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Team Foundation Server 2008 in Action [Paperback]

Jamil Azher

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Book Description

Jan. 7 2009 1933988592 978-1933988597 1

In complex software projects, managing the development process can be as critical to success as writing the code itself. A project may involve dozens of developers, managers, architects, testers, and customers, hundreds of builds, and thousands of opportunities to get off-track. To keep tabs on the people, tasks, and components of a medium- to large-scale project, most teams use a development system that allows for easy monitoring, follow-up, and accountability.

Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2008 (TFS), the server component of Microsoft's Visual Studio Team System (VSTS), provides a powerful collaborative platform for software-development teams. The product offers an integrated toolset for tracking work items, creating test cases, managing source code, generating builds, constructing database schemas, and so on. Because in software development one size does not fit all, TFS provides process customization, project management, and reporting capabilities to build solutions around your requirements.

Team Foundation Server 2008 in Action is a hands-on guide to Team Foundation Server 2008. Written for developers with a good handle on TFS basics, this book shows you how to solve real-life problems. It's not a repetition of Microsoft's product documentation. Team Foundation Server 2008 in Action is a practitioner's handbook for how to work with TFS under common constraints. This book walks you through real-life software engineering problems based on hundreds of hours of TFS experience.

You'll benefit from expert author Jamil Azher's extensive interactions with members of Microsoft's TFS team and MVPs, survey feedback from the author's blog, and interviews with organizations and user groups using TFS. Instead of just offering a high-level overview, the book provides detailed solutions for solving common-and not-so-common-problems using TFS. It discusses the strengths as well as weaknesses of TFS, and suggests appropriate problem resolution steps, workarounds, or custom solutions.

Purchase of the print book comes with an offer of a free PDF, ePub, and Kindle eBook from Manning. Also available is all code from the book.


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Product Description

About the Author

Jamil Azher has over 18 years of experience in software development ranging from hands-on programming, global project management, technology leadership, and entrepreneurial ventures. He currently works as a technology architect at Microsoft Corporation in Silicon Valley. Over the years, Jamil has coached members of the technical staff, created architecture of major products and services, developed technology plans for venture funding, supervised development of globally-distributed applications, and interacted with many diverse organizations regarding technology strategy and roadmap. Jamil has a master's degree in IT from Harvard and bachelor's degree in engineering from Caltech. He is the author of Global Outsourcing using VSTS, published by Thomson Delmar Learning.


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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For TFS users wanting to know more about branching, Team Build, and customizing TFS. Jan. 21 2009
By David G. Jung - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Being one of the few books on TFS 2008 itself, doesn't try to be a tome on all things TFS. It covers specific topics that people trying to implement TFS would be interested in: branching, merging, automated builds, and customizing it to meet their needs.

I really like the Team Build chapters. You get a bunch of information about how Team Build works, how to do builds from labels, and how to do distributed builds. It also offers some insight on the actual code within the TFSBuild.proj file through call-outs.

If you're looking to expand TFS beyond what comes out of the box, he last two chapters are definitely worth looking into. The latter half of Chapter 9 covers how to add custom controls to work item templates. It's not just a "take a control and add it to the work item template" exercise, it provides the technical approach of how to build the control and how to add it to the template. It also covers how to extend the underlying TFS data warehouse to get additional business intelligence out of the repository.

If you were interested in creating your own workflow within TFS above and beyond what you can do with the Work Item Templates, the last chapter covers how you can do that using Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). I had always thought it was possible and this chapter shows you how its done.

There are a lot of reference links throughout the book to get further information, so the content certainly isn't stale, and the material certainly isn't just a rehash or a collection of material that you can search the Net for. Yes, all the material may already exist on the Net, but having it in one place with examples and annotations like that found in this book, in my opinion, is worth having this book in your collection. I definitely recommend this book for developers, development leads, and consultants who want to get more out of their TFS investment.

NOTE: I rated this 4 stars for the general public. If you're a TFS users, consider this a 5-star book.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book doesn't know what it wants to be. June 16 2009
By Some College Guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I bought this book hoping it would be a good overview of TFS from an administrative perspective. Unfortunately, the book can't quite decide the level of detail it should offer. It glosses over major parts of TFS like process templates and work items and barely even considers the customization of a process template. On the other hand, it goes into excruciating detail about team build, and devotes a whole chapter to VSTS DB edition (come on...really? a whole chapter?).

Additionally, the book can't seem to decide what level of familiarity you should have with TFS. In many places it assumes that you know a great deal about TFS, but in others it gives entirely too much information that you could pretty easily figure out yourself. It also refers to MSDN articles a lot. If I wanted to trudge through MSDN articles, I would have done so and not bought a book.

The title of this book suggests that it covers TFS 2008 in a general way, but this simply isn't the case. It would be more appropriate to say that this book covers some thorny problems that the author has encountered in his use of TFS. If it had been titled "Advanced TFS Tips & Tricks", I wouldn't have bought it, but at least I would have known that the book wasn't what I was looking for.

I don't mean to dismiss the book entirely, the sections on branching and team build offer some solutions to common problems, but really, there are already books out there on team build and MSBuild that go into much more detail, and there are plenty of discussions out there about branching best practices.

It's a shame, because the author does seem to know what he's talking about, and I have been hard pressed to find a good soup to nuts book on TFS. Maybe he ought to write one of those.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Guide April 16 2009
By na - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While I'm a stronger advocate for Subversion due to it just being simpler to maintain (and just as powerful) and having used both in the past at several jobs, I will say that since my boss still did want to move to TFS 2008 :(, that this book is therefore however a must have.

It is:

1) Quick and to the point chock full of very useful real-world information

2) A book that will save you a lot of hassle based on a lot of FYIs and tips that the author makes notice of that you typically hit your head against the wall with TFS. Example is all the different statuses and just weird process of checking in and out files. There are many times that myself and other developers at past jobs hated TFS and loved Subversion because TFS does all sorts of crap that you just don't get. There are weird things that just "happen" and are not obvious leading to sometimes a very highly frustrating experience when checking in, out, and merging files. That's one of the reason TFS is hated so much outside of just build management (yes it's improving but still a huge burden). So this book explains well the complexity of the check-in and out process and the hidden "wtfs" you often ask yourself when TFS doesn't do what you expect.

3) A nice compact & short book. Don't let this give you the impression that there is not much in it. It's quite the opposite but done in a fashion that's very easy to understand and read. I would highly recommend reading this book first before diving into 100 pages on TFS in MSDN which is just information overload at first. Again this is a HUGE application, whereas subversion is not but again just as powerful. So if you are goign to do TFS, read this book first over a weekend to save you a lot of future frustration and ? that will most definitely tie you down initially.

4) Gives you a decent amount of information in many aspects/topics of TFS 2008 including the DB schema and DB builds, TFS source control, builds, etc. It's amazing how this book covered so much in so little pages but did so by giving you still a good amount of understandable information.

5) A book with plenty of diagrams & screen shots to compliment the text. The author has done a nice job with diagrams & pics. Obviously we want color more and more but he has taken great time to really show screen shots and outline with text and lines in his drawings to explain what you are reading. He has a lot of process diagrams which is essential I think other than just reading plain text all the time in a book. Pictures mean a thousand words in tech books. I do not like books that are just all text. The more illustrations (pics), the better even if the book is fatter because of it. Everyone learns and remembers differently (hence why the Head First books are so effective). This is nowhere near a head first book but he has packed it full of pics and I applaud him for this especially with a system so vast as TFS.

6) Not just "how" book but a "why" book. Why do I say this? because he gives real life reasons why you want to do A or B. Or how something can indrectly benefit another. For example, this is probably a no-brainer for build experts but Incremental builds are capable in 2008 (was not in 2005) and this compliments your Continuous Integration process in TFS 2008. It's tips like these that get you thinking about team standards and industry best practices and he does a good job subtly going about stating these little items throughout the book.

7) A book that goes outside of just technical information and talks about environments. Example, he talks about small vs. big, vs. very large companies and the types of branching issues you might come across depending on how complex your environment may be. Nice!

8) A book which is not overboard with the technical jargon (some books in development remind me if freakin biology class..enough with too much technical jargon, explain WHAT it means and relate it to real life code or situations!). The most effective books are not those who can spit out the most technical jargon but ones which have
a balance of technical jargon and plain english as though someone is talking to you! This is often why most technical books suck but this author has done a good job
with communication in his book.

9) It talks both about basics AND customization. And again, he does this effectively and gets to the point.

Definitely a must have book. I disagree with the other poster about stating that this book needs to cover TFS more granular. If you need something so grandular, go to MSDN. Stop getting lost in MSDN and read this book first for TFS. TFS in MSDN is overwhelming on this topic in my opinion and should be a reference after this read. MSDN supplements this book. This book puts it into a real world perspective and organizes the most useful information up front first to anyone wanting to learn more about managing TFS.

I have no association with the author and my review is long & positive here because this is one of the best books in my collection of development books outside of books from people
such as Matthew MacDonald, Dino Esposito just to name a few authors I like a lot..
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading if you want to further leverage your existing investment in Team Foundation Server 2008 Jan. 7 2009
By Grant Holliday - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Last year I was contacted by Manning Publications to participate in the Manning Early Access Program (MEAP). They provided me with an unedited draft of a new book "Team Foundation Server 2008 in Action" (ISBN 1933988592) by Jamil Azher and asked me as a TFS subject matter expert to post a review to my blog and Amazon.

Contents:

Chapter 1: TFS and the practice of software development (free download)

Chapter 2: Exploring the Changes in TFS 2008

Chapter 3: Introducing VSTS 2008 Database Edition

Chapter 4: Understanding branching in Version Control

Chapter 5: Understanding Branch Policies

Chapter 6: Understanding Merging in Version Control

Chapter 7: Understanding Team Build

Chapter 8: Versioning Assemblies using Team Build

Chapter 9: Configuring and Extending TFS

Chapter 10: Using workflow with TFS

After reading through the 10 chapters (~500 pages) of the draft I can recommend the book to these groups of people:

* You're using TFS on a day-to-day basis but you want to know "more" without having to spend hours scouring MSDN and learning it yourself.
You've been using TFS 2005 and you're about to (or already have) upgraded to TFS2008. This book has a focus on the changes and new features introduced in TFS2008.

* There is a strong focus on Team Foundation Build. One of the biggest investments in TFS2008 was Team Build, so it's understandable that Jamil has 3-4 chapters that are build related.
Extensibility. The book explains all the different extensibility points in TFS and provides original and practical code samples for building your own extensions.

* One of the challenges for all technical books is that sometimes the information is out of date by the time your book goes to print. From the screenshots I can see that Jamil started writing when TFS 2008 was in it's "Beta 2" release. Since then, the product and a Service Pack have shipped to address some of the most common issues. There has also been work by the community and product team to improve guidance and documentation.

The real value in the book for me was the practical examples. Even as somebody who has been deeply involved in the TFS community and now the product team there are plenty of examples in the book that I haven't seen before:

* Building code from multiple team projects

* Patterns for centralized / distributed team build systems

* Code submissions system (gated checkin)

* Custom controls to show the build status in a work item

* Integrating with SharePoint KPI dashboards

* Using Windows Workflow with Team Build

With everything considered this is a book worth reading if you want to further leverage your existing investment in Team Foundation Server 2008 and learn more about Team Foundation Build 2008. Great work Manning and Jamil!

Regards,
Grant Holliday

This review originally appeared on my blog: [....]
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Team Foundation Server 2008 in Action Jan. 6 2009
By Steven L. Shippee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What's good is that if you purchase the book in print you get a free electronic version of the book, which comes in quite handy when looking to duplicate some of the activities in the book.

What could be improved upon is the assumption the reader is quite familiar with the inner workings of Team Foundation Server 2008. For example, on page 13 the author states "The default document libraries and their contents can be customized by modifying the WssTasks.xml file associated with the process template." It doesn't say you need to first download the process template via the process template manager before you will even be able to get to the file in the first place ... other than these types of items it is well written and easy to follow. It would have been nice to have a way to contact the author, e.g., an email address as one of the links in the book for contacting him did not work ([...]
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