Thursday was the first official day of DevLink. Each session was three hours today, instead of the usual 75 minutes.
Configuration Management with Team Foundation Server
I attended “Configuration Management with Team Foundation Server” presented by VSTS MVP Steve Andrews. He started with a discussion of an MS Build file. MS Build is Microsoft’s build engine. It ships as part of the .NET Framework. MS Build files have an extension of .proj. Both .csproj and .vbproj are already MS Build files, you just may not know that. MS Build files are XML, so they’re easy to edit. In the Solution Explorer, right-click on the file and select Unload Project. Right-click again and select Edit. The project file will open in Visual Studio’s XML editor.
But, Visual Studio doesn’t know about .proj files, so you need to add in that support.
- Select Tools –> Options from the Visual Studio menu.
- Expand Text Editor and select File Extension.
- Enter proj as the file extension then map it to the XML Editor.
MS Build files have four main tags:
- Targets – a collection of Tasks and containers
- Tasks – Actions that MS Build will perform
- Properties – Name/value pairs
- Items – Individual items
If you add MS Build to the External Tools dialog, then you can call it from Visual Studio.
He talked about T4, a templating engine from Microsoft. I’ll admit, T4 was entirely new to me. I’ve added it to my “need to look at” list, but admittedly, it will be awhile before I get to it.
Steve talked a bit about “Data Dude”, which is Visual Studio for SQL guys. Since its release, it’s been pulled into other VS editions. If you have VS Professional, you can get “Data Dude” for free. Why do you want it? Because it makes writing stored procs and designing and maintaining your database easier.
Steve also talked about Team Build, the team version of MSBuild. If you’re working on a using TFS, you want to use Team Build.
This was a really good session that gave a great overview of working with MSBuild and Team Build.
I had planned to attend WPF 101 by Michael Eaton, but the room was packed. There wasn’t even very much standing room. By the time I found out the session had been moved to a bigger room, it was really too late to go. So, I spent the afternoon networking…an often overlooked benefit of going to a conference. If you attend a conference and don’t network, I think you’ve wasted your money.
Thursday evening was the DevLink Keynote, given by Josh Holmes. The topic was “The Lost Art of Simplicity”. Josh started by providing a definition of and discussion of what simplicity is. There are a several reasons why we’ve lost simplicity:
- Engineering – As software people, we often use the same tool for every job. We often don’t understand how programming languages work.
- Process – We get so caught up in how to do things that we don’t look for ways to do things better. Sometimes we add process for process’s sake.
- Ux – The user experience should concentrate on function, then worry about aesthetics.
If we can simplify how we do things and make things simpler for our customers, it’s a win all around.