Understanding the Visual Studio ALM Rangers

This page has been retired and has been migrated to our Visual Studio ALM Rangers team blog

Updated on: 2015-01-02

For more information see:

aboutus53 Team53 solutions53 Quick Response Solutions Publications 

Who are we?

We started the VSTS Rangers program in March 2006 as a joint venture between the Visual Studio Team System team and the Worldwide Communities program, part of the Office of the CTO in the Microsoft Services organization. A couple of years ago, we renamed our program to Visual Studio ALM Rangers, but the vision remained the same: to accelerate the adoption of Visual Studio with out-of-band solutions for missing features. In addition, our secondary goal is to provide the opportunity for selected Microsoft consultants, support resources and partners to interact with product group experts so we can learn from our field and partners using Visual Studio ALM products and features with customers.

ALM Rangers provide the bulk of our resources which come from volunteer subject matter experts. Typically, they spend their private hours to do the Rangers project work, and, not just anyone is invited to participate — Rangers need to be knowledgeable about Visual Studio and ALM, have the desire to strengthen the community, and contribute regularly.

Relying on volunteer part-time work has led us to strive for more efficiency in our projects. To achieve this goal, we have implemented 100% dogfooding with our own Agile-based (Ruck) process model. For consistency, we use the same process model across the board, even for guidance type projects.

Our first three years was focused on a strictly internal team that crossed all field roles—consulting, support, sales, and evangelism. As we expanded our external Rangers communities, our goal has been to provide the same level and ease of access to external Rangers. We have reached this goal with our extranet SharePoint site and Team Foundation Service which has, as a side effect, improved our operational transparency significantly.

But the top lesson learned again is to keep on learning from real world customers. We leverage our vast customer connections through our Rangers to collect their business and technical requirements and test our beta releases in pilot customer environments.

We hope that this overview provides enough information to whet your appetite for more details. We appreciate any feedback and improvement suggestions.

Acronyms and Terms

  • ALMApplication Lifecycle Management
  • CTOChief Technology Officer
  • Ranger … To elaborate on the term Ranger, we often show a visual representation of a forest ranger who wanders the forests, clearing blocked paths and providing informational services to visitors.

What do we do?

The ALM Rangers are focused primarily on the delivery of out-of-band tooling and practical guidance to remove adoption blockers in real world environments. Typically an ALM Ranger solution is a hybrid of practical guidance and supporting out-of-band tooling and sample code.

Figure 1 – Aspects of ALM Rangers

Frequently asked questions

Contact us?

  • Preferably contact your favourite and regional ALM Ranger from aka.ms/vsarIndex.

  • Alternatively contact us here.

Join us?

  • If you are a Microsoft employee please contact your regional ALM WWC lead and request to be nominated via Micheal Learned.

  • If you are not a Microsoft employee please contact your regional ALM MVP and request to be nominated via Willy-Peter Schaub.

  • Submit the following information as part of your request:

    • Why do you want to join the ALM Rangers?

    • Short and crisp bio, answering the common 5 index questions. See aka.ms/vsarIndex for examples.

      • Who you are?
      • What makes you “tick”?
      • Where you live?
      • Why are you active in the Rangers program?
      • What is the best Rangers project you worked in and why?
    • One or more non-IT (business) photo which includes you.
    • Contact details, including MSA (LiveID) account, contact email, postal address, and telephone number.

Renew membership?

  • To remain an active ALM Ranger you need to be actively involved in the ALM Ranger community.

  • Renewals and special awards, such as distinguished or champion Rangers, are based on feedback from your peers.

Recommend a new or upgrade project idea?

  • ALM Community, MVPs

    • Add your idea to Visual Studio UserVoice with as much supporting information as possible.

    • Encourage your communities and peers to vote for your idea, as project idea triages are based on strategic value, community value and number of votes.

    • Information needed:

      • What is the goal?
      • Why is it important?
      • When is a solution needed by?
  • MSFT
    • Contact the ALM Ranger PMs.
    • Information needed:
      • What is the goal?
      • Why is it important?
      • When is a solution needed by?
      • Who are the SMEs to contact for more info?
      • Who is the product owner?



The Visual Studio ALM Rangers provide professional guidance, practical experience and gap-filling solutions to the ALM community.


Core Values

As a team the ALM Rangers have come to value the following:

Razor sharp focus on quality and detail on the work we do

  • Favor simplicity and low tech over complexity
  • Expect and adapt to change, delivering incremental value

Accountability and commitment

  • Actively manage the project triangle attributes: features, bandwidth and cost
  • Never go dark … always share the good, the bad and the ugly with the team

Non-stop and unrestricted collaboration

  • Empower the ALM community
  • Embrace open communications

Global transparency and visibility through collaboration and shared infrastructure

  • For all initiatives, track and publish status on a timely basis
  • Access to everything for everyone

Empathy, trust, humility, honesty and openness at all times

  • No one knows everything; as a team we know more
  • Learn from and share all experiences

Regular dogfooding of Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management tools

  • Improve productivity of ALM Ranger teams
  • Gather and share real-life experiences



image_thumb[42] 2012 - Brian Blackman
2013 -
Brian Blackman
2014 -
Brian Blackman
2015 - Brian Blackman

2013 - Tony Whitter
2014 -
Casey O'Mara
2015 - Brian Blackman
2015 - John Spinella

image_thumb[43] 2011 - Michael Fourie
2012 -
Michael Fourie
2013 -
Michael Fourie
2014 -
Brian Blackman
2015 - Brian Blackman
image_thumb[44] 2011 - Bill Essary
2012 - Gregg Boer
2013 - Joshua Webber
2014 - Jeff Beehler
2015 - Charles Sterling
image_thumb[45] 2012 - Gregg Boer
2012 - Mario Rodriguez
2013 -
Larry Guger
2014 - Andrea Scripa
2014 - Ed Blankenship
2015 - Keith Bankston
2015 - Sam Guckenheimer
image_thumb[46] 2013 - Vladimir Gusarov
2014 -
Vladimir Gusarov
2015 - Gordon Beeming
image 2013 - Gordon Beeming
2014 -
Gordon Beeming
2015 - Donovan Brown
image 2015 - Hosam Kamel
image 2015 – Jeff Levinson


Special Awards


Michael Fourie


Rob Jarratt

Honorary ALM Rangers

Who have retired from an active position in the past, but have actively contributed invaluable passion and contributions to the ALM Ranger community.

Alison Clark
Andrea Scripa
Ben Amodio
Bijan Javidi clip_image002_thumb1
Bill Essary
Buck Hodges
David Caufield
Eric Charran
Eric Golpe
Erwyn van der Meer
Gregg Boer
James Pickell
Jeff Beehler
John Jacob
Justin Marks
Kerry Gates
Larry Duff
Larry Guger
Lenny Fenster
Mike Schimmel
Neno Loje
Paul Meyer
Tim Omta
Tina Erwee
Zayd Kara

Comments (20)

  1. Strange name says:

    Assume ALM is 'Application Lifecycle Management', although that's not made clear anywhere obvious.

    'Rangers' must be a culturally specific reference.

  2. @Strange name, thank you for your feedback. We have now included a definition for ALM and Ranger at the end of the first section.

  3. With "out-of-band" we refer to add-on features developed by the ALM Rangers and released separately from the product main release cycle. Guess it comes from the world of communication, such as the out-of-band TCP data which is a separate stream of data from the main data stream.

  4. BillW33 says:

    While I did understand what ALM is and I got the Ranger term, I still am glad you defined them. It makes it easier for a wider range of folk to understand the article when they understand the terms.

  5. Amanda McConville says:


    I have a Visio Stencil for Branching that I thought might be useful.  Is there somewhere I can send such a thing?  Simple, but I thought it could be useful.



  6. Frank says:

    Hi there, adding these links to Favorites as I just joined MVA for the ALM Cert (70-496/497/498)… assume visits may yield useful, real-life scenarios from what I gleaned on this first skim.


  7. Vivek Bansod says:

    How one can be part of ALM Rangers?

  8. @Vivek, great question! To be part of the ALM Rangers you have to be (1) passionate about Visual Studio ALM, (2) active on the ALM community and (3) be nominated by an active ALM Ranger. See http://aka/ms/vsarindex for a list of active ALM Rangers, find someone you know and request that they nominate you.

  9. Carter says:

    And if you don't know anyone on the list?

  10. @Carter, most ALM Rangers are actively involved in the ALM communities  around the world. You can share your details with me on blogs.msdn.com/…/contact.aspx, so that we can loop in ALM Rangers in your area to make contact 🙂

  11. Georges AK says:

    if we dont know anyone and want to participate in this community how can we do it?

  12. You can contact me on blogs.msdn.com/…/contact.aspx and include details on your location and involvement in local communities. If an ALM Ranger is in your area we can try to connect the dots.

  13. Denis Presciliano says:


    The site is very helpful.

  14. Jacky Zhou says:

    Can you add me into the ALM Rangers?

    I'm an ALM MVP in china.

  15. @Jacky please ask an active ALM Ranger to nominate you. You cam find a list on aka.ms/vsatindex.

  16. Bill Heys says:

    There is no name under the last Special Award (Lead of Top Solution). I am not sure which name we should use LOL

  17. @Bill, sorry. Missing name restored 🙂

  18. Erik says:

    I wish there would be a easy way to ask questions. I really though the ALM Rangers would be an awesome source of information and help on ALM using VSTS and Azure. Unfortunately so far I have to give up as there is just no descent way to get in contact.

    (for those that point out the link “Alternatively contact us here.” doesn’t work, and a full list of all rangers really doesn’t help me.)



    1. Erik, I’m sorry for not being able to reach us. This is a retired blog post (see top), which we migrated to our team blog a while ago. Please go to https://aka.ms/vsarblog for our team blog and please contact us on https://www.twitter.com/almrangers.

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