Toronto Association of Systems and Software Quality

A few weeks ago I attended the Toronto Association of Systems and Software Quality (TASSQ). It's refreshing to attend a user group outside of the MicroSphere. There was about a 100 attendees and I like the round table format over dinner with lots of opportunity for peer discussions.

This particular month the format was that of a moderated panel and despite being a new member, somehow I ended up as one of the panel members during the first part of the evening. There were a lot of questions and discussions around agile development, TDD and how that plays a part in the QA role. It was my pleasure to meet Scott Ambler and sit on the panel with him. He is an interesting guy who spends much of his time in the agile space.

It was obvious to me from watching and participating in the discussions that the TDD movement is perceived as a huge opportunity to assist Quality Assurance professionals. Unfortunately there is not a good understanding of how Test Driven Developers collaborate their work with the QA team. Not actually knowing what TDD or how to implement it is another common problem, but that's another blog post.

TDD is all about adding quality from the inside out, but per se, not intended to assist the QA profession. But there are good opportunities here in the areas build verification, earlier functional testing, regression testing and code coverage. The end goal here should be to cost-effectively improve our software quality. With that in mind, if you are in the Toronto area on March 29, 2007, I'd like to invite you to our Software MAnagement RoundTable (SMART) breakfast to discuss these issues. Click this link to read more about the event and registration details.

Visual Studio Team System and Team Foundation Server Seminar across Canada

In November, 2005, Microsoft launched Visual Studio 2005, a major new release of its developer tools environment, and the foundation of Microsoft platform development for the next few years. In addition, this marked our entry into the lifecycle tools market, with the addition of Visual Studio Team System and the Team Foundation Server, to support end-to-end system development scenarios. We are bringing the tools we have been using for years internally to market to help address customers need to more rapidly develop and deliver solutions that meet the business performance, scalability and end user requirements.

Visual Studio Team System adds significant new capabilities and value to the suite of Microsoft developer tools, with advanced end-to-end role collaboration, real-time reporting and analysis, and a host of new tools covering architecture, development, and testing.

Many of you may have already transition to one of the individual role based offerings in Visual Studio Team System, but are still learning all the new tools and benefits of the offering. This session is intended to provide an introduction to Visual Studio Team System, highlight the new functionality and business value in each offering, and outline the transition steps for existing Visual Studio and MSDN customers. We will also demonstrate Visual Studio Team System in action.

This is your opportunity to attend a free education session and fast track your knowledge and use of Visual Studio Team System.


On-Site VSTS Event Details & Registration:

City: Mississauga
Date/Time: February 22nd 2006 -- 3:00 to 5:00pm
Location: MS Mississauga Office MPR Room
Conference ID: 1032290174
TO REGISTER for this event click here

City: Vancouver:
Date/Time: March 2nd 2006 -- 9:00 to 11:00am
Location: MS Vancouver OFC
Conference ID: 1032290176
TO REGISTER for this event click here

City: Mississauga
Date/Time: March 21st 2006 -- 1:00 to 3:00pm
Location: MS Mississauga Office MPR Room
Conference ID: 1032290177
TO REGISTER for this event click here

City: Ottawa
Date/Time: Apr 19th 2006 -- 1:00 to 3:00pm
Location: MS Ottawa Office Glacier Room
Conference ID: 1032290179
TO REGISTER for this event click here

City: Calgary
Date/Time: May 17th 2006 -- 9:00 to 11:00am
Location: MS Calgary Office Bldg (*TBC) - registrants will be notified of location
Conference ID: 1032290181
TO REGISTER for this event click here
City: Toronto

Date/Time: June 21st 2006 -- 1:00 to 3:00pm
Location: Intercontinental Hotel on Front Street (*TBC) - downtown Toronto
Conference ID: 1032290183
TO REGISTER for this event click here
*TBC – To be confirmed

Alternative Registration Options:

  • By calling 1-877-673-8368 to reserve your place, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and quoting the event ID.
  • Register online at by clicking on Search Event or Event ID in the left hand column and typing in the event ID.

Scientific Study on Workstyles in Software and Interaction Design

Pedro Campos from the University of Madeira is conducing a very short survey. If you design applications and the user interactions then Pedro would be most pleased if you could spend 2-3 minutes on his short survey.

VSTS Beta 3 and Go Live News

There is good news and bad news with Somasegar's blog today (

The bad news is that VSTS team foundation server is not going to be released on November 7th with the rest of Visual Studio 2005. We could have speculated that much so that should not be news to too many people. Instead, we'll have to wait for the first quarter of 2006.

The good news is that in September, we are going to be seeing Release Candidates for the rest of Visual Studio 2005 and a Beta 3 of Team Foundation Server. The really good news is that sounds like the quality is going to take a huge leap - so much so that MS is going to be offerring a Go Live License and support to premier customers who want to start using VSTS for their development efforts.

Why the VSTS Logical Datacenter Designer (er, Deployment Designer) Sucks

I've had this question in many of the VSTS bootcamps I'm teaching across canada. “From my Application Diagram, how do I create a deployment diagram that shows my web application and database being deployed on the same box“.

So I posed the question to my friend and fellow RD Joel Semeniuk. The answer is:

with the LDD you CAN NOT represent a web site and a database server on the same logical server.

The Logical Datacenter Designer is used to create diagrams of interconnected logical servers that represent the logical structure of a datacenter.  They key here is the term “logical server.

Full post here:

My understanding (hope) was different. My understanding of the term “Logical“ was that in the datacenter diagram, a logical server was a “type“ of server, not a physical instance of a named machine. But if this is the way the LDD is going to work, then it's useless and I guess what we really need is a Physical Datacenter Designer. To be honest, I don't think we need a LDD, just a DD that works correctly. Otherwise, how the hell can you create a deployment diagram out of something that doesn't represent real machines - or at least a type of machine?

If the LDD is going to continue to work this way, then the deployment diagram (and even the LDD) start to look just like your Application Diagram. Furthermore, if a Logical Server is intended to be (possibly) aggregated with another Logical server to become a physical server, then why would you ever be allowed to put them in different zones. There is some serious impedence going on here. I seriously hope this gets fixed/repositioned before RTM. It would be sad to come this close to getting it right on a great suite of modelling tools.

Whidbey, ObjectSpaces and Mexico, Oh My!

I'm just heading back home from Vancouver tonight on a red eye. When I get home, I have time for a load of laundry or two and then I'm flying to Mexico. Not just for some R&R, but I've also arranged to speak at the Mayan Riviera .NET User Group. (MR. Nug). I'm not sure what is better - going on vacation, or being able to write it off as a business expense. Unfortunately the only Spanish I know is “Dos cervasa por favor“ therefore this talk will be in English. My apologies.

I'm going to be speaking about the new DataSet that is coming in Whidbey. By the time I get there, beta 2 should be available for download and it should be public knowledge that ObjectSpaces will finally be shipping as part of the whidbey release. I just got a preliminary build last night, so I'm going to try to do a demo of using a dataset with O/R mapping via ObjectSpaces.

As you may have also heard, bundled into 2.0 Typed Datasets are Typed DataAdapters, also known as TableAdapters. In addition to TableAdapters, beta 2 will introduce typed forms, known as TypedForms. These will be precanned forms for both Web and Windows access that couples an easily painted form right on top of a dataset...with zero code. The cool thing about this is that you can simply add a column to your database table, and this will automatically change your data access layer, your middle tier entity and data entry forms. Likewise, you'll be able to simply drag a text box onto your TypedForms and this will automatically modify your database schema to add a new column to the table.

There is also some discussion going on about also adding a TypedReport into the dataset that couples Sql Reporting Services Reports directly into your typed dataset class. This stuff is going to be so easy to use, that it is likely going to make it's way into InfoPath as part of the Office product so that end users can create their own data entry forms and reports in InfoPath. This new edition of InfoPath is going to be named “InfoMaker“. More information on this is available here. This new collection of classes in the dataset are now going to be collectively known as a "DataWindow". Again, more details here. No, it's not a snowy day hell. Hard to believe isn't it. This is surely a day to mark on your calendar.

VSTS Architect's Boot Camp Next Week (Mar 29/31) in Ottawa & Vancouver

Next week I'm travelling to Ottawa (Tuesday) and then Vancouver (Thursday) to do some boot camp training on Visual Studio Team System. This 1 day hands on, gives folks a chance to play with the new modelling and testing features. I'll also be demoing the project management, process guidance, and integrated source control management features. If you are interested, there are still seats left. Click here for details and here for registration.

Installing Visual Studio Team System Dec CTP

I'm getting a fair amount of questions about this topic lately so worth a blog entry.

The best way to install any beta (or even more so CTP's) is to use Virtual PC. This will save you from having to reformat your entire machine a few times. I don't think I've ever know a VS.NET beta release that uninstalled properly.

So if you are going to use Virtual PC - the best way to get started is to find a friend who has already done the install successfully and get them to give you a copy of their Virtual Machine's.

In general with VPC's, you get better performance if the VHD files are located on a drive other than what your host OS is installed on. If you have a 2nd internal drive, great, otherwise, a good 7200 RPM external USB 2.0 drive will give a good performance boost. You'll also get best performance if you don't use a differential drive or an undo disk. To save memory and CPU cycles, turn off any unessential services and running programs in both the host and guest operating systems.

Yes, you need 2 machines for VSTS - one for the server/data tier, and a second for the client. You can't currently install everything on one box - that is not a supported scenario - at least for now. Your server should also be a domain controller. Unless you have 2 GB of ram, you'll likely want to host each one of those VPC's on a separate box. I've had good results having the server/data tier hosted in Virtual Server. You also have no real need to log in/have a UI open for the server box once it's all installed and configured.

There is a good document here with more detailed installation instructions:

Having said all of that, the next beta is due out this month or early next month so you might want to wait to get a much better experience. As always, keep in mind that beta's are flaky and CTP's are worst than that.

New Course! Architecting Applications with Visual Studio Team System (Bootcamp)

On March 17th in Toronto, I'll be teaching our first delivery of this new course. It's a one day hands on, instructor led - whirlwind bootcamp style course that gives you a lap around Visual Studio Team System - specifically with a Solution Architect's perspective. We touch a little bit on the project management stuff, testing and some of the developer tools, but primarily we'll spend more than half the day on modeling as we walk through the Whitehorse designers.

Now how can we teach a course on a product that's not even in beta you ask? Very carefully. A lot of people are evaluating if and how they'll use VSTS in their shops once it is released so by popular demand we're offering this course a little earlier than we would normally. This course probably needs to be 3 days to properly focus on best practices and true “architecture” but for the purposes of evaluating this technology and letting people make their own minds, we are focusing primarily on the tools provided. With that in mind, this abbreviated 1 day course is being delivered in 6 cities across Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary and Quebec City. There is also a promotional price of $299 CAD. For more details, full schedule and registration, visit 



VS Live Toronto 2005 - 10% Discount Priority Code

VS Live is coming to Toronto again - April 13-16th. This year, the event will be right downtown on the lake at the Harbour Westin Castle hotel. Use Priority Code “BARRY” for a 10% discount when you register. You'll also save an additional $250 if you register early by March 16th. Toronto is a great place for a conference, especially when you factor in the exchange rate, this is very affordable for americans.

I'm speaking at this event, covering some of the methodology customization support in Visual Studio Team System and some new ADO.NET stuff too. Should be a lot of fun.