VSTS in a nutshell for project lifecycle management
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VSTS “In a Nutshell”- the complete project life cycle management tool
About Author: Phanindra Kishore is Manager Delivery in TenXlabs with 12 years of experience in the
field of Software Testing, delivering Test Automation solutions to the top technology vendors in the
industry. He is passionate writer and speaker in software testing international conferences like ISQT and
QAI. He is responsible for developing and delivering Test Automation solutions for TenXlabs with
different open source and proprietary tools with optimized resources recognizing the revenue.
Project life cycle management involves typical SDLC phases in different models from project initiation to
project closure, during these entire lifecycle different stakeholder actions plays vital role in project
delivery. Managing the entire process with respect to requirements, design, architecture, testing,
environments, procedures of quality assurance, deployments and releases etc with integrated
environment is tough. Also there are very less tools in market having these capabilities in managing the
total activities. VSTS (Visual Studio Team System) is one such environment, which is a collaborative tool,
brings all the capabilities into a single platform enabling the project life cycle management in a matured
way of delivering them to closure with optimized usage of resources.
Basically this white paper deals with the VSTS capabilities and then the usage of tool as an integrated
solution for different cross functional teams. Also it covers the Test Management aspects, Test
Automation, Performance testing and Coded UI testing through VSTS integrated tools. As well it
provides much more insights about the supported tools and languages by the VSTS using TFS (Team
Foundation Server) as the core engine to run the workflow process.
VSTS is a complete ALM solution consisting of Visual Studio, Visual Studio Test Professional, Team
Foundation Server and Visual Studio Lab Management. These will help in building the integrated
development for managing the project life cycle. This white paper also describes the advantages and
disadvantages of the tool usage from the testing point of view.
This white paper also suggests the ways of managing the test management activities in a tactical way to
meet the short term objectives of an organization and also helps in planning the test management
activities in strategic way for long term, considering the frameworks, reusability and test assessment
based approach to meet the continuous process improvements.
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Microsoft Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) 2010 comprises a range of products that cater to
enterprise developers, quality professionals, and project managers down to trainee programmers. VSTS
is an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) solution that has three editions focused on role activity:
Architecture, Development, and Test, all based on Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) as the
underlying platform. VSTS 2010 has features for supporting parallel programming, reduce testing
efforts, and help lab management by creating virtual environments with build/deploy/test workflow.
The solution provides enterprise-wide visibility into the development process through improved work-
item traceability and hierarchical organization, improved project scheduling, Excel integration for agile
planning, change-impact analysis, and portfolio-wide dashboards. Third-party solution Teamprise
enables non-Microsoft platform developers to take advantage of VSTS ALM features.
Below is the integrated environment which depicts the ALM solution with project life cycle
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Microsoft’s latest Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) offering, Visual Studio Team System (VSTS)
2010 available in four editions based on functionality, namely: VSTS 2010 Architecture edition, VSTS
2010 Development edition, VSTS 2010 Test edition, and the all-inclusive VSTS 2010 Team Suite. Other
Visual Studio editions include Visual Studio Professional, and Visual Studio Standard. VSTS 2010 also
includes the Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) for team collaboration, process methodology
support, build management, and integration between different tools.
VSTS Test Edition:
There are code quality features common to Visual Studio Professional and all the VSTS editions, such as
adding a test results to a work item or tracking tests against work items, creating unit tests, and
scheduling of tests. Quality features specific to the Test edition include calling one Web test from
another Web test, custom host adaptors for running tests in alternate test environments, generic tests
for wrapping external programs and tests not part of VSTS, load modeling for load tests, load tests for
Web tests or unit tests that simulate multiple users for performance and stress testing, and manual tests
such as disconnecting the power supply. Microsoft Test Runner enables test case execution, and event
and system log collection, and captures images and video of test execution; the integration with TFS
allows users to create defects linked with related artifacts.
VSTS as an end to end test management solution:
VSTS will act as an end to end test management solution from building the requirements to test closure
by managing the test design, test planning, test execution and test reporting using the MTM tool.
Test Management and Planning:
With VSTS 2010 Microsoft has introduced tools that enable test planning, test scheduling, and testing
tasks allocation. Test case management functionality has been introduced in TFS, which allows users to
track test cases, link test cases to requirements, and perform impact analysis. The solution highlights the
test cases to be executed depending on changes made to the application, and enables quality
professionals to record test execution and system information such that developers can see what was
being done when a tester finds a defect. Developers can also record application execution and play it
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back to ascertain application behavior and reduce the number of non-reproducible bugs in the system;
the aforementioned functionality is available in a stand-alone, manual testing tool as well. The solution
also provides a template named Coded UI Test to enable testing of user interface functionality.
Visual Studio Team System 2010 includes a new lab management product that simplifies testing in a
virtualized environment by reducing the setup and tear down time for virtual environments. Integration
with build management workflow improves application quality through automated virtual machine
provisioning, build deployment, and builds verification testing. Lab management enables testers to
create checkpoints on failures, across multiple environments which can then be recorded as bugs with
links to virtual environment accessible to the developer.
An environment for supporting the develop-build-deploy-test cycle that can be rapidly set up in minutes
through use of virtualization, and integrated with VSTS and System Center Virtual Machine Manager.
Specifically used to accelerate creation of complex environments and ensure that developers and testers
are working against the same build, Lab Management automates virtual machine provisioning, build
deployment, and build verification.
Test Process using Microsoft Test Manager:
Microsoft Test Manager (MTM module in TFS) is even better for manual and automated Testers than
any other tools in the market. Microsoft changed the concept of Testing with TFS 2010, they introduced
major features for testers that save time, effort, money and frustration. Here are several ways MTM
help and most valuable:
Defining your testing effort: We can create test plans, test suites, test configurations, and test
cases to define the testing required. You specify which test suites must runs using which test
configuration. These testing artifacts are part of your team project. You can then select the tests
you want to run from the test plan.
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Collect diagnostic data or impact your system when testing and easily add collected data to a
bug: When you run a manual test, you can optionally make a video recording of the test case or
record the actions to a log file or create an action recording. You can add comments,
screenshots, and other files as you run the test.
Record manual test steps for playback: You can create recordings of actions you perform for a
manual test case. You can play back this action recording to fast forward to a particular step in a
manual test to verify a bug has been fixed, or you can use it to fast forward to save you time
when you run a test, the best part is you don't need to write even one line of code.
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Creating the environments you need to use for your testing: You can create both physical and
virtual environments that define the set of rules required to run a specific application and the
machines to be used for each role. Physical environments use test agent controllers associated
with your Team Foundation Server and test agents to run your tests remotely and collect data.
Finding tests to rerun based on code changes: You can compare builds to view which tests are
recommended to be rerun, based on changes to your application under test.
View reports to help you track your testing progress: You can view reports on your test case
readiness and the testing progress for your test plan.
Test application performance and stress: You can use load tests to determine how well your
application responds to various levels of usage.
Automation at glance:
You can create several types of automated tests using Visual Studio Ultimate or Visual Studio Premium,
which enable you to test your application more efficiently. Automated tests run test steps for you and
determine whether the test passes or fails. These tests can be run more quickly and more frequently.
Automated tests can quickly test whether your application is still working correctly after code changes
have been made to your application. Automated tests are created using Visual Studio. You cannot create
load tests unless you have Visual Studio Ultimate.
Later, if you choose, you can convert manual test cases to automated tests by linking automation to the
test case. Then these automated tests can be run using Microsoft Test Manager and the results can be
reviewed as part of the test plan progress.
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The following table shows the types of automated tests that you can create and which types of tests can
be run as part of a test plan:
Depending on what you need to accomplish with your testing will determine which types of automated
tests you need to create. When you have created these tests, then you can decide if you want to report
the results as part of a test plan. The tasks in the table below can help you determine your automated
Framework based tools and Accelerators:
Apart from Microsoft supported tools for automation and performance, it has capabilities to build and
develop test accelerators and harness tools supporting the multiple framework models available. Also it
has integration capabilities with other vendor tools to support agile working methodology.
For managing the testing activities in tactical way for short term purpose, we can make use of TFS built
around tools. But organizations can plan for building test harness, accelerators around them to make
use them for different cross functional projects achieving the reusability in a strategic way.
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Key Benefits of VSTS:
Enhanced development process visibility to business stakeholders, better integration
capabilities, and better quality management throughout the lifecycle.
better work item traceability and management through hierarchies; the ability to link work
items and change-impact analysis; improved project scheduling and enterprise-wide project
management (VSTS 2010 integrates with Microsoft Project Server), as well as Excel integration
for Agile project planning; and customizable reports and portfolio-wide dashboards.
It has a built-in workflow engine, integrated reporting engine, and analytics and warehousing
The server component (TFS) acts as the central collaboration hub between the tools and
manages the work items and artifacts, and their interdependencies; it also provides build
management capabilities, and project and project portfolio management integration.
The solution provides pre-built Burn down, Burn up, Cumulative flow, and Velocity reports, as
well as portfolio-wide dashboards and reporting.
The integrated workflow engine facilitates workflow automation and visual workflow modeling
capabilities. Process and methodology support is offered through pre-built, custom templates
which enable project-structure definition and facilitate policy enforcement.
The TFS provides integration with Microsoft SharePoint Server, Microsoft BizTalk Server, and
Microsoft Project Server and enables integrated collaborative development, and management
of software development projects.
On the build management front, TFS has a new feature known as “gated check-in” that enables
users to validate the code on a separate build machine before the actual check-in takes place,
thereby preserving the repository code integrity in case of build failure at the gate, by
withholding the check-in.
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VSTS 2010 has matured ALM platform with a rounded ALM offering that can help improve software
quality, developer productivity, and project delivery. The ALM offers a number of enhancements for
developers, architects, testers, and project managers alike. The IDE provides native support for parallel
processing application development through features in libraries, compiler, performance analyzer, and
debugger; enhanced Web and cloud development features; developers and architects will welcome the
Architecture Explorer tool that enables discovery and visualization of existing code components, and
layer diagrams that allow code validation. VSTS Test Edition offers improved test management and helps
reduce testing effort, test impact analysis allows testers to execute only those cases impacted by a code
change. Other benefits include enhanced version-control features; and better portfolio-wide analytics
and reporting capabilities.