Beginning with Git using VSTS

February 9th, 2017 | Posted by Vidya Vrat in ALM | VSTS - (0 Comments)

Introduction

Just like TFVC (Team Foundation Version Control), Git is another Source Version Control and it’s becoming very popular. VSTS (Visual Studio Team Services) supports both TFVC and Git. Let’s assume that you have no project or Repository and wants to begin with Git on VSTS.

Create a New Project

Login to your VSTS account and click on New Project

Fill the information

Click “Create” and you will notice that Project will be Created as shown below.

Clone it in IDE

Click “Clone in Visual Studio”. New Visual Studio IDE will start a dialog like shown below will popup.

Provide the Repository path and click on “Clone”.

Switch to Team explorer and Click on “Create a new project or solution”

 

When prompted choose the project type. After Project is added successfully you will notice that project is added in Solution Explorer and shows (+) in front of various items and also Team Explorer’s Changes tab shows all the items listed as newly being added.

Commit Changes and Publish

After project being added into Solution Explorer it’s considered as a change to the blank repository/project you created. Hence, this change needs to be added to remote Master branch.

In Team Explorer à Changes, add a comment for check-in and click on “Commit All”

Click “Commit All” and from the next Synchronization Tab, click “Publish”

Now your Git Repository in VSTS should be updated with the code you have pushed-in to it. Refresh your VSTS page and you should be able to see your project code added.

Introduction

Technical Debt is a term that is commonly used in agile-scrum team process. Technical debt is used for the work which team or an individual didn’t prioritize upon while pushing the deliverable, and  either left some unwanted code in various project artifacts, such as – .cs, .config, .cshtml, .js, .sql etc. or didn’t use the right technique to accomplish the goal. But in real world software development process this is expected and totally fine as long as team takes the responsibility to pay off the Technical Debt.

How is Technical Debt created?

Technical Debt is like financial $$ debt; if you don’t pay off previously owned $ amount but keep borrowing more than you are getting into messier situation. I assume you are not the one who like debt that much; whether it is technical or financial. Anyways, just to be aware; if you don’t take good care of the following items then you are potentially seeding “Technical Debt” situation in general, later on which needs to be paid off.

  • First and foremost poor coding style and standards.
  • No unit test cases.
  • Not following OO design principles.
  • Developing long monolithic classes and code libraries.
  • Not envisioning on proper candidate technology, architecture or approach and then hitting a wall. I.e. when application is little bit mature you start to feel the hit on User experience, performance, scalability, code maintenance etc.
  • Over engineered application. I.e. things which can be done in simpler way are done using very complicated mechanism. For instance, to do encryption data, custom code is written or taken from internet which causes a lot of security holes and performance hits.
  • Code files has a lot of comments. I.e. code is completely documented. Many developers write few lines of comment for each line of code.
  • Code is not self-documented. I.e. Classes, functions, variables etc. are given improper names. For example, a function is named Salary instead of EmployeeSalary or a variable is called double sal instead of double employeeSalary.
  • Shortcut approach is taken to push the functionality to meet the code complete deadlines. Such events trigger further refactoring to be performed later. For instance, created one thick bulky Model class with a lot of classes within. Or hard coded various paths and endpoints into the .cs code rather than putting those into a web.config and reading web.config Key in the code for the related value (key-value pair).
  • Dead code in project. You must have seen or left some commented code in various code files. This is dead code and needs to be cleaned up.

Based on above mentioned points, now you will be able to understand that why Technical Debt is also known as Code Debt or Design Debt. In addition, anything in your software development work; which slows you down or looks odd, or can be improved is a “Technical Debt”.

How to handle Technical Debt

First step is, not to cause any technical debt from your end; if at all possible. However, in agile development it’s common to have some technical debt accumulated over the period of time, if so then move to second step. Second step is to report any technical debt which you have either caused or came across.

Please don’t get into blame game or point finger to any individual. Let’s say you come across some code blocks in a file you are working on and then you see some dead code. Rather than start cleaning it up, I recommend create a Technical Debt item and let the team decide.

How to Report Technical Debt

Technical debt items are usually reported as Issues or as a “New Product Backlog Item”. Also, Technical debt items are supposed to be logged in a separate backlog. I.e. don’t report those to Production or sprint backlog. In many teams and as per my experience with agile-scrum I have always worked on a separate dedicated “TechnicalDebt backlog”

Having a separate TechnicalDebt Backlog allows the team to stay focused on Sprint backlog and don’t interfere with business requirements which are logged in the Product Backlog.

Creating Technical Debt backlog

Creation of backlog and modifying process templates etc. are usually done by an admin on your team project. In an agile team setting this duty is usually performed by the scrum master.

If your team doesn’t already have a Technical Debt backlog, then it’s time create one.

  1. Go to VSTS (Visual Studio Team Services) Team Project’s Web Portal and in control panel under work, click on Areas.

  2. Under the “Areas” click on “New child”

  3. Name it as “TechnicalDebt_<YourTeamProjectName>”. TechnicalDebt prefix helps you differentiate it with other areas and makes it self-explanatory.

  4. It will now appear under your Team Project as an area.

 

Let’s see it from Developer’s angle

Developers usually interact via Team Explorer from within Visual Studio IDE.

Select Work Items and then click on “New Work Item” and based on your team process template; usually either Agile or Scrum, you can select Product Backlog Item or Impediment or Issue as item type to report the Technical debt.

Filling in the details

Usually, any item in any backlog needs to have ample information to describe what the issue is. In the below example, it is briefly pointed out that some classes need code cleanup. Some questions might still be unanswered and those will be discussed during backlog grooming and sprint planning.

When to work on Technical Debt

Just like Product and Sprint backlogs, Technical Debt backlog also needs to be groomed I.e. each “Technical Debt” item needs to be reviewed and groomed by the team to identify its validity, impact on overall team’s development experience and software quality team is producing. Once, team is in agreement to pay off a technical debt item or items then those items are transferred to Sprint Backlog and many times a new User Story is created for each technical debt.

Many Agile experts say that a team must not carry Technical Debt beyond a sprint, just like you should not carry Credit Card balances over to next pay period. I.e. pay off full Credit Card debt in the same billing cycle. But, it’s not always possible, so it doesn’t happen in software world for Technical Debt as well.

Summary

I personally recommend that as a developer you should not cause any technical debt due to the code you have written or currently writing. Be honest, about any improvements your code might need and explicitly call out what changes can be made to make it better. Avoid any over engineering or unwanted design patterns and technology implementations to be called out as Technical Debt. If you are not sure whether a particular code / technique is Technical Debt or not, call out a short brain storming session. In today’s software development industry it’s not easy to avoid technical debt, we all live with it, but be aware that you have to get rid of technical debt to achieve complete Technical Freedom.

Introduction to VSO

VSO (Visual Studio Online) a cloud based collaboration tool (can be considered as TFS online). VSO provides a set of tools that work with Visual Studio to effectively manage your application.

VSO Capabilities

VSO offers various capabilities which various team can utilize to build great software and really depend upon.

  •   Version control.

  •   Tools for Agile Software Development teams

  • Continuous Integration

  • Support for even Non-Microsoft Languages and Tools

  • Integration support for various 3rd Party Tools

  • Infrastructure Grade SLA

Note: All above images are taken from https://www.visualstudio.com/products/visual-studio-team-services-vs

Back in 2008

I do remember the earlier days when Microsoft 1st started this concept of VSTS (Visual Studio Team System).

You can click https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=16338 to visit the page as shown in image above

On-Premise VS Azure

Many work places have applications which they want to have access to anytime, anywhere and continue to build the applications using integrated, powerful, cross-platform, enterprise-level Agile tools ; so team(s) can share source code, build often, test early, and ship faster with less time to market.

Like many software companies “on premise” source control in form on TFS on their own servers has served the business need. Whereas for many cloud was the choice to set up a Team Services account,  connect their dev tools, share code, invite team members, and start working.

In these business scenarios TFS and VSO has been an answer respectively.

Rebranding made is meaningful

Recently, Microsoft re-visited the Branding idea of VSO and renamed/re-branded it back to VSTS. But now “S” is not System instead it’s “Services” as this is Azure based solution hence, Services make complete sense. I.e. VSTS (Visual Studio Team Services) which is Software-as-a-Service offered by Microsoft for organization’s ALM needs.

  Note: This image is taken from https://www.visualstudio.com/products/what-is-visual-studio-online-vs?WT.srch=1&WT.mc_ID=SEM_MqzVAfsq

Summary

In my view VSTS provides better value to development team(s) and better ROI to management; as it enables and empowers the developers to collaborate anytime from anywhere. In addition it helps the organizations to reduce / cut-down the DevOps cost and needless to mention Zero investment into serves/disk spaces. Whether you are a dev using VSTS or on-Premise TFS you are not missing any features and capabilities from any of the flavor, VSTS is just a preferred/better way (in my view).