How the Visual Studio ALM Rangers are dogfooding the next version of Team Foundation Server to help manage their projects
"This article is part of a series in which the Visual Studio ALM Rangers present guidance to assist you in solving complex, real-world environments. Our goal is to help you improve the consistency and quality of your solutions and your overall Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) process.
To recap, the Rangers are a group of experts who promote collaboration among the Visual Studio product group, Microsoft Services and the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) community by addressing missing functionality (feature gaps and whitespace), removing adoption blockers and publishing best practices and guidance based on real-world experience.
Since the start of the Rangers program in 2006, we have delivered a mix of enhanced features and best practice guidance. Rangers and those who are familiar with our business know that we always select our projects by community vote. In other words, Rangers decide what is needed out there in the real world so you can do a better job. This has one side effect though. If you look at a set of such projects—like the Visual Studio 2010 wave—it looks like a random collection of content with lots of gaps. That brings us back to the future and our biggest Ranger “gig” ever, Understanding our Visual Studio 11 Readiness conspiracy. For the first time, we decided to go for full coverage, by design, which led to 20 new Ranger projects! With so many concurrent projects, we are breaking every record, but we know that it is worth the extra effort. What else has a higher priority for a Ranger than being technically ready for Visual Studio 11?
Teams that build software solutions have always had an expectation of an out-of-the-box, high-quality, and predictable application lifecycle management process and tooling. The biggest challenge in the history of Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server has been that technology usually precedes the practical guidance from the MVPs and Microsoft Services in the field. All products experience this dilemma and it often results in uncertainty of implementation, frustration, and blocking of product adoption.
The Rangers work hard to address this challenge; with Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server 2010, the ALM Ranger guidance was released shortly after the products were released. With the latest wave of Rangers Readiness, we are SIMultanously shipping the out-of-band tooling and guidance with Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server 11. Product teams call this SIM shipping or simultaneous shipping.
As shown in Figure 1, we deliver guidance on process and methodologies, Team Foundation Server planning and management, Visual Studio Test and Architecture tooling, Team Foundation Build and Windows Azure solutions, while working in close collaboration with Developer Product Evangelism (DPE), MSDN, and Patterns & Practices. Our goal is to eliminate overlapping guidance, duplication of deliverables and confusing messaging.
What makes the Rangers solutions different is that we are not focused on what the product features are, but how to best use those features, based on experience by those in the field such as Rangers in Microsoft Services, Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) and the ALM community.
I dig these kinds of articles, where we hear about real-world problems and solutions, learning the lessons from others so we can hopefully make different mistakes (and not the same ones they did). Plus it's cool seeing how these guys are using the TFS Preview... :P