Just got back from the 2012 Microsoft MVP Global Summit in WA. While the Windows 8 Consumer Preview got most of the media attention, as an MVP in ALM my attention was on what Microsoft was doing with Team Foundation Server 11 and Visual Studio 11. Some of what we learned on future direction was covered under strict NDA, but we are allowed “released” info, which in this case is the VS 11 / TFS 11 beta. So as always, your mileage may vary a little since I’m basing this off the beta.
There is a lot to be excited about for all the roles in an organization in the new releases. Developers and Testers will be especially pleased, but I wanted to cover some the new items that Project Managers and Product Owners will be particularly excited about. Though certainly a developer centric toolset, Microsoft is starting to realize that getting world class software products out the door requires more than just well equipped developers, and they want Visual Studio to be at the core of it.
First the Upgrade
A quick note here on the Upgrade. I upgraded one of my combination TFS2010/VS2010 virtual machines right in the Summit (figured I could get some help that way if anything popped up ). My only surprise here was I needed to fully uninstall TFS before continuing. This is one of the reasons you always need to have a solid machine and DB backup before attempting this. I would have figured the upgrade wizard could have handled this, and a roll-back if it failed, but its just something to keep in mind. If you are working on a scaled out TFS installation, you will need to touch each server. I’d never recommend running out and upgrading a production TFS instance on a beta release but it is encouraging that Microsoft will be supporting that upgrade path right through to RTM release though. I’ll cover more details of the upgrade process in another post.
Deeper into Agile
One encouraging theme I picked up on while at Microsoft was an definite embracing of Agile and Scrum specifically. Anyone who has used TFS for any length of time knows you can configure it for almost any process, however who wants to spend the time doing this for each team you work with. If you are one of the many organizations jumping on the Agile/Scrum bandwagon (if you aren’t you should ask why) you’ll be very happy with this release. The Visual Studio team has put out upgraded Scrum, Agile, and CMMI Process Templates (final names not decided, but in beta its Microsoft Visual Studio Scrum 2.0 – Preview 3, for the new Scrum one and MSF for Agile Software Development 6.0 – Preview 3). If you are starting out with a new Team Project you’ll get to dive right into the new stuff, but as in the last release, if you are working with a 2010 project you’ll need to do some import / export work in the Process Template Editor. The good news is though you can continue with your existing template until you are ready. I’ll cover the template upgrade process in a later post.
Sprints, Backlog Management, Burndowns, Task Boards and Teams
These sets of features should get you excited if you run software development projects. Sure we had some of these in TFS2010, but you had to work with a combination of Work Item configuration and some spreadsheets (Iteration Backlog, Product Planning) that were shipped originally with the old Agile template and had some serious bugs in them.
Now all of this functionality is in the core product and fully accessible from the new Team Web Access web site and Visual Studio, with drag and drop support. What this means is if you are starting out a new Team and Team Project this wont take you hours of work like it used to. I’ll add some screen shots of these here shortly. If you were already using the Agile or Scrum template and customized your User Story work item you may have some adjustments to make with the new template. Same situation if you went wild with States. The new Template really only supports 3 of them, you’ll need to map to these.
The Task Board is a brand new item. If anyone has looked at VersionOne’s task board, then this one will look real familiar. Basically it is an electronic Story Board or Kanban board for instant status on where your User Stories and supporting Tasks are at.
Also new are the support of product teams. This allows the proper status of the Tasks as they may relate to multiple product teams. Again this is something we can configure right in Team Web Access.
Another new tool on the horizon is the Storyboarding Power Point plug in. This item warrants its own post, but in summary it will allow an analyst (i.e. a non-programmer) to put together an animated collection of proposed product screens quickly to avoid the dreaded “that’s not what I wanted” statement.
I’ll be adding to this post as I get more screen shots and the rest of my notes together from the MVP summit.