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Agile Software Engineering with Visual Studio: From Concept to Continuous Feedback (2nd Edition) Paperback – Sep 13 2011
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About the Author
When I wrote the predecessor of this book, I had been at Microsoft less than three years. I described my history like this:I joined
Microsoft in 2003 to work on Visual Studio Team System (VSTS), the new product line that was just released at the end of 2005. As the group product planner, I have played chief customer advocate, a role that I have loved. I have been in the IT industry for twenty-some years, spending most of my career as a tester, project manager, analyst, and developer.
As a tester, I’ve always understood the theoretical value of advanced developer practices, such as unit testing, code coverage, static analysis, and memory and performance profiling. At the same time, I never understood how anyone had the patience to learn the obscure tools that you needed to follow the right practices.
As a project manager, I was always troubled that the only decent data we could get was about bugs. Driving a project from bug data alone is like driving a car with your eyes closed and only turning the wheel when you hit something. You really want to see the right indicators that you are on course, not just feel the bumps when you stray off it. Here, too, I always understood the value of metrics, such as code coverage and project velocity, but I never understood how anyone could realistically collect all that stuff.
As an analyst, I fell in love with modeling. I think visually, and I found graphical models compelling ways to document and communicate. But the models always got out of date as soon as it came time to implement anything. And the models just didn’t handle the key concerns of developers, testers, and operations.
In all these cases, I was frustrated by how hard it was to connect the dots for the whole team. I loved the idea in Scrum (one of the Agile processes) of a “single product backlog”—one place where you could see all the work—but the tools people could actually use would fragment the work every which way. What do these requirements have to do with those tasks, and the model elements here, and the tests over there? And where’s the source code in that mix?
From a historical perspective, I think IT turned the corner when it stopped trying to automate manual processes and instead asked the question, “With automation, how can we reengineer our core business processes?” That’s when IT started to deliver real business value.
They say the cobbler’s children go shoeless. That’s true for IT, too. While we’ve been busy automating other business processes, we’ve largely neglected our own. Nearly all tools targeted for IT professionals and teams seem to still be automating the old manual processes. Those processes required high overhead before automation, and with automation, they still have high overhead. How many times have you gone to a 1-hour project meeting where the first 90 minutes were an argument about whose numbers were right?
Now, with Visual Studio, we are seriously asking, “With automation, how can we reengineer our core IT processes? How can we remove the overhead from following good process? How can we make all these different roles individually more productive while integrating them as a high performance team?”
Obviously, that’s all still true.
I started my career as a software developer—first as a hobby, later as profession. At the beginning of high school, I fell in love with writing software because it enabled me to create something useful by transforming an idea into something of actual value for someone else. Later, I learned that this was generating customer value.
However, the impact and value were limited by the fact that I was just a single developer working in a small company, so I decided to focus on helping and teaching other developers. I started by delivering pure technical training, but the topics soon expanded to include process and people, because I realized that just introducing a new tool or a technology by itself does not necessarily make teams more successful.
During the past six years as an independent ALM consultant and TFS specialist, I have helped many companies set up a team environment and software development process with VS. It has been fascinating to watch how removing unnecessary, manual activities makes developers and entire projects more productive. Every team is different and has its own problems. I’ve been surprised to see how many ways exist (both in process and tools) to achieve the same goal: deliver customer value faster though great software.
When teams look back at how they worked before, without VS, they often ask themselves how they could have survived without the tools they use now. However, what had changed from the past were not only the tools, but also the way they work as a team.
Application Lifecycle Management and practices from the Agile Consensus help your team to focus on the important things. VS and TFS are a pragmatic approach to implement ALM (even for small, nondistributed teams). If you’re still not convinced, I urge you to try it out and judge for yourself.
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All that said, if you have not had the opportunity to get familiar with Scrum this is a great place to get started, especially if you use TFS.
The book starts out with an introduction to agile, Scrum, and Visual Studio. It then digs into Scrum and TFS with chapters on Product Ownership, Running the Sprint, Architecture, Development, Build and Lab, Test, Lessons Learned at Microsoft Developer Division, and Continuous Feedback.
My favorite chapters were Development, Build and Lab, and Test. The author did a great job of showing all the different features available in TFS and Visual Studio that enable continuous integration, automating testing, and detecting programming errors early. The chapters go into enough detail to give you a really good understanding of the tools available and when to use them.
The architecture chapter did a good job of showing how to take advantage of the tools in Visual Studio for reverse engineering existing applications. It does not however show you how to use them to architect an application. Instead the author plays the "Emerging Architecture" trump card, and writes it off to it not being needed in agile processes. I guess this is ok, because the tools in Visual Studio are not ready for prime time when it comes to designing an Architecture. They are good for reverse engineering an application. I wholly disagree with the "Emerging Architecture" agile approach and believe it contributes to most of the messes that come out of teams claiming to be agile, but I won't ding the book for it since it is after all what agile prescribes.
One thing I noticed is there are quite a few typos. They are no big deal, just very obvious ones which was strange.
Personally I think the book should have been titled "Developing with Visual Studio and TFS using the Scrum Template". That is not a bad thing if that is what you want. The book is well written and an easy read. I think is does what it set out to do and it does it well. It is a top notch book.
I highly recommend it to anyone looking to learn Scrum and wants to use the TFS toolset to enable your team to accomplish your mission.
This book will teach you how to successfully implement Scrum using integrated set of tools from Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 (VS) and the Team Foundation Server 2010 (TFS) and create automated process maximizing flow of value. In addition to the usual sprint and daily cycles, TFS based implementation of such process also exhibits micro cycles like check in and test. Ensuring the flow by making handoffs between team members as efficient as possible, by automating quality enforcing steps i.e. dones and gathering metrics without overhead at every cycle are cornerstones of this efficient process.
The book goes beyond teaching you how to apply Scrum using VS and TFS. Reinforcing the flow of value by introducing removal of waste (bug debt, partially implemented features, unfinished code etc.) impeding the flow and transparency pinpointing the weak spots in the process, further ensure success of the development project. Guckenheimer and Loje teach how to identify different types of waste and deal with them. They do a great job explaining how to read different reports and analyze dashboards to gain real-time insight in progress, quality and other aspects of your project.
VS and TFS aim at empowering the whole team.
Architects can analyze legacy code or continuously validate the current architecture with every daily build using layer diagram.
Developers will learn how to write clean code from the beginning and detect errors early. Different built in tools like check in policies or gated check-in help with that. Developers write or generate tests, check how effective they are and efficiently use them by executing only the tests impacted by a recent change from the set of all tests.
Testers use simple but efficient tools to find bugs and fill rich bug reports (backed by video recording, debugger level Intellitrace information, test steps etc.). Such bugs are easily reproducible and can be quickly analyzed and resolved.
Automated tests executed in virtualized test environments as a part of the build process with automated deployment are very powerful means to fight regressions.
In the third part of the book, author shares valuable experiences from Microsoft, where the team that produces TFS and VS struggled with quality and schedule. By introducing many of the same techniques described in the book, in the last several years, they regained control. The last chapter shows glimpses of the future tools from the VS vNext.
The authors of this book succeeded in two conflicting tasks: to offer clear, high level overview of modern agile software engineering practices on one side and on the other to dig deep enough in all the tools available in the Visual Studio 2010 and the TFS to show how they support these practices. Everything in an easy to read, moderately sized book.
I highly recommend this book to anyone involved with the software development, irrespective of the role they play. You will learn the proven practices and the toolset as well as the rationale for the prescribed development process.
That said, take it from someone who has done writing and a ton of reading on the subject matter that the authors cover in this book. It's simply an exceptional resource, written by two people I consider to be among the very best at what they do. Whether you are new to Agile, Scrum, Visual Studio, and/or Team Foundation Server, or a veteran with all of them, this book has something to offer. It is very, very thorough and insightful. A newcomer could use it to ramp up quickly -- it has incredible span across the subject matter. An expert will find new ideas or new ways of thinking about agile software engineering in here as well. The language is clear and easy to understand, the examples are poignant, and it's a very interesting read -- even for guys like me who have read volumes about this stuff. Again, keeping full disclosure in mind, I am recommending this book because I've read it and I think it's an outstanding and valuable resource.