Visual Studio Online Update – Sept 23th

This week we are releasing our sprint 71 work on VS Online.  You can read more about the changes on the news page.  In the past, we’ve struggled with how to “time” the publishing of release notes with the deployment of the software.  As we get more and more instances (we have 4 now and will be adding a 5th one soon), it becomes increasingly hard to get any timing right.  Starting this sprint we are going to publish the release notes when the upgrade for the first public instance starts.  That means the release notes will always be available a little before the features are but should usually be, at most, a couple of days earlier (and less for many people).

I also wanted to comment on one thing mentioned in the news post: work item performance.

I mentioned last sprint that we are bringing some larger internal teams onto TFS/VS Online internally and, in that process, we’ve run into some performance (and usability) issues.  We made some progress on them last sprint and more this sprint.

A couple of examples:

  • Work Item form loading – One of the teams has crazy large work item forms.  I’m not recommending the practice but, I’ll observe that different teams need different levels of sophistication here.  When they came onto TFS with these crazy large forms, opening a work item would take 2.8 seconds on average – painfully slow.  With optimizations, including not building the DOM for hidden fields ahead of time, we reduced this to 0.8 seconds.  Simpler forms won’t see that dramatic of an improvement but all forms will see some.
  • Shared work item queries – this team also keeps a very large number of shared queries.  In fact, within a couple of months, they had built up thousands of shared queries – and those take a while to load.  For them it was 10.5 seconds to load the query tree – every time you navigate to the queries page.  With progressive rendering optimizations, we’ve reduced that to 0.3 seconds.  Again, not everyone will see anything that dramatic but everyone will see some improvement.

We are working on additional scenarios for next sprint – like opening a work item form by clicking on a link in an email – that takes seconds today.  We’re going to reduce it substantially in sprint 72.

All of these changes will also be included in TFS 2013 Update 4.

Looking forward to sharing more in a few weeks – we have a ton of new stuff queued up for the sprint 72 deployment.  Stay tuned.

Brian