Preview of the build notification tray applet power tool for TFS 2008

[UPDATE 12/21/07]  The build notification tool has now become part of the TFS Power Tools for TFS 2008!  It has new features and quite a few fixes (not to mention that it's a signed binary), so I've removed the attachment from this post.

We would have loved to have included in TFS 2008 a build notification tray applet along the lines of CCTray for CruiseControl.  However, we didn't have the time in the schedule to do it.  As a result, we're going to be releasing one as a power tool.

You may remember seeing the spec for this on Jim Lamb's blog.  Swaha Miller, a developer on Team Build, implemented this tool, and I've attached the binary to this post to provide a preview and get your feedback.  Disclaimer: Please note that this is not official software, has bugs, may burn up your computer, etc.  In other words, you accept full responsibility for it if you choose to run it.

When you run it, you'll see a balloon tip in your system tray (I have my taskbar docked to the right-hand side of my screen).  The applet automatically configures itself to run when you log into your computer.  Don't worry, though.  You get the option of removing that if you shut down the applet.

Start up balloon

When you click on the balloon, you'll be able to select which build definitions you would like to monitor.  The list of servers is retrieved from the registry location that Team Explorer stores them.  If you've never used Team Explorer before, there won't be any servers listed.

Here I'm going to monitor the HelloworldTest builds in the VSTS V2 Plans team project.  You can monitor as many builds as you like and on multiple servers, but I'm just monitoring one build.  I've chosen to be notified when a build is started and finished, regardless of who kicked it off.  Note that you can filter the build definitions if you have a lot to deal with.

Configure Build Notifications

It turns out that the last time this build executed, it was successful.  You'll notice the tray applet's icon has a green circle with a check mark in it.

Last build was good

Let's kick off a new build and see what happens.  Here's the notification that the build is starting.  The Stop Build link on the "toast" window allows you to stop the build, if you don't want it.  For those of you paying really close attention, you'll notice that this is the .3 build.  I missed capturing a screen shot earlier.

Build started notification

Meanwhile, the tray applet's icon changes to show a green triangle "playing" icon, indicating a build is in progress.

Build is in progress

When the build completes, you can see that I've broken the build.  By clicking on the popup window, you can view the build details in a web browser.  If you click the little triangle in the upper right corner, you'll get a menu with other options.  In this case, it turns out that the drop location that I specified didn't exist.

Build failed notification

Now the applet's icon shows a red circle with an 'X' in it, indicating that the last build is broken.

Last build was broken

If you want to learn more about this build, you can double click on the tray applet's icon to pop up the following window.  If you right click on the build, you'll get options to view the details in a web browser, delete it, etc.

Current Build Status

I fixed the drop share problem and ran the build again.

Build partially succeeded notification

As you can see, the build was only partially successful.  What went wrong?  Well, it's something many of you have experienced.  The compilation succeeded, but the test failed because Visual Studio Team System for Testers isn't installed on the build machine!  We have plans to make installing the unit test framework on your build server much easier in the release after TFS 2008.

We hope you enjoy using this build notification tray app.  Please let us know what you like and dislike and what features you would like to see in the next version by posting your comments here.


Comments (38)

  1. Mark says:

    When I attempt to run this I get the following error:

     System.IO.FileLoadException was unhandled

    Message: Could not load file or assembly ‘BuildNotification, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a’ or one of its dependencies. Strong name validation failed. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x8013141A)

  2. buckh says:

    Thanks for letting me know.  I’ve updated the post with a binary that is not delay signed.  Sorry about that!


  3. Fantastic tool! Thanks Buck!

  4. Luis Fraile says:

    Pues nada, aquí os pongo para que le deis un vistazo al blog de Buck Hodges que anuncia una nueva Power

  5. Luis Fraile says:

    Pues nada, aquí os pongo para que le deis un vistazo al blog de Buck Hodges que anuncia una nueva Power

  6. Luis Fraile says:

    Some little problem with it, first time I ran it, I had my Team Explorer 2008 connected to a TFS 2005 instance, so it tried to connect to that instance, I closed the system tray tool (selecting "Close permantly") I started VS 2008, connect to a 2008 instance, launch the build notification tool, but it stills tries to connect to the previous TFS 2005 instance:(

  7. buckh says:

    Luis, I think what’s happening is that the tray app connects to all of the registered servers.  Thus, you are seeing it connect to both the 2008 and the 2005 server.  However, if I’ve not understood this correctly, please let me know.


  8. Luis Fraile says:

    Hi Buck, so the poblem is with my Team Explorer 2008 B2 :( it started failing recently, and I tried to repair but still failing when connecting to builds, so maybe I will need to reinstall it :(

  9. Buck Hodges says:

    You may want to look at the event log on the application tier to see if there are any errors or warnings that would provide some insight into the problem.


  10. Buck Hodges on Preview of the build notification tray applet power tool for TFS 2008. Brian Harry on…

  11. Check out the new tray tool for monitoring Team Builds on Buck’s blog. It’s just a preview at this point

  12. Check out the new tray tool for monitoring Team Builds on Buck's blog. It's just a preview at

  13. CruiseControl.NET user says:

    CC.NET works fine, yet MS still likes to try to reinvent the wheel.  Great job on doing something that was done 5 years ago!

  14. Gert C. says:

    I know its probably a lame request, but is there any chance of a scaled-down-to-TFS-2005 release?

    We are 3-6 months from going to TFS 2008, so giving our developers this feature would be appreciated.

  15. buckh says:

    rbirkby, thanks!  We’ll have to clean that up.  ;-)


  16. buckh says:

    Gert, unfortunately the schedule doesn’t permit doing that.  However, there are a couple of options for notifications with TFS 2005.


  17. Brian Harry, tedy ikona Team Foundation Serveru, píše na svém blogu o novém zářijovém vydání Power Tools

  18. Vous avez maintenant à votre disposition un outil pour notifier les Builds via des “tickers”. Son installation

  19. Buck Hodges says:

    I wanted to learn about the memory allocation profiling feature that is available VSTS 2008. While the

  20. Buck Hodges Development Lead für TFS Build stellt das Notification Applet Power Tool für TFS 2008 vor.

  21. Buck Hodges Development Lead für TFS Build stellt das Notification Applet Power Tool für TFS 2008 vor

  22. Why don’t put this project on CodePlex? I have installed this on several computers and one of the side-effects of this version is that I cannot "Restart" the computers. When we want to restart them we have to close the application first.

    Another issue is that when you close it and choose for the option "Close for now", the next time you log on to Windows it will open the folder "c:Program FilesMicrosoft Visual Studio…" instead of running the application.

    Please not that the users that run this tool are not local administrators as I believe this might cause these issues.

    When can we expect a new release?

  23. buckh says:

    Gabriel, thanks for reporting these issues.  We reproduced and fixed the restart issue (also happens with log off) on Vista.

    We weren’t able to reproduce the second issue, so it may have been fixed by other changes since September.

    A new version of this tool will be included in the upcoming Team Foundation Server 2008 Power Tools release (slated for this month).


  24. Buck Hodges says:

    Earlier today, we released the first version of the TFS Power Tools for TFS 2008 ! I want to highlight

  25. Earlier today, we released the first version of the TFS Power Tools for TFS 2008 ! I want to highlight

  26. Mal says:

    G’day, We’ve recently installed Visual Studio 2008 with TFS 2008 and the power tools. Initially it was all working great but recently the build notification seems to not be working. The notification icon in the taskbar/tray displays without either a green tick or red cross (it seems to have 3 little arrows above it like you get before connecting to a server). Choosing View Build Status reveals no info on the builds even though they are selected in the build notification options (ie the server and builds are visible there). The build is working on the server itself and it does send a confirmation email on completion. Our machines are running XP and are on a domain that doesn’t have internet connectivity if that makes any difference, and we’ve also disabled windows firewall. I’m sure it only involves a tweak somewhere to get it working again but I’m all out of ideas…any suggestions (or even explanations of the mechanism it uses) would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  27. Mal says:

    Re the problem above we’ve installed the July 08 power tools release and thats fixed it. Cheers :)

  28. Glen Weaver says:

    Members of my team have installed the recently-released (July 2008) Power Tools and are trying to use the build notification tray.  Unfortunately we sometimes don’t get told about broken builds.  

    Through other means (such as email) we learn about the broken build, check the tray (it’s still green), and get details (it’s showing the status of builds made hours ago rather than the most recent ones for each project).

    If I deselect some of the projects, I get the most recent build.  I can then go add the other projects again and get the most recent build information…for now…but it may be out of date again soon.

    Any way to fix this?

  29. Mal says:

    Are you running the .NET 3.5 Service Pack 1 Beta or VS2008 Service Pack 1 Beta by chance? We found the build notification didn’t fully behave itself again until we’d rolled back to a pre SP1 beta stage…

  30. Glen Weaver says:

    Yes, we’re running SP1 beta for .net 3.5 and vs2008.  Guess we’ll have to wait to use this tool.

  31. jd says:

    Is it possible to view the next scheduled build task in advanced?

  32. buckh says:

    JD, unfortunately we don’t currently have the ability to show the next scheduled build.  It’s something we’ll try to add in the future.


  33. Sucharith says:

    I have the July edition of Power tools and have the latest framework and Visual studio 2008 with SP1 installed. The BuildNotification.exe file version is 9.0.20919.0 and has a 7/14/2008 date. I seems to have the same problem that I donot see any notifications and the build status is old. it refreshes only when the application is restarted. Is there a fix?

  34. buckh says:

    Sucharith, sorry for the incovenience.  Yes, there is a bug in the July release when combined with SP1.  We have fixed this for the upcoming release, which is targeted for this month.  See Brian’s post for more info on this next release:


  35. Mr B says:

    Take a look at It shows an application that continuously watches all your Team Foundation projects.

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