Sunday, August 16, 2009

VSTS Tester Demo Follow-ups

Last week, I delivered a VSTS 2008 Tester Edition demo to a prospective client. Following up on a few questions to which I didn’t know the answer:

Q. Can I use Subversion with TFS?

A. I get this question all the time from developers. It’s a perfectly valid question. The answer is no…but yes…sort of. The version control repository (and all data) must remain SQL Server. Yes, it’s proprietary. Further, if you plan to use TFS in your software development environment, but choose not to leverage it for version control, it severely limits the usefulness of the information elicited from TFS (because you’re not feeding in the crucial VC data). If you’re not leveraging VC in TFS, you’re probably not leveraging Team Build either.

That said, while a fully-integrated TFS for ALM and SCM is the ideal, there’s a compelling argument to leverage TFS as a repository for requirements, scenarios, test cases, functional and load testing as well as defect tracking. TFS is an excellent repository to store “stuff”: risks, requirements, issues, defects, etc and relating all these items. So, while your shop won’t get 100% of the horsepower of TFS without leveraging VC, there are still benefits.

Q. In a Web Test (and Load Test), one can indicate the browser type and even break this out into a distribution (e.g. 50% of users are FF3; 50% IE7). What is this really testing? (Test menu >> Edit Test Run Configuration…Web Test…Browser Type)

A. Contrary to what we would drool over, this is not actually rendering the test in a given/different browser. This is just sending a browser-specific header to the web server and hence the testing engine. The web server will note the browser type (user agent) but it’s not like these settings will reveal (for example) HTML table tags mis-rendering in IE when they look fine under FireFox 3.x (you are using CSS, right?). Here’s a write-up describing how to install additional/new browser types.

Q. If we deploy our web site into a test environment, the base URI for the web tests will differ from that when administered on the local machine. How can we make the base URI dynamic/configurable?

A. Yes, one can make the base URI dynamic / data driven from (for example) configuration.

1. Record the test with a local instance

2. Right-mouse on the test selecting “Parameterize Web Servers”

3. Configure with meaningful names (TestEnvironment, UATEnvironment, etc.). I have to imagine this could be configured at build / deployment time but I haven’t done that.

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Q. What Instant Messenger (IM) clients does the “Team Members” functionality support?

A. Right-mouse on Team Members (need SP1 for this functionality), Personal Settings, Collaboration, Change button. Live and Communicator are included. Beyond that, the interfaces are exposed and an MVP team created a Skype provider. Good write-up here.

Awarded Team System MVP

A little more than a month ago, I was awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for Team System. I haven't said much about it because I try to remain a humble guy and frankly, I've been swamped with work/life. And, unlike a lot of awards, it's not really one you "go after"...it comes to you without a formula.

What I really want to say about this is thank you. Thank you to the community for creating opportunities to present. Thank you to Microsoft for supporting technology professionals and creating jobs and careers around your products (and staying out of the way when I comes to implementation :). Thank you to the community leaders and professionals who dedicate their time and seemingly endless energy to making all of us stronger by creating environments of intense learning and camaraderie. Thank you to my employer for believing in my endeavors and investing in me the time to develop my TFS/VSTS skill set and share what I learn with the community and clients. And finally, I want to thank you--the readers/community/professional folks. Thanks for showing up to presentations, seminars, user groups and conferences. It’s a blast!

I'm humbled even to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of the past and current MVPs. While the MVP is quite an honor, it's not a means to an end. I'm still the same guy. I plan to keep doing the same sort of things I was doing before. To that end, please let me know how I can help you with learning or adopting TFS/VSTS in your environment. If you know me, I'm not completely bias toward TFS...there are other great tools for the job out there. We'll help get you up and running and producing high quality software--regardless of toolset.

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