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Software Engineering with Microsoft Visual Studio Team System

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Software Engineering with Microsoft Visual Studio Team System


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  • Copyright 2006
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-27872-0
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-27872-2

Software Engineering with Microsoft Visual Studio Team System is written for any software team that is considering running a software project using Visual Studio Team System (VSTS), or evaluating modern software development practices for its use.

It is about the value-up paradigm of software development, which forms the basis of VSTS: its guiding ideas, why they are presented in certain ways, and how they fit into the process of managing the software lifecycle. This book is the next best thing to having an onsite coach who can lead the team through a consistent set of processes.

Sam Guckenheimer has been the chief customer advocate for VSTS, responsible for its end-to-end external design. He has written this book as a framework for thinking about software projects in a way that can be directly tooled by VSTS. It presents essential theory and practical examples to describe a realistic process for IT projects.

Readers will learn what they need to know to get started with VSTS, including

  • The role of the value-up paradigm (versus work-down) in the software development lifecycle, and the meanings and importance of “flow”
  • The use of MSF for Agile Software Development and MSF for CMMI Process Improvement
  • Work items for planning and managing backlog in VSTS
  • Multidimensional, daily metrics to maintain project flow and enable estimation
  • Creating requirements using personas and scenarios
  • Project management with iterations, trustworthy transparency, and friction-free metrics
  • Architectural design using a value-up view, service-oriented architecture, constraints, and qualities of service
  • Development with unit tests, code coverage, profiling, and build automation
  • Testing for customer value with scenarios, qualities of service, configurations, data, exploration, and metrics
  • Effective bug reporting and bug assessment
  • Troubleshooting a project: recognizing and correcting common pitfalls and antipatterns

This is a book that any team using or considering VSTS should read.

“This is first and foremost a book about software engineering. In discussing flash points such as planning, documentation, governance, auditability, and organization, Sam presents the case for both agile and more formal practices, as well as describing the optimal conditions for each. Even though the material is presented in the context of VSTS, the guidance is universal.”

–Dr. Bill Curtis

chief process officer, Borland Software Corporation

“Sam Guckenheimer ushers in the era of trustworthy transparency that will revolutionize the way we manage software development projects.”

–David J. Anderson

author of Agile Management for Software Engineering

“This book is an eye opener: a door to a new era of software engineering.”

–Francis T. Delgado

senior program manager, Avanade

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Software Engineering with Microsoft Visual Studio Team System: A Value-Up Paradigm

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Table of Contents

About the Author          xvii

Foreword         xix

Preface xxi

Acknowledgments        xxix

CHAPTER 1   A Value-Up Paradigm   1

CHAPTER 2   Value-Up Processes     27

CHAPTER 3   Requirements    49

CHAPTER 4   Project Management     79

CHAPTER 5   Architectural Design      115

CHAPTER 6   Development     133

CHAPTER 7   Testing  165

CHAPTER 8   Reporting Bugs 205

CHAPTER 9   Troubleshooting the Project       221

CHAPTER 10   Conclusion      243

Index    249


Why I Wrote This Book

I joined Microsoft in 2003 to work on Visual Studio Team System (VSTS), the new product line that was just released at the end of 2005. As the group product planner, I have played chief customer advocate, a role that I have loved. I have been in the IT industry for twenty-some years, spending most of my career as a tester, project manager, analyst, and developer.

As a tester, I've always understood the theoretical value of advanced developer practices, such as unit testing, code coverage, static analysis, and memory and performance profiling. At the same time, I never understood how anyone had the patience to learn the obscure tools that you needed to follow the right practices.

As a project manager, I was always troubled that the only decent data we could get was about bugs. Driving a project from bug data alone is like driving a car with your eyes closed and only turning the wheel when you hit something. You really want to see the right indicators that you are on course, not just feel the bumps when you stray off it. Here too, I always understood the value of metrics, such as code coverage and project velocity, but I never understood how anyone could realistically collect all that stuff.

As an analyst, I fell in love with modeling. I think visually, and I found graphical models compelling ways to document and communicate. But the models always got out of date as soon as it came time to implement anything. And the models just didn't handle the key concerns of developers, testers, and operations.

And in all these cases, I was frustrated by how hard it was to connect the dots for the whole team. I loved the idea in Scrum (one of the agile processes) of a "single product backlog"—one place where you could see all the work—but the tools people could actually use would fragment the work every which way. What do these requirements have to do with those tasks, and the model elements here, and the tests over there? And where's the source code in that mix?

From a historical perspective, I think IT turned the corner when it stopped trying to automate manual processes and instead asked the question, "With automation, how can we reengineer our core business processes?" That's when IT started to deliver real business value.

They say the cobbler's children go shoeless. That's true for IT, too. While we've been busy automating other business processes, we've largely neglected our own. Virtually all tools targeted for IT professionals and teams seem to still be automating the old manual processes. Those processes required high overhead before automation, and with automation, they still have high overhead. How many times have you gone to a one-hour project meeting where the first ninety minutes were an argument about whose numbers were right?

Now, with Visual Studio Team System, we are seriously asking, "With automation, how can we reengineer our core IT processes? How can we remove the overhead from following good process? How can we make all these different roles individually more productive while integrating them as a high-performance team?"

Who Should Read This Book

This book is written for a software team that is considering running a software project using VSTS. This book is about the why, not the how.1 What are the guiding ideas behind VSTS? Why are certain ideas presented in certain ways? For example, why are so many things called work items? What does the metrics warehouse measure? Why would you use those particular reports?

It has been my experience time and time again that knowledgeable, skillful, experienced people bring uneven starting assumptions to software projects. What appear to be self-evident truths to one person are folk myths to another, and one person's common wisdom is another's discovery. This issue is exacerbated by a natural emphasis on functional roles, which are often baked into career ladders. I certainly believe that there are expert developers, expert testers, expert architects, expert business analysts, and expert project managers, but delivering customer value requires collaboration across all disciplines. Attempts to optimize one special role in isolation from the others do not necessarily improve the delivery of results as the customer sees them.

One way of solving the discrepancies has been to have an onsite coach who can lead the team through a consistent set of processes. Coaches are great, but not everyone has the luxury of working with one. So, because I cannot ship you an on-demand coach, I've written this book.

This is not a step-by-step tutorial in the sense of a user manual that tells you where to click in what sequence. Plenty of good documentation on those topics is available with VSTS, and I reference it where appropriate. Rather, this book offers a framework for thinking about software projects in a way that can be directly tooled by VSTS. Indeed, we built VSTS to run software projects this way.

This book is also not a survey of software engineering literature. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of books have been written about software engineering in the last forty years. I do not recap them here, and I do not cover all the material that they do. I expect the criticism from many experts that some of my arguments go without saying nowadays. Unfortunately, as Freud pointed out, what goes without saying is often not said at all. As a result, differences in team members' assumptions are not exposed until the wrong argument happens. So if you want to fault me for stating too many obvious things, I'm guilty as charged.

I present enough Team System theory and practice examples to describe a realistic process for most mainstream IT projects and teams. It may not be formal enough for avionics software that requires FAA approval; it may not be loose enough for a three-person team co-located in a garage.

How to Read This Book

VSTS includes process guidance called Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF), which includes the central concept of a team model based on a team of peers. The team model allows for different scales of specialization. MSF defines seven constituencies, or points of view, that must be represented on a successful project, and it includes recommendations for scaling up and down. I call out these points of view throughout the book with icons that look like this:

This book is written for the team as a whole. It presents information in a style that will help all team members get a sense of each other's viewpoint. However, role-specific sections are called out so that you can focus on or skim over portions as needed for your specific roles. I've tried to keep the topics at a level that is engaging to all team members and not arcane for any. (For some, this choice may reinforce the criticism of simplicity.) In this age of specialization, I think it is important to have at least this level of contract with and expectations of your colleagues in other specialties. If you're in a hurry, you can use the constituency icons as a guide to the role-related topics that interest you most.

Pointers to Documentation
As I said, this is not a how-to book. Where details of VSTS or its documentation are appropriate, you will see a pointer to it, like this example:

I made this choice because I assume that most of the time that you are reading this book, you are not sitting in front of a computer, and occasionally you will want to go back and try something hands-on. When you're just reading, you


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