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Mohamed Radwan is a Visual Studio ALM MVP and Senior ALM Consultant focusing on providing solutions for the various roles involved in software development and delivery to enable them build better software using Agile Methodologies and Microsoft Visual Studio ALM Tools & Technologies. Mohamed excels in software practices and automation with 12+ years of professional experience spanning the different stages and phases of the Software Development Lifecycle. Mohamed is also an MSc in Agile Methodologies, a frequent speaker at many local and regional technology events, the author of DevMagicFake Mocking Framework, an author of many technical articles & guides, the founder of the TFSEG and co-founder of MEAALM Community. Mohamed also holds number of Microsoft certificates including MCT, MCPD, MCITP in EPM, MCTS (7), MCSD, MCAD and CIW, Mohamed is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 13 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

What’s New in TFS 2012? – Team Explorer

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In this series I will start introducing what’s new in Visual Studio 11 and Team Foundation Server 11 ( TFS 11) or as we expect to be Visual Studio 2012 and Team Foundation Server 2012 (TFS 2012)

  1. Introduction
  2. Project Management Tool
  3. SSDT (SQL Server Developer Tool)
  4. Team Explorer
  5. My Work
  6. Code Review
  7. Suspend and Resume
  8. Local Workspace
  9. Pending Change
  10. Diff and Merge tool
  11. Unit Testing Improvement
  12. Code Clones
  13. Build Improvement
  14. Storyboarding
  15. Microsoft Feedback Client
  16. Exploratory Testing Improvement
  17. IntelliTrace in Production
  18. Alerts
  19. Administration


Team Explorer

What is Team Explorer?

As you may already know, there are many clients for TFS (Team Foundation Server) like, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project, Team Web Access, and many other clients including Team Explore. The Team Explorer considered as the primary client for TFS. It is an add-in on Visual Studio 2012 or can be installed as a separate application. There are a lot of change, new and merged features in the new Team Explorer and Visual Studio 2012 ex. the Pending Change Window merged within Team Explorer, also there are new windows added to the Team Explorer, ex. there is a new window called My Work, it just introduced in TFS 2012.

In this post I will try to focus on the Team Explorer itself and delay any explanation and speaking on any new or merged windows on upcoming posts, so any talk about any new or enhanced feature will introduced as an example of the new capabilities of the Team Explorer itself that mostly apply for many other features.

Team Explorer Enhancements

  1. Architecture (Web Based)
    • Navigation and Extensibility
    • Work item search
  2. New and Merged Windows
  3. On Demand Data retrieval (paging)
  4. Smart commands and Context driven
  5. Reducing Modality
  6. Performance and Async Operations
  7. Rollback in the UI

1. Architecture (Web Based)

  • Navigation and Extensibility
  • Work item search
  • Navigation and Extensibility

Old Team Explorer

New Team Explorer

The old version of Team Explorer was based on Tree/Nodes architecture which was very limited for new extensions, so whenever any extension or feature needed the only way to add it, is to add new node which makes the tree more complex than expected. In the new version, the architecture is based on web navigation style, the Team Explorer is like a main container that has multiple pages and each page is a container that has multiple sections and each section carry one window with many commands.

There is a navigation bar to go home (main container) at any point of time and also there are back and forward buttons to move between pages and sections as you visit them. This architecture gives Team Explorer richer extensible model, so we can extend it as the following methods:

    • Add new page to the navigation structure
    • Add a new section to an existing page
    • Add a top-level link to the Home page
    • Add a secondary link beneath an existing top-level item in the Home page
  • Work item search

There is a work item search that we can search inside the work item no third party tool needed, we expect this feature to be more complex for different release of the Visual Studio and TFS, there are some search syntax that can be found here,Work Item Search Syntax.

2.  New and Merged Windows

There are new windows introduced in TFS 2012 and new windows merged to the Team Explorer ex. My Work is a new window introduced in TFS 2012 and Pending Change Window merged in Team Explorer.

3. On Demand Data retrieval (paging)

In the old version of Team Explorer when we open team project we had to wait for all files to be loaded and download like (Reports, SharePoint documents) and so on but in this version of Team Explorer noting will be loaded until you need it’s like the paging concept when we displaying a lot of records, once we requesting the next page it will connect and bring us what we need.

4. Smart commands and Context driven

There are a lot reducing of right click and choose commands by exposing them and being intelligent, ex. the check in policy violation section will not show up if we don’t have violation but if we have? It will show up and appear, so there are a lot of command will not appear if there is no need for them.

5. Reducing Modality

One of the things that we really hate are modal dialog boxes, they show up and don’t let us do anything while they are there. There are a lot of improvements to reduce modality as much as possible ex. The check in pending change will not be modal anymore, so we don’t need to wait for all our files to be checked in so we can start to use our Visual Studio, so now we can use the Visual Studio while the code checked in.

6. Performance and Async Operations

To enhance the performance, Microsoft worked hard to move long-running tasks to background threads wherever possible, also there are a lot of improvement of operations response so we can achieve responsiveness UI, this made by increasing the number of Async Operations that interact with the TFS with the Reducing Modality feature which introduce a very responsive UI.

Old and already Async Operations:

    • History
    • Annotate
    • Source control explorer

New Async Operations:

    • Checking in
    • Editing a file
    • Find shelveset
    • Sheveset details and changeset details
    • File compare
    • Open the work item

7. Rollback in the UI

It’s not part of the Power Tool as a third part library anymore, it now become in the box.

The project settings now also looks different

Summary: Team Explorer one of the major change of the TFS 2012 and there are a lot of new features and enhancements that can’t be cover in one or two posts, as a summary, Team Explorer has different experience with a lot of change so this post just highlight the main and significant changes of the new experience introduced in Team Explorer.


Wrapping up TFS 11 Version Control improvements

The New Team Explorer in TFS 11

Making Developers More Productive with Team Foundation Server 11

Work Item Search Syntax

Published at DZone with permission of Mohamed Radwan, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Vikas Wing replied on Fri, 2012/12/21 - 1:38am

 Hello Mohamed,

Nice article simple and nicely explained. I will definately share this with my testing team and PM and use myself as a TL. We currently use TFS 2010 and it is quite good as compare to previous version. I am more interested in maintaining the project plan and bug history management in TFS 2012. Also excited about "SSDT" what it is about?. Would like to hear more from you :-)

Once again thanks.

Mohamed Radwan replied on Mon, 2012/12/24 - 8:06pm in response to: Vikas Wing

Hello Vikas,

You are welcome!, I am really happy that my post could help you or anyone this was always my pleasure! for the SSDT, there is a main blog post about it and also a video, you just click on the link and you will go there.

Thanks Vikas, because there is such readers like you, I like to contribute and give more!

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