Visual Studio Team Suite 2005 - Release Candidate Now Available

The VS Team Suite Release Candidate is now available on MSDN Subscriber Downloads. I'm downloading now - I'm assuming you'll also need the Sql Server 2005 September CTP which was also released today. Happy downloading.

 

VSTS Beta 3 and Go Live News

There is good news and bad news with Somasegar's blog today (http://blogs.msdn.com/somasegar/archive/2005/08/22/451026.aspx)

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.

Release Date for Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, BizTalk 2006

At TechEd today, Paul Flessner announced that these products will be released the week of November 7th. Also of interest is that SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services will be available in the express edition. Report Builder will also be pushed down into Standard, Workgroup and up.

Anybody else think it's funny that MS is releasing products touted with “2005” and “2006” labels during the same week?

DevTeach Conference in Montreal

I'm going to be heading out in a couple of weeks to DevTeach in Montreal. In addition to my regular session talk on Datasets, I'll also be participating in an architecture panel discussion as part of Groupe d’usagers Visual Studio Montréal, Software Architecture Special Interest Group's Special Software Architecture Meeting. The meeting is open to conference attendees, members of the user group, and anybody else for $5. Here's the details....

Speaker: Joel Semeniuk, Microsoft Regional Director, Winnipeg

Subject: Software architecture from the trenches

 

Architecture is the soul of our software. Software Architecture truly helps to define our success since if our architecture fails us, our software fails us. However, what makes a good architecture? What truly drives architectural decisions? Is one architecture better than another? In this session we will explore and discuss some of these questions while taking a close look at a few real-world examples. In each real-world scenario we will explore the resulting architecture and review the constraints the project faced both during design and during production and maintenance phases. We will also look retrospectively at each architecture presented and discuss ways that it could be improved upon with Microsoft .NET 2.0.

 

Joel Semeniuk is a founder and VP of Software Development at ImagiNET Resources Corp, a Manitoba based Microsoft Gold Partner in Ecommerce and Enterprise Systems. Joel is also the Microsoft Regional Director for Winnipeg, Manitoba. With a degree in Computer Science from the University of Manitoba, Joel has spent the last twelve years providing educational, development and infrastructure consulting services to clients throughout North America. Joel is the author of "Exchange and Outlook: Constructing Collaborative Solutions", from New Riders Publishing and contributing author of "Microsoft Visual Basic.NET 2003 KickStart" from SAMS. Joel has also acted as a technical reviewer on many other books and regularly writes articles for .NET Magazine and Exchange and Outlook Magazine on a variety of infrastructure and development related topics. Reach Joel by email at joels@imaginets.com.

 

Followed by a software architecture expert panel:

Beth Massi, Software Architecture MVP

Joel Semeniuk, Software Architecture MVP, Microsoft Regional Director Winnipeg

Barry Gervin, Software Architecture MVP, Microsoft Regional Director Toronto

Mario Cardinal, Software Architecture MVP

Carol Roy, Microsoft Canada .NET architecture specialist for the public sector

 

Well known Nick Landry (MVP .NET Compact Framework) will act as the moderator.

 

Come hear these experts talk about software architecture hot topics.  You'll also have the chance to ask questions and talk to the panelists.

 

Monday June 20th, 5:30PM to 9:30PM

Location: Sheraton Centre, 1201 Boulevard Rene-Levesque West

Cost: free for all the DevTeach attendees and the Groupe d’usagers Visual Studio Montréal members.  $5 for non members or non DevTeach attendees.

Note: this session will be held in English

More info: www.guvsm.net or http://www.devteach.com/BonusSession.asp

 

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: http://weblogs.asp.net/jsemeniuk/archive/2005/04/07/397541.aspx

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 Beta 2 Availability

We were expecting this first week of April but now this seems to be delayed 2 or 3 weeks. MS EMEA has a page quoting April 25th. http://www.microsoft.com/emea/msdn/betaexperience/ 

Beta 2 will include a Go Live license for the .NET Framework so from my understanding they are taking some extra stabilizing precautions to get a supportable runtime out there.

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.

VSTS Work Item: Percentage Completed

During one of my demos this past week on VSTS, somebody commented that typically developers want to provide project managers more information on a task other than “completed” or not. What they really want is a percentage complete. John Lawrence on the team at MS developing this stuff. The good news is that they have reworked the work items a bit, and now there is support for fields indicating “Completed Work” and “Remaining Work”. These numbers will synchronize with “percentage complete“ in MS Project.

I'm happy to see this as it also ties in with better metric tracking. We don't just want to know that an item was completed, but how much work it required - which maybe different than the estimate. All to often item “estimates” turn into “budgets”. This is one small way that projects often take longer. Developers often don't report that a task took less than the estimate - only more or the same as the estimate. This is one of the reasons why I like estimates that aren't time-based but effort based. In other words, we esimate an item in terms of some arbitrary scale - 1-5 let's say where 1 is easy and 5 is hard. Project managers can figure out what those numbers mean later on and do things like calculate team velocity.

More Class Designer Productivity Potential: Batch Editing.

Daniel Moth says that he's not excited about the properties box in the class designer and would prefer to use the code editor to make those kinds of changes. It may not be obvious but one of the things you can do with that properties pane that you can't do in the code editor is make multiple changes across several class or several members at the same time.

Select all of the items that you want to make a mass change to, and any common properties are show in the properties dialog. I find this useful for decorating properties of my own components with custom attributes. Perhaps I want to change a bunch of methods to Static.

Daniel mentions another limitation. There is no full signature support on the model surface in the class designer. This makes it impossible to see the differences between your overloads. In fact, overloads are all grouped together and a count is shown.

Another mass editing scenario would be to change the XML comments on a bunch of methods - for example several overloads. You can't see the individual overloaded methods - just one of them with a “+1 overloads“ next to them. Furthermore, when you change the comment for a method that is overloaded (and shown as “+2 overloads“) one would hope the comment would be applied to all of the overloads, however the comment is only applied to the first one. Hopefully this is a bug and will be fixed. I've logged it with MS in the Product Feedback Center.

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: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dnvs05/html/vstsinstallguide.asp

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.