Last night I returned from Tech-Ed 2006. I got to do one presentation on TFS – sort of a “day in the life demo”. Unfortunately feeback was mixed – some people loved it but the pattern in the negative feedback was that the screen resolution was too high making it too hard to see and that I tried to cover too much stuff and lost too many people. The first was just a stupid mistake on my part – I should know better. The second is tough because there’s just really a lot to show. However, in retrospect, I can think of a few things I could have cut out and still showed what I needed to. Live and learn I guess. I appologize to those of you who didn’t get what you hoped for.
I really enjoyed myself. I got to spend a good 10 hours or so hanging out at the booth and talking to customers. I had about 50 people come up to me for questions after my presentation and I tried to strike up table conversations at meals. There’s nothing quite like being able to really talk to people in depth.
My biggest take away is that I was really surprised at how many people are in the process of rolling out TFS into their organizations. At past events most of my conversations have been of the “so what exactly does it do?” type. This time many of the people I talked to had just started using TFS and were asking detailed questions about how they fit TFS into their development process. It was really exciting to see.
Other observations and feedback include:
- We need to do something about licensing. People find it complicated and there are too many scenarios that the current licensing model doesn’t support very well. I got some great feedback on this and am engaging with the marketing and business teams to see what we can figure out.
- Lot’s of people are asking about requirements management and there’s a lot of third party products that support TFS. While there I saw demos of Ravenflow, TeemSpec, MindManager, StateSoft and more. It’s great to see so many available solutions in this space.
- Project server integration. This came up over and over. Lot’s of people are looking for a way to integrate their PMO with TFS. Clearly something we are going to look at. We’re discussing the possibility of reving the starter kit we put on GotDotNet and possibly having a third party do something until we can get a solution for this.
- Many people asked for the ability to have hierarchical work items – so they could break tasks down into sub tasks (and round trip this info into Project).
- I heard several requests for some great “sample data” and training materials. People want to be able to demo the tool to other people to show the value without having to use it for a year to build up enough useful data to be interesting. The good news here is that we have something on the way. We’ve spent the last several months putting together comprehensive (and reusable) training material that includes some great sample data. Expect to see this in the next month or two.
- I heard (again :)) feedback about the pain of separately administering TFS, WSS and SSRS permissions. The feedback was that the admin powertoy that we released helped but really isn’t enough. We’re going to look at this and see what we can do.
- Lot’s of people are doing distributed development. I heard several success stories and compliments on the TFS proxy. However, it’s clear that some of TFS’s limitations around domain relationships, HTTPS/Basic auth support, etc are still problematic. Some good news is that the TFS SP1 that will be available later this year addresses many of the remaining issues. We’re going to take another hard look at all of the remote configurations people want to support and see what more we can do.
- I got questions about 64 bit web tier support, WSS 2007, Office 2007, etc. All of these things are in the works and should be available over the next product cycle (some of it will be in SP1, some will come out after that).
- Several times I got the common question about “how to organize my team projects?”. Basically people want to know how to use TFS to organize their development – shared components, branching, promotion modeling, etc. Fortunately one of our technical writers was at the conference and he agreed to take up the gauntlet and write a good white paper on this – it’s no small task due to the wide variety of the ways people work and the tool can be used.
- A fair number of people asked about improved offline support.
- A couple of people wanted to know if we could get our Customer Support Services to support the MSSCCI provider because it was hard to sell their management on using an unsupported tool. I’ve already started the conversation with our CSS lead about the possibility of doing that.
- There were a fair number of questions about tools to help migrate from various existing SCM systems – an area we are working hard on.
There was more but that’s a big chunk of it. I’m certainly interested in any comments or opinions you have about any of this.