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Killer features in TFS 2013 Update 2, now available RTM!

Today at #bldwin 2014 Microsoft announced the availability of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 (April release), which combines two awesome things the ALM community has been eagerly awaiting: Team Foundation Server 2013 Update 2 RTM, and Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RC.

For Northwest Cadence, the TFS RTM is the biggest news. Our clients have been clamoring for those Update 2 features, but many organizations simply won’t permit an upgrade to CTP or RC.

Killer features, you say? I polled the Northwest Cadence technical team today on their favorites, and here’s what I heard:

  • Work item tags are now queryable and can be edited in Visual Studio and Excel! For most of my clients I can stop here and they’re already drooling.
  • The burndown chart respects weekends—one of the most demanded, nay, raged about, features since the original ship of TFS 2012. No more ridiculous flatline in the middle of your sprint. Even better, a team’s weekly “working days” are configurable. Of course it makes sense to support cultures whose weekends don’t fall on Saturday-Sunday like mine do; that’s a given. Beyond globalization, teams can now reflect their internal practices, like the “Bullet Time” enrichment day used by one of my awesome clients.
  • Work item charts can now be pinned to a team’s and/or project’s home page, and the colors can be customized. Work item charting is an extraordinary capability that I’ve found isn’t as well-known yet as it ought to be. Our own Steven Borg is well-known for his presentations on Metrics That Matter (I just saw him deliver his latest at the ALM Forum yesterday to a packed room). The best metrics are (among other things) simple, and nothing makes a great metric easier to understand and act upon than a great visualization. Isn’t that why you track them in the first place?
  • Shared Parameters are now available for web-based test case management! Re-use of common data is a fantastic way to capture the power of data-driven testing while saving your precious testers’ precious time.
  • The Incoming Changes Indicator for Visual Studio 2013 CodeLens gives developers an alert, and heads-up details about, when a colleague may be modifying the same code in another branch. Merging code is such an acute pain for so many teams! It’s great to give them a gentle reminder of a key agile principle we teach: that small batches promote fast feedback and reduce the risk surface. Knowing that my branch may be hurtling toward a merge conflict encourages me to communicate, collaborate, and integrate early.
  • Finally, Universal Windows Apps allow developers to target Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows Store 8.1 with a single codebase!

Moving from TFS 2012 to TFS 2013 and its subsequent updates has been smooth for our clients, and we’ve had great stories of successful upgrades even since TFS 2013 was just in CTP itself.

What’s impressed me even more this year is the number of clients with tricky TFS 2008 implementations who finally felt ready to make the switch. Upgrading from TFS 2008 to anything isn’t trivial, but the differences are night and day! It’s been a privilege for me to be involved with several teams on the journey; I’m especially excited to get them on board with these frequent updates. They may have waited five years for one big upgrade, but from now on they’ll see valuable new features nearly every five weeks!

Are you interested in making the leap from wherever you are now to TFS 2013 Update 2 RTM? We’d love to help!

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