Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Git + CVS + Windows = Team Foundation Server - FOR FREE!

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Hello blog readers! Today I thought I would talk about the Windows version of Git, Team Foundation Server. Git is a code repository. That means that it's just a fancy way to store 50 versions of a source code file and help you keep track of who edited what, when, and why. Unfortunately, unless you are proficient with the Linux command line, Git is 100% useless to you. And what about using Visual Studio with Git? Yeah, OK, that's easy (NOT EVEN CLOSE! (Building source codes from .sln files is not supported, or keeping track of them for that matter)). So what are Windows developers using languages like C#, VB, or ASP.NET? What about direct integration with Windows Azure? How about compiling builds in the cloud? Welcome to the world of Team Foundation Server. TFS is a cloud based service provided by Microsoft for developers using Visual Studio to get all the features of Git and more. The instructions to get an account will vary. If you use DreamSpark or BizSpark you can register from your software catalog. Everyone else can register at tfs.visualstudio.com. I am not sure about signing up at the Visual Studio website, but DreamSpark users get free access and five free users. Once you link your account you can create a company or team name. Once you do that, you can access your company or team page at [team name].visualstudio.com. Once there you can create a new project or import one from Git (smart, huh?). Once your project is up and running you can link it easily with Visual Studio 2013 from the server toolbar using your Visual Studio profile on your Hotmail account. Visual Studio 2010 and 2008 users need a KB update from Microsoft before they can connect. If you are using Visual Studio 2005 or below, Microsoft has free tools available that will check out and check in files, but that's about it. On the website, you get all the bug tracking and file management tools that git has. Some features not found on Git include cloud compiles (it was surprisingly easy to set up through Visual Studio 2013), and testing cases. Testing cases allow you to have beta testers that can log into your repository and run a test on your program using a checklist with step-by-step instructions on what to do. The checklist also includes a Bug Found button that allows the tester to report bugs in the software during testing. Afterwards, you can log in and see the results of the test. One final amazing feature of Team Foundation Server is its integration with Windows Azure. That means that when you are done coding, just push your updated website to Windows Azure through TFS, and see the results instantly. Git is an amazing piece of software that is invaluable to Linux programmers, but when you need to develop a Windows application with a large team with advanced tracking features, Team Foundation Server is the way to go.

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