Team Foundation Server “in the cloud”


Remember when you were a kid and saw the beginnings of snow falling and you watched it cover each branch of the big evergreen in your backyard and thought: “SNOW DAY!” Or when the holidays came around and gifts were opened and family and good friends were over to celebrate? Today could count as one such day since Team Foundation Server (TFS) is now hosted in the cloud.

With just a Windows Live ID, you can have your very own custom TFS URL, project collection and full control over all permissions (i.e. collection groups, members/users, access control, etc.).

Signing up is as easy as following a simple wizard which progresses you through a couple of web pages while your account is created. This may take a couple minutes depending on how many people are doing it with you but normally the setup occurs rather quickly.

After your account is created, the next step is to create a team project. If you’re not familiar with a team project, it’s the workspace for team collaboration within TFS.

Here’s how to create one:

  1. On the page with the "The account is active and ready for use" message, click the second option: "create a team project"
  2. Provide a name and optionally a description for your team project and optionally a description.
  3. Keep the default process template or select an alternative. I chose “MSF for Agile” but there are Scrum and CMMI process templates as additional options.
  4. Click "Create Project."

Project creation time also depends on load, but it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.

I’m not going to go to deep into all of the features as if you’re familiar with TFS then this should be a natural progression. I will however mention the new “task board” feature which essentially lets you track work throughout the project/iteration with real-time statistics (i.e. an updateable graph when moving tasks via drag-n-drop).

If you’re not familiar with TFS I highly recommend viewing the online tutorials, hands on lands (HOL’s) and guidance from the Patterns & Practices team pertaining to TFS. There’s also a great interview with Brian Harry who’s a Technical Fellow here at Microsoft that describes the challenges and opportunities of bringing TFS to the cloud. Brian’s blog is also a wealth of information on this topic as well.

Obviously accessing TFS outside of the standard team web access is beneficial so accessing source control in the cloud via Visual Studio 2010 where developers spend most of their time is absolutely fantastic. To enable this connectivity, you do however have to install this compatibility patch

You’ll also notice that the UI has changed significantly. It has more of the Metro theme which lends itself extremely well when using a Windows Phone 7 device. As a matter of fact, Pedro Castelo Branco Lourenço has a great TFS WP7 client using OData.

Now while there is a preview available unfortunately you’ll need an invitation code. Those that attended Build should have one. Note: On the lower right of the "Account" page, you can click on “invite others” and it will generate an invitation code (good for 5 accounts). Those that weren’t able to attend the event or aren't able to get a code don’t fret as you can be placed on the wait list.

As with any preview please submit any feedback you may have using the following URL’s:

Feature suggestions: http://visualstudio.uservoice.com/

Bug reports: http://connect.microsoft.com/

Support questions: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/TFService/threads

Comments (2)

  1. UPDATE: Brian Keller has made available a Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview ALM Virtual Machine along with 6 hands-on-labs / demo scripts: blogs.msdn.com/…/visual-studio-11-application-lifecycle-management-virtual-machine-and-hands-on-labs-demo-scripts.aspx

  2. Adam Marktin says:

    For cloud based TFS service, you may choose this one:

    http://www.dynamsoft.com/…/TFS-Hosting.aspx

    • reasonable price and trustworthy hosting service.
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