But it works on my PC!

The random thoughts of Richard Fennell on technology and software development

Problems and workaround for the EMC Scrum for Team System Process Template

I have recently been looking at the EMC Scrum for Team Systems (SFTS) 3 Template for TFS 2010 with SharePoint 2010. The core of it works, and works well for Scrum based teams. If you have not used it before have a read of the getting started post to get a feel of what it can do.

However, there are some issues when you try to make use of SharePoint 2010 as opposed to SharePoint 2007. Hopefully you will find some of the adventures I have had enlightening

Installation

The first one is that the installation and configuration tools just ignore SP2010. This means when you try to create a team project using the process template you get the error:

“TF249033: The site template is not available for the locale identifier (LCID).” ”The site template name is: SCRUM.”

You have to manually download and install the SharePoint template WSP, as detail in this blog post. Once the WSP is deployed on your SharePoint 2010 farm you can create new team projects using the process template.

How it looks

There are problems with the way the site renders. The two major issues are the site actions drop down appears behind the main display area (red box in left screen shot), and on some page large blocks of CSS get rendered to the screen as opposed to being dealt with programmatically (right screen shot).

image image

Both of these issues have been reported on the support forum

My reading is that the current SFTS SharePoint template WSP has only had minimal changes to port it to SP2010 from SP2007, just enough to get it to load. I think the key issue here maybe that the SFTS SharePoint template has its own master page. This is something all TFS 2005/2008 templates tended to do, but for 2010 there has been a general move to inherit from core SharePoint master pages. Basically the master page structure needs to be rebuild from the ground up by EMC for fix all the issues, but we can address some of them…

Change the master page

Fixing all the issues in the master page is somewhat daunting as 2007 and 2010 master pages are very different in style. However, after a chat with one of our SharePoint developers it was suggested a better solution is to just tell the site just to use a different master page (one of the SP2010 standard ones). This is a technique we have used on bespoke site upgrades and usually will address most of the issues, then it is a matter of fixing the, hopefully smaller, list of outstanding problems.

So below is the process to make the change

  1. Install SharePoint Designer 2010 on a PC (this is a free download from Microsoft)
  2. Logging in as a user with admin rights on the site, open SP2010 Designer and open the url of the Scrum for Team System SharePoint Site e.g. http://tfsdemo/sites/DefaultCollection/team1
  3. In the site objects tree on the left select the master pages node
  4. You should see four master pages
  5. Right click on the v4.master and select ‘set as custom master page’
  6. Load the site in a browser and it should look like a more normal SP2010 site
  7. You can swap it back by making the SFTS.master the custom master page

image

Actually on first look the swapping the master page seems to have done the job on the homepage in default view mode without any other edits. However, there are still problem of stray CSS being shown when accessing the other pages, and a trace of green in some of the borders.

So a partial success, but with more work maybe a complete one? But that is not the route I took.

Report Title Click-through

Both the SFTS and standard Microsoft reports are displayed in dashboards the same way, they use a page view webpart and the TFSredirect.aspx page. This shows the report chart and a link to take you to its Reporting Services home when the title is clicked. The rendering of the report works for SFTS, but another reported problem is that when you click the report title links (highlighted in green in above graphic) you get the error

TF250008: This SharePoint site is not currently associated with a team project in Team Foundation Server. To ensure that this site functions correctly, you must configure a team project to refer data for that project to this site. For more information, see this topic on the Microsoft Web site: How to: Add a Team Project Portal. You can use the following querystring argument to specify a specific project: tf:ProjectId.

The error says a workaround is to pass the TF:ProjectID parameter in the title URL. This is the only solution I have found. To do this

  1. Load SQL Management Studio
  2. Open the tfs_defaultcollection DB (or the one for your tema project collection) and the tbl_projects table.
  3. Look for and copy the projectID for the project you want to report on
  4. Open the SharePoint page with the failing chart. Click the small down triangle in the top right of the webpart to get the webpart editor.
  5. In the advanced section add &TF%3aPROJECTID={guid} with your {GUID} to the end of the Title URL (the %3a is the : character)
  6. I also had to remove the &IsDashboard=false else I got a “An attempt was made to set a report parameter 'IsDashboard' that is not defined in this report. (rsUnknownReportParameter)” error.
  7. Press OK to save, the chart should render and the link work

Basically the title URL as automatically build is wrong, it has an extra parameter the report does not support and for some reason the automatically passed project ID is being lost. In fact even when you fix the Url is wrong as the report it points to is a dashboard summary when you probably want to take the user to a fuller version of the report. Which of course you could do by altering the Url provided.

I think the root problem here is that the webpart assumes that the report has a dashboard and full version mode, as many of the MSF agile ones do, so this sort of makes sense.If you reports are single mode you need to pass two Urls.

Again this editing is all a bit of pain, but you don’t do it too often, and you could also write a command line tool to easily get the GUID.

But maybe a better overall option?

However, whilst trying all this I realised that the SFTS created SharePoint site does not really do what much ‘special’. Beyond being a basic SharePoint site it has

  • a link to the process guidance, but is just an HTML file that redirects to http://www.scrumforteamsystem.com/processguidance/v3/ so can be added as link
  • a link to the Team Web Access, there is a standard webpart for this or you could just use a link
  • the front page dashboard, this has the two SFTS chart webparts and a TFS query webpart, but we can recreate this ourselves with the standard TFS webparts

Therefore I would suggest the best option to avoid all these SharePoint 2007/2010 issues is to manually create a new SharePoint site and add similar controls to those used by SFTS to make the SharePoint site you want. As long as you are not creating new team projects all the time this should not be too much of a problem.

The steps to do this are as follows:

  1. In Team Explorer create a new Team Project using STFS template but set it not to create a Sharepoint site (you can always use an existing SFTS Team project if you want in place of this step if it already exist)
  2. On the default collections SharePoint e.g http://tfsdemo/sites/DefaultCollection create a new site (site actions), give it a name e.g. ‘Team1’ so it’s URL is http://tfsdemo/sites/DefaultCollection/team1. You can select any site template, but the collaboration/team one would seem a good start, nice and generic
  3. In Team Explorer select the STFS created in step1 and right click, select team project settings | portal settings
  4. Check the enable tram project portal (if not already set) press the configure URL and enter the details of the site created in step 2, press OK to exit
  5. Check the ‘reports and dashboards refer to data for this team project’ checkbox and press OK.
  6. Return to the web site created in step 2, it is now wired to the correct team project

You can now add pages, links and webpart to the web site to build your portal. The most important are

  1. Adding the set of ‘Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Web Parts’ which provide items such a build list, work item list etc.They should all pickup the correct team project.
  2. The page viewer that allows redirections via the TFSRedirect.aspx page as detailed above

We can also link directly to the reporting services reports using the SQL Server reporting web part. As SFTS does not ship its reports as Excel workbooks we don’t have to consider Excel Services..

And finally

I hope this post has given you some ideas as to how to address the issues with SFTS 3.0 on SP2010, enough too keep you happy until there is a release of the template what fully supports SP2010.

Fun presenting last night at BCS

Thanks to everyone who attended my session last night at the West Yorkshire BCS on Agile and Lean development process. The projector failing after only a few minutes meant I had to adopt a good agile approach to the session. It was nice that so many people came up afterwards to say they enjoyed the lack of PowerPoint.

This got me thinking, as I enjoyed not having it as well. All I really missed was a couple of slides one that showed a Kanban board and another that diagrammatically showed the Scrum process, I got round the lack of both of these by pointing wildly at the blank projector screen and asking people to imagine. So if I run that session again I think I will just have that pair of slides and lose the rest. I just need to find a nice means to let me see the text slides, which I used as my speaking notes. I have never been a fan of postcard style notes when presenting, too much to drop, and when I tried using my phone in the past it was awkward, but maybe time to try again now my phone has a larger screen.

If you do want to see the slides you missed they will be going on on the West Yorkshire BCS site ASAP

Speaking at the West Yorkshire BCS meeting on Agile Methods

After my comments on the QDD session at a past BCS meeting I have been asked to return and speak at the West Yorkshire BCS meeting on the 30th of June to give an overview about Agile methods.

This will be very much a management overview for people who are unaware of Agile methods, hence I will touch on XP, Scrum, Crystal Clear and Kanban and try to compare and contrast.

But, If you can’t wait to find out about Agile, why not come to the next Agile Yorkshire meeting on the 8th?

Post AIC 2010 Thoughts

I was at the AIC 2010 conference yesterday, which I enjoyed more than last year. The most interesting session was Ivar Jacobson. He discussed how immature our industry is, with its disjoint between software engineers and academic computer scientists. Something I have commented on before when discussing if our industry should be licensed.

He discussed how we need to build our industry upon commonly agreed kernel of simple best practice activities, not upon some currently fashionable process whether it be Waterfall, CMMI, Agile, Lean etc. We must identify what are the best practices from all process (and all processes have something to offer) and teach them to students at University as this kernel of activities, as well as teaching how to compose them into more complex practices and hence whole development processes. Thus providing new entries to our industry with the base of reusable techniques that the can use for their whole career, irrespective of fashion. The key idea being that any current process model can be build by composing these kernel of basic activity.

So if this sounds interesting, and it does to me, have a look at www.semat.org. The signatories aim to have results within the year, if they achieve this aims this could well be the first step to making Software Engineering on a par with other chartered engineering disciplines such as Structural or Mechanical Engineering, with there is a long term set of industry accepted best practices that people can be judged against.

And eScrum is no more

I have posted in the past about the TFS 2005 and 2008 Process Template eScrum from Microsoft; a template we use internally for a number of Agile projects. Well today it has been removed from the Microsoft download sites.

It was decided a while ago that it would not be updated to support TFS2010 and has been removed to avoid any confusion over whether it is support or not by Microsoft (FYI it was never officially supported anyway as it did not originate inside the TFS team)

So are we at Black Marble going to miss it? Well the main reason we had used it in the past was the web interface that gave a single point for updating the status of work items without the need to enter Visual Studio, it was our project wallboard. With the much enhanced Office integration with TFS2010 I think we are not going to miss eScrum. We can now provide an easy way with Excel or Project for any team member (developer or not) to update their work status and also Excel Services to provide a information radiator showing the overall project status.

If you do need a strict Scrum implementation template for TFS then have a look at Conchango’s Scrum for Team System which is going to be updated to make use of all the new features of TFS2010

Post Developer Day South West thoughts

DD-SW in Taunton seems to go well, a big thank you to Guy and the rest of the Bristol .NET user group for all their work getting this event up and running. Also it was nice to see new faces, it is certainly a good idea to get the DDD family events out to places beyond Reading, spreading the good works of the community across the country.

Thank you to those who attended my session on Scrum, I hope you all found it useful. You can find a virtually identical set the slides on the Black Marble web site and the actual stack I used will be up on the DD-SW site soon.

I actually managed to attend some sessions this time, as usual this just means more work as I invariably realise I have to spend some time on learning some new technologies This time it was MEF and jQuery, the latter  technology I have ignored too long. It was also great to see a truly mind bending session by Marc Gravell on Expression trees, we need to see more of these deep dive sessions a community events. I have never checked to see if is it that they are not proposed or that they are not voted for? Can it be true the community just wants level 200 general overviews?

Anyway another great day – a pointer to everyone that if you haven’t been to DDD event you really should.