Visual Studio Team Services Sprints to #104

Updates to pull requests, continuous integration features, and build definitions, and work items are highlights of the latest sprint released at the beginning of this month.

There's no indication of the summer doldrums coming from Redmond HQ, at least as far as Visual Studio Team Services is concerned. The VS team at the beginning of the month released Sprint 104, which actually preceded the release of Team Foundation Service '15' RC1 a few days later, with a bevy of enhancements and updates. Highlighted in this release are a revamped pull request experience and enhancements to continuous integration features, build definitions, and work items.

Developers working with TFS 15 RC1 might have noticed a new UI, and that experience extends to VSTS. The pull request experience, in particular, has been getting more attention lately, and those features are rolled up into this release. Use of pull requests are germane to how development is shuffled along internally among Microsoft's engineers.

"Our pull request experience has particularly benefited from a *lot* of internal use," writes Microsoft's Brian Harry, in a blog post. "We now have almost 10,000 Microsoft engineers using it every month and giving us tons of feedback." The interesting twist to the update is that the UI changes to the pull requests appeared in the on-premises TFS before it appeared in the cloud with VSTS.

Harry emphasized that there are still some kinks to work out, and developers should take heed if enabling the newer UI (it's disabled by default). "This new experience is VERY much a work in progress," he writes. "We know lots of issues remain and are working on them but it's time for us to start getting some meaningful feedback outside our own 4 walls." Instructions for enabling the UI are in this follow-up blog post.

Other highlights:

  • Pull Requests: Overview rearranged, with Description at the top and details showing newest changes at top of each window; View changes and track comments in Files view; show how pull requests change over time in Update view; full use of markdown and emojis in Comments; auto-complete option for PR authors.
  • Continuous Integration Features: Adds Jenkins Queue Job tasks for lining up Jenkins jobs directly from VSTS builds; supports Jenkins Cross-Site Request Forgery prevention via crumbs; tighter integration with TFS Plugin for Jenkins; run commands and scripts on remote machines (such as from a Docker container) via SSH
  • Build Definitions: New Mine tab shows favorites, team favorites, checked-in code builds; All Definitions tab allows for better build definitions organization; ability to click into build definitions to get more granular information.
  • Work Items: Work Item templates are now available through VSTS; ability to unfollow work items; drag and drop support for attachments/multiple files; new Assigned to Me widget provides filterable at-a-glance work assignments.

These are just the highlights. There are dozens of other features -- testing, marketplace extensions, rate limit thresholds -- that are covered in the full release notes here.

About the Author

Michael Domingo is a long-time software publishing veteran, having started up and managed several developer publications for the Clipper compiler, Microsoft Access, and Visual Basic. He's also managed IT pubs for 1105 Media, including Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine and Virtualization Review before landing his current gig as Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief. Besides his publishing life, he's a professional photographer, whose work can be found by Googling domingophoto.

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