Abstract

Microsoft launched Visual Studio 2017 RC on November 16, 2016 and it’s a free trial for all .NET Enthusiasts and developer community. Once a developer downloads the free trial, its only valid for certain period and this article will help you to learn how to check the validity date of VS 2017 RC.

If you have not yet installed the Visual Studio 2017 RC yet, then you might want to read my previous article on Installing Visual Studio 2017 RC

What is the benefit of Free trial?

Release Candidate is a free trail for developers to try the another latest and greatest features of new IDE and tooling around it; and that gives sufficient time to anyone learn and try what’s new in that new shiny tool and when you or your organization is ready to upgrade to a paid licensed version; you can continue to use the greatest and latest.

So when this free trial will end?

Unlike Visual Studio Community edition which is a Free download, Visual Studio 2017 Developer and Enterprise Editions are Free trial.

Free Download

Visual Studio Community is a Free Download and it remains free the whole life time of the application while it’s installed on your machine.

Free Trial

Visual Studio 2017 Professional and Enterprise are NOT FREE but offer Free Trial, which means that Trial will end after certain date and then you will be no longer able to use that product unless you buy or upgrade to a licensed version of that product.

Until when is RC Valid

Well, usually Microsoft Product Teams know well in advance and work towards releasing the product after few months of RC. But to be sure until when your installed Visual Studio 2017 RC is valid, you can follow the steps below.

  1. Launch Visual Studio 2017 RC

  2. Go to Help menu and click on “About Microsoft Visual Studio”

  3. From the opened dialog as shown below, click on “License Status”

  4. Now you will see a dialog as shown below and you can clearly see the final date of the end of Free trial.

Introduction

Microsoft Visual Studio 2017 is the most exciting version of Visual Studio. You can download the RC from https://www.visualstudio.com/vs/visual-studio-2017-rc/

Visual Studio 2017 has a lot of cool features, tool support and best developer experience right from Installation to code to debug to test to deploy (even it’s better if it’s to Azure).

System Requirements

To know minimum requirements for successful installation of Visual Studio 2017 product family, please visit this URL
https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/productinfo/vs2017-system-requirements-vs

Installation

Run the downloaded .exe and you will see a very unique launch screen as shown below.

Option Selection

Visual Studio 2017 offers a brand new way of choosing the tool set’s. You can choose one of the following:

  • workloads I.e. what exactly you do or want to do.
  • Individual Components I.e. hand pick all components individually. I feel it could be messy unless you want to cherry pick.
  • Language Packs I.e. select language of your choice.

Workloads

Workloads is the easiest and most effective way of installing all components and dependencies of your chosen field of development. For example, web, desktop, cloud, node, data science etc.

This is so much loaded that you can select up to 8 “Web & Cloud” workloads. As shown in the image below.

Individual Components

This is a tricky one and can cause issues if someone really starts to pick and choose options from here. However, this will be perfect choice when you just want to install “.NET Core Runtime” or so.

Language Packs

This enables you to pick language of your choice. Based on your operating System, it will automatically default to a language; as shown in the image below.

Making Selection

Once selection is made; preferably from Workloads tab; you will see that Summary section is populated with all the components which will be installed. If you want you can expand the each listed item under summary and see all the components installed under each item to a very granular level.

Now, Let’s Begin the Installation

I personally feel that this is one of the fastest Visual Studio setup since 1st version I had my hands on back in 1996.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setup Complete

Visual Studio 2017 RC setup requires you to Restart your PC. You may not want to do that; but I recommend to “Restart” it.

Welcome Visual Studio 2017

Notice the Recently added section and see all the Visual Studio 2017 components.

Check the Installed .NET Frameworks

Below image shows that all the .NET Frameworks are successfully installed. Which includes .NET Framework until 4.6.x and .NET 1.0 Preview 3. You can run commands as shown below to check those in any machine.

“dotnet –version” is a very handy command to be executed from Developer Command Prompt to identify if you have .NET Core or not.

Visual Studio Installer

In the installed items, there is an item listed at the very end “Visual Studio Installer” this is to Modify, Repair, Uninstall etc.

Let’s Fire-up Visual Studio 2017

Here comes the Most Awaited IDE

How to Integrate Slack with VSTS

October 10th, 2016 | Posted by Vidya Vrat in .NET | ALM | Visual Studio | VSTS - (0 Comments)

Abstract

All software development teams use some sort of team communication tool. Like many  team messaging tools  Slack is one of them. What I like most about slack is its ability to gel with VSTS (Visual Studio Team Services) and send notifications when an event is triggered for example, a Pull Request is created, or build succeeded or failed etc.

Note: VSTS was previously known as VSO. I.e. VSO is renamed to VSTS.

Introducing Slack

Slack is a widely used messaging application (web / desktop) it is widely used by many mission critical projects including Mars Curiosity Rover robots. In terms of software development, slack is very handy and efficient to notify when a VSTS event takes place. This feature reduces explicit team communication with peers that a pull requested is created and someone needs to look at that etc.

Let’s preview the final outcome

Objective is to  empower software development team(s) by enabling them to collaborate not only with peers but also with tools and services (VSTS in this case) and get immediate notification for any status updates instead of emailing or pinging someone in person for instance “Hi, Vidya Vrat. I have submitted a pull request.”

Now this article will show you Step-by-Step procedure to achieve “Slack integration with VSTS” and receive message as sown in the figure 0 below.

Figure 0 – Slack channel showing message received from VSTS

Create a Team on Slack

First step is to create a team (if not already) on https://slack.com click on “Create a new team” and enter a valid email-id which you have access to as shown in figure 1 below.

Figure 1- Slack.com main page to create a new team

When you click on “Create New Team” then you will be taken to a confirmation page as shown in figure 2 below.

Figure 2 – Page to enter confirmation code

Check your email which you have entered while creating a team and you shall see an email with Slack confirmation code as shown in figure 3 below.

Figure 3- Slack Confirmation code email received

After successful validation of confirmation code as asked in Figure-2, next step will be to enter your name and username etc. as shown in Figure 4 below.

Figure 4- Personal details

Next step will be to enter team information as shown in figure 5 below.

Figure 5 – Team information

Next Enter your company information as asked in figure 6 below.

Figure 6 – Company name

Next step will be to enter your company domain as asked in figure 7 below. It is OK to enter a domain name which is not registered or you don’t have plans to register.

Figure 7 – Company web domain info

Figure 8 – Team invitation

If you don’t want to invite people now, then click Skip and you will be taken to slack team for DotNetPassion as shown in the figure 9 below.

Figure 9 – DotNetPassion slack team page

Channel Creation on your Slack Team

Once your team is created, next step is to create a channel, which people will join and exchange messages.

Click on the + as shown in the figure 10 below.

Figure 10 – Creating channel under team

Choose channel name and purpose etc. as shown in figure 11 below.

Figure 11 – Enter channel details

Click on “Create Channel” will create the channel named “pull_requests” under your team “DotNetPassion” as shown in the figure 12 below.

Figure 12 – Successful channel creation

Integration with VSTS

Click “Add an app or custom integration link on your slack channel page as shown in the figure 12 above. Then select Developer Tools, and then select VSTS as shown in figure 13 below.

Figure 13 – Adding an app integration

Selecting Visual Studio Team Services will take you to next steps to Install as shown in figure 14 below.

Figure 14 – VSTS Integration page

Click on Install to begin the integration procedure.

Figure 15 – Selecting channel name.

After clicking on “Add Visual Studio Integration” you will see step-by-step Instructions to configure your VSTS for clack integration as shown in figure 16 below.

Figure 16 – VSTS setup instructions

Getting the Web Hook URL

Figure 17 – Wikipedia Webhook definition

Scroll down on this page to see Integration Settings and get the “Webhook URL” as shown in Figure 18 below. This Webhook url is most important piece of information to complete VSTS and Slack integration. Either keep this page open or copy and paste in notepad etc.

Figure 18 – Webhook url

Now open a new Tab in your browser and login to your VSTS account and navigate to your code Repository as shown in figure 19 below.

Figure 19 – Code repository in VSTS

Add VSTS Service Hook

From your VSTS code repository’s setting page, click on Service Hooks as shown in figure 20 below.

Figure 20 – Adding a VSTS Service Hook

Click on + to add a Service hook and choose Slack as shown in figure 21 below.

Figure 21 – Using Slack for Service Hook Subscription

Next you need to select the Trigger and repository settings etc. as shown in figure 22 below.

Figure 22 – Selecting Trigger settings

Next, confirm Action and webhook URL as shown in figure 23 below.

Figure 23 – Confirming Action with Webhook url

Next, click on “Test” to verify and test the VSTS integration as shown in figure 24 and 25 below.

Figure 24– Test integration with VSTS

Figure 25 – Test message from VSTS delivered in slack channel

Now, switch back to the VSTS Integration page and click Finish as shown in figure 26 below.

Figure 26 – Slack Integration Finish page

After Finish you will be taken to VSTS page and there you can see that service hook for slack is added as shown in figure 27 below.

Figure 27 – Service hook for slack added in VSTS

Let’s Submit a Pull Request

In Visual Studio’s Team Explorer connect to a VSTS Git Repository as shown in figure 28 below.

Figure 28 – Connecting with VSTS

Open the solution and make some changes as shown in figure 29 below.

Figure 29 – File changes in Visual Studio

After you  Submit a new Pull Request, then slack will receive a notification as shown in the figure 30 below.

Figure 30 – Slack received VSTS Pull Request message

To navigate to Pull Request you can click on the pull request link in the message (pull request 3) and it will take you to the VSTS as shown in figure 31 below. If all looks good, then you can take next action steps(s).

Figure 31 – Navigation to VSTS page from Slack message.

How to use Agile Correctly

September 27th, 2016 | Posted by Vidya Vrat in Agile-Scrum | ALM | Best Practices - (1 Comments)

Abstract

This article uncovers the various aspects of Agile software development technique and Scrum framework to enable an Agile team/ team member to understand various issues any software development team sails through and how to come over those challenges.

Where Did Agile Come from?

In 1970, Dr. Winston Royce presented a paper entitled “Managing the Development of Large Software Systems” which criticized sequential development.

He asserted that software should not be developed like an automobile on an assembly line, in which each piece is added in sequential phases. In such sequential phases, every phase of the project must be completed before the next phase can begin. Dr. Royce recommended against the phase based approach in which developers first gather all of a project’s requirements, then complete all of its architecture and design, then write all of the code, and so on. Royce specifically objected to this approach due to the lack of communication between the specialized groups that complete each phase of work.

Developing a Solution for Customer

Any software project starts from Gathering Requirements phase and many times what is developed is not exactly what end user wanted, and many software projects fail during implementation.

Value Delivery Impediments

In today’s world teams have huge dependencies on various stakeholders of the project including Users <-> Developers <-> QA <->Operations etc. and it’s proven that we need regular communication and collaboration to deliver the value.

Any communication gap or lack of collaboration between these team(s) or individuals will have impact in following areas

Plan Driven Vs Value Driven Approach 

Old school of software development has taught “waterfall” approach of software development.  In waterfall approach, one phase’s output becomes input to next phase and those phases are distributed across the project timeline as shown in the image below.

Today’s software development technique is “Iterative“ and “Incremental” I.e. Agile. In Agile, team run through all the phases within a Sprint as briefly shown in the image below.

In waterfall, development teams only have one chance to get each aspect of a project right. Whereas in Agile team has better understanding and learning from previous Sprint on what to emphasize upon and what to avoid to reap better results.

Why Agile

  • Agile development methodology provides opportunities to assess the direction of a project throughout the development lifecycle.
  • This is achieved through regular cadences of work, known as sprints or iterations.
  • At the end of which teams must present a potentially shippable product increment. The results of this “inspect-and-adapt” approach to development greatly reduce both development costs and time to market.

Agile Manifesto

Perfect Agile Team, does it really exist?

Success of any project depends on Team. I.e. it’s critical to have an awesome team to have rocking results. But in reality this doesn’t happen as team consists of individuals with their own attitude, aptitude, work style, ethics, behavior and issues etc.

Bruce Tuckman’s team development model is a perfect example how team can come together and start functioning.

Agile team’s Success heavily depends upon “self-Organized” team.

Scrum Process

Sprint Length and Team Size

Sprint is to Run at full speed over a short distance. Ideal Sprint length is 2 weeks. My recommendation is as following and I have experienced that it really works well.

  • Ideal Agile teams must be 7 to 9 +/-2 members.
  • If you have more candidates in a team, then divide teams and have separate agile teams.
  • A representative of each team might want to attend other team’s standup for critical issues, follow-up and announcements etc.

Most wanted thing in Agile – Velocity

Velocity is the account of work team completes and delivers in each sprint. Ideal sprint duration is 2 weeks and highly recommend this to any team.

I have seen better results when team works towards a pre-defined code complete date for instance, today is Tuesday and sprint is for two weeks, team can agree upon a code complete date of Wednesday of 2nd week. I.e. team will try to complete all the work by that day and have it ready for QA.

This just gives a deadline to accomplish the work, however there will be situations where work couldn’t get complete or even rolled over to next sprint and that is fine in some cases.

Here are some of my recommendations:

Give as much time as possible to Developers, SDETs and QA to fulfill their commitment. I.e. less meetings and hindrance.

Have at-least 2-3 sprints worth work well-groomed and available for the team as “ready for development”.  Two reasons:

1 – At times for unforeseen reasons or instances a user story may be pulled out of current sprint. In such situations you lose story points you committed to. In such scenarios other US can be delivered.

2- Sometimes team or an individual is able to complete the work early and available to pick more work, in such situation well-groomed loaded backlog can come very handy.

Groom Often (Backlog Grooming)

  • Usually Sprint 0 is dedicated for backlog grooming and then team start to deliver in Sprint 1 and onward.
  • Considering any Enterprise Line of Business (LOB) application, sprint 0 can’t suffice the entire backlog groomed at once.
  • Hence, team must regularly have backlog grooming in small chunks of time instead of lengthy full day meetings.

Ideally, grooming is a lengthy process and hence groom in short chunks and team lead can be present in the regular or small grooming sessions with PO or business and team can continue to focus on their work. However, team must be present at Sprint Planning time.

Brainstorm Together (Sprint Planning)

  • Everyone is invited. Many teams ask only Dev’s to attend and excuse the QA team members.
  • Understand the problem 1st.
  • Ask Questions and clarifications.
  • “Well defined” Acceptance criteria is a must.
  • Confirm that User Story is ready for development.
  • Nothing should fall from the cracks, document all within the User Story.

Daily Status Check

Just three things, no more; no less

  1.  What have you done since yesterday?
  2.  What are you planning to do today?
  3.  Do you have any blockers preventing you from accomplishing your goal?

I recommend, that if you have to discuss something related to a User Story or bug or some reported a status on something etc. then “Post Scrum” that. I.e. discuss that when team has given the status and now you can drill into the detailed discussion.

Many times Dev’s start going into technical details of the issue, design of solution, architecture, code review comment details etc. during their status. This is not right way of doing it. Just Post Scrum all that; if you have to discuss anything other than those three absolute must.

I am Blocked

It’s is obvious that someone at some time is blocked on something. You can help, by asking just:

  • Really
  • On what
  • What is the issue
  • Who is POC (Point of Contact)
  • What is ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) I.e. delivering solution to you.

I will give you a scenario, let’s say I join a team which works on some third part control library and my license of that product is pending or not yet processed. Am I blocked. Well in a way; yes, but I can use trial version up to 30 days and when my license information come I can punch those.

Also, many times we just tell other team that we are blocked on something and we are expecting the endpoint or JSON format etc. but we don’t always ask what is ETA and convey the timelines we have to adhere. If this has any impact on your team’s deliverable than you need to re-prioritize, escalate etc. so either that work is delivered to you on time or that user story is pushed to next sprint and you pick next item on Stack rank (priority) from the Product backlog.

Scrum Master must help you to get unblocked.

Is there time to Think?

Many people and teams think that Agile has no time for following:

  • Researching a solution
  • Brain storming on the solution architecture.
  • Share your thought process, design, approach with the architects, PO etc. to get the insight.

Well, there is and it’s called “Spike”. In agile software development, a “Spike” is a user story that cannot be estimated until a development team runs a time boxed investigation. The output of a spike story is an estimate for the original story.

Some examples of spikes:

1- Discussing authentication mechanism and partner team’s flexibility to apply / accept those changes.

2- Discovering or researching for an off the shelf solution work flow solution.

Technical Debt

Every team has it, generated it, accumulate it; not a problem. Just make sure you pay it off.

Technical debt is a terms which is used for the work which team or an individual didn’t prioritize upon while pushing the deliverable, and require improvements.

  • First and foremost, poor coding style and standards.
  • No unit test cases.
  • Not following OO design principles and developing long monolithic classes and code libraries.
  • Not envisioning on proper candidate technology, architecture or approach and then hitting a wall. I.e. when application is little bit mature you start to feel the hit on User experience, performance, scalability, code maintenance etc.
  • Code files has a lot of comments. I.e. code is completely documented. Many developers write few lines of comment for each line of code.
  • Code is not self-documented.
  • Magic strings (hard coded path and endpoints etc. in the code)
  • Dead code in project. You must have seen or left some commented code in various code files. This is dead code and needs to be cleaned up.

Read my detailed article on Technical Debt

Branching and Merging

Branching enables parallel development and delivery by providing each development activity a self-contained snapshot of needed sources, tools, external dependencies and process automation.

Continuous check-ins pollute the branch.  Have a separate Release branch per Release.

Basic Dual Branch is an Ideal branch plan, have a Main, spin a Dev branch for development and have RI (Reverse Integration) and FI (Forward Integration) to merge changes between Child and Parent branch respectively.

When you are ready to deliver the shippable product at sprint completion then spin a Release Branch and deliver the product out of that.

Feature Branch Plan is slightly complex and requires more merge efforts but at the same time it give entire isolation of work being done in a feature branch for entire time; until it’s ready for merge to Dev branch. One major issue with this plan is that your feature branch will have old and stale code and when you will Get Latest / Pull from the changes then you will get some conflicts etc.

Just saying

“Save your creativity for your product… not the branch plan.”

“Your branch distance from main is equal to your level of insanity”

Unit Testing

Many teams don’t invest in Unit Testing. For any Agile Team Unit Test is the most critical thing and team must continue to increase the code coverage of the tests. Even based on Test Triangle as shown in the image below, Unit Test has the larger scope in Software Testing.

Read my detailed article on NUnit with Visual Studio

Read my article on Visual Studio and .NET’s Unit Test Framework

Read my article on Inside Out: TDD using C#

Benefits of Unit Testing

  1. Unit Testing gives an opportunity to think as User of your code, instead of an implementer of the production code.
  2. Reduce bugs by identifying all the use case scenarios to reflect intent (end user’s mindset, business needs, expected functionality and business validations etc.)
  1. Less-n-less time on debugging.
  2. Avoid collateral damage. I.e. a fix in one area may break functionality in another possibly
    related/unrelated area.
  3. Helps you achieve YAGNI– You Aren’t Gonna Need It. I.e. saves you from writing code which you
    don’t need

Tips for System Test

  • Must know how much to test, drive your Test cases from Acceptance criteria.
  • Avoid duplicate test steps.
  • Make sure that all your Test Cases are Mapped to Acceptance Criteria.
  • Try to combine similar behaviors in a single test case.
  • Do not go above and beyond to identify every corner case or hack the system. I.e. above a beyond the acceptance criteria. I know this is tricky and someone may want to debate on it. I didn’t mean to say that don’t test any areas of application which might have direct impact of a User Story or what not. But there is always a fine line on what to test and what not.
  • Time box for ad-hoc testing. I.e. in each sprint time-box some time

Continuous Integration (CI)

  • An important part of any software development process is getting reliable builds of the software. – Martin Fowler
  • Continuous Integration (CI) is the strategy and practice of making sure that changes to a software project’s code base are successfully built, tested, reported on, and rapidly made available to all parties after they are introduced.

Advantages of CI

  • Increase ROI (Return on Investment).
  • Guarantees successfully compiled software.
  • Visible progress reporting and problem tracking.
  • Low TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).
  • Improve development standards, consistencies and accountability.
  • Rapidly identify bugs, who created them, and where it is.
  • Quickly push high quality change updates to testing.
  • Reduce development integration effort.
  • Increase amount of quality code.

Successful Build

An aggressive goal for a successful build would include:

•       All the latest sources are checked out of the configuration management system.

•       Every file is compiled from scratch.

•       The resulting object files are linked and deployed for execution.

•       The system is started and a suite of tests is run against the system.

•       If all of the above execute without error or human intervention and every test passes, that is a successful build.

Let the Team see what is happening

  • Must have Gated builds and nightly builds to ensure value delivery of the functionality.

You can use this build monitoring tool from https://teambuildscreen.codeplex.com/

Continuous Delivery (CD)

CI mainly focuses on development teams. The output of the CI system normally forms the input to the manual testing process and to the rest of the release process.

You’re doing continuous delivery when:

  • Your software is deployable throughout its lifecycle
  • Your team prioritizes keeping the software deployable over working on new features
  • You can perform push-button deployments of any version of the software to any environment on demand

I am speaking at Seattle Code Camp and my session topic is “How to use Agile correctly“. It’s totally FREE community event. Please register and spend the weekend in learning all you can.

My session will be in Room#204 at 1-2 pm.

Introduction

Technical Debt is a term that is commonly used in agile-scrum team process. Technical debt is used for the work which team or an individual didn’t prioritize upon while pushing the deliverable, and  either left some unwanted code in various project artifacts, such as – .cs, .config, .cshtml, .js, .sql etc. or didn’t use the right technique to accomplish the goal. But in real world software development process this is expected and totally fine as long as team takes the responsibility to pay off the Technical Debt.

How is Technical Debt created?

Technical Debt is like financial $$ debt; if you don’t pay off previously owned $ amount but keep borrowing more than you are getting into messier situation. I assume you are not the one who like debt that much; whether it is technical or financial. Anyways, just to be aware; if you don’t take good care of the following items then you are potentially seeding “Technical Debt” situation in general, later on which needs to be paid off.

  • First and foremost poor coding style and standards.
  • No unit test cases.
  • Not following OO design principles.
  • Developing long monolithic classes and code libraries.
  • Not envisioning on proper candidate technology, architecture or approach and then hitting a wall. I.e. when application is little bit mature you start to feel the hit on User experience, performance, scalability, code maintenance etc.
  • Over engineered application. I.e. things which can be done in simpler way are done using very complicated mechanism. For instance, to do encryption data, custom code is written or taken from internet which causes a lot of security holes and performance hits.
  • Code files has a lot of comments. I.e. code is completely documented. Many developers write few lines of comment for each line of code.
  • Code is not self-documented. I.e. Classes, functions, variables etc. are given improper names. For example, a function is named Salary instead of EmployeeSalary or a variable is called double sal instead of double employeeSalary.
  • Shortcut approach is taken to push the functionality to meet the code complete deadlines. Such events trigger further refactoring to be performed later. For instance, created one thick bulky Model class with a lot of classes within. Or hard coded various paths and endpoints into the .cs code rather than putting those into a web.config and reading web.config Key in the code for the related value (key-value pair).
  • Dead code in project. You must have seen or left some commented code in various code files. This is dead code and needs to be cleaned up.

Based on above mentioned points, now you will be able to understand that why Technical Debt is also known as Code Debt or Design Debt. In addition, anything in your software development work; which slows you down or looks odd, or can be improved is a “Technical Debt”.

How to handle Technical Debt

First step is, not to cause any technical debt from your end; if at all possible. However, in agile development it’s common to have some technical debt accumulated over the period of time, if so then move to second step. Second step is to report any technical debt which you have either caused or came across.

Please don’t get into blame game or point finger to any individual. Let’s say you come across some code blocks in a file you are working on and then you see some dead code. Rather than start cleaning it up, I recommend create a Technical Debt item and let the team decide.

How to Report Technical Debt

Technical debt items are usually reported as Issues or as a “New Product Backlog Item”. Also, Technical debt items are supposed to be logged in a separate backlog. I.e. don’t report those to Production or sprint backlog. In many teams and as per my experience with agile-scrum I have always worked on a separate dedicated “TechnicalDebt backlog”

Having a separate TechnicalDebt Backlog allows the team to stay focused on Sprint backlog and don’t interfere with business requirements which are logged in the Product Backlog.

Creating Technical Debt backlog

Creation of backlog and modifying process templates etc. are usually done by an admin on your team project. In an agile team setting this duty is usually performed by the scrum master.

If your team doesn’t already have a Technical Debt backlog, then it’s time create one.

  1. Go to VSTS (Visual Studio Team Services) Team Project’s Web Portal and in control panel under work, click on Areas.

  2. Under the “Areas” click on “New child”

  3. Name it as “TechnicalDebt_<YourTeamProjectName>”. TechnicalDebt prefix helps you differentiate it with other areas and makes it self-explanatory.

  4. It will now appear under your Team Project as an area.

 

Let’s see it from Developer’s angle

Developers usually interact via Team Explorer from within Visual Studio IDE.

Select Work Items and then click on “New Work Item” and based on your team process template; usually either Agile or Scrum, you can select Product Backlog Item or Impediment or Issue as item type to report the Technical debt.

Filling in the details

Usually, any item in any backlog needs to have ample information to describe what the issue is. In the below example, it is briefly pointed out that some classes need code cleanup. Some questions might still be unanswered and those will be discussed during backlog grooming and sprint planning.

When to work on Technical Debt

Just like Product and Sprint backlogs, Technical Debt backlog also needs to be groomed I.e. each “Technical Debt” item needs to be reviewed and groomed by the team to identify its validity, impact on overall team’s development experience and software quality team is producing. Once, team is in agreement to pay off a technical debt item or items then those items are transferred to Sprint Backlog and many times a new User Story is created for each technical debt.

Many Agile experts say that a team must not carry Technical Debt beyond a sprint, just like you should not carry Credit Card balances over to next pay period. I.e. pay off full Credit Card debt in the same billing cycle. But, it’s not always possible, so it doesn’t happen in software world for Technical Debt as well.

Summary

I personally recommend that as a developer you should not cause any technical debt due to the code you have written or currently writing. Be honest, about any improvements your code might need and explicitly call out what changes can be made to make it better. Avoid any over engineering or unwanted design patterns and technology implementations to be called out as Technical Debt. If you are not sure whether a particular code / technique is Technical Debt or not, call out a short brain storming session. In today’s software development industry it’s not easy to avoid technical debt, we all live with it, but be aware that you have to get rid of technical debt to achieve complete Technical Freedom.

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Introduction

.NET Core is new Microsoft Platform for cross platform development and many more other features and great offerings to developer community. Read more on .NET Core in my previous article on my Blog or on C# Corner .

“Today 06/27/2016 Microsoft has released .NET Core RTM, this is a great milestone for .NET Core team and entire .NET Community.”

https://github.com/dotnet/core/blob/master/roadmap.md#ship-dates

 

Let’s prepare to install .NET Core RTM

If you want to install .NET Core on Windows then follow the URL www.dot.net or https://www.microsoft.com/net/core#windows all the dependencies are mentioned on the download page but one extra thing which you need to have it Visual Studio 2015 Update 3. You download Update 3 from https://msdn.microsoft.com/vs-knownissues/vs2015-update3-rc

Launch the .NET Core RTM setup

Once you have installed Update 3 and downloaded the DotNetCore.1.0.0-VS2015Tools.Preview2.Exe then just launch it and you will see setup going through following steps.

Accept the License terms and conditions

Initializing

Installing .NET Core 1.0

Installing ASP .NET Core 1.0

Installing Nuget- Visual Studio 2015

Installing ASP .NET Web Tools

Preparing Visual Studio

Hurrah, Setup Completed

Let’s fire up Visual Studio 2015

When you will launch Visual Studio 2015 what you will be looking for is “.NET Core” templates as shown in the image below.

Also under Web you will notice .NET Core templates

Create a new .NET Core Application

When you select a new .NET Core template and proceed with it, you will see a new project artifacts which are specifically designed to keep .NET Core’s cross-platform vision in mind.

 

What is .NET Core

.NET Core is a new Microsoft platform. Which is modular, cross-platform, open source and have better support for cloud. .NET Core will continue to run on Windows devices, as well as on Linux and Mac OS X. In addition, unlike the .NET 4.6 which is installed machine wide as single large block, Windows-only runtime environment, .NET Core can be used to create modular libraries and applications that can target multiple platforms and deployed (per-application) along with the application itself.

Why .NET “Core”

Microsoft’s vision of .NET platform evolved over the past 15 years and many technology enthusiasts, leaders and influencers wanted .NET to be open-source, available to other platforms like Linux and Mac in addition to currently and widely supported Microsoft Windows.

To accomplish this broad and such a large goal and vision it was necessary to have a “fork in the road” and create a fresh and new version of “.NET” which is named as “.NET Core 1.0”.

Hence, Developing application using “.NET Core 1.0” will enable and empower the developers to write applications with one platform for instance Microsoft Windows and when all ready that can run on multiple platforms in this case Mac, Linux and Windows of-course.

Why Version “1.0”

Current and latest .NET Framework version is 4.6.x and so next major release version was supposed be “5” and initially it was called .NET Core 5. Similarly next version of ASP .NET 4.5 was named ASP .NET 5 and next version of Entity Framework 6.1.x was named Entity Framework 7, fair enough.

 

But this numbering order conveyed the message that these are just next version of the same framework and technology; whereas the reality is different. “.NET Core” concept is totally new, YES! Its brand new concept hence numbering has to be re-started and so…

  • .NET Framework 5.0 is now known as “.NET Core 1.0”
  • ASP .NET 5.0 is now knows as “ASP .NET Core 1.0”
  • MVC 6 is now known as “ASP .NET Core MVC”
  • Entity Framework 7 is now known as “Entity Framework Core 1.0”

.NET Ecosystem

With new launch of .NET “Core” wave of framework and technology, old version .NET 4.6 (which are mature and fully grown) will continue to co-exist. .NET Core can be installed on the same machine. However, .NET Core will have its very own personalized core libraries etc.

.NET Core Includes CoreCLR, a more lightweight runtime that provides basic services to your application including automatic memory management and garbage collection, along with a basic type library. Unlike .NET 4.6 which has such a large footprint for the same.

.NET Core also includes CoreFx, a set of modular assemblies that you can add to your project/application as per demand. Unlike the .NET Framework 4.x, which always had to make the entire .NET Framework Class Library aka BCL (base class library) available, with .NET Core you can select only the assemblies that you need. I.e. Windows doesn’t need Web and vice-versa.

.NET Core implementations

Following technologies are currently available in .NET Core wave.

  • ASP.NET Core. ASP.NET Core is a modular version of ASP.NET that combines ASP.NET MVC and the ASP.NET Web API. It runs on both the .NET Framework 4.6 and .NET Core 1.0. It is custom designed for building high-performance cloud applications. ASP .NET Core should not be considered and taken as a replacement to ASP.NET 4.6 in the .NET Framework 4.6.
  • .NET Native. .NET Native is a compilation and deployment technology for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps written in C# and Visual Basic .NET. “.NET Native” compiles apps to native code, and statically links into an application’s assemblies only those code elements from .NET Core libraries and other third-party libraries that are actually used.
  • Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. The Universal Windows Platform allows you to build a single app that can run on the Windows desktop, Windows tablet devices, and Windows Phone. These apps can also be placed in the Windows Store. UWP apps are compiled to native code for their target platforms by .NET Native

Supported Environments

.NET Core is supported by Microsoft on Windows, mac OS and Linux. On Linux, Microsoft primarily supports .NET Core running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Debian distribution families.

.NET Core currently supports X64 CPUs. On Windows, X86 is also supported. ARM64 and ARM32 are in progress.

A wide array of all the supported platforms is shown in the Table below.

OS Version Architectures Configurations
Windows Client 7 SP1 – 10 x64, x86
Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 – 2016 x64, x86 Full, Server Core, Nano (2016 only)
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 x64
Fedora 23 x64
Debian 8.2 x64
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, 16.04 LTS x64
Linux Mint 17 x64
openSUSE 13.2 x64
Centos 7.1 x64
Oracle Linux 7.1 x64
Mac OSX 10.11 (El Capitan) x64

 

Which one to choose .NET 4.6 or .NET Core

.NET Core is not yet mature, until it’s fully mature and time-tested; in my view it’s not advisable to start building Enterprise LOB (line of business) applications using .NET Core. Hence, .NET 4.6 and ASP .NET 4.6 are more mature and time-tested until .NET Core becomes mature.

The Future of .NET

“.NET Core” is certainly the future of .NET Platform. But we are not there yet, it will be a while until this is widely accepted and industry really start to mold and accept its advantages and become more open to build light-weight, cross-platform applications using .NET. However, Microsoft envisions to continue with ASP .NET 4.6 as well. Reminder, ASP .NET Core 1.0 is NOT AN END for .NET 4.6 /ASP .NET 4.6 instead it’s a NEW BEGINNING.

Introduction to VSO

VSO (Visual Studio Online) a cloud based collaboration tool (can be considered as TFS online). VSO provides a set of tools that work with Visual Studio to effectively manage your application.

VSO Capabilities

VSO offers various capabilities which various team can utilize to build great software and really depend upon.

  •   Version control.

  •   Tools for Agile Software Development teams

  • Continuous Integration

  • Support for even Non-Microsoft Languages and Tools

  • Integration support for various 3rd Party Tools

  • Infrastructure Grade SLA

Note: All above images are taken from https://www.visualstudio.com/products/visual-studio-team-services-vs

Back in 2008

I do remember the earlier days when Microsoft 1st started this concept of VSTS (Visual Studio Team System).

You can click https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=16338 to visit the page as shown in image above

On-Premise VS Azure

Many work places have applications which they want to have access to anytime, anywhere and continue to build the applications using integrated, powerful, cross-platform, enterprise-level Agile tools ; so team(s) can share source code, build often, test early, and ship faster with less time to market.

Like many software companies “on premise” source control in form on TFS on their own servers has served the business need. Whereas for many cloud was the choice to set up a Team Services account,  connect their dev tools, share code, invite team members, and start working.

In these business scenarios TFS and VSO has been an answer respectively.

Rebranding made is meaningful

Recently, Microsoft re-visited the Branding idea of VSO and renamed/re-branded it back to VSTS. But now “S” is not System instead it’s “Services” as this is Azure based solution hence, Services make complete sense. I.e. VSTS (Visual Studio Team Services) which is Software-as-a-Service offered by Microsoft for organization’s ALM needs.

  Note: This image is taken from https://www.visualstudio.com/products/what-is-visual-studio-online-vs?WT.srch=1&WT.mc_ID=SEM_MqzVAfsq

Summary

In my view VSTS provides better value to development team(s) and better ROI to management; as it enables and empowers the developers to collaborate anytime from anywhere. In addition it helps the organizations to reduce / cut-down the DevOps cost and needless to mention Zero investment into serves/disk spaces. Whether you are a dev using VSTS or on-Premise TFS you are not missing any features and capabilities from any of the flavor, VSTS is just a preferred/better way (in my view).