Monday, September 26, 2011

Microsoft Test Manager Preview (MTM11)

About 18 months ago Microsoft’s released Microsoft Test Manager (MTM), a new test tool with focus on agile teams and collaboration. MTM introduced a lot of features to simplify and improve common test tasks and improve team collaboration. A week ago, at the build conference Microsoft release a Preview of the next version of Visual Studio including MTM.

Missing feature set in MTM2010
Even if MTM brought many new features to the tester, MTM do have some short comings and lack some features most testers expects. Amongst the most commonly wanted is the possibility to use Multi Line and Rich Text Formatting in Test Steps. The edit test case experience only uses a fraction of the screen to edit/view test steps. Testers have found workarounds for some issues like editing in excel and pasting back to MTM or using third party tools like the Test steps editor ( Of course the list of wanted features is a lot longer, but I think those mentioned is amongst the most commonly wanted.

MTM11 addresses most commonly wanted features
The big story in MTM11 is focused around Exploratory testing , but a quick look at the preview of MTM11 it looks like Microsoft also focus on addressing the the wanted features in the next release. MTM11 now supports Multi Line, and Rich Text Formatting (even if the formatting toolbar is pretty limited). Even the test case editor is improved and a splitter is introduced so you can adjust and use all available space for viewing /editing test steps.

MTM11 Backward compatibility?
With the most commonly asked for features fixed I was curious, is MTM11 backward compatible with TFS 2010 and MTM 2010? Could I be using the MTM11 on a TFS 2010 project side by side with MTM2010 and use the new features?
After taking a test drive I found that Microsoft seems to have backward compatibility on its mind. MTM11 works directly an existing tfs2010 team project. I can view/edit/run test cases with both MTM11 and MTM2010. Using MTM11 against an old TFS2010 team project gives me a better test case editor with Multi Line editing. If I open a test case created in MTM2010 and adds line breaks in test steps they render correctly in MTM2010
However, using MTM11 against an old team project disables the rich text editing is however disabled. To enable the rich text editing you need to connect to a tfs11 project or probably do some kind of process template upgrade.

Test step editor and MTM/TFS 11?
As many teams already worked around the limitations of MTM with tools like test steps editor, I was also curious how the next generation of TFS and MTM11 react to test cases edited with the test steps editor. The questions are, does MTM11 acknowledge line breaks made by test steps editor and how will they be treated by TFS11? From my test drive it looks promising, MTM11 seems to handle line breaks made by test steps editor in an old TFS2010 team projects. Upgrading the project to TFS11 works fine, and the line breaks made by test steps editor works fine in MTM11 after the upgrade.

MTM11 Preview is a good start
This post is just based on my findings after a short test drive with a preview of the next generation of MTM, but it looks promising. If Microsoft makes MTM11 backward compatible it will make it a lot easier to implement and use the version of MTM in real life projects. Hopefully Microsoft will continue and address commonly requested features like real pause/resume of test cases (new status), edit test cases during execution, ability to bind data bound test cases against SQL commands or other data sources.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TFS Reporting

If you want to do reporting against TFS there are three different data sources to consider. In this post I’ll go briefly through the possible data sources and there usage, pros and cons.

TFS Relational Warehouse
The TFS relational warehouse is an SQL database dedicated for reporting data inside TFS. The TFS Warehouse has a public schema and is the supported place to do SQL reporting against the TFS Data. The information in TFS Warehouse is an extract from the production data and is updated on interval (by default 2 h)

TFS Cube
The TFS cube is an analysis database storing aggregated information from the TFS warehouse. The TFS Cube is most suited for reporting on trends and aggregated info. Reporting tools are primary Excel for AdHoc reporting and SSRS using MDX as the query language. For those not too comfortable with the MDX language there is a tool on codeplex ( that allows you to use excel to create the query and then lets you show extract the MDX query.

TFS Production data
If you want access to all details of the TFS implementation, without the time delay you need to go directly against the TFS production data. The only supported way to do so is by using the TFS API. The downside is that you need to develop and deploy a solution wrapping the TFS API and consume it in your report.

For most cases the TFS Warehouse is your first choice, unless you want to do reporting on trends or aggregated information the TFS Cube is probably your first choice . If you can’t do with the (small) time delay or need access to RitchTextFields or other values not present in the TFS warehouse, you will need to develop and deploy your own data source using the TFS API.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

TFS OData Services as data source for SSRS reports

In April Microsoft release a beta of TFS OData Services , enabling a simply way to query and update tfs using http Url’s and atom xml data f, even from non-Windows platforms. This is good news for everyone who wants to extend tfs to mobile devices, but I saw an alternative use for it.

Looking for a SSRS data source
If you want to create reports containing details of work item, a story card report for example, you don’t really have a good data source to base your report on. The TFS Warehouse doesn’t offer vital fields like description, history and many other fields of importance. So far the best option I’ve found is to use Ewald Hofman’s solution in this post Although it’s a proven working solution it requires both customizations and deployment of a web services . If TFS OData services will be a part of TFS installation it could be the answer I’ve been looking for.

Installing TFS OData services
To test the new TFS OData services, I started installing it on one of our lab servers. Quite quickly it became obvious that TFS OData install is not install that simply installs the TFS OData Services on a Server. It installs a complete development environment for developers who wants to build mobile TFS applications. To get it installed I switch to a lab devbox and installed all the tools required by the install. Once installed I needed to point the TFS OData services to a tfs server, this was no problem. One thing that caused me some problems was to handle the certificates.

OData as datasource in SSRS
As Microsoft has been pushing OData quite a bit, I was expecting it to be fairly easy to consume OData services in SSRS. Sadly I was surprised to find out that SSRS can generate an OData feed, but have no guidance how to consume OData as a data sources. After quite some time searching and asking around my colleagues I found a solution. SSRS have an XML data source, and you can specify an url as connection string. You can also specify Query parameters and how to translate the returning xml using the Query in SSRS. The following XML translates the OData response to fields in SSRS:
<ElementPath IgnoreNamespaces="true">

OData & SSRS - Possible but not practical
So it is possible to consume OData services in SSRS, but it’s not really practical as you specify the URL in the data source. OData uses the URL as the query specification, forcing you to have one data source for each query you intend to use. It might be possible to fix this or write an custom data source adapter for OData, using SSRS extension model.

Beta 1 shortcomings
As I got a data source and a query in SSRS, I started to create a simple story card report. Quite soon I run into trouble. Some parts of the URI’s used for accessing queries is less natural, like /ColletionName/Queries('b3844370-e517-471d-a55c-d45f9bf7716d')/WorkItems This formats with guids as identifiers for queries, instead of query name, might work if coding against it, but for manually doing reporting it’s not a great experience.
The next problem is that the beta 1 of TFS OData returns a predefined subset of a work item, regardless of the work item definition, or the query specification. This is a show stopper, at least as a SSRS data source.

If you want to create reports containing details of work item the best option is still Ewald Hofman’s solution to create an web service to execute Work Item Queries using the TFS API. TFS OData has to develop and grow a bit before it can be used as a data source, on the other hand it’s only a beta 1 yet. The potential is there in the OData format and if its developed and delivered as a part of TFS it could be used as a standardized data source for TFS data.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How to change iteration for Burn Down reports in project portal

Last week I needed to change the default iteration for the burn down chart in the (WSS) team project portal . My first thought was that this should be a simple task done in minutes, as the burn down chart is a SSRS report and I know I can change the default parameters for SSRS reports on the properties tab of the SSRS report.

How to change default parameters for SSRS reports
The simplest way to change the default parameter for a SSRS report is to right click on the Reports folder in team explorer and select Show Report Site. Once the report site opens up in your browser, click on the report you want to change, and then the report shows, click on the Properties tab. In the left border, click on the Parameters tab. Now you can see all parameters in the report and change their default values. Some of them are easy to change, others like the iteration parameter is not expressed in a intuitive or user friendly format.

Finding the right iteration expression
To find the value for an iteration, you need read access to the TFS Cube, and a tool such as SQL Server Management Studio. To get the desired iteration value you have to browse the TFS Cube, find and browse the Iteration hierarchy, find the desired iteration and drag it over to the query area. This procedure is described in detail in a post by John Socha-Leialoha (

In my case, and I suspect in many other cases, I didn't have read access to the customers tfs cube, forcing me to find another way to get the iteration value. In other cases, access and knowledge to tools could be a show stopper.

An easier way
As I was forced to find another solution, I came up with the idea to create a custom SSRS report showing the iterations and their corresponding iteration values/expression. Creating the report was easy, and all I had to do once created was to upload it to the server and set the data source. Once done, I simply run the report, find the iteration I need and I can copy the iteration value at the same row. Next time I need to change the iteration, I simply run the report again.
I think it is a really simple and good way to solve the problem, so if you running iterations and want to change the current iteration every 2-4 weeks, grab the report from my skydrive

Saturday, February 19, 2011

TFS Scorecard 2010 Beta 1 released on CodePlex

Today I released a beta of TFS Scorecard for TFS 2010 at CodePlex Since the release of TFS2010 I've been working on an adopting the TFS Scorecard to the schema changes of TFS2010 data warehouse and cube. Upgrading to the TFS 2010 schema changes was not a big deal and soon fixed. But the old version was dependent on extensions to the tfs cube.

Old version bad install experience
The TFS2008 version was dependent on extensions made to the schema of the TFS Cube for the adoption queries. This made the install procedure all but smooth and simple. To solve this problem I did a TFS Warehouse adapter making the schema changes, but it still was
an extra step to follow and I would personally think twice myself before adding an external third party data warehouse adapter to a production server.

No more extensions to the cube.
Then I started to look at how to upgrade or adopt the cube extensions, I wanted to improve the install experience, or at least not make it worse. After some thoughts I got the idea to skip the cube extensions and do SQL queries against the TFS Warehouse instead. As the TFS Warehouse contains all data used by the cube schema extensions, I could solve the problems with SQL without requiring any changes by the user. Using SQL against the warehouse instead of MDX agianst the cube could of course hurt performance, but I don't think this is a big concern as the Scorecard report is probably scheduled or viewed once a week in most cases.

Manual Test metrics

With the new test tools for manual testing (Microsoft Test Manage ) I thought it would be nice to get a picture of the adoption of manual testing with MTM. So I made an Manual Test metrics in the adoption page.

Beta release- please provide feedback

I think there is some work left to do on the TFS Scorecard report. I didn't take any time to fix the small details of the report graphics. You could always discuss and improve metrics and other features. Download and try the TFS Scorecard 2010 release from codeplex and if you have any ideas, comments or feedback in general I would be pleased if you let me know.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Back in business

This week was the first real work week for a while. For the last eight month I've been on parent leave taking care of my daughter at home. During my parental leave I've been taking a couple of smaller customer assignments. Somehow they ended up being more than a couple, leaving no time for this blog amongst other things.

But this week I'm back in business, My daughter started at the local daycare center and I went back to work. Hopefully this will mean that I can do some post on the stuff I've done during the parental leave. I also started to work on my backlog, hopefully it will result in some posts and announcements.

About announcements, this week I got an email from Microsoft congratulating me to the Microsoft Community Contributor Award. It's always nice with all kinds of feedback, all comments, emails and even awards :) are greatly appreciated and motivates me to share my thoughts, findings and experience.