With the recent reorganization of SPLA prices for Team Foundation Server, there’s been some new offerings in the Hosted TFS space. I’ve blogged about other TFS hosting services in the past and there’s a list of the companies that provide TFS hosting services here. Now there’s a new player in the hosted Team Foundation Server market: DiscountASP.NET, who are known for their existing ASP.NET web hosting services.
Both DiscountASP.NET and SaaS Made Easy offer the “Basic” version of Team Foundation Server 2010 as a hosted service. It includes all Version Control and Work Item Tracking functionality along with Web Access. However, SharePoint, Reporting Services and Analysis Services integration is not included. Here are the two services compared:
|Discounts for >10 Users||
|Price / User / Month (USD)||
For people that are happy with the value that TFS provides and want to use it without the hassle of setting up and running the server themselves, both of these are pretty compelling offers. To see how easy it was to get started and what the experience was like, I gave it a try myself.
Step 1: Signing Up
Then click ‘Next’ and specify a name for your Team Project Collection along with how many users you want to start with. A Team Project Collection is just a container for Team Projects & it doesn’t really matter what you specify, as long as it’s a valid name and not already taken.
Then click ‘Next’ and start filling out your billing details along with your credit card. The service will be automatically renewed each month and charged to the card that you specify here. So if you don’t need the service any more, make sure you cancel it before the end of the month.
Once you have filled out all the details and sent it off, you’ll get an email within minutes from firstname.lastname@example.org with your activation confirmation and your control panel username.
Step 2: Creating A User
Now you’ll need to follow the steps in the Getting Started KB article to create your first username & password that you can use to connect to the server.
Browse to https://mytfs.discountasp.net/users/manage.aspx and type in your control panel username (tfs_123456) along with the password you specified in the sign up form.
If you clicked the link above, you’ll be taken directly to the Manage Users screen. If not, you’ll have to select the link from the navigation bar on the left. Once you’re on this screen enter in a username and password (4-12 characters) and click ‘Add’.
Before you can use this account, you’ll need to browse to the Global Groups management screen and add the user to the Project Collection Administrators Group by clicking ‘View/Edit Members’.
Then select your user and click ‘Save’. The page doesn’t redirect anywhere, so it may appear like nothing happened. As long as a user is checked and you clicked Save, everything should be fine.
Before you leave the control panel, you need to find out your Server Name and Server URL. Click the Account Information link and copy the Server URL. It should be something like https://tfs01.discountasp.net/tfs
Step 3: Install Visual Studio 2010
Before you can start using your new collection, you need to create a Team Project in it. The only way to do this is with Visual Studio Team Explorer, which is the client for Team Foundation Server. The good news is that if you already have Visual Studio 2010 Professional (or higher) installed, you already have Team Explorer. If you are using Visual Studio Express, you will need to download and install Team Explorer or a different edition of Visual Studio.
If you don’t have Team Explorer already installed, you have three options for getting it:
- Download and Install the Microsoft Visual Studio Team Explorer 2010 ISO. This is a free download but you can’t write any code with this edition of Visual Studio.
- Download and Install the 90-day trial of Visual Studio Professional.
- Download and Install the 90-day trial of Visual Studio Ultimate.
If you want to use Visual Studio and you don’t already have it installed, you should consider the last two options. They are fully-functional (time limited) versions and they have a great web-installer experience. If you download the first option, you have to mess around with mounting an ISO file or burning it to a CD before you can install it.
Once you have Visual Studio installed, you should consider installing the Lab Management GDR which includes a rollup of fixes for issues in the client (as well as the server) that were found after 2010 shipped.
Step 4: Connect to TFS
Now that you have Visual Studio Team Explorer installed, you have a client that can connect to Team Foundation Server.
Open Visual Studio from the Start Menu and then choose ‘Connect To Team Foundation Server’ from the start page, or click the ‘Connect to Team Project’ icon in the Team Explorer pane.
On the Connect to Team Project dialog, click ‘Servers…’
On the Add/Remove Team Foundation Server dialog, click ‘Add…’
Type or paste the Server URL that we copied earlier from your Account Information screen and click ‘OK’.
If you want to skip these steps or you want to pre-populate the server as part of a logon script or something, you run these two commands (after replacing the URL with your own server’s URL)
reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\VisualStudio\10.0\TeamFoundation\Instances\tfs01.discountasp.net /v Uri /d https://tfs01.discountasp.net/tfs
reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\VisualStudio\10.0\TeamFoundation\Instances\tfs01.discountasp.net /v Type /t REG_DWORD /d 0
After selecting the server, you will be prompted for your TFS username and password. This is not your control panel password – it’s the user that you created in the control panel and added to the Project Collection Administrators group. Enter your credentials and click ‘OK’.
You should now see the server added to your list of servers. Click ‘Close’
You should now see your Team Project Collection selected and no Team Projects available. Click ‘Connect’.
Step 5: Upload the Visual Studio Scrum Process Template (Optional)
A process template defines the work item types, queries and groups that your team project will start with. All of these things can be changed after the project is created, but it’s good to start with a process template that is close to your needs.
Your new Team Project Collection comes with the two built-in process templates:
- MSF for Agile Software Development v5.0 - This template allows you to organize and track the progress and health of a small- to medium-sized Agile project.
- MSF for CMMI Process Improvement v5.0 - This template allows you to organize and track the progress and health of projects that require a framework for process improvement and an auditable record of decisions.
After Team Foundation Server 2010 shipped, the product team released a new process template called “Microsoft Visual Studio Scrum 1.0”. This process template includes the following work item types: Sprint, Product Backlog Item, Bug, Task, Impediment & Test Case. It also includes a number of reports like Sprint Burndown and Velocity, however since Reporting Services and the Analysis Services cube isn’t included in the “Basic” version of TFS, these reports aren’t available with this hosting package. If you want these features, you’ll need to move up from the “Basic” version.
If you want to see the other process templates that are available, or download the Process Template Editor to build your own, you can go to the Process Templates and Tools page on MSDN.
If you want to use the Scrum work item types, go to the Visual Studio Scrum 1.0 download page and download the process template.
Once you’ve downloaded the template, run the Microsoft_Visual_Studio_Scrum_1.0.msi installer. Take note of the path that the process templates are going to be installed in.
Once the installation is complete, go back to Visual Studio. Right-click the server and choose ‘Team Project Collection Settings’ then ‘Process Template Manager’.
When the Process Template Manager dialog appears, click Upload.
Browse to the location that you installed the process template to and click ‘Select Folder. For example: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\Microsoft Visual Studio Scrum 1.0\Process Template
The process template will then be uploaded to your Team Project Collection.
Step 6: Create a New Team Project
After this, you are then connected to TFS and you can create a new team project. To do this, open the Team Explorer window if it is not already visible. Right-click the server and choose ‘Create New Team Project’.
At this point, the New Team Project Wizard will appear and you can give your team project a name and click ‘Next’.
On the next screen of the wizard, you can choose the process template that you want to start with. After this, you can click ‘Finish’ since there’s no more questions to answer in the “Basic” version of TFS. The team project will then be created on the server using the template you specified.
Once the New Team Project wizard finishes, you will have a team project that you can use for Work Item Tracking and Version Control.
Step 7: Store the Username and Password
If you don’t want to be prompted every time you can save your username and password on your computer. To do this you have two options:
- Open Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety > Credential Manager > Add a Windows credential
- Or, Click Start > Run > Type: RunDll32.exe keymgr.dll,KRShowKeyMgr
Then enter in your server name, username and password. Now when you open Visual Studio, use Web Access or the command line tools – it will automatically sign you in with these credentials.
Step 8: Connecting to Team Web Access
This is not really a setup step, but you’ll want to know how to connect to Team Web Access so you can manage your work items with just a web browser. Simply browse to the Server URL (e.g. https://tfs01.discountasp.net/tfs/), enter your username and password if prompted and then you’re connected.
Then you can create, view, edit and query bugs through the web access UI.
Now that you’ve created a Team Project, you can use Visual Studio Team Explorer or any other TFS tool (like Microsoft Test Manager, Excel, Project or Outlook) to access your source code and work items.
Through my very unscientific tests of clicking around and uploading/downloading source, the server (which is hosted in Los Angeles, CA) seems fast enough to work with. It’s great to see another TFS Hosting partner out there offering a great service at a reasonable price.