VSTS Time Zone Settings

There seems to be a bit of confusion about time zone settings in VSTS. The confusion comes from the fact that there are two places where time zone settings can be configured for VSTS users: VSTS account time zone setting and VSTS user profile time zone setting.

VSTS account time zone setting is the MAIN time zone setting. This time zone setting is used by VSTS account for storing all date/time data. In other words, when you set your VSTS account time zone to EST, all timestamps in VSTS will be stored in EST time zone. Another good example of when VSTS account time zone setting is used is when you configure iteration dates, build/release schedules, etc. Account time zone setting is configured on the Account Settings page: https://*.visualstudio.com/_admin/_home/settings.

VSTS user profile time zone setting is used to make user experience more personal to the user and display the VSTS time stamps for when a user browsing VSTS using time zone configured for that specific user. So, if my VSTS account time zone is set to EST, but my user profile time zone setting is set to PST, then when I'm browsing the VSTS all date/time fields will be displayed in PST time zone. VSTS user profile time zone setting can be configured on user profile page (https://app.vsaex.visualstudio.com/me?mkt=en-US&campaign=o~msft~vsts~usercard), by clicking your name on the top-right corner of your VSTS page, then clicking on My Profile | Edit profile | Preferences option. Set your user time zone setting and click Save.

VSTS Sync Migration Tools

If you need to bulk edit and migrate data between Team Projects on both Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS), try VSTS Sync Migration Tools. It's not the most user friendly tool to use, but it's VERY powerful and flexible.

What can you do with this tool?

  • Assist in Bulk Editing of Work Items
  • Migrate Work Items & Test Management from one Team Project to another
  • Merge Team Projects
  • Migrate Work Items & Test Management from one account or collection to another
  • Assist in changing process templates

 

You can install this tool, by simply running Chocolatey command as such: choco install vsts-sync-migrator or download the latest release from GitHub and unzip. You can also obviously contribute to the tool: https://github.com/nkdAgility/vsts-sync-migration

A few tips on using the tool:

  • You need to add the account that you use to Project Collection Services Accounts group using tfssecurity command
  • You also need to add ReflectWorkItemID field to your source and destination. This field is technically not required, but since it is used to make sure that work items are not migrated more than once when you re-run the tool more than once, I find it very important to add. Add this field to the destination if you're syncing work items one way, and add this field to both source and destination if you're syncing bi-directionally. More information about server configuration for the tool, see http://vsts-bulk-editor.readthedocs.io/en/latest/server-configuration/
  • This tool is based on processors where you can load a specific processor to do something you need:
    • Use WorkItemMigrationContext processor to migrate the tip revisions of the work items
    • Use WorkItemRevisionReplayMigrationContext processor to migrate the work items with history
    • Use WorkItemUpdate processor to bulk edit the work items
    • Use AttachementExportMigrationContext processor to export all work items attachments to the migration machine. This is used in partnership with the AttachmentImportMigrationContext
    • Use AttachementImportMigrationContext processor to import all work items attachments from the migration machine. This is used in partnership with the AttachementExportMigrationContext
    • Use LinkMigrationContext processor to migrate all the work item links, both between work items and external links.
    • Use WorkItemQueryMigrationContext processor to migrate all shared work item queries

This tool has a bunch of other processors dealing with test objects, Git links, teams, etc. as well as various field mapping options as I said this tool is very powerful. We'll cover those in one of the future posts.

 

 

 

witadmin and Visual Studio 2017

Ordinarily, witadmin tool is stored under %programfiles(x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio XX.0\Common7\IDE path as per https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/vsts/work/customize/reference/witadmin/witadmin-customize-and-manage-objects-for-tracking-work, but in case of the Visual Studio 2017 it's stored under %programfiles(x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\Enterprise\Common7\IDE\CommonExtensions\Microsoft\TeamFoundation\Team Explorer. Notice it's now stored in the same folder where all Visual Studio extensions are stored. This makes sense considering that Process Editor is now a Visual Studio extension instead of a separate install/download. It's a small, but important change. Just thought I'd share. Thanks for reading.

Another task in VSTS/TFS

As I help people create awesome build and release pipelines, I have found myself quite often needing to download something from somewhere to do something awesome. So, I have decided to write a build task to make it easier. Along came the Download File task: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=automagically.DownloadFile. This task allows you to download a file from anonymous sources or authenticated sources like Artifactory, or Nexus, or whatever. It's simple and yet pretty good task.

Later, I have realized that quite often when I download the file as a part of my build/release, I need to extract that file. So, I have released another task called Download and Extract File: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=automagically.DownloadExtractFile. Yes, I know it's not very creative name, but it's very descriptive. This task allows you to download a file from anonymous or authenticated sources and then extract it to the specified folder. This is a better task, I think.

Thanks for using my tasks. And, again thanks for reading.

Azure AD sync errors for administrative user accounts

This is a follow up blog post to the "Insufficient access rights to perform the operation error in Azure AD Connect" blog post I did a little while back. The original blog post covered Azure AD sync errors. For the most part, anyways, because we kept seeing sync errors for specific users. After doing a bit of digging, we have learned that the users that kept getting sync errors belong to Active Directory Administrators or Domain Admins groups. This lead our troubleshooting journey to learning about Active Directory Protected Groups.

As it turns out, if a user is a member of Active Directory Administrators or Domain Admins groups, then Active Directory will overwrite any ACL changes that you make with predefined ACL template on a regular basis. So, if we make ACL changes like grant additional permissions on those accounts or enable permissions inheritance on those accounts in order to allow Azure AD Connector to update source anchor (ms-ds-consistencyGuid) attribute, this change will be overwritten by Active Directory, which brings us back to square one. To bypass this issue, you can do the following:

  • Change ACL template in Active Directory to include the changes you need like Replicate Directory Changes and Replicate Directory Changes All permissions for Azure AD Connector account and write permissions for source anchor (ms-ds-consistencyGuid) attribute. This would work, but in my opinion, it's a bit too drastic
  • Or, remove the users from Active Directory Administrators or Domain Admins groups, if you can.
  • Or, you can make the permissions changes on those accounts and immediately force Azure AD Connect sync using the following PowerShell command: Start-ADSyncSyncCycle -PolicyType Initial. Azure AD Connect should have enough time to write to source anchor attribute and complete the sync without errors. After the initial sync is complete, AD can reset ACL back on those account all it wants since we only need to write to source anchor attribute once.

I prefer the last option, since it's simple and it works. More information about AD protected groups can be found at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/2009.09.sdadminholder.aspx

Thanks for reading.

Insufficient access rights to perform the operation error in Azure AD Connect

If you're getting Insufficient access rights to perform the operation in your Azure AD Connect synchronization logs, do the following:

  • Make sure you have the latest version of Azure AD Connect installed: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=47594
  • If you're syncing passwords, make sure that your sync service account has Replicate Directory Changes and Replicate Directory Changes All permissions in your on premises Active Directory
  • Make sure that your sync service account has write permissions on your sourceAnchor attribute (which is most likely set to ms-ds-consistencyGuid). You can do that either using the user interface, or PowerShell, which is easier:

    $accountName = "DOMAINNAME\USERNAME" #[this is the account that will be used by Azure AD Connect Sync to manage objects in the directory.

    $ForestDN = "DC=DOMAINNAME,DC=SOMETHING"

    $cmd = "dsacls '$ForestDN' /I:S /G '`"$accountName`":WP;ms-ds-consistencyGuid;user'"

    Invoke-Expression $cmd

  • Make sure that inheritance is turned on for the AD objects that get errors in the synchronization logs. To do that
    • Open Active directory Users and Computers
    • Enable the Advanced features in the View settings and,
    • Open up the user object that can't sync.
    • Go to the security tab and then into advanced
    • Check to make sure the box is checked to inherit permissions. But before you do that make sure that the enabling inheritance will not bring down some permissions that you do not want to be there

That's all. Thanks for reading.

VSTS/TFS task to execute SQL scripts

I have published VSTS/TFS build task that allows you to execute SQL script as a part of your build or release pipelines. What makes this task different from similar tasks in VSTS marketplace is that you can execute SQL script in the number of ways:

  • Execute SQL script from the agent using integrated Windows authentication
  • Execute SQL script from the agent using SQL authentication
  • Execute SQL script from the remote server using Windows authentication, which is handy when you have to do cross domain deployments and/or when you do not have SQL client tools installed on the agent
  • Execute SQL script from the remote server using SQL authentication, which is handy when you do not have SQL client tools installed on the agent

The tool is free and it works. You can download it from VSTS marketplace.

Please let me know if you have any comments or find any bugs. Thanks for reading.

Check time elapsed and time remaining for running SQL job

Just thought I'd share this handy SQL statement that allows you to check for the time elapsed and time remaining for the running SQL job. It would help you to get a better idea how much more time you'd have to wait for the script to complete. Anyway, here is a script that checks time elapsed and time remaining for the running backup SQL job

SELECT db_name(database_id), command, percent_complete, 'elapsed' = total_elapsed_time / 60000.0, 'remaining' = estimated_completion_time / 60000.0

FROM sys.dm_exec_requests

WHERE command like 'BACK%'

 

Docker for Windows Server 2016 requires update KB3176936

If you try to play with Docker and containers on new Windows Server 2016, you do the following:

  1. Add Containers feature using Server Manager, which is easy to do
  2. Then you open PowerShell with elevated privileges
  3. First install the OneGet PowerShell module:
    Install-Module -Name DockerMsftProvider -Repository PSGallery -Force
  4. Next you use OneGet to install the latest version of Docker.
    Install-Package -Name docker -ProviderName DockerMsftProvider

At this point, you get an error that "The docker installer requires update KB3176936". What is that about?!? Weird. What you need to do is to run sconfig, then choose option 6 and then A and A to install all updates. It might take a few minutes to download and install updates, so be patient.

This works for Server 2016 in no-desktop installs as well as with the UI.

  1. After this you need to restart your server using UI or using Restart-Computer -Force command.
  2. No you're ready to try to use OneGet to install the latest version of Docker.
    Install-Package -Name docker -ProviderName DockerMsftProvider
  3. After this you need to restart your server using UI or using Restart-Computer -Force command.

Now, you're ready to use Docker. For example, download a pre-created .NET sample image from the Docker Hub registry and deploy a simple container running a .Net Hello World application by running the following command:

docker run microsoft/sample-dotnet

This command will use Docker run to deploy the .Net container. It will take a few minutes to download the container image though.

Update Portal Settings for multiple team projects

There is a great Codeplx project that allows you to update Portal Settings for multiple team projects at the same time: https://features4tfs.codeplex.com/. Whenever you upgrade TFS, and have to re-enable and re-point team projects in your upgraded TFS project collections. If you have a lot of team projects to update, it becomes very tedious task. Feature4TFS tool allows you to update all of those items in one step. Very handy tool. The only issue with this tool is that it does not work with TFS 2015 Update 3 (only Update 2 or earlier.

I have downloaded the source code and updated the solution to make it work with TSF 2015 Update 3. You can download updated solution from https://1drv.ms/f/s!AoNW-kvNWJ9ygsNWPA5LHTJ5fYREXQ. There two files: binaries only and source code and binaries.