Welcome back, in part 1 of what is new in VS TFS 2011 I talked about the offering from a developers perspective. In this blog post I’ll be discussing the new features available for Business Analysts and Testers. While working on various ALM implementations the biggest challenge has been to strike the right balance between tools and processes, it is important to re-enforce that there is no substitute for communication. The delivery of a project on time and on budget are not the sole indicators of a successful delivery, at the end of day it is the value the end customer gets from the product that determines the real success of the project. The less you assume and the more you keep the end customer involved in the process of software development the more the chances of a successful delivery! Microsoft with VS TFS 2011 has done a fantastic job by introducing new tooling that enables you to create mock ups, get customer feedback on tasks and do more meaningful testing.
Some of my business analyst colleagues will be able to relate to this “You delivered what I asked for but not what I wanted!”
Let’s look at new offerings in TFS 2011 that would help us get away from the above situation.
Microsoft has introduced a new plug in for Power Point that lets you create application storyboards (UI prototyping, powerful mock ups, workflows, etc). This is great way to fill in the gap that was created because the requirement A to the customer seemed like the digit 6 and to you it seemed like the digit 9. Storyboards are a great way to sketch mock up of screens fairly quickly, so that you can get a buy in from the customer on what the end result it self will look like.
- The plug in comes preloaded with a bunch of templates such as web, SharePoint, mobile, etc. Microsoft will possibly extend the collection of available templates in the future releases.
- The best thing about the storyboarding plug in is that you can reuse your existing website, like in the example below, i could just take a screen shot of my blog to fill in the content area in the mock up below. Yet i could throw the storyboarding shapes on top to get the layout representation i need.
- It is possible to create a master template that you can use across the rest of your storyboard so you don’t have to worry about redoing stuff.
- The storyboard shapes are active, as you can see below that in the calendar i dropped, i had the option to select the default date, in the breadcrumb control i could specify the crumb names. I could very well add animations to show the effect or action on the search box on the top right by using some of the features in power point i know so well already.
- The storyboard data uses TFS as the repository, so you have the option to save and associate your work against a storyboard type work item. This ensures easy integration to the task or piece of work you are storyboarding for.
1. What is mock up? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mockup#Software_Engineering
2. Hands on Lab - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/briankel/archive/2011/09/16/visual-studio-11-application-lifecycle-management-virtual-machine-and-hands-on-labs-demo-scripts.aspx
And to recap storyboarding in TFS 2011…
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At this point i can sense that the BAs are quite excited but next on their wish list is a solution that simplifies project stakeholder feedback management. More often than not feedback on tasks, is lost in e-mail trails or to-do lists. If only there was a tool that simplified the whole experience of testing, recording, sharing and storing feedback. Welcome to Feedback Manager!
The Agile Manifesto
“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan.”
Feedback manager has been a new introduction to the TFS 2011 family of ALM tools. One of the determining factors between success and failure of software project is getting the right feedback at the right time from the right people. When the product owner feels that the product backlog has reached a stable enough state, a feedback request could be initiated for the stakeholder of the product backlog item, this type of request for feedback is known as Solicited Feedback Workflow. While if the stakeholder starts exploring the software under development and runs into bugs, issues or wants to provide general feedback then this can be triggered by the stakeholder, this type of feedback is known as Unsolicited Feedback Workflow, since in this case there is no product backlog item to associate with the feedback it is placed as general feedback and should be shaped by the product backlog owner to an existing requirement, bug or a future requirement if its valid.
There have been certain changes done to accommodate Feedback Manager in TFS 2011
- The introduction of a new work item type – Feedback to record the feedback session in.
- Introduction of new tables tbl_AssociatedWorkItemForSession and tbl_Session. Please note that it is not advisable to directly query the TFS operational databases and all interactions with the TFS database should be done using the TFS API.
- A new WPF application “Feedback Manager 11” very similar in look and feel to the test recording behaviour of Microsoft Test Manager.
To me project stakeholders being able to capture audio, video, screen shots and actions while providing feedback with such ease is great leap forward!
1. Importance of feedback in software development - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/bharry/archive/2011/06/21/the-importance-of-feedback-in-software-development.aspx
2. Getting feedback on working software with TFS 2011 - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/visualstudioalm/archive/2011/09/20/feedback-on-working-software.aspx
3. TFS 2011 Hands on Labs - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/briankel/archive/2011/09/16/visual-studio-11-application-lifecycle-management-virtual-machine-and-hands-on-labs-demo-scripts.aspx
Last but not the least tremendous improvements to Microsoft Test Manager in terms of performance enhancements. Some of the results made available it is being claimed that Microsoft Test Manager 2011 is 2.8 – 4.6 times faster than Microsoft Test Manager 2010. Apart from performance improvements Microsoft has added another great feature to MTM. Exploratory Testing - "a style of software testing that emphasizes the personal freedom and responsibility of the individual tester to continually optimize the quality of his/her work by treating test-related learning, test design, test execution, and test result interpretation as mutually supportive activities that run in parallel throughout the project."
It is not always that you have the test cases ready to start testing the new requirements that the developer is working on, sometimes its just about scratching the surface or looking for some specific problems or intensively testing a feature. With the introduction of Exploratory testing the tester does not necessarily need to associate a requirement with the round of testing.
- At the end of the testing the tester has the option to raise a bug, which would populate the bug with all relevant information as you would expect such as environment type, steps taken to encounter the bug, if configured the video recording of the actions could also be included.
- The tester has the option of limiting the number of steps added to the bug. For example in your 20 minutes of exploratory testing, only the last 10 steps are sufficient to reproduce the bug, you have an option of choosing the span of steps you would like to be added to the bug.
- When the exploratory session is complete and you do not have any bugs to raise, you can still come back to MTM 11 and generate test steps from the exploratory testing session rather than having to manually write the steps down.
1. What is exploratory testing - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploratory_testing
2. Performance improvements in MTM 11 - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/bharry/archive/2011/08/02/a-comment-on-performance.aspx
3. Hands on Labs - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/briankel/archive/2011/09/16/visual-studio-11-application-lifecycle-management-virtual-machine-and-hands-on-labs-demo-scripts.aspx
With this we have completed the new offerings for testers and Business Analysts in TFS 2011. Microsoft has done a fantastic job with TFS 2011. If you have any recommendations on things that we could add to this or any questions or feedback, feel free to add to this blog post. If you enjoyed the post, remember to subscribe to http://feeds.feedburner.com/TarunArora. In the next post I’ll be covering the new offerings for Project Managers and Team Foundation Server Administrators.
Stay tuned in!