Microsoft released Team Foundation Server 2008 Power Tools. This is update of power tool pack that was previously released for TFS 2005. Now it is compatible with VS 2008, includes some new tools that were absent in 2005 version and it does not contain some tools that were already moved to VS 2008. Although this package is primarily aimed to Visual Studio 2008 and Team Foundation Server 2008, most of the tools work ok with VS2008 + TFS2005 bundle and some of them even work with VS2005+TFS2005 bundle (you can use command line tools, that are not integrated into VS IDE).
If your team is using Team Foundation Server, then this it a must-have addendum to Team Explorer. Here is download link. Below is my humble review of the features that I think worth mentioning.
Work Item Templates
When you are creating more than one work item, some fields are often the same. Instead of tediously entering field values for each WI you can create WI templates and automate you work.
There are two ways to use this feature:
- When creating work item you can choose template to base it on.
- You can apply template to existing work items. Batch changes also can be made in Excel, but with WI Templates you now even do not need to leave VS.
I find this feature extremely useful. It really boosts your productivity when working with TFS.
Find in Source Control tool (new)
Now it is possible to search for files that are checked out by particular user. There is also wildcard search and enhanced search for changeset. Previously we had to use TFS sidekicks for that…
Build Notifications (TFS 2008 only)
You can subscribe to receive queued, started, or completed events notification across several instances of TFS. Application resides in Windows Tray area. It is started outside of VS IDE, that is confusing...
Unfortunately, this feature runs only with TFS2008. So if you are using VS2008 and TFS2005 bundle you must use old methods. I wonder why MS announcements and release notes miss such important info sometimes…
This is command line tool that was in the previous version of Power Tools. It has some new commands however. The best description would be to print its help:
Process Template Editor
Just in case you find graphical user interface to be more convenient than editing XML files, this tool is for you. Very helpful tool for those who are in charge of defining work items for a team!
TFS 2008 Power Tools pack contains not only tools for power users, but also several very useful utilities, like WI Templates and Find in Source Control tools , that are a must to have for every TFS user.
Microsoft are closing the gap of missing functionality, but this happens too slowly. It took 3 years for them to add such important feature as status search that is present in VSS. While they position TFS as a higher-level product than VSS, then it must cover functionality of its smaller brother. This is magnified by the fact that most TFS users are VSS users in past, so it is confusing for them not to find functionality they used to.
And there are still some features that are obviously missing in TFS. To count just a few:
- More easy way to rollback changeset
- More easy way to unlock files checked out by someone else
- More easy way to delete WI
I know that all of these are available from command line, but they are inconvenient to use. If you ever tried to unlock someone’s changes you know what I mean…
Anyway, TFS is becoming more mature with each release of this kind and that is great that they listen what users want. That is great product undoubtedly!