My focus is on making software, coaching Agile/Scrum teams, and being a husband and father--definitely not on blogging--so please do not expect very frequent posts here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Visual Studio 2012: The new Team Explorer and Pending Changes windows

imageThe old Team Explorer in VS2010 (right) was simple and got the job done without a lot of finesse.  It really was nothing more than several aspects of TFS shoehorned into a tree view, grouped by Team Project.
Totally separately, the old Pending Changes window (below) offered some nice features, such as filtering, conflict resolution, TFS work item association, and undoing changes, as seen below.
(You only use these windows if you use any aspect of TFS; if you are avoiding TFS at any cost, you can skip the rest of this article.)
imageThe new Team Explorer (right) has several rather major improvements.  Here are the new features that I notice, with a few screenshots so you can visualize these new features.
  • A new Home view summarizes everything important and provides links (rather than tree branches) to each team-related functionality.
    • We now work on one Team Project at a time, changed easily by the select list next to the “Home” title.  This is a great way to avoid wasting screen real estate.
    • Web-style navigation is provided, with Back, forward, home, and refresh buttons. 
    • A feature I love is a project-global work item search, right there on the home view.  So often one or two words (or a work item number) will let me find the task or story I need.  No more do you need to go to the TFS Web Project Portal to search by work item number!
    • The search supports several special terms—helpers for which are in the drop-down. For example, T:"Task" will limit your search to tasks only.
    • A link to Pending Changes are shown with a link to the Source Control Explorer.  No more drilling-down to browse Source Control—it’s right there on the home page!
    • Work Items, Builds, Documents, and Settings work much like in VS2010
    • There is a link to the Web Access (TFS Web Project Portal) right on the home screen.
  • The Pending Changes section (below) is all new and built-in in the Team Explorer, totally replacing the old Pending Changes window.
    • Again, you can change team projects right next to the “Pending Changes” title.
    • A workspace select box is immediately below that.
    • The Check In, Comment, and Shelve controls are easily available. 
    • Lesser-used actions (find shelvesets, resolve conflicts, undo all, manage workspaces) are hidden in the “Actions” select control.
    • We have two separate sections of included vs. excluded changes.  This is a much better paradigm than having to fiddle with checkboxes in one big list.  Simple text controls are provided to manipulate these lists.
    • A simplified way of adding related work items is here; the default direction is to simply drag the work items in to a drop target.  This makes a lot of sense to me, as I have to look up the item anyway, and I probably have it open in a different window.  If you prefer to do it in this window, you can—either by looking it up or by typing in an ID.
    • Finally, specify reviewers in the notes if you are using the TFS reviewing system.  If not, just collapse this section and ignore it.
  • The Work Items section (below) is not substantially different than in Visual Studio 2010.  A few differences:
    • There is a “My Favorites” drop target for you; queries dropped here will give you a summary of the work items in that query.
    • A handy “New Work Item” control at the top seems useful.
New in the Builds section (below):
  • The most recent builds with their red/yellow/green status
  • A drop target for My Favorite Build Defintions, also with a summary
  • A quick filter/search box.
All in all, these are some very nice and unexpected feature enhancements here in the Team Explorer window.  I hope they make you more productive!

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