Some TFS Setup Assistance

One of the pros to TFS you’ll hear (or have heard) from Microsoft is the fact that its an integrated solution built from the ground up using existing Microsoft technology. When you see TFS demonstrated end-to-end — being able to manage tasks, requirements, tests, source code, project status, etc. — its pretty impressive. But when you talk to people getting who are using TFS, you’ll hear a range of customer stories about setting it up being pretty straight-forward and taking a few hours to how it took days and multiple attempts before either getting it to work to we needed the help setting the darn thing installed and configured.

Setting up TFS is not a "set it and forget it" operation. It requires a number of pre-setup steps you need to do before embarking on this journey. With TFS 2008, we made the installation process a bit easier, so rather than 4 hours to install, it takes more like 3 and a half hours. What? It takes 4 hours to setup TFS? No, it just feels like it. The longest part of the setup process, IMO, is all the prep work you need to do. These steps are:

  1. Reading the TFS Installation guide
  2. Figuring out what type of TFS configuration you want (single- or dual-server configuration)
  3. Re-reading the TFS Installation guide specifically the TFS configuration you plan to do and take notes on the steps
  4. Request from IT the recommended accounts (TFSSetup, TFSService, and TFSReports)
  5. Have a plain Windows Server 2003/2008 configured (the plainer, the better)
  6. Make sure you have access all the media (Windows Server, SQL Server 2005, and TFS)
  7. Verify your installation checklist and re-read if you have to

It may seem a bit odd that I’m recommending you read the instructions more than once, but unlike other server installations, TFS requires a bit of hand holding and some patience (okay…a lot of patience). You don’t want to rush through the installation process because one missed/overlooked step, and the installation might not work and you’ll have to do it again.

One of our Microsoft Partners, Vertigo Software, has a pretty good blog article called the Cliff’s Notes for a Team System Install. In the article, Jeff Atwood breaks down the steps to install TFS 2005 into 8 simple steps. Caveat: This is only TFS 2005 notes. We changed the installation process slightly with TFS 2008. Step 3 is a bit different in TFS 2008 and Step 5 can be done during TFS installation rather than before. Step 5 changed because you can use WSS 3.0 or point TFS to an existing SharePoint farm.

Bryan Krieger, a TFS Program Manager, has a TFS FAQ posted on the MSDN forums that is quite insightful. You can get it here:

I’ll post more information like this as I find it. Hope this helps.

Until next time…Excelsior!