The many facets of cross platform integration with VSO

Paul Barham from Microsoft wrote an article about how Visual Studio Online Supports True Cross-Platform Development. As I had mentioned in a previous blog post, this has been a nice new trend coming from Microsoft as they expand cross-platform capabilities, enhancing the usage of VSO for big enterprise with heterogeneous environments. Notice the list of available service hooks:


The article does a brief summary of the many ways that VSO enables cross-platform development, from using git as the source control format, and thus supporting, for instance, XCode, to allowing different build systems such as Jenkins to enable Continuous Integration to getting it all tied together and traceable using a Team web backlog.

The ALM Rangers experience in a new book

The ALM Rangers leadership has banded together to condense their experience in a new book, Managing Agile Open-Source Software Projects with Microsoft Visual Studio Online (ISBN 9781509300648), by Brian Blackman, Gordon Beeming, Michael Fourie, and Willy-Peter Schaub. And what is even better: it is available as a free ebook download at MSPress.

One picture from the book will suffice to encourage you to take a deeper look into the dynamics of the ALM Rangers and how it has been able to anticipate and complement the Visual Studio team in helping customers of all sizes in getting the best from the ALM tools from Microsoft:


I know all of the authors in person which allows me to say that this book represents just a tip of the iceberg of things they do for the ALM community in general. My question has always been: how do they do it? The book details some of the organizational aspects that through their leadership have been adopted in the large by the Rangers. It should be no surprise that the success of the Rangers program has its roots in principled-leadership, as everything else (Stephen Covey being someone who has summarized what humankind has known for centuries).

DevOps sessions at Build 2015

I mentioned last week I would come back and talk about some fantastic Build 2015 sessions on DevOps and TFS.

I recommend watching at those seven sessions. If you don’t have the time, here are the ones that are a must-see:

Using Visual Studio, Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio Online, and SonarQube to Understand and Prevent Technical Debt

​Technical debt is the set of problems in a development effort that make forward progress on customer value inefficient. Technical debt saps productivity by making code hard to understand, fragile, difficult to validate, and creates unplanned work that blocks progress. SonarQube is the de-facto Open Source tool to manage down technical debt.

I have been working with the Rangers to release some documentation on how to install and configure SonarQube up on a simple scenario, so this talk has been a great complement to what we have been doing.

Managing Cloud Environment and Application Lifecycle Using Azure Tools and Visual Studio Online

The modern way of development requires frequent changes not only to the application itself but also to your environments. Those changes demand a set of tools that make those tasks shareable, configurable and repeatable. In this session we’ll talk you through how to use Visual Studio tools for Azure to build and author Azure environments as well as test your applications in those environments. We will also show you how to take advantage of Visual Studio Online and Release Management for Visual Studio to automate the entire process and push environmental and application changes through a staged environment.

This presentation by Claude Remillard, one of the program managers for Release Management, which to me indicates that some of these tools are also coming to TFS on premises. More than that, you can see how the Ops side of ALM is now being fulfilled in the long term view Microsoft has for ALM.

TFS Release Candidate is out

Last week at Build the Visual Studio team had some fantastic sessions on DevOps and TFS. I might come back and comment on a couple ones that really caught my attention.

The most exciting thing though was the announcement of TFS Release Candidate, which you can get here. I could go on to talk about features but it would be better for you to ready from the horse’s mouth at Brian Harry’s blog. There were so many new things to check out that I had to read the post twice to make sure I was not missing anything. My favorite two topics were Release Validation, one of the last miles od DevOps, and Agile project management (many long sought after improvements in the UX area).

A quick installation went without any issues. I will be testing a couple of upgrades in the next few weeks. We are not planning to use the “go live” option, but it seems stable enough to do it. It’s looking good!

Using SonarQube with TFS 2013

In the last couple of months I have been working with the ALM Rangers on investigating how to deal with Technical Debt, and particularly how to use SonarQube with existing TFS 2013 environments.

The current result of this research is a short but to-the-point guide on how to do a SonarQube installation for an existing team foundation server 2013 single server environment. You can get it from Codeplex at

Being proactive in adapting SonarQube to be used with TFS and VSO is yet another example of Microsoft’s change of positioning, after achieving one of the leadership positions in the Gartner report, to become an even more open ALM platform which now allows seamless cross-platform development, including all kinds of mobile applications.

Update: This guide has been moved to github.

Follow to Scrum Day–Dallas 2015

I mentioned last January about Scrum Day in Dallas in March 27th. So the meeting happened and we have a few slide deck PDFs for your reference:

  • Keynote by Ken Schwaber: Scaled Scrum - Download
  • Practical Scaling - Download
  • The New New Product Owner – Download
  • Team Performance: The Impact of Clean Code & CD - Download

This last session was nice and typical of most trainers are also developers and highly technical, with emphasis on what Agile teams look for.

As for the Face to Face meetings, I will go over some of the content in another post.

Nexus: scale your Scrum efforts has been working for a while on expanding and bringing more structure to the original ideas on how to scale Scrum brought forth in the book Agile Project Management with Scrum. Now it has launched a Scaled Professional Scrum course and Scrum Practitioner Open Assessment.

The Scaled Professional Scrum course covers scaling agile concepts and Nexus in particular:  “Nexus™ Framework and approximately 40 practices which cause the Nexus and your scaling initiative to operate predictably.”

The Scrum Practitioner Open assessment complements the other many provides assessments and allows you to benchmark your ability to participate in a Scrum team, with focus on multiple teams engaged in a scaled development initiative.

Here is a nice interview with Ken Schwaber at InfoQ:

I will be coming back to this topic with in-depth analysis and how it compares with other frameworks. For the moment, let us just say congratulations to all who have contributed to the effort. Smile

Latest Gartner reports confirms Microsoft ALM Leadership

The latest Gartner report from February 2015 once more puts Microsoft in the leadership quadrant:


The report itself shows interesting trends on the ALM market as a whole, but has some limitations on that vision almost as contradiction after having changed from “ALM” to “ADLM” a couple years ago, especially when it acknowledges in the summary that “The push to speed up the pace of delivery is increasing the focus on agile and DevOps practices in application development life cycle management.”

Then it mentions DevOps when talking about IBM, Atlassian and Rally, but not Microsoft or VersionOne. This is puzzling because Microsoft, and maybe IBM are the only that actually have a vision for the operations side of ALM. The report in itself

It says for IBM and Rally:

IBM has a large, comprehensive suite of ADLM products covering the full life cycle, and a strong position in supporting DevOps practices.

Rally has a strong understanding of agile, DevOps and SAFe principles.

Both IBM and Microsoft bought 3rd party release management tools almost at the same time, and Microsoft has gone even further in integrating its Release Management tools with its VSO offering. If you take into account its Azure DevOps capabilities, it is the de facto leader. However this seems to have gone unnoticed.

Or maybe the report is based on an earlier version: the same quote on SAFe from the previous report remains unchanged, even though Microsoft released SAFe-ready process templates for TFS last September. The current one reads:

Microsoft lacks the agile depth of pure-play vendors around the enterprise agile capabilities of project portfolio analysis, and support of SAFe.

At any rate, all these half-baked references on DevOps point to it trying to be trendy while at the same time directly contradicting its own statement from 2013:

The application development life cycle management (ADLM) tool market is focused on the planning and governance activities of the software development life cycle (SDLC). ADLM products are focused on the "development" portion of an application's life, with the term ADLM evolving from the term application life cycle management (ALM).

And this is because more and more DevOps also includes managing the lifecycle of released applications, such as with HockeyApp. Can you separate the operations piece of ALM from DevOps and claim it is pure development? I figure Gartner might be renaming this report, again, pretty soon.

How to display the TFS burndown chart in full screen mode

I got this question from a user: Does anyone know how I can display the burn down chart in full screen mode? A scenario for this would be to show the burndown (with auto refresh, if possible) in a team area on a big screen TV.

The only way, out of the box, that I know to do this is indirectly using using Chrome:
- Click the chart. It will open as a pop-up window.
- Right click the chart image. Choose "Open Image in New Tab". Choose the new tab with the chart image.
- Press F11 to put the browser in full screen mode
- Use the browser zoom options to increase the size of the image
- Notice that the image is a URL to an API call, so you should be able to refresh it by pressing F5. I don't know how to easy way to auto refresh other than using some kind of Coded UI or Selenium script. Also look for "Auto refresh" in Chrome extensions.

If you know a better way, please send me an email and I will add it here.

TFS CTP shipped this week

The new TFS CTP is available for download here. Brian Harry highlighted its main points in his blog post. Exciting points are the new Agile work item tracking improvements, and Build.vNext, most of which I have been able to use for a while at VSO.

Check it out!


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