This is the second article about Ten Must-Have Tools Every TFS User Should Download Now.
- Joel Semeniuk (Policy Template Editor)
- Microsoft TFS Powertoys (Annotate, TreeDiff)
- Attrice TFS Sidekicks (Team Foundation, add-in, MS Build)
Part II discusses:
- Naren Datha (Workitem Event Subscription)
- Clark Sell (TFSAlert)
- Grant Holiday (TFS Bug Snapper)
- Leon Langleyben (TFS Permission Manager)
You cannot expect to build a first-class project unless you use the best available tools. Besides well-known tools such as Visual Studio® .NET and Team Foundation Server, there are a multitude of small, lesser-known tools available from the .NET community. In this article, I'm going to introduce you to some of the best free tools available today that target project development. I'll walk you through a quick tutorial of how to use each of them, some of which will save you a minute here and there, while others may completely change the way that you work. Because I am squeezing so many different tools into this single article, I will not be able to cover each of them extensively, but you should learn enough about each to decide which tools are useful for your projects.
Workitem Event Subscription
In TFS there are a lot of things which can't be realized with the Team Explorer. These special methods are hidden for default user and can only be called by using the command-line. One of these things is subscribing to events. Lots of people have trouble creating filter expressions for event subscriptions, and managing subscriptions. We do have bissubscribe.exe tool that helps with creating subscriptions. But creating subscription expressions is hard because of its syntax. Also, that tool doesn't give a way to view existing subscriptions to unsubscribe them. This excellent tool will do this for you.
Note: This tool as name says only add WorkItem events to the TFS Server. It would be nice if you could add Filters to other event types as well.
Is a .Net 3.0 smart client which monitors for user selected TFS events and will display a balloon window in the Windows TaskBar Notification Area. It is built on top of WCF where you can subscribe to any TFS event you feel fit. It's initial focus is around Team Build management but will also include features around Work Item tracking. For extra information about WCF, read this excellent blog series of my colleague.
Note: This tool has some commonalities with the email messages of Outlook. Outlook will also show you a balloon and will even store it in your Inbox, so you can easily find again. Only with this tool you'll get a specific balloon based on the event type. Unfortunately this balloons don't contains any hyperlinks for showing detailed information about the Workitem and its way for subscribing to events is to barbarian. You have to edit the app.config to subscribe to several events. It would be nice if they integrated some features of Workitem Event Subscription tool.
Note: The tool works like hell, except it creates a Task WorkItem instead of Bug WorkItem. I don't know why Grant build it this way.
Note: I know there is also another TFSAdmin tool, but this tool is a lot more stable than the other one. Besides this if you upgrade your TFS to WSS v3 as I described in my Guide, you won't be able to administrator WSS anymore.
While this article has been dedicated to freely available tools, there are also a host of tools that can be purchased for a reasonable price. I encourage you to check out these other options, as in some cases they can add some tremendous functionality to the TFS. This article has been a quick tour of some of the best freely available tools for TFS. Each of these tools may only do a small thing, but together they help to increase your productivity and enable you to create better projects.
Besides this Microsoft could integrate or add some off the tools from the TFS community to TFS. Microsoft could use a trimmed-UI, so only the users containing the right permissions, could see and use these tools. Maybe we see some of these in 'Orcas' or 'Hawaii'.