Release Management Build Template

If you’re working with the Release Management Server (and you should, because it's awesome) and cannot find the location of the Release Management Build Process Template, then try looking under 

C:\Program Files (x86)\ Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\ReleaseManagement\bin.

In some cases you might only see ReleaseDefaultTemplate.11.1.xaml (TFS 2012 build template) or ReleaseDefaultTemplate.xaml (TFS 2010 build template) under C:\Program Files (x86)\ Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\ReleaseManagement\bin. But where is TFS 2013 build template you might ask. Without one you cannot properly integrate Release Management with TFS 2013, which would be fairly disappointing. Luckily, you can download TFS 2013 template here. Inside this .zip file you will find three files:

  • TfvcTemplate.12.xaml (for when you're using TfvcTemplate.12.xaml)
  • GitTemplate.12.xaml (for when you're using GitTemplate.12.xaml)
  • ReleaseTemplate.12.Snippets.xaml (for when you would like to add release management functionality to your custom TFS 2013 build template. snippets file only contains sections with start / end markers to indicate which parts to copy)

Please note that, Release Management Build Process Template are not installed in TFS by default, so it won’t appear as an available build process template until you add it. To add the release management build process template, you will need to check it in to your TFS source control, and then add the build process file when editing (or adding) a Build Definition. Once the release management template has been added to the list of build templates, you can start using it. More on how to use release management build template later... 

Using Deployment Metadata in TFS Release Management

TFS Release Management allows you to use deployment metadata as a value for configuration variables in release templates. It comes in very handy when you need to refer to the build drop location or build number. The following is the list of available Metadata that can be used with Configuration Variables.

Build Directory        $(PackageLocation)

Build Number        $(BuildNumber)

Build Definition    $(BuildDefinition)

TFS Collection        $(TfsUrlWithCollection)

Team Project        $(TeamProject)


Unfortunately, you cannot create custom deployment metadata just yet. Hopefully that will change one day. Another "catch" is that deployment metadata can only be used in components. Deployment metadata cannot be used in actions or tools because those are taking place outside of the build process.

TFS builds and HTTP Code 500 error

At one of our clients, TFS build server was choking for no good reason with the following error “Please contact your administrator. There was an error contacting the server. Technical information (for administrator): System.ServiceModel.ServiceActivationException.” Not very useful error message, isn’t it? TFS logs were a bit more informative and had the following error:

WebHost failed to process a request.
Sender Information: System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostingEnvironment+HostingManager/4342953
Exception: System.ServiceModel.ServiceActivationException: The service '/tfs/queue/DefaultCollection/Services/v4.0/MessageQueueService2.svc' cannot be activated due to an exception during compilation.  The exception message is: This collection already contains an address with scheme http.  There can be at most one address per scheme in this collection. If your service is being hosted in IIS you can fix the problem by setting 'system.serviceModel/serviceHostingEnvironment/multipleSiteBindingsEnabled' to true or specifying 'system.serviceModel/serviceHostingEnvironment/baseAddressPrefixFilters'.
Parameter name: item. ---> System.ArgumentException: This collection already contains an address with scheme http.  There can be at most one address per scheme in this collection. If your service is being hosted in IIS you can fix the problem by setting 'system.serviceModel/serviceHostingEnvironment/multipleSiteBindingsEnabled' to true or specifying 'system.serviceModel/serviceHostingEnvironment/baseAddressPrefixFilters'.
Parameter name: item
   at System.ServiceModel.UriSchemeKeyedCollection.InsertItem(Int32 index, Uri item)
   at System.Collections.Generic.SynchronizedCollection`1.Add(T item)
   at System.ServiceModel.UriSchemeKeyedCollection..ctor(Uri[] addresses)
   at System.ServiceModel.ServiceHost..ctor(Type serviceType, Uri[] baseAddresses)
   at System.ServiceModel.Activation.ServiceHostFactory.CreateServiceHost(Type serviceType, Uri[] baseAddresses)
   at System.ServiceModel.Activation.ServiceHostFactory.CreateServiceHost(String constructorString, Uri[] baseAddresses)
   at System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostingEnvironment.HostingManager.CreateService(String normalizedVirtualPath, EventTraceActivity eventTraceActivity)
   at System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostingEnvironment.HostingManager.ActivateService(ServiceActivationInfo serviceActivationInfo, EventTraceActivity eventTraceActivity)
   at System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostingEnvironment.HostingManager.EnsureServiceAvailable(String normalizedVirtualPath, EventTraceActivity eventTraceActivity)
   --- End of inner exception stack trace ---
   at System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostingEnvironment.HostingManager.EnsureServiceAvailable(String normalizedVirtualPath, EventTraceActivity eventTraceActivity)
   at System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostingEnvironment.EnsureServiceAvailableFast(String relativeVirtualPath, EventTraceActivity eventTraceActivity)
Process Name: w3wp

Now, that’s a much better error message. It actually tells us that the problem is caused by multiple bindings in IIS on TFS website and it tells us how this error can be fixed. I love such errors. Anyway, to fix the problem we need to add the following line to web.config file on TFS server:

<serviceHostingEnvironment aspNetCompatibilityEnabled=”true" multipleSiteBindingsEnabled="true" />

Then restart TFS Build Service, and it’s all good again…

Office 365 Lync displays wrong name

Recently we have come across an interesting bug in Office 365. In the scenario where you use ADFS to authenticate your Office 365 users and some of the users have multiple email address aliases assigned using adsiedit.msc, Lync might display a wrong name.

For example, user’s name is Walter and his primary email address is (not a real email address). Imagine that Walter’s colleague Jesse is leaving the company and they need Walter to take over Jesse’s clients and make sure that all emails that addressed to Jesse are now sent to Walter. At the same time, you don’t want to keep Jesse’s mailbox active because Office 365 charges you per mailbox and that would be a waste of money. So, you archive Jesse’s existing mailbox and add an alias to Walter’s mailbox. And, because you use ADFS, you have to add aliases using adsiedit.msc instead going through Office 365 management portal. Make sense, right? Well, this is where it starts being interesting and very-very confusing. Now, when Walter logs into Lync some of the users will see Jesse’s name show up in their Lync client instead of Walter. Weird, isn’t it?

What appears to be happening is that Lync Address Book Service (ABSConfig) queries proxyAddress attribute in user properties and uses whatever entry query returns first. Because proxyAddress field stores data in alphabetical order, in Walter’s user attributes the name “Jesse” entry comes before “Walter.” That’s why we see the wrong name displayed. It’s that simple.

Anyways, if this was an on-premise Lync server then there at least couple of fixes for this problem. Both fixes have to do with making changes on the server side. But this is Office 365, and we do not have access to the server-side. What are those of us living in the cloud supposed to do?! As far as I know, there is no fix, but there is a workaround. Instead of creating email address aliases using adsiedit.msc, you can:

  1. Create a distribution list in Office 365 management portal. Make sure to allow external senders send emails to this distribution list, so that emails don’t bounce back.
  2. Assign any email address aliases to that distribution list right from Office 365 management portal. For example, or
  3. Add an intended recipient(s) to the distribution list. For example, Now, when people send email to Jesse every email will be sent to Walter’s mailbox and everyone will see Walter as Walter when he signs into Lync. It’s a win-win.
  4. (Optional) Hide distribution list from Address Book, so your people don’t get confused when they search internal Global Address Book.

Well, it’s not exactly a fix, it’s a workaround and it will do for now. I do hope though that Microsoft will fix this bug in Office 365. Sometime in the next 20 minutes would be great. ;)

How to backup Azure databases

As we start using SQL Azure more and more for storing data, we had to come up with a easy and inexpensive way to backup Azure databases. There is a number of various tools available to backup Azure databases, but they usually require a separate install and they are never free. Although, sometimes, they are fairly inexpensive. I like free ones better though.

So, after a bit of research I have discovered an easy way to backup SQL Azure databases to my on-premise (offsite) SQL Server: SQL Data Sync. D’oh! This is an existing functionality in Azure, and it can be accessed through an “old” Windows Azure portal interface ( I am not going to write step-by-step instructions because, in this case, user interface is actually very intuitive and once you get to Data Sync part of Azure portal, you will know what to do. Good luck!

{ Ping me, if you need any help or have any questions about this article }

How SharePoint farm locates its configuration database

Did you ever wonder how SharePoint farm locates its configuration database. It’s not in a web.config or in any other configuration files. It’s actually a lot simpler than it probably should have been. SharePoint actually stores the connection to the configuration database in the registry (see dsn key). 

SharePoint 2007: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\12.0\Secure\ConfigDB

SharePoint 2010: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\14.0\Secure\ConfigDB

SharePoint 2013: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\15.0\Secure\ConfigDB (this one I have not actually checked, but I am betting it’s still there)

Scary, isn’t it?

Duplicate entries in your Office 365 address book

If you’re seeing duplicate entries in your (Office 365) Outlook address book, and you do not see any those duplicates in Office 365 Portal, then try the following:

  1. Download and install the latest copy of the Microsoft Online Service Module for PowerShell from
  2. Start a PowerShell session with Office 365 by running the following 5 commands (you will be prompted for your Office 365 credentials as these commands run):
  3. Import-Module MSOnline
    $O365Cred = Get-Credential
    $O365Session = New-PSSession –ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri -Credential $O365Cred -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
    Import-PSSession $O365Session
    Connect-MsolService –Credential $O365Cred

  4. Run the following command to check if you have anything in your Office 365 Recycle Bin:
    Get-MsolUser –ReturnDeletedUsers
  5. If the command above returns any Recycle Bin items, then run the following command to remove all items from Recycle Bin:
    Get-MsolUser –ReturnDeletedUsers | foreach { Remove-MsolUser -ObjectId $_.ObjectId -RemoveFromRecycleBin -Force }
  6. Run the command from step 4 again to make sure that your Office 365 Recycle Bin is empty

SharePoint 2013 Prerequisites Install Error...

While installing SharePoint 2013 prerequisites on Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012, I have received the error "There was an error installing the prerequisites..." After checking out the logs (under %TEMP%\prerequisiteinstaller.<date>.<time>.log), you quickly learn that prerequisite install failed because of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 Native Client. To bypass this problem, you can manually download Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 Native Client from and install it. After you manually download Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 Native Client, go ahead and restart SharePoint 2013 prerequisite installer. Now SharePoint 2013 prerequisites should install successfully. J

Change Windows 8 Product Key After Install

After I've installed Windows 8 RTM, I tried to activate it as good folks at Microsoft are telling you too. When I clicked on Activate button, Windows activation failed, which of course made sense because I have not entered a product key yet. But, for some reason, there was no place to enter a product key under System properties. Or, at least I did not see it. Luckily, the good old Command Prompt and slmgr.vbs tools came to rescue. Just follow these steps to add/change product key using Command Prompt and slmgr.vbs:

  • Launch Command Prompt as an Administrator.
  • At the command prompt, type in "slmgr.vbs -ipk <insert your product key here>" and click Enter
  • To activate windows, type in "slmgr.vbs -ato" and click Enter.

That's all J

Fixing “TF400508: The current process settings are either missing or not valid…” error

We have recently upgraded our TFS 2010 server to TFS 11 RC. The upgrade process was smooth and painless. But (there is always a "but"), when I tried to access new TFS Web Access (which is awesome, by the way), I get "TF400508: The current process settings are either missing or not valid…" error. This error is only happening with old "upgraded" projects and we do not see this error if I create a new project in TFS 11. So, it looks like the problem lies within the older template. To resolve the issue, I had to use updateProject file from Microsoft to update an Agile, Scrum or CMMI team project from Team Foundation Server 2010 to Team Foundation Server 11.

To run the updateProject batch file:

  • Launch Visual Studio 12 command prompt
  • Run updateProject batch file as follows:

    updateProject CollectionURL ProjectName TemplateName

For detailed instruction see