Derik Whittaker



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Team Foundation Server… What they got WRONG
So, after reading all the hype about Microsoft’s new team management product called Team Foundation Server, which by the way is just them stealing the concepts from products like CruiseControl, NUnit, NAnt, NMake, etc and repackaging them, I was really excited to see how it worked and what it could do. 

I have to tell you I was upset and frustrated from the get go.  Could they have created an installation process that was any more complicated and convoluted?  I mean installing Windows XP is a simpler process and takes less time.  The first time I installed TFS, it took me about 6-8 hours of effort.  Now some of this was working with the network guys to create the needed domain accounts, some was trying to find the required prerequisite software, some was actually reading and re-reading the instruction guide.  The good news is once I got TFS installed it worked as described.  I was able to create a new team project I was able to add files, create check-in procedures, etc.

All was going good until I decided to play around with TFS Build.  I had one goal in mind.  Create a build that would trigger every time that I checked in a file and have that build run my unit tests and then deploy the compiled assemblies to a network drive.  So, I cracked open the handy TFS installation guide to see how to install and run TFS Build.  To be honest setting up a build was pretty easy and straight forward…UNTIL I wanted to have a build triggered by a check in.  I read and read, searched and searched the install guide for a way to do this.  When after some time of searching I could not find the answer I turned to every developer’s best tool, Google for the answer.  Thank god for Google, I was able to find in a very short time frame the answer to my quest.  But, boy was I not expecting the answer I found.  THERE IS NO AUTOMATED BUILD IN TFS…….  How do you create a Team server WITHOUT an automated build process??????  The good news is that a project manager at Microsoft was good enough to create an add-in that would allow for an automated build (  So after downloading his add in (thanks man, you rock) and running the installer I had my continuous build up and running.

I guess the point to this post is two fold.

1) Thanks Microsoft for creating a product like TFS that all the M.S. developers in the world can benefit from

2) What the hell were you thinking…….?  You create a great product but you miss on fundamentals on things like installation and features.  I mean I understand that you have to get the initial product out the door, but next time do not skimp on the details.



Posted 09-21-2006 7:44 AM by Derik Whittaker
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benrice wrote re: Team Foundation Server… What they got WRONG
on 09-21-2006 3:52 PM

You didn't even mention the price.  Team Suite for $10k?  As one who "recommends devlopment tool purchases" it's not easy to explain to my boss why he should drop that kind of money to combine all the functionality that we currently have (design tools, IDE, testing tools, build tools, issue reporting and tracking) in disparate tools.

Derik Whittaker wrote re: Team Foundation Server… What they got WRONG
on 09-21-2006 6:15 PM

You are so correct, we are just using the 'Work Group' edition for now for just this reason.

The only reason I see in combing all the tools is for simplicity.  

Tomorrow, I do plan to post about what they got right, so check back then and let me know your thoughts.

Brian Keller (Microsoft) wrote re: Team Foundation Server… What they got WRONG
on 10-17-2006 2:23 PM

Hi Derik - thanks for taking the time to compose your thoughts about what you like and don't like. I'm pleased to see that the list of good things outweighs the list of bad, so thank you for offering a balanced viewpoint!

You are correct that out of the box we don't support continuous integration (which is the form of automated build you were looking for). We do, in fact, support automated builds which can be scheduled (e.g. every night at 3 a.m.). Due to the event subscription model which is built into Team Foundation Server it's fairly straightforward to add continuous integration support to your TFS deployment. The method you linked to is in fact one of about seven different published approaches you can take, so you really have a lot of flexibility here which is part of the reason we de-prioritized "out-of-the-box" support for continuous integration in the v1 release since we were focusing on the extensibility model which would allow you to hook into your own continuous build server depending on the approach you wanted to take.

Rest assured, however, that out-of-the-box support is something we're going to try to enable in a future version of TFS.

Regarding the installation process it would be good to get some feedback from you about what was particularly difficult. Did you use the Installation Guide? [Don't worry - you won't get a response like RTFM from me if you didn't! - but it is something that we review and improve regularly so if any steps in there are confusing or incomplete we can look into fixing them.]

All the best -

Brian Keller

Technical Evangelist

Visual Studio Team System

PS: Feel free to email me directly via my blog.

Vincent wrote re: Team Foundation Server… What they got WRONG
on 12-13-2006 9:50 AM

It's simple, you need a setup procedure by wizards that installs all the pre-requisites.

ashik wrote re: Team Foundation Server… What they got WRONG
on 03-23-2007 7:51 AM

plz give the link or guide me to install & configure tfs workgroup edition, i have tryed a lot in net, plz give the link

Themestoclis wrote re: Team Foundation Server… What they got WRONG
on 04-19-2007 5:31 AM


Sophocles wrote re: Team Foundation Server… What they got WRONG
on 05-03-2007 4:23 PM


Dmitri wrote re: Team Foundation Server… What they got WRONG
on 08-23-2008 3:03 AM

TFS installation is absolute hell - I tried installing it on an OS that had VSS already (failed), then used a wrong collation for SQL Server (failed), then couldn't install SQL Server because when you change collation of master DBs you need to apply SQL SP2 again (failed), then it turned out that even when you do apply SP2 things won't work if you've had previous installs (that weren't automatically removed). Currently, I'm in limbo, and I'm wondering how a serious company could put out a product with such an unacceptable installation procedure. wrote re: Team Foundation Server… What they got WRONG
on 12-08-2008 8:22 PM

Installing TFS can be a pain.  If you're having trouble, try slipsteaming the TFS service packs into the install.

JS wrote re: Team Foundation Server… What they got WRONG
on 01-09-2009 3:01 PM

Correction: installing TFS *is* a pain. We have burned through a few hundred man hours via trial and error to find out how to install it (Win 2008, MOSS 2007 and SQL 2005). The installation chm is an opaque guide that is mostly useful but you still must create your own detailed step-by-step walkthrough to implement it in production. And post-install be prepared to troubleshoot integration problems between MOSS, RS, and TFS because they don't play nice together. Oh, and the instrumentation consists of a log file with cryptic error messages that won't help you. And I've read that some teams use it just fine for several months and then one day "poof" it just chokes. Good luck, yer gonna need it.

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