Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A first look at Team Foundation Server 2015

A few days ago Microsoft released a first CTP of Team Foundation Server 2015, together with another one for Visual Studio 2015. Whoo!
I was particularly curious about Team Foundation Server, as the preferred way of evaluating new features is Visual Studio Online. Keep in mind what Brian said: “More than anything it was a forcing function for us to practice getting ready to ship TFS 2015”, meaning I’d expect other TFS 2015 CTPs soon. Moreover, don’t forget many of the Visual Studio Online features had been brought into TFS 2013 Updates, so it isn’t like 2008 any longer.
It is the beginning of a new wave. The TFS 2015 wave! It is quite of a change, I reckon, but based on my experience it works pretty well. I manage a gigantic TFS deployment with all the trimmings, and being on the Update Train is perceived as extremely valuable by both my colleagues in Operations and my users. So expect sizeable features to show up after RTM.
Before looking at the actual features, a word on the installation process itself. It didn’t change a lot, but there are a couple of tidbits worth mentioning.
You can now configure a Basic Server (TFS Basic as we knew it) or a Full Server. The Full Server makes it clear that the new Build is a new core service:AT8
SharePoint Foundation doesn’t ship in the box anymore, hence the 370MB ISO size. You can still integrate with an existing SharePoint deployment of course:AT9
So let’s start with what’s in the CTP1:
  • Extensibility and integration
  • Agile tooling improvements
  • Licensing changes
  • Build.vNext
Extensibility means you now have the whole set of REST APIs which were available in Visual Studio Online only, together with the Service Hooks. This is very interesting for the whole lot of in-house applications you might have, plus a out-of-the-box integration facility with the supported 3rd party services.
Oh, integration…I think this screenshot says it all:
Do you want to integrate with a Jenkins build server? A couple of clicks, and you are in!
On the Agile tooling improvements it is basically lots of what we already saw on Visual Studio Online with all the reliability improvements we cannot see because they are behind the scenes.
To be honest, I read quite a few comments busting the Product Team’s work because there aren’t hundreds of new eye-popping features in this CTP, and I cannot agree with them. It is a CTP1, to be used as a shipping test for the team, it isn’t feature-complete or go-live supported. Why all this mess? They used to be called alphas, and I still remember the excitement when the first virtual machine containing an alpha of Visual Studio 2010 (codename Rosario at the time) came out, with really few features inside a Visual Studio Team System 2008 IDE, and everybody was excited about it. On my side, I’d rather appreciate what we can have to learn and share feedback, instead of complaining…
Anyway – back to the features :)
The licensing changes are all about the Stakeholder Access Level, extending lots of the Standard features to the basic, CAL-less tier. It is amazing because it enables a true involvement by the stakeholders themselves, without being too limited by the lack of a CAL.
Eventually, Build.vNext – it is a new Team Build concept, based on scalable agents instead of rigid matching between controllers and agents. But what matters most is that the workflow is now easier, clearer, and cross-platform.
Does this mean the old XAML-based build is going away? Absolutely not, everything works as it does today, but this is now the way forward for the future. With Build.vNext, you won’t have a dedicated Build Controller setup any longer. You can have it, but it would be the Legacy Build Service we saw in the installation as a separated, optional step to do – aka XAML-based Team Build.

1 comment:

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