December 2011 TFS Power Tools Release

Brian Harry

In the last release of the Team Foundation Server 2010 Power Tools we focused on improving the experience for developers in Visual Studio and using the Shell Extensions inside Windows Explorer.  Today we just released a new update of the Team Foundation Server Power Tools focusing on developers outside of Visual Studio with the following improvements:

  • Team Foundation Server Power Tools for Eclipse  (Download)
  • MSSCCI Provider for 64-bit IDE’s (Download)
  • VS 2010 Power Tools update (Download)


Power Tools Come to Eclipse

We are completely committed to ensuring that developers outside of Visual Studio have great access to TFS and that includes bringing Power Tools to these developers when appropriate.  Today we made a new Power Tool download available as an Eclipse update site.  Simply install as you would a normal Eclipse update archive and you will be given the chance to install the following 3 tools

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The first one to mention is the Alerts Explorer.  In Team Explorer Everywhere 2010 SP1 there was no way for a developer to sign themselves up for alerts from TFS.  Rather than bring the simple alerts experience over that ships in the box in Visual Studio 2010 we decided to bring over a version of the enhanced rich Alerts Explorer experience from the Visual Studio version of the Team Foundation Server Power Tools.  In TFS 11 we’ve put the alerts experience on to the web but we didn’t have to make our Eclipse developers wait for that, hence the decision to add it to a Power Tool release.  Once installed, simply right click on the Team Project Collection in Team Explorer and select “Alerts Explorer”.

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This will then query your alert subscriptions and give you an Alerts Explorer editor for you to manage and create new alerts for your user id.

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If you create a new alerts you get to pick from one of the templates defined and customize the alert filters to suit your needs.  Alerts created in the Visual Studio Power Tool are editable by the Eclipse Alerts Explorer and vice versa.

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Also in Eclipse we’ve added a new Work Item Templates tool.  If you find yourself creating lots of the same work item type (such as a Bug) and setting certain fields to the same value then this is the tool for you.  You create a template work item and can organize these in folders etc.  Then when you want to create a new work item using that template simply right click on it and create a work item from that template.  There is even a handy action to give you a link to TFS Web Access with the fields set that you have defined in your template – a great way of sharing a link with users of your application inside the company to make sure bugs they file go against your area path etc (we use exactly that feature to make it easy for people internally to log bugs against the Power Tools when we are dogfooding them)

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Finally, in Source Control Explorer we have added the ability to find files in the repository by file name or find files checked out by a particular individual.

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Note that all these features were added by making use of extensibility points as documented in the TFS SDK for Java.  If your company or group has functionality that they want to build on top of Team Explorer Everywhere and Eclipse then you have access to all the same calls that we used to create the Power Tools.

64-bit MSSCCI Support

We also made the one of our most significant updates to the MSSCCI provider for TFS 2010 in recent times by adding support for 64-bit applications wishing to use the MSSCCI provider.  While the MSSCCI API was written as a 32-bit interface some IDE’s (most notably Matlab) have released 64-bit versions of their IDE’s and they still wanted to use MSSCCI to talk to version control providers.  This allows people to do some really big math and use Team Foundation Server for version control of their models – highly important in the aeronautical engineering sector among others.

VS Power Tools Improvements

As well as the usual round of bug fixes and improvements, we’ve also made some small incremental changes in a few other areas.  For example, in the Work Item Search functionality for Visual Studio that we first released in August, there was no easy way to use the search text box to search for a work item by ID.  Lacking this was a bit of an oversight – sorry about that, but it’s fixed now.  Now, when you enter a number in the work item search box, it will open the work item with that ID rather than searching for text matching the number.  If you do want to search for text matching the number, just put the number in double quotes (e.g. “42”) and it will do a full text search rather than just using it as a work item ID.  This capability is also now going to be in the search box of the new Team Explorer in VS 11.

Early this year, we released TFS integration with Project Server.  In this release of the TFS Power Tools we have added rules into our Best Practice Analyzer to help check that common configuration issues with the Project Server integration to make sure everything is set up correctly and help diagnose any issues.  This work was based on the excellent work that our support organization do every day working with real customers, so by running the Best Practice Analyzer against your TFS server you get to benefit from their years of real world diagnostic tips and tricks.


Right now, I’m thinking this will be the last Power Tools release for the VS 2010 wave of products.  After the new year, we are going to turn our attention to getting all of the Power Tools working seamlessly with VS/TFS 11 (and removing all the ones that have now been added to the product Image 8228 wlEmoticon smile 58CD4724).

Please give the latest release of the Power Tools a try and let us know what you think. Your feedback has been essential in ensuring not only that we are able to continually iterate and provide value on top of TFS 2010 but that we can learn from that feedback and incorporate lessons learned into subsequent releases of the product.



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