Tuesday, 19 December 2017

The impact of an upgrade to Team Foundation Server 2018

Usually upgrading Team Foundation Server is smooth and easy, but there is an exception this time around. It is not strictly related to TFS per-se, instead the issue lies with the new deprecations introduced with version 2018.

If you have a local server with just a few users it might not be a huge deal, if you have hundred of users spanning across timezones all over the world things can get hot pretty quickly. I am not going to cover pre-requisites like versions of Windows, SQL Server, etc. but I want to focus on which are the deprecated features of the product.

Let’s take a look at what these deprecations are, and how to approach them to minimise service disruption.

XAML Team Build

The elephant in the room is clearly about saying farewell to the XAML Build. After 12 years it is time to say goodbye to the old system and move to the new Team Build.

While this is good news for some, it can be troublesome for others, especially if you have a complex Build Definition which hasn’t been updated for years.

The way to go here is to have a clear idea of what the build process does and try to replace it with as many OOB tasks as possible. Second choice would be to cherry-pick from the Marketplace, and eventually write PowerShell scripts.

You might be tempted to reuse existing scripts or automations – which is good – but my suggestion is about maintenance: less legacy scripts mean less problems when it comes to maintaining the process, and using OOB tasks makes easy to take advantage of the constant flow of upgrades you will get from the tasks.

SharePoint integration

SharePoint and TFS 2018 is no longer tightly coupled with SharePoint. This does not mean you will lose any of your Document Library, but only that some features won’t work anymore.

The impacted features are:

· SharePoint site creation when requesting a new Team Project

· Web Parts integration

· The Documents pane within Team Explorer

While this is a major change in the history of the product, it is not unexpected. In an era of APIs and extensibility, relying on some opaque integration which isn’t really fit for purpose anymore – it does not work with Office 365… – isn’t the way to go. But remember: the hyperlink field in Work Item Types is not changing, so you can still link your (now external) documents to Work Items.

The existing Excel reports and the Reporting Services reports are not affected by this change, they will still work normally as they leverage on different features of the product. What is going away is the tailor-made integration which nobody else can use, really.

Lab Management deprecation

Lab Management in its current form will be deprecated and removed. This does not mean you cannot use virtual testing environments anymore – there are a couple of choices. You can use Deployment Groups or the SCVMM task if you want to keep using what you are used to.

It is also worth mentioning that the MTM integration for Lab is going away too – not a huge surprise given how good the web interface is, but it is worth mentioning if you are a heavy user of Lab Management.

Team Rooms

This is pretty much the only feature that is removed with no replacement – again, for good reason: Teams, Slack and others are such good collaboration tools, which focus only on having a good communication experience so they are the prime candidates for adoption.

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