Thursday, 21 July 2016

Review – Professional Visual Studio 2015

WP_20160720_001 This is a book I keep reviewing at every release, and for good reason: it is not mainly aimed at seasoned users of Visual Studio but at beginners approaching this IDE for the first time.

This is why you won’t find many changes from 2013 to 2015 – because an IDE doesn’t change as much. But I still recommend it, because of its role as a one size fits all overview of the development stack we use these days.

It is still worth it if you need a reference on your shelve (like I do Smile), or because it also has good and quick code examples. Eventually I realised one of the biggest improvement is the size of the font from last version’s – it is more readable.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

A first look at TFS 15: the new Build Agent

Another big change in TFS 15 Preview is the new Build Agent.

This doesn’t mean there is yet another build server (the new Team Build is here to stay Smile), the big news here is that the new Agent is cross-platform by default, because it is written in .NET Core!

You can set it up as usual from the main _admin page. Once you add the new Agent, you can select Windows (preview):


You need to add a user as Agent Pool Administrator to run this new agent, as per documentation:


Once you start it, you would be prompted for some configuration settings. It is very easy and similar to the old agent:


All done!

Remember it is a preview, and if you want to start using it that this agent is a replacement for the Node.JS agent. So if you want to keep using TFS 2015 in the meantime do not replace the Windows Agent that comes with it.

As usual, the code for the agent is on GitHub.

Friday, 8 July 2016

A first look at TFS 15: pre-production upgrades

In the last post we saw how to install and configure TFS 15. What about upgrades?

Well, there are some changes… Smile

Starting from the usual wizard, you will select the option for existing databases:


Then you need to point it to the appropriate database server – nothing new here:


Now, this is great. Do you want to run a Production Upgrade or a Pre-Production (testing!) Upgrade?


Let’s go for the latter, as the Production Upgrade is exactly what we have in the current version and there are no changes to that (except for Search).

The next step is pure guidance:


All the TFSConfig commands are going to be executed by the wizard, which means that the headaches from test upgrades and the risk of conflicting with a production instance are now gone!

This is the list of what actually happens at this stage:


There are suggestions, as you can now see:








This is really brillant. All the steps are actually the same as a production upgrade, but with all these added tips and especially with the automated cloning steps at the beginning this new wizard really brings value to the TFS Administrator.

Here is the result:


Note that Search is not automatically installed during an upgrade, because it is an opt-in service and given the deployment size it might lead to performance issues installing it by default.


Upgrading also means the new Work Item Form is disabled – it is another opt-in feature. Once you enable it, you can configure who can request it:


This is really a fantastic job by the TFS team!

A first look at TFS 15: installation

Yesterday Microsoft released Team Foundation Server 15 Preview, and I could not resist installing it as soon as possible Smile

The installation process is the same:


What changed is the configuration process:


The configuration of TFS changed to make it more streamlined in its own wizard, but the first thing I saw was the possibility of configuring a Search Server.


This is because the Code Search feature relies on Elastic Search, and if you have a large deployment it is really suggested to have the Search Server on its own with high performance disks supporting it. More on that later Smile

The TFS configuration now asks for the deployment topology you are using or you are planning to use.


Let’s go ahead with a new deployment, and we will be immediately faced with a choice:


Selecting the Basic scenario the only two things we need to set are the SQL Instance (SQL Express as a default, otherwise an existing SQL Server. Nothing changed from the previous versions):


and Search:


Note that the wizard explicitly suggests using SSDs for Elastic Search. I can tell you, they really help here.

If instead we are going to choose an Advanced scenario…

tfs15_6…we are going to configure the database settings first:


Then the service account and the IIS configuration – nothing changed from previous versions. Search is up next and we already saw the configuration required, then Reporting Services and SharePoint.

Nothing changed for SSRS and SharePoint, but I really like the recommended suggestion (enabled by default! Smile) of using separate accounts for SSRS and Service Account.


Eventually, change the name of the DefaultCollection if you wish:


Is that it? Not really. During the pre-requisite checks you will surely see this error:


Elastic Search is a Java product, hence a JRE is automatically installed if not found on the machine. Beware, this is always the latest version of the server JRE, so it is slightly different than the usual JRE (it doesn’t feature in the Installed Programs list, it doesn’t have a browser plug-in, etc.).

There is also a new port to open for it, 9200.