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Overview of Team Foundation Server

Overview of Team Foundation Server

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Published by: bc2255 on Aug 04, 2010
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Overview: Team Foundation Server
With Visual Studio Team System (VSTS), Microsoft has made available an integratedset of tools which are used by members of the software development team. Each of these persons is going to play one or multiple roles. One can vary easily imagineroles of Business Analyst, Project Manager, Technology Solution Architect,Developer, tester and Release Manger. These roles use different tools which suitthem. For example Developers over the years have used Visual Studio to create codeand Project Managers use MS Project for creating, monitoring and controlling aproject. All the tools used by various roles work on the same data which makes themintegrated. These tools also need to access some services for managing the data.The data storage and the common services are provided by a server component of VSTS which is called Team Foundation Server.In this article we will take an overview of Team Foundation Server and servicesoffered by Team Foundation Server.
Team Foundation Server (TFS)
TFS is the heart of VSTS. It pumps the required data and provides required servicesto the various client applications. It allows all the team members to collaborate witheach other. It is a server which incorporates some of the best software technologiescreated by Microsoft like ASP.NET 2.0, Windows SharePoint Services, SQL Server2005 etc.
TFS Architecture
 
Logical Architecture
TFS is a multilayered server. It is divided in the layers of Data Layer and ApplicationLayer.The data layer and the application layer can be on the same machine if the numberof clients is less than 20.Data layer is implemented in SQL Server 2005. When TFS is installed it createsnumber of database and tables for maintaining the data of the users, work items,source control and other resources. Being implemented on SQL Server 2005, datalayer provides excellent scalability and performance.Application layer is implemented through set of services which are available over thenetwork. Most of them are configured as webservices which makes them possible tobe accessed even over the Internet.
Physical Architecture
 
It is possible to create a single tier architecture for installations which do not demandhigh scalability. It is suggested that for any non-trivial installation the data layer andthe application layer should be on different servers to meet the scalability andreliability requirements. For meeting the requirements of teams which aregeographically scattered and connected through internet, TFS provides the ability touse proxy to fulfill the requirements of distant users. Although proxy will be cachingthe source code, main source control where changes are allowed to be stored iswhere the main installation of TFS is. It is also suggested to have a separate buildserver since the build activity is very highly CPU intensive. Keeping the main TFS andbuild server on same machine with frequent builds may hamper the performance of TFS adversely. Fig 2 shows the suggested physical architecture of TFS for any nontrivial installation.
Services Offered by TFS
The main set of services offered by TFS are to improve collaboration betweenmultiple users. We can enumerate those as shown in Figure below
 
 
Source Code Control (SCC)
SCC is the major contributor to Software Configuration Management. SCC in TFSincludes normal version control, Branching, Merging, Shelving and Unshelving etc.TFS maintains the source control in SQL Server 2005. By default it allows multiplecheck-out. We can place locks in such a way that either the locked files cannot bechecked out or if they are checked out they cannot be checked in. TFS also supportscheck-in policies which make it mandatory on the team members to execute certainactions when they are checking in some source code.SCC also works as a point of convergence between the team project and thetechnological solution. Team project allows for architecture, collaboration,monitoring and control of the project. It is very peripherally concerned with thetechnology. The technological solution does not involve itself with projectmanagement or versioning etc. Every unit of source code to be generated is taggedwith a work item. Work item store the management data about the technologicalentities. Storage and management of work items is done through SCC.
Project Portal
For every team project TFS creates a SharePoint portal site. This site containssections for Process guidance, Reports and documents. It provides appropriatepermissions to contributors, readers and guests. Through the process guidance wecan learn about the process template that is selected for the project. Various reportsprovide the health and progress of the project. Clients can have a look at the reportseven across the Internet for status monitoring.
Work Item Tracking
Work items are tagged collection of data representing some abstract entities liketask, bug, Quality of Service Requirement etc. We need to monitor status of each of these entities. At the same time each work item and entity pair will belong to a userat any given moment. The user will work upon the entity like task or bug and theneither set the status of the work item to close or re-assign it to some other user forfurther work on the entity. TFS keeps track of status of each work item and the userwho owns that work item at that time.
Build Automation
Each developer compiles the application in his / her workspace on the local machine.After compilation the code is checked in the source code control. The checked in codehas to be built to ensure its interoperability with code created at other time, maybe,by some other developers. This build process should be carried out periodically toensure integrity of all the checked in code. TFS allows creation of build at pre-

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