Sunday, March 26, 2006

Interesting times

Why there was nothing new on the blog for more than a month? Not because nothing interesting happened. On the contrary – it was eventful time with some surprises waiting for me on the way…

Let’s go back in time to the date of the last blog entry – February 23. On that day the sleek, new, long awaited laptop landed into my hands: Acer TravelMate 4272WLMi having 2 GB RAM and a brand new dual core Intel processor. The toy was really hot off the press, having the BIOS dated February the 9th 2006!
And it was high time, because in just over a week that laptop was to play a very important role in the first in a series of the two-day workshops on VS Team System. So there was just enough time to load up all the software and copy and test the virtual images. After few surprises (e.g. ati radeon x1400 video card driver was nowhere to find) all went well –Team Foundation Server was running happily in a VPC image.

We needed just to finish some of the samples for the workshop, such as continuous integration, scenario and its tasks (the one in which the state change of a work item of type “Task” potentially changes the state of it’s parent’s scenario work item; actually we weren’t able to finish that one; more about it in some future blog entry), work item type modification with integration with MS Project, and were ready to go…

The workshop was held on March 6 and 7 in Varazdin, Croatia. There were 16 very attentive attendees asking tons of interesting questions. Here are some of the questions:
Is there -support for automated UI testing? -UML support and Visio integration? -support for the requirement management? -document workflow automation? Is it possible to merge during unshelving?

One of our main messages was that VSTS supports the whole software development lifecycle. Yet, it was obvious that although that support is broad and thorough and VSTS as a platform and basic services is very firm, that there is lot of space for further development in V2 and even more space for the third party offerings that will find their users but are out of Microsoft’s immediate scope/focus.

Ana and I will have another Workshop on May 8 and 9, also in Varazdin. If you’re interested (and speak Croatian () watch here for the announcement.

After the workshop there was not much time to rest: on March 9 and 10, the two Beta exams awaited. UPGRADE:MCSD MS .NET Skills to MCPD Entpse App Dvlpr Pt 1 and UPGRADE:MCAD Skills to MCPD Wdws Dvlpr by Using MS .NET Fmwk. As usual, these two being extended versions of the normal exams, having 90 questions and lasting three hours, were pretty exhausting experience.  

Well it didn’t matter, since I was heading for a one week ski holiday in France. We’ve been spending a week in France skiing, each year last 5-6 years in a row. Usually, the twelve hour bus ride from Zagreb to French Alps is usually the most difficult part. To say that this year’s drive was tiresome would be an understatement. More exact description of our bus ride to the ski vacation would be – it was life threatening!

Somewhere in Italy, near the French Italian border, between numerous tunnels, largest of which was few years ago closed because of the damage caused by the fire, our bus got on fire. In the first moment we were thinking that it can’t be big deal, and that we will be back on the road in the matter of minutes. Soon the scene was completely different. Just a few shot moments after we escaped from the bus, all we could do was look in despair how the whole bus disappears in flames together with everything we’ve got. It was a terrifying experience.

Some luggage was rescued by the firemen, but most vanished.

The tourist agency, that has organized the trip, has outdone itself in order to bring us on the snow in spite of the disaster. They rented the equipment for us and even bought underwear for those that were left with nothing but the things that they had on themselves.

After such a beginning, the skiing had to be good. Even more so, it was exceptional! Seven days of clear blue skies, and two meters of snow.

But we are not through with surprises! On March15, a phone call from the office informed me that Microsoft has awarded me MVP "Visual Developer – Team System". It was a humbling and joyful moment. Thanks MS.

After an uneventful trip home, the final surprise – TFS shipped! Congratulations to all that contributed to the development of the product. For me, the most fascinating aspect of the journey, from the announcement two years ago to this day, is the level of openness of the development team and the level involvement of the community outside of the MS. Many features were put in the product because the people wanted it there – from the early days when the team was surprised to hear that MS Project isn’t the only “project management tool” worth supporting to the very late story with “Assigned To“ field.

For many people this is just the end of the beginning. I like to think of it that way too.

P.S. Google thought me that the “ancient Chinese curse” “May you live in interesting times” isn’t really Chinese and isn’t really old that much…    


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