Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Experience with Team Foundation Server 2010

Over a year ago, I wrote an article about comparing Team Foundation Server to Subversion, which turned out to be one of the most popular posts on my blog. That comparison was based on TFS 2008, and due to a variety of circumstance, we ended not implementing either TFS or Subversion, but rather stuck with good old SourceSafe (yay). A couple of months ago, however, we finally got the traction we needed to proceed with a full-fledged source control system, and set up TFS 2010. Here's a brief overview of how it went.

Compared to TFS 2008, the installation of TFS 2010 was a breeze. In 2008, the installer was very fickle and would constantly error out during various steps if everything wasn't configured ideally before starting (at least in my experience). TFS 2008 was also invasive into Active Directory and tried to make some changes to the AD configuration, which was not allowed at my client's site. In 2010, however, the Active Directory invasiveness is gone and the installer was no more complicated than a standard installer, on par with installing something like SQL Server. And for anything that wasn't configured correctly before installation, it just gave me a reminder to do it later instead of crashing. That's always a plus.

General configuration was easy and done through a series of wizards - no more manually editing XML files like you sometimes had to do in 2010. After you set up your collections in the TFS Administration console, pretty much everything else can be done via Team Explorer (Visual Studio 2010). I configured several Team Projects and created Team Build configurations without a hitch. Modifying the build process is also done visually, using Windows Workflow activities. I modified a few of them to publish a website upon a successful build, and had no difficulties with it.

User Experience
The end-user experience isn't really that different from 2008. Most of the improvements in terms of usability are on the administrator side of things. That being said, it works well. We've been using it for a few months to manage about 15 different projects and builds, and are also using it for all defect and issue tracking, and our Agile Scrum process. I actually installed it on a 3 year old workstation running Windows 2008 Server R2, and the performance hasn't even been an issue (though we have a small team of 5).

Overall I was very pleased with the level of improvement from TFS 2008 to TFS 2010. TFS 2008 was daunting and made you feel like you had to be a dedicated expert in order to use it, the way I feel about most Oracle products. By contrast, TFS 2010 is very accessible to the average developer and much easier to support and maintain. Looks like Microsoft's pattern of hitting their stride with the third release of a product is still going strong.

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