Sunday, March 27, 2005

I'm Almost Scared To Post Anything..

Concerning the new Visual Studio Team System pricing, as well as the changes to MSDN Universal subscriptions. There are so many people that feel passionately about both sides that blog servers around the world are starting to crumble under the weight of the comments. (Well, maybe not really crumble, but you get the general metaphor idea).

However, since I am writing this post, you have probably guessed that I am going to make some comments. I'm also going to try and provide you with some links to other blogs which I feel you might find interesting, and I may even insert my opinion a time or two. I've spent several hours trying to read every blog and comment I could find, and I finally gave up, as there was too much information.

First off, a couple of links that will explain the current pricing scheme. I'm not going to try and list it all here, because it's not exactly cut and dry. The following blogs contain what I consider the best overall picture of the new pricing scheme

Rick LaPlante - VSTS Licensing

It is in essence the “most” you would pay for the products on the Open License plan. Also remember that there are more volume license plans available and if you are purchasing in greater volumes, the price comes down substantially.

Rick provides a nice, concise chart of the pricing schemes. I did find it a little confusing though. A quick look at this chart tells you two things: paying retail price is INSANE, and it is much better to upgrade.

Mike Gunderloy - VS2005 Pricing and Licensing
This is the best breakdown of the pricing I have seen yet. It is very thorough and detailed, and should answer any questions you have concerning the pricing.

Ok, at this point, I'm going to assume you have read the above two blogs, and have a general understanding of the pricing situation. I'm mostly going to focus on MSDN Universal subscribers, because that is what I am. Basically, you can upgrade to any of the 3 role-based products (Architect, Developer, Tester) for free, and then renew every year for $2299, which is about what you were probably paying anyway. The blogs above make mention that you can upgrade to VS Team Suite from MSDN Universal. According to a comment I read made by Prashant Sridharan, that special upgrade price would be approximately $2299. And then your yearly renewal would be $4598. Basically, they are doing a "Get 3 For The Price Of 2" option.

If you didn't grasp it, MSDN subscriptions are changing as well. Microsoft is trying to promote MSDN subscriptions as part of buying VS2005 or VSTS. There are now two MSDN levels: Professional and Premium. VS2005 can be bought with either, but VSTS can only be purchased with the Premium level MSDN.

Is your head hurting yet?

Something that has a lot of people outraged is that the Team Foundation Server is NOT included in any of the above pricing or with the MSDN subscription. The Team Foundation Server, and associated CALs (Client Access License) must be purchased seperate. Pricing of the server is approximately $2799, with $500 per CAL sold in packs of five. However, the MSDN packages do include one CAL. I did see a comment where there will be an 180 day trial of both Team Suite and Team Foundation Server.

OK, my opinions, for what it is worth.

Personally, Microsoft did what I was expecting, which was change their model. Someone had mentioned to me at Tech Ed last year they might go this direction, so I was not caught off guard. As far as cost, it was also what I was expecting. I’ll admit, I was hoping to be able to upgrade to the Team Suite for about 1K less, but in the grand scheme of things I don’t think it is that big a deal. But Microsoft, as a company, is entitled to change their model if they want to. I don’t think the fallout is going to be near as catastrophic as some people think.

I personally have no problem with Team Foundation server being a separate product. I understand some of the argument of some MSDN Universal subscribers, that they expect it to be included, but again, MSDN Universal does not exist any more. Now there is MSDN Premium, and in actuality you are now buying a development tool and getting the MSDN subscription, as opposed to buying the subscription and getting the development tool.

So, the price-point and all were pretty much where I expected them. I figured the price would go up. So I'm not that up in arms about it, at least not yet. If I'm not able to convince management to shell out the extra money not covered in the budget, then I'll be a little unhappy. Which leads me into...

I do think, however, that maybe there should have been a better way of communicating this out. I don’t have an answer for what that better way is, but the way it was presented has apparently shocked the mess out of people. And that is where all the negative feedback is coming from. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a good way to damage control that. I think the biggest thing is that some people had already planned their budgets for this year, based on money from previous years, and assuming they would be able to get the latest product. I know I am in this boat. I’m going to have to convince management to pull some extra money from somewhere in order to get the level of VSTS I want, because we based renewal money on what we have been paying, and did not anticipate the increase. I’ll bet you if people had been given an idea of what to expect last October/November, when they were still working on budgets, the outcry would not be near as bad.

If nothing else, all the interest in the pricing has turned me on to some new blogs to start reading. Here are some links to some other blogs which contain some good insight and interesting comments:

Alex Lowe - Team System: wading through the blogosphere comments....

Eric Sink - Comments on the pricing of Team System

Chris Menegay - Team System Pricing

Dave Bost - Adding My $.02 to the Team System Pricing Debate

Jeff's Junk - re: Microsoft to developers: Here are the toys, now let the grown-ups play

Developer - VS 2005 Pricing and Licensing (sucks)

Eric Bowen - Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server NOT included in MSDN subscription!

Eric Bowen - Microsoft responds (and still doesn't get it)

Eric Bowen - Scoring the Visual Studio 2005 pricing and packaging debate: Everybody's a little bit right.

Like I said, I quit reading after a while, because I was getting overloaded. If you've got a blog you'd like me to check out and possibly link up to, email me the link or add it to the comments of this blog. Also, if I have quoted some of the pricing or information incorrectly (like I said, my eyes were starting to glaze over), please let me know and I'll research it more.

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Creating an ASP.NET 2.0 Project, sorry, I mean Web Site, in VSTS

I'm kind of jumping around in Visual Studio Team System (VSTS), looking at things as they strike my fancy. In this post, I'm going to go through my process of creating an ASP.NET 2.0 Web Site in VSTS. (Note that it is not called a "project" anymore. I'll see if I can find out why at some point).

I opened Visual Studio 2005 (VS2005), and selected File->New->Web Site. This opens the "New Web Site" dialog box:

Figure 1 - New Web Site Dialog Box

VS2005 comes with five pre-installed templates for me to use for creating new web sites:

  • ASP.NET Web Site - A blank ASP.NET web site

  • Empty Web Site - An empty web site

  • ASP.NET Web Service - A web site for creating XML web services

  • ASP.NET Crystal Reports Web Site - An ASP.NET web site with a sample crystal report

  • Personal Web Site Starter Kit - Starter kit for creating a personal web site

There is a Language Drop Down List Box (DDLB), for selecting my development language. Currently, there are three options: Visual Basic, Visual C#, and Visual J# (does anyone actually use J#? Just curious)

There is a Location DDLB with the options: File System, HTTP, FTP. It defaults to File System->My Documents\Visual Studio\Websites\website1. You can click the Browse button, which opens the Choose Location dialog box:

Figure 2 - Choose Location Dialog Box

This dialog also gives you options, such as opening an existing website, or creating a new FrontPage website, among others.

I'm just going to build an ASP.NET web site, so I pick that option. I select C# as my Language, and File System as my Location. I changed the File System folder name to be: My Documents\Visual Studio\WebSites\MyFirstWebSite

I click the OK button and it creates the project...err, I mean web site, for me:

Figure 3 - IDE After Web Site Creation

So, I now have my web site open in the IDE. Currently, there is one file in it, Default.aspx, and the web site is NOT associated with a Team System Project or with any source control. Let's fix that.

I open the Team Explorer window, which is connected to my Team Foundation server. I click the New Team Project button. This opens the New Team Project window. I enter MyFirstWebSiteTeamProject as the Team Project Name, and the portal is set to http://vsts-tf/sites/MyFirstWebSiteTeamProject. I create an empty version control folder: $/MyFirstWebSiteTeamProject.

The project is created successfully. I told it to let me view both the Project Creation log file, and the Process Guidance Page. The Process Guidance page errored out in trying to be displayed, but I was able to view the Project Creation log file with no issues. This file is chocked full of information, and while it looks a little cryptic, I think with a little effort it will start to make sense. I'm going to tackle that in a later post.

So now I have my web site, and have it associated with both a Team System Project, and my project is displayed in the Team Explorer Window. Life is good.

The next several posts after this one are going to delve into adding this solution to the source control, what all is created automatically for you when you create a Team System project, and then I'll start delving into the security settings in Team System, for your Team System Projects.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Process Templates

Team Foundation Weblog - Customizing Process Templates

Amy Hagstrom has a great introductory post concerning Process Templates and how to customize them, complete with screen shots. I found this to be a great introductory post. It provides you with more than enough information to start poking around with what all the process model does for you, and how you can modify it to suit your own needs.

I have an upcoming post in my blog, where this is one of the topics I begin to delve into. Customizing your process model looks cool!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Yahoo Begins Blogging Beta Test

eWeek - "Yahoo Service Combines Blogging, Social Networking

Ok, I admit it, I am a very loyal Yahoo fan (except for searching, there I still use Google, but I digress). Never a day goes by that I don't access my "My Yahoo" page, and now that they allow you to link in pretty much any RSS feed, I find myself constantly revamping and remodifying my pages. Now, I don't think it will ever take the place of my RSS stand-alone news-reader, but I do like it all the same.

And now Yahoo is getting into the blogging business. And looking at their screenshots, I would say it looks like they have a good plan.

Here is a quote from the article:

Yahoo 360, which combines blogging tools with social networking, is being designed "as a place where people can go on and publish and share content and keep up with the people that they know," Brody said. It will provide access from one-page services that are now separate on Yahoo, such as photo albums, instant messaging, Launchcast music, special-interest groups and local services.

Admittedly, this sounds very similar to MSN Spaces, which Microsoft's MSN division launched in December. And I also will be the first to admit that I have not given MSN spaces a run-thru yet. But, because I am such a Yahoo loyalist, I'll probably give it a shot. I'll get around to trying Spaces at some point as well.

Unfortunantly, "Yahoo 360", as it is being called, only goes into limited Beta Testing by the end of the month, which means who knows when us peons will get the chance to give it a shot.

IE 7.0

eweek - "CSS Support Could BE IE's Weakest Link"

Some of the rumors about IE 7.0 include tabbed browsing, and a built-in news aggregator. I have to admit that I love using Firefox, because I love the tabbed browsing aspect. I have found myself using Firefox more than IE now, because of that fact. Having a built-in news aggregator is not that much of a plus for me, because I am a happy .NET Bandit user, and don't see that changing anytime soon. However, I do see having that built in as drawing more people into using RSS feeds and understanding their power and simplicity.

And while I don't really use CSS too much at work, I do think it would be a shame if Microsoft does not include full support for it in IE 7.0, because it is an accepted standard. To quote the eWeek article:

One partner said that Microsoft considers CSS2 to be a "flawed" standard and that the company is waiting for a later point release, such as CSS2.1 or CSS3, before throwing its complete support behind it.

If this is a true statement, I would be interested to hear why Microsoft believes CSS2 to be a flawed standard. Who knows, they may have a good point, but until some people start talking about it, we'll never know.

Other links of interest:

Microsoft Watch Article on IE 7.0 Details

IE Blog

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Team System In The News

eWeek - Microsoft, Borland Offer Process Guidance for Developers

Microsoft Wednesday announced it will be offering two new process templates with the Visual Studio 2005 Team System's MSF (Microsoft Solutions Framework) to help enterprise developers get started with various development processes. One is the MSF for CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) Process Improvement template and the other is MSF for Agile Software Development.

The December CTP ships with the MSF Agile, which I will admit I know next to nothing about. I do know that when you create a new Team Project, it automatically shoves 48 tasks into the database for you though!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I had some more posts for today, but viewing my images is not working correctly.  I hope to get the problem resolved today.  Thanks for your patience!

Develop XBox games with Visual Studio Team System...

John Lawrence – “Team System to be used in XNA XBox Game Development Platform”

This is too cool.  Good Job guys!

Let's Get Back To It

Ok, its about time I got back to updating my blog. I've got my laptop back up and running, and have recovered my virtual machines. Life looks good.

I fired up all my VPCs and started up VS2005. When I started up VS2005, it prompted me to connect to the Team System Server. My "Hello Gumbi" projected is listed in the list of existing projects, so I click it.

I'm not really sure what I should do now, so I am just going to play some, and see where it leads me.

I recieved an "unable to connect to Team Server" message. A quick check of the event log on the AT (application Tier) shows the TFSServer Scheduler failed to start. I attempted to start it manually, and it worked fine. I checked the DT (Data Tier) and everything there appears to be working smoothly.

I started up VS2005 again. This time it did not prompt me to connect to the Team System server, it just made the connection automatically.

The moral of this story: Event logs are your friend.