Monthly Archives: December 2007

Pointui

This video on YouTube shows off a new UI called Pointui for Windows Mobile. Very cool, I hope the Windows Mobile team is taking notes, the WM user community is ready of a UI upgrade, and I don’t just mean putting gradients on the background of the existing UI.

One interesting thing that I noted was the carrier being used in the demo. Looks like this might be an Australian invention.

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Thanks to Jason Langridge for pointing this out on his blog.

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TSA and Lithium Batteries

Correction: You may carry the batteries on as carry on luggage, but not as checked luggage. The text has been corrected below.


I just stumbled upon this article on Slashdot that points out some new rules from the TSA (I’m an Australian living in Australia so it doesn’t impact me until I travel into the US) about how many lithium batteries that you can take on a plane as hand checked luggage.

There seems to be some confusion about what capacity/weight ratio the restriction kicks in at and there is some mild outrage from what a probably geeks carrying large amounts of devices (I count myself in that number). That said, I doubt that the new rule is that onerous except where it is executed by individuals with insufficient training.

Last year I posted about the impact of the Dell/Apple/other battery recall on the travelling public – well, at least how it impacted me 🙂

PowerShell, as an extension method!

I just put together a quick little example of how to host PowerShell inside your own application, but to make it more useful I built it as an extension method so that you can basically call ToPowerShell(…) on any object. If the object happens to implement IEnumerable then there is an alternative ToPowerShell(…) which allows you to specify whether to enumerate the items.

Download the sample if you are interested.

Obsolete: TFS Integrator

Today I finished publishing a number of tools under the MIT license to CodePlex. Two of these tools represent a replacement for a single tool that Readify released last year called TFS Integrator. If you are currently using TFS Integrator I strongly recommend that you adopt “TFS Continuous Integrator” and “TFS Dependency Replicator“.

TFS Integrator originally included two features, support for continuous integration, and support for dependency replication. Now that Team Foundation Server 2008 is released the continuous integration functionality of TFS Integrator is now redundant so we decided to split the functionality out into two separate tools.

Moving forward TFS Continuous Integrator will just contain the continuous integration functionality for customers who are still running Team Foundation Server 2005, however TFS Dependency Replicator will be updated to support Team Foundation Server 2008 (it already supports Team Foundation Server 2005).

By open sourcing the tools under the MIT license we hope to address any concerns our customers have about the maintenance of the software moving forward (because they can get the code and maintain it themselvesm if necessary).

Note that some customers reported that TFS Integrator had some stability problems. We are confident that these two new releases address those concerns. We drastically simplified the implementation (less code = less complexity = less bugs), but also changed it so that rather than relying on the TFS evening system, we actually poll the repository which leads to less comms related issues.

Finally, in addition to releasing TFS Continuous Integrator and TFS Dependency Replicator we have also released TFS Build Virtualizer and TFS File Sharer.

Getting Started with TFS Continuous Integrator

I’ve been throwing a few tools out under the MIT license over the last week or so, and the final one to make it out the door is a continuous integration engine for Team Foundation Server 2005. Now that Team Foundation Server 2008 has shipped this is less useful, but I wanted to put it out there anyway as a replacement for TFS Integrator which we shipped last year. Here is the description of TFS Continuous Integrator from the CodePlex homepage:

“TFS Continuous Integrator extends Team Foundation Server 2005 to support continuous integration by triggering a build when a check-in occurs at a specific location.

The tool works by monitoring the version control store for changes, then once identified pulling down configuration files contained within the store to determine which builds should be initiated.”

Setting up TFS Continuous Integrator is very straight forward.

Installing and Configuring the Continuous Integrator Component

In order to install the Continuous Integrator component you need to first download the release from CodePlex. From this zip file you need to extract the following files:

  • ContinuousIntegrator.exe
  • ContinuousIntegrator.exe.config

These two files should be placed somewhere on the file system of your TFS server. I would recommend “C:\Program Files\Continuous Integrator”. Once these files are in place you should issue the following command at the command prompt:

  • C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\InstallUtil.exe /i “[install path]\ContinuousIntegrator.exe”

During the installation process a dialog will be presented asking for some credentials. I recommend using the build service account (e.g. [DOMAIN]\TFSBUILD) because it generally has the rights needed to talk to the build engine in TFS and trawl the version control respository for changeset information. The configuration file for TFS Continuous Integrator also needs to be updated:

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Now that the base-line configuration is in place its time to start up the service:

  • net start ContinuousIntegrator

Before any CI builds start kicking off some per-Team Project configuration needs to be added in via version control. These files are checked in under the TeamBuildTypes folder under each Team Project (e.g. $/ConsultantPortal/TeamBuildTypes/ContinuousIntegrator.xml).

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TFS Continuous Integrator will then pull down this file each time a check-in occurs to determine whether it needs to trigger a build.

What’s next? Want to help out?

If you have any feedback please use the Issue Tracker and create a work item. Because Team Foundation Server 2008 has superior continuous integration features out of the box I don’t expect this project to get too much love.

If you are interested in helping out contact me via my CodePlex profile page. Thanks for listening! I hope you find the TFS Continuous Integrator useful in your organisation.

P.S. Please note that once we get real documentation in the CodePlex wiki this page will become obsolete, but I will put a link to the equivalent documentation at the top of the page.

Getting Started with TFS File Sharer

We just released another internal tool under the MIT license, this time it is an extension for Team Foundation Server 2005 (2008 version will ship soon) that helps organisations mimic the file linking capability of repositories like Visual SourceSafe.

In the field I’ve seen a lot of customers struggling with adopting TFS because the configuration of their VSS repositories rely heavily on the ability to get file linking happening to update common source files. TFS File Sharer should hopefully help customers side step this problem, here is the description from the project homepage on CodePlex:

“The TFS File Sharer is a tool designed to assist development teams who have migrated from version control stores that support the concept of linked files where one file update automatically updates all the other linked files – for example VSS.

The TFS File Sharer reads a configuration file that lists out all of the shared files within an environment and then when it notices a check-in that changes one of those shared files it updates all the other files that have explicitly been listed as being linked to it.

Using this tool will allow users migrating from other source systems to more easily adopt Team Foundation Version Control and then slowly phase out the use of file linking.”

Now lets look at what it takes to get it running in your environment.

Installing and Configuring the File Sharer

In order to install the File Sharer component you need to first download the release from CodePlex. From this zip file you need to extract the following files:

  • FileSharer.exe
  • FileSharer.exe.config
  • FileSharer.xml

These three files should be placed somewhere on the file system of your TFS server. I would recommend “C:\Program Files\File Sharer”. Once these files are in place you should issue the following command at the command prompt:

  • C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\InstallUtil.exe /i “[install path]\FileSharer.exe”.

During the installation process a dialog will be displayed asking for valid windows credentials. This needs to be an account that has check-out/check-in rights to all the files that are going to be shared using this tool. The configuration file, FileSharer.xml lists out all of the files.

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The files are organised into sets with names, and each set has multiple file references. If one of the files referenced is updated, then all the files referenced will be overwritten with that copy of the file. The tool has some de-duping logic built into it so if that two files are changed from the same set, it will pick a winner but because independent versions are checked in before being overwritten you shouldn’t loose any data.

Finally, once you have it all configured you can start the service using the following command:

  • net start FileSharer

Once it is running you should see follow-up check in notifications when you check-in a shared file as it is updating the other shared files. Just remember that it doesn’t force the updates down into other users workspaces.

What’s next? Want to help out?

If you have any feedback please use the Issue Tracker and create a work item. Finally if you would like to help out with the project I’ve got the following roles available:

  • Documentation Writer; responsible for updating CodePlex wiki and producing installation guide.
  • Tester; responsible for testing installation process and operation of the tool.
  • Developer; joint responsibility with me in designing and developing the TFS File Sharer moving forward.

If you are interested contact me via my CodePlex profile page. Thanks for listening! I hope you find the TFS File Sharer useful in your organisation.

P.S. Please note that once we get real documentation in the CodePlex wiki this page will become obsolete, but I will put a link to the equivalent documentation at the top of the page.

Mood == Prickly

I’m in a bit of a prickly mood right now. Its been a long month with lots of unexpected work, expected (yet strangely not catered for) interruptions. I’ve got deadlines to meet and family commitments. Others working with me are in the same situation or worse – so I can’t blame them.

What I don’t appreciate however is those who could be a little bit flexible not lending a hand to ease the burden a little bit, but instead finding it more fun (for them) to make me feel extra bad (thus increasing my stress levels further) when I slip a little. And I better not dare ask for help.

Fortunately I believe in Karma. So should some other people.

</rant>