Mar ‘11 Team Foundation Server Power Tools are Available

Brian Harry

Today we released an update to the Team Foundation Server Power Tools. You can download them here:

The primary enhancements in this release are:

  • Addressed reported issues in the Backup/Restore Power Tool
  • Fleshed out the Windows Shell Extension for version control
  • Took the first step on the path to a bunch of new TFS Build Power Tools


Backup/Restore Power Tool

We released the backup/restore Power Tool in the last Power Tools release and you can read about it in depth here: and here:  Unfortunately, we pretty quickly got feedback that there were enough bugs in it that it was not nearly as useful as we had imagined.  In this new release, the experience is pretty much the same so I’m not going to repeat all of the screen shots.  The big difference is that we fixed just about every bug that was reported.  We also put a ton more effort into testing it.  This is probably the most involved Power Tool we have shipped today and it’s clear that the standard Power Tool approach was not sufficient.  We’ve tried really hard to ensure that this is going to be a great solution for you.  Of course, if you find any issues at all, please let us know and we’ll get them fixed as quickly as we can.  Here’s a list of all of the bugs that we fixed:

  1. The backup wizard window goes to the background when switching between windows
  2. Support backup/restore when SQLServer uses an international date format
  3. Backup RS encryption key with reporting databases
  4. Transactional backups only run for "interval" each day, instead of every "interval" for the entire day
  5. Differential backups scheduled at different time than configured
  6. The backup plan wizard cannot find Reporting Services databases when the report server is using an FQDN
  7. The backup plan wizard fails with the message "Value does not fall within the expected range" on w2k3 if advanced schedule is used
  8. Backup retention duration can’t be set to less than 30 days
  9. Backups timeout after 10 minutes
  10. Backup plan should remove NO_TRUNCATE option so that the SQL log doesn’t grow indefinitely
  11. Send admin warning emails when backups fail
  12. Remove Sharepoint Marked Transactions from the backup plan to avoid putting Sharepoint in an unsupported state
  13. Backup Wizard should not schedule TfsDeleteOldBackup task to start after (today + retention days) days
  14. Restore Wizard: In the Sql Instances page , it is not possible to scroll down in order to select a single database to restore
  15. The backup plan wizard configuration fails on w2k3 if task account is Network Service
  16. Need to prevent scheduled tasks and backup plan configuration from running while installing SP1
  17. Split "External Databases" page into "Reporting Instance" and "Sharepoint Databases"
  18. Need to relocate ldf and mdf data files if they are already in use by another database
  19. TfsEmailValidation task sometimes keeps running until it times out
  20. Back up plan not created when reporting database is not selected
  21. Failure to restore RS encryption key should not block TFS database restore
  22. Validating email using task scheduler should be done after granting permissions
  23. The size of the backup is not accurate in the restore wizard
  24. During restore, we should not allow one database failure to block all others
  25. Improve performance of listing backupsets in the restore wizard
  26. Restore fails if running from start menu
  27. Backup Plan Wizard needs to give a meaningful message in case of using multi-farms
  28. Backup Plan Restore Wizard crashes when ConfigPT.xml files doesnt exist
  29. On a clean/unconfigured machine, the restore wizard fails to retrieve the backup extensions
  30. Restore Wizard UI becomes unresponsive after loading and modifying backup path
  31. Restore fails on a sql instance if it has non-reachable databases
  32. Restore leaves the configuration db in a restoring state
  33. Display Information about SQL Timeout in the backup plan wizard
  34. DiskFreeSpace check is checking for too small a number to be valuable
  35. Backup set size is calculating only trn sizes in some cases
  36. When the restore wizard crashes it "resets" the ConfigPT.xml
  37. The test db used to while creating a backup plan should be labeled with test or temp name instead of "TFS_Configuration_*"
  38. Restore Wizard gives stack over flow exception when computing sizes
  39. File contention issue on ConfigPT.xml between backup tasks and restore wizard
  40. Process terminates with StackOverflowException when loading large backupset
  41. Strong password for RS key does not accept all special characters

Yeah, it’s a long list, I know.  I’m really sorry about the issues in the first release and we appreciate your help in finding many of them.  I really think you’ll like this release.

Windows Shell Extension

I’m really excited to finally be getting back around to giving the shell extension some more love.  It’s been a long time.  We focused on adding the most requested functionality to it and it’s getting close to the point where most people won’t have to run Team Explorer for version control if they don’t want to.

Here’s a screen shot showing the new commands on the context menu.


Let’s start with “Workspace…” which allows me to manage my local workspace.  Now I can configure the mapping from TFS to my local hard drive directly from the shell extension.  I can enlist in new source, move the source, etc all directly from the shell extension.

History… allows me to see the history of files and folders directly from the shell.  You don’t have to go to Team Explorer any more.

Compare > is a new submenu that enables you to compare the files on your machine with what you got from source control “With Workspace Version”, with the latest version in source control “With Latest Version” or with any version you want to compare against “With Other Version”.

And just to add gravy you can also shelve and unshelve directly from the Windows Explorer.

The only thing left that that’s on my list of HIGH priority additions is adding the ability to control your TFS credentials directly from the shell extension rather than having to use the Windows control panel.  I’m hoping we’ll get that into the next Power Tools release.  If there are other things that you thing are must have, please let me know and we’ll see if we can get them on the backlog

TFS  Build Power Tools

So, why, above did I describe this above as “first step on the path to a bunch of new TFS Build Power Tools” when we’ve already got some build Power Tools.  Well, because this marks a new milestone.  Over the last year, we have adopted TFS Build as the heart of the internal DevDiv automated build system.  As part of doing this, we’ve implemented a ton of new internal tools to manage and report on builds.  In fact, we were demoing them to our MVPs at the MVP Summit yesterday and they were drooling over them.

This Power Tools release includes a new builddefinition command to the tfpt command line Power Tool that allows you to easily script some build management commands.  You’ll find the “help” for it below.  It’s a small start but the big news is that we’ve now got the team who are building the internal Build tools enlisted in the Power Tools and set up to contribute.  This is just the first of what I hope and expect are many future contributions that will go a long way to helping people – particularly those with large and complex build environments.


Bug Fixes

And, as always, in addition to the emphasis on bug fixing in the Backup/Restore Power Tool, we fixed bugs in other parts of the Power Tools too.  Here’s a list of the fixes:

Alerts Explorer

  • Power Tools Alert Bug, changes condition only compares against null instead of old value

Best Practices Analyzer

  • Verify SharePoint service account

Build Extensions

  • PowerTools: Build Extensions not passing CLASSPATH env var to Ant

Process Template Editor

  • When selecting [project]\group for the assigned to field in PTE, project creation failed because [project] is not replaced
  • Process Editor changes WIT xml without notification

Shell Extension

  • Reconnect to server sets the context menu disabled when the server comes back online

Work Item Templates

  • Unable to add a Test Case Work Item Template



As always, I hope you enjoy using them and please let us know about any issues you hit.  We strive to fix as many of the reported bugs as we can every release.  We’re already brainstorming ideas for the next Power Tools release (hopefully 4-5 months out) and I’m thinking we’re going to be adding some cool new work item tracking features.  If there are specific things that you desperately want, let us know and we’ll see what can be done.




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