS Admin, and when it comes time to providing the account to run the backup plan under I provided the TFSService account which I know has Administrator and sysadmin rights on the data tier server:

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So between those two accounts I would think everything was OK. I don’t know for sure, but if the Backup Plan is running as the TFSService account the way it is setup here, well that account is king of the world so everything should “just work”. And yet:

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So to hopefully make this something that comes up when someone else does a search on this message, here is what I saw - “Error    [ Backup Plan Verifications ] The current username failed to retrieve MSSQL Server service account. Please make sure you have permissions to retrieve this information.” 

WTH?! And when I opened up the error log the first error I encountered was:

TFS upgrade xp_regread() returned error 5, 'Access is denied.' xp_regread() returned error 5, 'Access is denied.' 

Again, WTH?!

So the DBA goes off and starts researching what xp_regread() does, and tried to figure out why this isn’t an issue in our dev and test environments given that everything was setup the same, and I start digging through forums.  Finally I find one sad and lonely little post on the MSDN forums related to the issue that recommends 1) logging in as a TFS Admin user (OK, I’m with you) and 2) “ensure that the user who perform this Backup Plan have required permission in SQL Server”.  Wait, what?  Be more specific please. What *ARE* the required permissions??  This happens all the time. Don’t tell me to “make sure you have appropriate permissions” without clarifying what those are. Otherwise, well, duh! I *think* I have the right permissions but clearly I am mistaken.

I dig through the Ranger Guidance which as far as I can tell is the only place this tool is documented.  It doesn’t say the person CREATING the backup plan has to be an admin on SQL, and it IMPLIES the account specified to run the job has to be an ADMINISTRATOR but only because the example specified a  Administrator account. Here, right from the guidance:

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But even that doesn’t necessarily imply a SQL admin, and nowhere in the doc does it say what rights either account (logged in user or “Account”) should have. I just went back and read it AGAIN, does not say anything IRT rights of either of those users in the Guidance. I suppose if you knew what it was doing behind the scenes you could infer the rights needed from the MSDN docs (I found this later). I made an educated guess that because in dev and test I am a server Administrator on the DT, and the Backup worked just fine there, that me being a SQL Server Admin must be a requirement.  So I logged back into my production TFS AT with another account that I knew was admin on every server in the TFS implementation (I know, I know), and the backup plan was created just fine. .

Our DBA does NOT like making TFS admin accounts SQL Administrators, but if I can show him explicit rules that say YOU CANNOT DO YOUR JOB AS A TFS ADMIN WITHOUT IT, he will do it.  So please Microsoft, don’t make it so darn difficult to divine what rights all of the accounts need for the various tasks the user will do. Particularly the Power Tools which make people nervous anyway.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | Team Foundation Server | TFS | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS Power Tools | TFS Rangers

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Default Roles and Permissions for TFS 2012 in and Handy Dandy Spreadsheet

by Angela 23. October 2012 11:47

So we’ve already had one situation where we had to use a recover command and lost all of our permissions, roles, etc. Restoring them can be a HUGE PITA because while Microsoft was kind enough to document them, you need to cross reference two different pages to see both the default permissions themselves, and the default assignments of those permissions to TFS groups and roles. BUT you cannot easily visualize them in the format you would see them in when setting your permissions.  IOW, you are setting values in a dialog like this:

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But the documentation is provided in this format:

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NOT HELPFUL right? I had to search the pages by role or group, highlight where they showed up, and :: scroll, scroll, scroll:: to find all of the places where they existed to set the values. The documentation is NOT in line with the implementation. I kept thinking “if only this was in Excel, I could sort, and filter and SEARCH. There would be unicorns and rainbows!!” I searched, no one seemed to have posted a permissions matrix on-line and my buddies on the product team claimed no knowledge of one. They did say if I created one they would love to have it. And after the help they’ve given me lately, how could I say no?  Smile

I am more than a bit OCD and just sucked it up and spent the time building this in a spreadsheet format that was sortable and filterable.  It is EXPLICIT permissions only, so those listed in the two referenced source pages. So I spent about 2 hours building this, but in the long run it will save me FAR more than 2 hours. JUST LOOK!

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You can access the spreadsheet here, and all sorting and filtering work: https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=E796C9484DF4BAA3!10019&authkey=!AJ0OZWvOhG8OjHs  Note that I separated it into 2 worksheets, Server, Collection and project level in one, and everything else in the other.  I was going to put it all into one, but there were WAY too many columns and it was hard to read. 

 

Again I say, you’re welcome! Please let me know if you notice anything I might have missed, I am human after all.  Since it is SkyDrive updates will be posted in real time as I fill in any gaps or make corrections. If you feel compelled to repay my kindness I love dark chocolate and gerber daisies. Consequently if you meet up with me at a user group or tech event and want to thank me, I also prefer Hendricks gin Winking smile

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio 2012

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So you accidentally deleted your MTM Test Plan, Now What?

by Angela 10. October 2012 04:14

So this week, we had a little bit of fun, by which I mean a day that started with panic and scrambling when someone accidentally deleted a Test Plan (yes, a whole test plan) in MTM in production. A well established test plan with dozens of test suites and over a hundred test cases with a month’s worth of result data no less... Some important things of note:

  • test plans are not work items, they are just a “shell” and so are a bit easier to delete than they should be (in my opinion)
  • there is no super secret command-line only undelete like there is for some artifacts in TFS, so recreate from scratch or TPC recovery are your only options here to get it back
  • when you delete a test plan, you lose every test suite you had created.  Thankfully, not test cases themselves, those are safe in this situation.  Worst case, a plan can be created, although it is tedious and can be time consuming.
  • when you delete a test plan, test results associated with that test plan will be deleted*. Let that sink in – ALL OF THE TEST RESULTS FOR THAT TEST PLAN, EVER, WILL ALSO BE DELETED.  ::this is why there were flailing arms and sweaty brows when it happened::

So at this point, you may be thinking it’s time to update your resume and change your phone number, but hold up. You may have some options to recover that data, so buy some donuts for your TFS admin(I like cinnamon sugar, BTW).  I should mention, there may be a lot of other options but these are the three I was weighing, and due to some things beyond my control we had to go with #2.

1) Best Case Scenario: restore your DETACHED (this is required) team project collection database from a backup, cause you’re totally taking nightly backups and using the TFS Power Tool right? You lose a little data depending on how old that backup is, but it may be more important to get back your test runs than have to redo a few hours of work.

2) Second Best Case Scenario: If you cannot lose other data, and are willing to sacrifice some test run data, then restore the TFS instance from a traditional SQL backup to a separate TFS instance (so, NOT your production instance), open up your test plan in that secondary environment, and recreate your test plan in production.  Not ideal, but if you didn’t have a ton of test runs this may be faster and you don’t sacrifice anything in SCM or WIT that was changed since the backup was taken.

3) Worst Case Scenario: if your backups were not detached when you did your last backup, cry a little, then use the recover command to re-attach them. The gist is to use the TFSConfig Recover command on the collection to make it “attachable” again, then attach it to your collection. I have written a separate post on this because it can be complicated…

Once you are back up and running, make sure rights to managing test plans is locked down!  It might not be obvious that you can even do this, or where to find it, since it is an “Areas and Iterations” level permission. But do it, do it now!  This permission controls the ability to create and delete Test Plans, so be aware of that. But for the most part, anyone with authority and knowledge to delete entire Test Plans, considering what they contain, should be the only person creating them.  If everyone needs the ability to create/delete these willy-nilly, then you are doing it wrong, in my opinion anyway.

I am still in the midst of getting this back up and running so will update once we’re finished. There is an MSDN forum post out there regarding one bug I seem to have uncovered, if anyone wants to look at it and maybe fix my world by answering it Smile I am sure I’ll be able to add some more tips and tricks by then.

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Visual Studio 2012 Launch Event Coming to Chicago in September!

by Angela 29. August 2012 04:50

You might have heard that the official launch of Visual Studio 2012 is coming soon! Alas we cannot all afford to hop on a plane and head out to Washington State to party with the product team. BUT, lucky for you, there are also going to be local launches held at major cities across the U.S. You might not have noticed because all the marketing jazz has been heavily focusing on the Windows Azure part of that event, but there is going to be some great content around the development tools as well. Now you know!

Join Polaris Solutions at this free launch in Oak Brook, IL (about 20 miles west of Chicago) event to check out some of Microsoft’s newest leading-edge tools, including Microsoft Visual Studio 2012, Windows Azure, Windows Server 2012, and Microsoft System Center 2012. You'll get the opportunity to engage with the experts (like me), get hands on with the new technology, and learn how to build modern applications both on-premises or in the cloud using the Microsoft platform.

A special Visual Studio 2012 launch track was recently added to the CHICAGO event with a keynote from Brian Harry himself. I know, cool right?! Smile In his talk, you will learn about how Visual Studio 2012 can help you evolve your development practices to maintain relevancy, adapt to change and deliver on the needs of the business, rise to the challenge of the “New Normal”, and elevate your skills to keep pace with the fast changing world of application development and delivery. Be sure to stop by after the keynote and visit us at the Polaris Solutions booth as well!

At the event, you will also be able to participate in a raffle for a chance to win an Xbox 360 + Kinect Bundle.  Get registered soon before it sells out:  https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032521310&Culture=en-US&community=0

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Microsoft Test Manager | Microsoft Test Professional | SDLC | TFS 2012 | TFS | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2012

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August Chicago ALM User Group - Announcing Git Integration with TFS

by Angela 16. August 2012 10:43

I know, Microsoft supporting non-.NET developers and non-Windows folks? Inconceivable! ::gasp:: 

OK, so if you’ve been paying attention for the past couple of years, you might already know that this has been happening slowly. But recently there have been some seriously MAJOR developments. First, Microsoft made Entity Framework open source, and now they have added MVC, ASP.NET and more to that list. Dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria…and all that.  Then when you thought it couldn’t get crazier, they announced TFS integration with Git!  My head just exploded a little, how about yours?

Come to the Chicago Microsoft office on August 29th and meet one of the TFS product team members, you heard it, ONE OF THE DUDES WHO WRITES CODE FOR TFS ITSELF! Edward Thomson will be discussing how to take advantage of the new git-tf tool to synchronize a local git repository with Team Foundation Server.  This cross platform bridging tool is especially useful for cross-platform developers, such as iOS developers on Xcode.

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.

Register now to make sure you get a spot. Building security also requires it, and it helps me not order gobs of food no one will show up to eat.  So help a girl out huh?

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MSDN | SDLC | TFS | Team Foundation Server | VS 11 Beta | Visual Studio | Open Source | git | TFS 2012

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