My experience in why the Visual Studio NEWS extension is nothing to ignore or sneeze at made me realise that the widgets, extensions and tools that extend Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server are invaluable. Discoverability is an issue, gathering actionable feedback and remembering to regularly use them can be challenging.
finding the widgets
There are a number of places you can bookmark to find a list of gems:
- aka.ms/vsarsolutions has an ALM Ranger Community Solutions section towards the end
- aka.ms/widgets has a list of widgets used and recommended by the ALM Rangers
- Terje’s list has another view on the same and more widgets, recommended by Terje Sandstrom
talk to the authors!
To gather actionable feedback it is important to install and use the applicable tools, make notes of issues and innovations, and talk to the authors.
For example, we have been using the vsarFlightPlan extensively on our bulletin boards, flashes and real-time status tracking. We submitted candid feedback and received a mock-up of the next release and a promising response: “Thanks – found another bug with the meta data editor. Need to fix that after final beer and some sleep, then publish.”
So what are the imminent changes requested by the mentioned Rangers?
- Willy now has the option of clearing the cache, without having to go back to settings and waiting.
- Edward can now lookup the status icons during his exceptional “tell us what we have done” briefings.
- The landed symbol now uses the icon you typically notice at airports. The “thumbs up” symbol was often misinterpreted by Claude and others as “all OK”, not landed.
- The colour blue now indicates landed, green means in-flight and OK, while red highlight in-flight projects that have missed the scheduled due date. Ideas in planning remain as grey. We often received questios on the previous colour scheme during planning and triage meetings.
- Last , but not least, I love the subtle “Powered by TFS Backlog”, which emphasises that the status is pulled “real-time” from TFS … our one home of truth.
There is more coming in subsequent releases, but what do you think with this first batch of innovations?
Remember to install, use and give candid feedback to the authors!