Thursday, October 30, 2008

Now we are really talking... VSTS 2010 promises major improvements in software quality! (Part 3)

Back again with the last installment in this blog post going through the big changes in VSTS 2010. Let's get on with the show. I know that I already covered most of the changes in the test deparment in the first part but after watching the session about Team Lab I figured that it was worth a few more rows you can find the session here.

Project Management

There are so many new features here that I wish I had a year ago when starting to adopt the project management parts of TFS at our company (which has been a bumpy ride). The fact that we are getting heirachical work items has been known for a while now but the demos shown at PDC still made me abit warm inside :) ...

It all boils down to the linking stuff where we now have support for both parent/child and predessor/successor relationships we can even create our own if we like, this also means that we have full support for Microsoft Project plans now.

The work item queries have gotten some new stuff as well. A small but nifty feature is the query folders where we can start to group stuff and put permissions on those groups this will make it easier to find the queries for our team members and not get lost in all the noise in the query list.

But a far more important change here is the fact that we can now query based on links and we can put conditions on both the right and left hand sides of the link as well as the link itself. This will enable queries such as give me all work items that still have no test cases assigned to them to give one example. We have some new filtering possiblities such as in group and even though it's not in the latest CTP we will eventually get the possibility to filter based on other fields and not just on constants as today, an example of this could be give me alll tasks where completed time ís greater than estimated time.

We have some new controls for usage within the proccess templates such as a really cool links control that can display and manage links on your work items and also we get rich text support (altough the only thing that get me going here is the fact that we get url support automatically when typing).

We have gotten some major improvements in the integration with Excel 2007, we now have a ribbon control for accessing our team features and the workbooks we produce containing TFS data will support conditional formating that actual sticks when refreshing the TFS data, we even get to include our own columns with data in the spreadsheet if we want. Another cool Excel feature is the fact that we can handle heirarchical structures as well.

We also have a new Excel workbook that ships with the product that helps out with the day to day stuff needed in an project (it's aimed at agile project management but has a lot of value for any one planning project resources) such as information about the iteration backlog and capacity planning of the assigned resources we quickly can see how the load is balanced between our co-workers in the project. A burndown chart is also included here there are more features in this workbook but I'll cover them later in a more detailed post once I have gotten around to play with the bits abit.

Something that is really really cool though is the support for basing a Excel report on a WIT query that you can play around with to your hearts content. Now we don't have to involve a developer to get a report done (altough we developers are still valuable when it comes to more complex reports...)

The project dashboard/portal has been totally revamp but this is not included in the CTP bits.

Lab Management

Is a new SKU in the Team System family which focuses on providing a way to manage your test servers in an efficient fashion provided that you run them using virtualization.

The product will consist of agents on the lab machines and a controller service running probably on the application tier. The user interface is hosted in the brand new WPF based client for test management codenamed "Cameo".

Basically what this drills down to is a virtual machine manager of sorts that has been integrated into the workflow of the ALM process. We can create libraries of virtual machine and then create test labs based on these images that can easily be handled when testing and reporting bugs in conjution with actually using the same environments for bug reproduction.

Once we have an lab inplace we can star with the really cool stuff. When we report a bug from "Cameo" we have the possiblity to include a link of the lab environment in the bug report based on a snapshot that we create in conjuction with reporting the bug. The developer then loads up the bug in VSTS and clicks on a link to the environment which will bring up some options. We can either revert to the snapshot (this will affect the state of the lab for the testers as well) or we can connect as is. In the final product we are to see another option that will enble us to create a copy of the lab that we as a developer can reproduce and debug without actually disturbing the testers (this will be achived with some sort of network fencing technique that will allow for multiple machines with the same name and ip to run simultaneously).

Altough it look very nice the product has a really step pre-requite list and requires a lot of commitment (you will need to have someone being in charge of lab management):

System Center Operations Manager
System Center Virtual Machine Manager
Windows 2008 running Hyper-V or VMWare ESX Server
Also it will require vast ammounts of storage space due to the ammount of snapshot and copies that will be generated.

I am a bit dissapointed that Microsoft hasn't yet included some sort of deployment engine yet but I expect that we are going to see this in the future as well since this will really complete the package. In the presentations at the PDC we only get some new activites for restoring and snapshooting the lab environment the rest is left to xcopy deployment which just doesn't cut it in the real world.

You can expect future post regarding this product form me since it lays close at heart in our efforts at my company with how we are automating our lab management.


  1. Lab Management Beta1 has been released

  2. Download Link:
    Lab Management Blog: