The blogs of Black Marble staff

Upgrading from TFS2005 to TFS 2008 'Orcas' Beta 2

Today I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade our 'live' TFS installation to 2008 Beta2, now there is support from Microsoft. The only reason I have delayed this long has been we have been involved in the delivery of a big project and I did not want to take the TFS server down for any reason.

Our TFS installation is dual server, the data tier (DT) running on our central SQL2005 64bit server and the application tier (AT) on a virtual server as a VPC. I have kept the AT virtual as it is easy to backup.

So the first thing of note that surprised me is that you do the upgrade only from the AT. Before I read the installation notes I had assumed you would update the DT and then the AT like the original installation.

Anyway I ran the setup.exe on the AT, it found a few warnings but they were all down to the fact I was running on a VPC (warnings over CPU performance, memory and disk size), so I continued with the upgrade gave it some user IDs and pressed start and it progressed OK first installing .NET 3.5 then TFS 2008.

During the TFS 2008 upgrade I got two errors that stopped the setup with a 'retry or cancel' option. In both cases I managed to fix the issues and a retry worked. This is what I had to do to fix the problems:

  • Error 29109 Team Foundation Report Server Configuration -  All this turned out to be was a timeout. On the AT I opened the URL http://localhost/reports in a browser (this took a long time for some reason) but I did eventually get the usual reporting services page. I then retried the step in the upgrade tool and it continued fine.
  • Error 28925. TFServerStatusValidator - Basically this means the setup program cannot access http://localhost:8080/services/v1.0/ServerStatus.asmx on the AT. If you manually run the URL you get a generic 'page not found' error. On looking the the event log I was that an ISAPI filter authenticationfilter.dll for the TFS web site could not be loaded. Interesting the path it was trying to loaded was for TFS2005, and of course this file no longer existed. I then remembered that we had installed this ISAPI filter when we had TFS 1.0 and were trying to get HTTPS connectivity working, so I just deleted the ISAPI filter entry, I then checked I could start the URL in a browser and then tried the step of the setup and it continued OK

When all this was done the server was rebooted and it had been upgraded server.

The next step will be to upgrade the AT from WSS 2.0 to WSS3.0 then move all the Sharepoint bits our central MOSS 2007 server, thus making the AT little more than a web server.

Last nights Bristol .NET Developers Network usergroup meeting.

As I sit on the train traveling north to our Black Marble hosted MSDN event I must write to say how much I enjoyed presenting at last night's .NET Developers Network usergroup meeting; thanks to Guy Smith Ferrier and the whole group for getting it organized.

I think I managed to cover all the questions raised about TFS during the meeting. I have been through my slides to add notes to clarify any points raised. The updated set of the slide stack can be downloaded from

TV Mashup

I have had a week of Web 2.0 mashup sites at the MIx07 London event so was interested in a thing on the TV last night whilst watching England's appalling performance against South Africa in the rugby.

eBay ran adverts with a virtually real time feed (20 second delay they claimed) from a live auction. Now I have never seen this before, maybe I just don't watch ITV enough, so this is the first Internet/broadcast TV mashup I have seen. I wonder how much the sale prices of the lucky items featured in the adverts are affected?

Back on the rugby world cup front - I have still seen nothing to change my opinion the semi finals will be all Southern hemisphere - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina - yes Argentina.


I have just heard my proposed session for the SQLBits conference has been accepted. I will be talking on Unit Testing in SQL Server my proposal was:

Test driven development is one of the current hot topics in software development, but how far can these principles be applied in the world of SQL? In this session I will look at the principles of TDD and other testing options using both freeware tools and Microsoft’s Visual Studio Datadude

So if you are interested I think there are still places available, register at the Microsoft Events site. Looks like it will be an interesting day

Mix:UK 07 Round-up

We're back up north after Mix:UK 07 and I thought I'd follow up my earlier post with a few thoughts on the event and it's content.

Before I do that, however, I need to give a cheer for our guys: Jonny performed incredibly in the Guiter Hero competition to  be triumphant in front of his screaming supporters, and Sam, Mat, Tom and Jonny cleaned up the the goody-bagging stakes of the Swaggily Fortunes quiz!

Anyway, back to the plot. Day two of the event had some good sessions. Kicking off the day with good humour was a pretty inspiring talk by Beau Amber of Metaliq.He apologised for not being awake, having not slept. He then showed the fruits of his sleepless night by demoing an iPhone built in Silverlight! It was a great session on what kinds of things you can do with Silverlight 1.0 and I look forward to his continued development of the Silverphone.

Next up was Todd Landstad, who was infectiously enthusiastic about mobile devices. He was showing interesting stuff using tablet PC, Sideshow and a suit of UMPC devices. As an avid Engadget reader none of the devices came as a surprise, but it was a great demo on how a little lateral thinking can result in useful software for people on the move, and the things to consider when targeting mobile devices.

Now it gets tricky. The next session was all about accessibility. It wasn't bad, I have to say, and the guy running the session showed a couple of things I didn't know about how to kick ASP.NET into generating some of the elements that are needed when doing accessible tables. The trouble is, that it was like watching a presentation from about five years ago. The points covered were all WCAG 1 level A, with little mention of level AA. More worryingly, the speaker referenced WCAG 1 but called it WCAG 2. He didn't seem versed in current thoughts and best practices regarding semantic structure, skip links and access keys. He even admitted to using tables for layouts!

I appreciate that he only had an hour, but I'm not convinced that anybody left the room really understanding what their obligations were or where to go to find out more.

So, if you were in the room and want to find out about accessbility here are a couple of links to get you started:

  • AbilityNet - a UK organisation who give support and advice on accessibility.
  • JuicyStudio - the site of Gez Lemon, who's involved in WCAG 2 and knows his accessibility onions.
  • Joe Clark - extremely passionate about accessibility across a broad spectrum of areas.
  • Accessify - a community site founded by Ian Lloyd and a hub for accessibility discussion.
  • Further Ahead - run by Derek Featherstone, who's a really cool guy and knows his stuff.

Overall I was at times impressed, inspired, disappointed and frustrated at Mix:UK, but I have to say that at all times the guys running the conference were helpful and organised and all the Black Marble posse had a great time.

MIX 07 Day 2

See I was right, in my post yesterday I said the key role missing in most WPF projects was the 'designer who can cut code' or 'coder with a design eye', the session Silverlight, WPF, Expression design projects - where do we get started today was on just this subject Paul Dawson and Robby Ingebretsen discussed the need for 'producers' who take on this bridging role, with tips on where to find them.

Also went to the IronRuby session, now this is not going to be anything you can use for business use soon, but will in the fullness of time provide a very interesting way to provide domain specific languages. It is sessions like this that I feel has given this conference a bit of PDC feel 'look soon you will be able to do this' as opposed to the TechEd feel of 'wow I can do this now'.

For me today does seem to have been a bit Dynamic Language (DLR) focused. It is easy to get bogged down in the when to use Ruby or Python, but I think the key here is how easy it is to provide a domain specific scripting languages within .NET for line of business application's scripting.

As to the most interesting sneak peek it was another PDC like session, the one by Simon Peyton-Jones of Microsoft Research on Transaction memory - this will be as like changing as virtual memory has been.

So it is the end of MIX07, I'm staying in London for the Office Business Applications Architect Forum tomorrow. I wonder how many other people are going to both events?

End of the first day @ Mix07 UK

So we reach the end of the first day of Mix07 London, what are my thoughts? Well the conference, as conference go, is well organized and I can have no complaint over the quality of the sessions or presenters.

Has it changed how I think about Silverlight? Well I have realised that 1.0 is a very different product to 1.1. Have no doubt this conference is about SilverLight 1.1, and that the 1.1 Alpha release is missing a lot of functionality at present. As a shipping product 1.1 look a long way off, at least a year (which is forever it seems in the world of Web 2.0).

As usual with this type of event the most interesting stuff tends to be in the session you don't expect. As a developer I had focused on Scott Guthrie's sessions, which were good, but fundamentally a walk through SilverLight API. So after lunch I fancied a change so went to the design track session ZAP!, WHAM!, KAPOW! - Killer digital  reading experience in the 21st century. This was about producing a digital comic and gave some nice detail on the pain points in WPF/XAML application development. The main tips were to get the data binding right and to create sensible reusable components, this might sound a bit obvious as a .NET developer but this was the design track!

However one of the speakers, Robby Ingebretsen, talked about the way WPF had allowed left and right brain people (coders and designers, is that the right way round?) to work together to create killer applications. However I do worry that tools and APIs are good but you also need people who can singularly bridge this gap i.e. coders who have a design eye, or designers who can cut code. The history of CSS/HTML web design has shown that this is a rare type of person. I think this is going to be the new resourcing pinch point for projects.

It was interesting that in this design track session a quick show of hands had the audience about 1/3 designers 2/3 coders  What does this say about interest in WPF/SilverLight area of the design side of this industry? Oh and by the way nearly all the attendees were white and male like most technical conferences I have attended. I had expected a more design orientated conference to have different gender mix. As an industry we do not seem to be reaching out to more diverse pool of employees.

So will SIlverLight 'reboot the web' as Robert Scoble said. It will change it certainly, mashup applications look to the way forward with custom clients making 'appropriate' use of web service based data. This also helps to address the key concern, accessibility, where single back-end system can have many clients built to target different user groups requirements such as visually impaired users requiring screen reader functionality. One single client does not have to meet the need of all clients. Hopefully SilverLight and other Web 2.0 technologies make the creation of multiple clients potentially affordable. We have yet to see if it will be socially acceptable.

However will we see rich applications written in SilverLight running inside browsers? I was at a Macromedia launch event some years ago for some version of Flash and they were then hailing the imminent arrival of rich browser based applications with partial post back, it all looked great, but this has not been how Flash has tended to be used. I think the difference now is we have a more mature SOA model behind the scenes and SIlverLight can leverage the power of .NET. These could be the key factors that move SilverLight from a tool to providing some design punch on web  page to being the core of the application functionality.