1

The Sometimes Funky Forecasting Math on the TFS Backlog Tool

by Angela 4. April 2014 11:05

Ever been setting up a project in TFS 2012+, started adding user stories (or PBIs, or Requirements) with estimates to the Product Backlog, turned on the forecasting tool, and started questioning your basic math skills? I have… The first time this happened in a live demo with a customer was really fun. I took a guess at what I thought was going on behind the scenes and luckily I guessed right :) Recently I got confirmation on what’s happening when another fellow TFS user asked the same question in the forums.

So, what on earth am I talking about? Check out the backlog below:

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See it yet? If not, check out sprint 2. And yes, I know, it’s really odd that they use lines to separate sprints/iteration but the TITLE of the sprint is *above* the line. So Sprint 2 in this particular instance includes user stories D, E, and F. But notice that add up to 12 points and the forecasting tool is set to 10. WHAT?! But, but, that doesn’t add up! You’re right, but the theory is that you don’t have enough story points assigned to the first sprint (note that user stories A, B, and C only add up to 8 points), and so the ASSUMPTION is that you’d pull in the first user story in sprint 2 at some point and start working on it during the end of Sprint 1, even though it’s not slated to be FINISHED in Sprint 1. Otherwise your team sits and twiddles their thumbs waiting for the next Sprint to start.  Well, they DON’T really, but you get the point. So you get no credit for the item you started working on early in the Velocity chart, unless you actually drag it into Sprint 1, but now you’ve over-allocated yourself in Sprint 1 and will likely end up finishing that item in Sprint 2 anyway. That’s a whole different set of issues you’re bringing on yourself.

Note the same thing happens in Sprints 3 and 4, below. Yes, marvel at my AMAZING Paint skills ::snorts:: There are 20 story points between them, so basic math suggests that you can finish all of the items in 2 sprints, even if one of the user stories ends up straddling the line a bit. Whether or not you accept this is as a good practice is well, irrelevant for now since you can’t actually do anything about it. The tool works how it works. It doesn’t make the tool useless by any means, but it is something to definitely be aware of.

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Hope that makes sense. Cleared up an annoying little mystery for me. Something else to consider is that the forecasting tool is not meant to be the only way to plan your work, maybe instead you’d rather use slack in your sprints to work on bug fixes, or refactoring, rather than pulling in work for the next sprint. I know, OMG agile purists heads are exploding. They’ll get over it. It largely depends on your process as to how you handle those situations in reality. So use the forecast tool as a GUIDE, not the hard and fast rule for planning work.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Agile | Requirements Management | SDLC | Team Foundation Server | TFS 2013 | Visual Studio 2013 | Visual Studio | VS 2013 | Work Item Tracking

0

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…

0

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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VS Live is Coming to a City Near You! We Can Save You $500 in Chicago and Vegas

by Angela 24. February 2014 10:13

 

Have you been considering attending VS Live this year?  They are really expanding their locations this year, holding events in Orlando, Redmond, Las Vegas, Chicago and even Washington DC. It’s a great event both to network with like minded technology geeks like yourself, as well as to get some great education around a HUGE number of topics.  Once again, the Chicago ALM User Group has secured a special discount code for members and friends for a couple of these events. So if you were wanting to attend, now we can even save you $500 with our exclusive discount codes: UGCH09 (Chicago) and UGLV10 (Las Vegas).

Topics will include:

➤ Windows Client

➤ JavaScript / HTML5 Client

➤ Azure / Cloud Computing

➤ Cross-Platform Mobile

➤ SharePoint

➤ SQL Server

➤ ASP.NET

➤ Visual Studio / .NET

➤ Windows Phone

 

$500 Discount off regular registration price for ALMUG friends and family using discount codes below.  Discount does not stack on top of early bird discounts. Prices range from $1,795 - $2,095 without the discount.

Your price: $1,595 after discount

 

Chicago Event Links

May 5-8, Chicago Hilton

VSLive Chicago homepage: http://bit.ly/UGCH09

VSLive Chicago registration page:  http://bit.ly/UGCH09Reg

Las Vegas Event Links

March 10 – 14th, Planet Hollywood

URL will direct to event home page: http://bit.ly/UGLV10

URL will direct to the registration page: http://bit.ly/UGLV10Reg

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Chicago ALM User Group Presents: Lab Management in the Cloud

by Angela 12. February 2014 11:22

So, you might have heard, but this cloud thing really isn’t just a fad. And if you’re a TFS user, you might have thought to yourself “Wow, Lab management is pretty rad, but I still don’t have the hardware of personnel required to manage all that infrastructure. It would be awesome if I could extend Lab Management into the cloud!” Sad trombone

We felt that way too here at Polaris.  So we rolled up our sleeves and worked through some of the challenges to make it happen.  Chris Taylor is going to be talking a lot more about it, and doing some demos, at the February edition of the Visual Studio ALM user group this month, at the Aon Center in Chicago.

Join Us Wednesday, February 26, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

Be sure to sign up soon! http://chicagoalmug.org/ 

Description:

With the introduction of Lab Management in 2010, Team Foundation Server presented the opportunity to do automated build-test-deploy on Microsoft Hyper-V servers.  Although the tool was extremely powerful and cost of entry far less than any physical implementations it didn’t offer the flexibility of working with pre-existing physical labs as well as other virtualization platforms like VMWare or Parallels.  In Team Foundation Server 2012 Microsoft addressed this by introducing the “Standard Lab” environment in parallel with the “SCVMM Lab” environments.  This now allowed for any combination (virtual or physical) of machines to be added to a lab environment and provided nearly all the same functionality as provided in the SCVMM based environments.

At the same time, Microsoft had been working diligently on their Azure platform, all based in Windows Server 2012 and finally opened up the ability to both provision new virtual machines as well as exposed this functionality to other applications via the Windows Azure SDK. 

Polaris Solutions saw the opportunity to use Windows Azure as a virtualization platform to run automated tests and deployments and the tools necessary to accomplish it.  Come learn about some of the tooling that has been constructed to compliment an existing TFS infrastructure and create hybrid-cloud solutions to further lower infrastructure and  testing costs while creating a more quality product.

Speaker Bio:

Chris Taylor is a Senior Consultant at Polaris Solutions based in Chicago.  Prior to joining Polaris Solutions, Chris spent over 5 years in the Payment Card Industry developing applications for commercial and government credit card programs while extending TFS to integrate seamlessly with traditional enterprise software practices while allowing teams to be more agile/iterative within themselves.  Since joining Polaris, Chris has been focused on improving software quality and integration test automation using Microsoft Lab Management, CodedUI, Windows Azure, and Windows 2008/2012 Hyper-V. 

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Chicago ALM User Group - New years 2014 Edition

by Angela 13. January 2014 17:14

Join Us Wednesday, January 29, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

In case you missed the annual Christmas Edition of the ALM user group, we are holding another special event for the New year in the Chicago location. In December, we took an Open Spaces approach to our meeting and it went very well. Open Spaces is sort of an “unconference” thing if you have not participated before, where you enter into it with no formal agenda and let the attendees decide what is important and/or interesting to talk about. So think of a topic you’d be willing to lead, or a topic you would like someone else to lead.  We will write them on a board, pick some locations for groups to gather, and then you vote with your feet, bouncing around if need be.  We had some great topics presented last month - InRelease in the real world, and automated testing tips and tricks with VS 2013 CodedUI. There was a LOT of active discussion and some great deep dives.

I’ll have lots of fun giveaways including pens, stickers, and a few more books. I’ll also have special prizes for people who lead an Open Spaces discussion during the meeting.

 

So I hope to see you at the Chicago meeting this month! Register soon to make sure we save you a seat: http://chicagoalmug.org/

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

Speaker Bio: You, me, anyone who is interested in speaking!

Agenda:       6:30pm dinner --   7:00pm Open Spaces Kickoff – 9:00pm Wrap-up

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Free Training When You’re Snowed In, What’s Not To Love

by Angela 2. January 2014 12:15

So it’s been snowing in Chicago, a LOT. I am in Oak Park, specifically, and holy moly did we ever get dumped on. Here, in case you think I’m being a big baby, this was my back deck at 7am this morning and it’s STILL snowing quite hard. There’s almost 10 inches of snow on those chairs right now, and there’s a pergola over them!

WP_20140102_07_54_12_Pro

Anyway, that’s not my point. My point is that I get to work from home this week, thank goodness, and ran across a great set of training classes on Microsoft Virtual Academy to fill some time. It’s free, yes FREE, and there are a LOT of technologies to choose from including ALM.  Although I’ll admit the ALM stuff is pretty light and scarce, and mostly focuses on 2012, so I’ll be nagging some folks about that soon. But there are also classes on Azure, HTML 5, even licensing!

Here is the current list of tools and technologies covered:

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Clicking on Visual Studio I find a lot of great classes to get me up to speed on Windows development, HTML 5, you name it! What you see below is just the first few that came up, it’s a LONG list.

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Best part is you can build up a nice little wish list since you may not have time to take everything today. So build a training plan, or several, and save the classes you like and take them at your own pace. Easy!  I already had one started from a while ago, but need to go back through and update it with some new classes, obviously :-P

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So dig in by starting here. And get some of those Microsoft certifications knocked out while you’re trapped in your house by snowmageddon.

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Quick Tip on Debugging TFS30139 Issues

by Angela 12. December 2013 17:27

I’ve had a few people I know run into this recently, and there does not seem to be a lot of guidance out there about process template customization, in terms of troubleshooting or tips and tricks. While running through process template updates to move clients from TFS 2005/2008/2010 to TFS 2013 I would occasionally encounter one of the annoyances of working with XML by hand:

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Oh THAT is helpful.  And if you’ve ever seen the contents of a process template you know this could be one of about a million different problems in hundreds of files.

Now if you do a lot of template customizations, well just stop it, right now, please. The more you customize the more you need to maintain, the more you potentially have to upgrade by hand when you move to a new version of TFS.  There are times when heavy customization is necessary, but I often find people customize without understanding what the OOB template does in the first place. Unless you are checking your templates into source control, being very methodical about isolating changes and testing, and commenting your changes just like you do with your application code, you’re going to run into problems during upgrading. But chances are you’ve already gone down the path and here you are…

Enter TFS consultants. I prefer to do most of my process template editing directly against the XML using Notepad when I can. I know, it’s a bit old school, but there are a lot of us out there so I figured why not share? Inevitably, you misspell something, miss a closing bracket, enter an errant blank space where it does not belong, the common XML “bugs” that can be really difficult to track down.  And as you know, Notepad does not have a debugger.  So like me, I’m sure at some point you’ve tried to upload an updated process template using the TFS Process Template manager and seen the dreaded “TFS30139: The process template is not configured properly.” ::SIGH:: Now what? Well, if you followed my previous advice and were methodically checking in distinct changes, you know what you last changed. Kind of like CI for process templates :)

Enter the power tools. The TFS Power Tools contains a great process template editor that you can use in place of a lot of the command line tools for importing and exporting work item type definitions. You’ll need to install it on a machine running Visual Studio Professional or better, FYI.

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It gives you some great visualization tools, allowing you to edit fields, configure the forms, visualize and edit workflows, states, and transitions, and an easy way to open and dig through all the nitty gritty details of everything else that a process template entails too.  As an added bonus, it will give you MUCH better error diagnosis information if something is wrong. So for the previous error, I attempted to open the process template. But this time I got a much more friendly message, pointing me at the issue:

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Because I knew that the last thing I changed before my last successful upload of the template was the ProcessTemplate.xml file. I knew exactly where to look and lo and behold, I’d left off a closing bracket at the exact location specified by Visual Studio. So I made the quick fix, successfully imported the updated template to the collection, and checked in the updated template file to SCM. Much better!

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There are lots of potential tools and editors out there for process template editing, and everyone develops their own style. I often find myself leveraging several different tools in conjunction during a process template upgrade, it can be a lot of trial and error.  They all have advantages and disadvantages, I’ve tripped over a few myself (like this little quirk with the Team project Manager extension if you’re trying to compare 2008 and 2013 templates). I should blog about some of those adventures too :)

Hopefully this gave you some new options you may not have been aware of before.

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Trying Something new with the ALM User Group in December

by Angela 3. December 2013 13:50

So it’s time again for the annual Christmas Edition of the ALM user group. Normally we do the normal “dinner and a movie” approach, maybe having a special guest speaker or some kind of presentation contest. This month I wanted to do something different.  In December, we’ll be doing an Open Spaces concept. So Open Spaces is sort of an “unconference” thing, where you enter into it with no formal agenda and let the attendees decide what is important and/or interesting to talk about. So think of a topic you’d be willing to lead, or a topic you would like someone else to lead. A few I’d be interested in talking about are transforming organizations to Agile, upgrading legacy systems to TFS 2013, and agile testing.  We will write them on a board, pick some locations for people to gather, and then you vote with your feet, bouncing around if need be.

As an added bonus, if you’ve been attending the ALM user group for a while, you know that December is “Angela cleans out her SWAG closet” month.  So I’ll have lots of fun giveaways including pens, stickers, mouse pads and LOTS of books. I’ll even have special prizes for people who lead an Open Spaces discussion during the meeting (think XBox/Kinect games, Arc mouse, T-Shirts).

So I hope to see you in Downers Grove next week.  I always enjoy our December meetings, and not just because of the cookies :)

Be sure to register soon so I can order the right amount of food!

 

 

Join Us Wednesday, December 11, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Location:  Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

Speaker Bio: You, me, anyone who is interested in speaking!

Agenda:6:30pm dinner 7:00pm Open Spaces Kickoff

RSVP Now to Attend

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St. Louis Day of .NET is Next Week - Sign Up Before It Sells Out

by Angela 5. November 2013 23:32

I’ve been hearing about St. Louis Day of .NET for some time now but up until recently I just hadn’t thought to attend.  I mean, we have TONS of events in Chicago, so I always made excuses.  This year, Polaris Solutions has stepped up to support STLDODN as a Platinum sponsor.  We're planning on not only participating, but we have a few folks speaking, and we are even hosting a booth so be sure to stop by and say hello! I’ll be the redhead, also, the only woman in the booth so I’m easy to spot :)  If you wanted to catch one of our talks, here is the run-down:

Chris Kadel will be participating in the TFS pre-compiler on Thursday Nov 14th from 8:30am to 5pm: http://www.stldodn.com/2013/pre-compilers.  It is a FULL-DAY hands-on workshop and it’s only $75 to attend, so sign yup fast. You can’t get training like this for such an amazing price anywhere else that I know of.

A Pragmatic Intro to Unit Testing by our very own Josh Gillespie

Advanced OOP by our newest team member and former Softie Clint Edmonson

Agile Testing in a Waterfall World by your truly!

Application Architecture Jumpstart also from Clint

Dude I Just Stepped into Your Code from Josh

 

If you haven't registered yet, click on "Register Now!" at the top of the website and find out why people love this event so much.  http://www.stldodn.com/2013/what-is-the-day-of-.net.

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