Build 2014–Quick Links

imageThe Build 2014 conference ended just over a week ago and many of us are still sifting through the various announcements and downloads. This post provides a list of some of the various links to sessions and downloads that you might find handy.


You can find the links to all the session videos and slide decks here.

Visual Studio / .NET

  • .NET Foundation – There were several open source announcements at this year’s Build event. The .NET Foundation will be the steward of a growing collection of open source technologies for.NET, Microsoft’s comprehensive development framework. Here is a snapshot of what’s currently available (completely open source) on .NET Foundation:


  • Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 Release Candidate – this is a “GO LIVE” version of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2. “Go Live” implies that the upgrade path to the final version will be supported.
  • .NET Native Developer Preview – .NET Native compiles C# to native machine code that performs like C++. You can read more about it in this blog post and/or view the .NET Native FAQ.
  • Rosalyn Preview – at this year’s Build conference, Microsoft open sourced their compiler technology known as Rosalyn. Read more here.
  • Application Insights Tools for Visual Studio – integrating Application Insights (currently in preview) with your apps couldn’t be easier. Download the tools and read more here to get started.
  • WinJS – this is a JavaScript library originally released as part of Windows 8 to aid in developing Windows Store apps in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. WinJS was released as open source during the Build conference.
  • Visual Studio Online – this is not a new service, though it was announced (on April 3rd) that Visual Studio Online is now generally available (i.e. no longer in preview). If you are not familiar with Visual Studio Online, I highly recommend you check it out. Among other things, it provides source code repositories (both TFVC and Git), integrates with all popular IDEs (e.g. Visual Studio, Eclipse, and Xcode), can be used to track backlog items, bugs, and tasks, as well as provides support for running automated builds within Visual Studio Online’s cloud infrastructure.
  • TypeScript – TypeScript 1.0 is included in Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RC but you can also download it directly here.

Windows Phone 8.1

NOTE: Windows Phone 8.1 likely won’t be released as an over-the-air (OTA) update for several months. However, it was announced at Build that developers would be able to get the update this month (April). The cool part is that you don’t actually have to be a developer to take advantage of an early upgrade… you simply have to sign in to the Windows Phone App Studio and, voilà, you’re a developer. You can read more about the entire process here.

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Migrate from Visual Studio Online to On-Premises TFS

imageIf you have logged into your Visual Studio Online account recently you might have seen the notice in the image on the left. Essentially, what this is telling you is that if you would like to move your Visual Studio Online team projects to an on-premises version of Team Foundation Server, then you have until May 20th, 2014 to get it done.

As might be expected, there are a few caveats:

  • The on-premises version of TFS must be Team Foundation Server 2013 Update 2
  • This is a one-way move (from Visual Studio Online to an on-premises TFS). You cannot move an on-premises project to Visual Studio Online using this technique.
  • This feature is available for a limited time only (see date above) and must be enabled by sending an e-mail to

It is not clear (yet) whether or not the export feature will be made available again, either temporarily or permanently, so if you have a desire to get your data out of the cloud, you’ll need to take the steps necessary to make it happen before the deadline.

You can view the full details here.

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A Professor and a Former Student Walking Into Build…

imageTL;DR -  This is simply a recollection of a random event at Build 2014 this week. If you have no interest in reading about random events in my life I won’t be offended if you click the Back button now Winking smile

So, in the early 1990’s I was working on my Computer Science degree at Hawaii Pacific University (I happened to be stationed in Hawaii at the time while service in the United States Air Force). Like many CS students, I had many instructors. Also, like many others, I had my favorites… One of which was James McCaffrey.

What I liked about Mr. McCaffrey (now, Dr. McCaffrey) was that he kept class not only entertaining but he also tended to focus on the “science” side of the program (think computer science vs. software development). Long story short, I had several classes with Dr. McCaffrey, graduated with my BS CS degree, and was promptly transferred to my new duty station at Offfutt AFB in Omaha, NE.

Fast forward to a few years ago and I noticed that Dr. McCaffrey was writing an occasional column in MSDN Magazine. I recognized the name and shortly realized (based on his bio) that he was my former professor. I didn’t think much of it other than, cool, I know (sort of) someone working at Microsoft.

Fast forward again to earlier this week at the start of Build. I noticed that Dr. McCaffrey was doing a talk on neural networks. I mentioned to my co-worker, Jeremy, that I’d like to see his talk and possibly say “hi” to him afterword – just for old time’s sake.

Tuesday morning, the first day of the conference, Jeremy and I sat down for breakfast amongst several thousand other like-minded software nerds. Within a couple minutes of sitting down, a gentlemen asked if the seat next to me was open. “Sure”, I said. After he sat down, I asked him why his badge was purple (everyone else’s was blue). He held it up to tell me that he was presenting. That’s when I noticed the name printed on the badge. You guessed it, James McCaffrey! What are the odds of that I thought? Actually, I believe the exact words out of my mouth were “holy crap!” Smile

I introduced myself and told him that I was one of his CS students years ago at HPU. We talked for a bit and went on our way to enjoy the conference.

During his session today (yes, I still went Smile) he asked me to raise my hand to essentially prove that he had a “real” job (as a professor) prior to his currently research career.

I’m not sure what the odds are that a former professor from roughly 20 years ago would eventually sit down next to me at breakfast (where 99+% of everyone in there are attendees, not Microsoft employees) but apparently the odds are just good enough Smile

At any rate, I thought it was an interesting event, I’ll leave it up to you to determine if there’s any entertainment value to this story. Have a great rest of your day and, just maybe, you’ll experience an interesting random event today as well.

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Build 2014-Day 1

The first day was a busy day of announcements from Microsoft. There are far too many to list here (I’m sure I’d miss some!) and I could spend hours (or days) writing up the details of each announcement. I’d rather call out some of the announcements that I personally found to be more interesting.


In case you’re not familiar with WinJS, it is a JavaScript library originally released as part of Windows 8 to aid in developing Windows Store apps in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. WinJS 2.0 was released with Windows 8.1 and is now in version 2.1 adding support for Windows Phone 8.1.

Possibly the bigger announcement related to WinJS is that it is now open source – available here. It’s also worth watching to see how WinJS might be utilized for building apps on other platforms such as iOS and Android. To get more insight as to where WinJS might be heading, check out WinJS roadmap here

Windows Pricing

Buried a couple hours into the morning’s keynote was a quick statement telling us that Windows 8 is now free (for hardware makers) for all devices less than 9 inches in size which includes all Windows Phones and most tablets. Just prior to this statement, Terry Myerson (Microsoft) also stated that once the “Windows for the Internet of Things” was ready, that Windows would be free.


This seems like a fairly profound statement to me though I haven’t read much about it since it was stated. Also,what isn’t immediately clear is whether any of this applies directly to consumers. For example, once Windows 9 (or whatever it ends up being called) is released,will existing Windows 8.1 users have to pay for the upgrade?


imageIn what appears to be a direct competitor to Apple’s Siri and Google Now Windows Phone 8.1 now sports Cortana, a personal assistant for your Windows Phone. Interacting with Cortana is as simple as pressing the search button (or corresponding live tile) on your Windows Phone and telling Cortana what you’d like her to do. For example, you might ask Cortana to wake you up at 7 o’clock tomorrow morning or ask her to remind you to get milk on your way home. I don’t know how comfortable I’ll feel talking to my phone but I’m looking forward to at least trying it out.

Word Flow

With Windows Phone 8.1 comes a new keyboard – Word Flow. Word Flow allowing you to type messages by moving your finger around the keyboard. Seeing the demos reminded me of the Swype keyboard which is popular on many Android devices.

Joe Belfiore (Microsoft) demonstrated the new keyboard on stage and the speed and accuracy was impressive. Even more impressive was a video they played showing an attempt to break the world record for speed typing on a mobile phone – which they did (i.e. Microsoft now claims to hold the record for the world’s fastest phone keyboard).

There were many, many more announcements made during the keynote and throughout the remainder of the day. I’ve no doubt that much will be written about the announcements made, especially once Windows Phone 8.1 is made available to developers within the next couple of weeks. For more details, you can watch all the conference sessions (as they become available) on the Channel 9 Build 2014 website.

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Build 2014–Day 0


Today, thousands of developers from around the world descended upon San Francisco for Microsoft’s flagship developer conference – Build. Although the conference doesn’t officially kick off until tomorrow, there was still plenty going on to keep the nerd in me occupied! :-)

Shortly after checking into my hotel room and grabbing some lunch (at Super Duper Burgers – yummy!) I participated in a mini focus group at the Microsoft offices near the Moscone Center. Along with one other enterprise architect (there were other groups before/after us as well) we spent about an hour and a half answering questions for the research group giving us a chance to provide them with the experiences and insights that we see in our day-to-day jobs. There were some great questions covering some of the most common architectural challenges being faced today (e.g. mobile, cloud, “big data”, etc.). I enjoyed providing my perspective on some of these daily challenges but, more so, I enjoyed hearing the perspectives of the other enterprise architect in the room. I hope the research group gained some beneficial information from the time they spent with us. Regardless, I know I gained some knowledge while I was there. Score 1 for me before Build even starts! :-)

imageImmediately following the focus group, I headed over to the Moscone Center to register for the conference and pick up my badge. The registration was quick and simple and the only items provided to the attendees was a:

  • Conference badge
  • Conference T-shirt
  • Conference session guide
  • A $50 discount card for the Microsoft Store (for purchase of $500 or greater)

I’ll leave it up to you to speculate on whether the lack of a conference bag/backpack is indicative of any potential giveaways during tomorrow’s keynote :-)

imageNext, we headed over to the DVLUP Meet-Up where we had some great food and drinks and had fun tweeting with the #Commit2DVLUP hashtag :-) There was a great turnout of enthusiastic developers and we were provided with some great SWAG! Thanks DVLUP!

To round out the evening, we headed over to the Microsoft Store to take a look at all the great Windows 8.1 tablets and Windows Phones currently available. I was really partial to the Lumia Icon and would love to see a comparable device come to AT&T. I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see. Until then, I’ll continue rockin’ my Lumia 920!

imageWe also got a demo of a MakerBot 3D printer. Although I’ve seen the results of various 3D printers over the past year, this was the first time I spent the time to watch a set of chain links be printed up close. I’m not sure I have a legitimate use for a 3D printer just yet, but I would definitely have fun printing out some toys for my kids!

At this point, I’m ready to call it a successful day and can’t wait to see what the opening keynote brings us tomorrow as well as all the breakout sessions that will follow.

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Office Lens for Windows Phone


A couple of days ago, Microsoft published Office Lens, a new app, to the Windows Phone store. Simply put, it’s like having a scanner built into your phone. You can take pictures of whiteboards, business cards, or anything else for that matter and the images will be enhanced and automatically added to the Quick Notes section of OneNote. Office Lens will also scan the text (if any) in your snapshots allowing you to more easily search for your images.

There are three modes in Office Lens:

  1. Photo – allows you to easily take pictures and have them automatically added to OneNote for easy sharing.
  2. Whiteboard – Office Lens will clean up whiteboard images (see below) making them easier to read at a later time.
  3. Document – Office Lens will clean up document images as well making them easier to read.

Below are a couple of images taken of a whiteboard. The first is taken with the native camera app (on my Nokia Lumia 920). The second image is the result of taking the same photo using Office Lens after it has cleaned it up and saved it to OneNote.

Office Lens_20140317_150127


It’s not an exciting read but I think you’ll agree that the second image is much easier on the eyes. This is an app that I will likely use multiple times each week (at work) simply because I’d rather look at the second image when I go back to review what was discussed in a meeting.

The Office Lens app, along with the recent announcement that OneNote is now free for everyone (and practically every device), makes for a great combination not only at home but in the office.

You can download Office Lens for Windows Phone here.

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Omaha ALM User Group Meeting, 3/18/2014

[Update: The slides for this meeting are now available here]

It’s a bit short notice but the next ALM User Group meeting is tonight at 6:00 PM. Here are the details:


Life Outside of TFS – Ever wondered what ALM tools are out there besides TFS?  Is it better to go best-of-suite or best-of-breed?  This talk will be your chance to learn!

CSGi writes, builds, deploys, and maintains millions of lines of code across multiple languages and platforms.  It has been undergoing an agile transformation for a number of years now.  Early on in that process, they adopted the practice of Continuous Integration across the entire enterprise and put together a comprehensive ALM solution based on best-of-breed components (Jira, Confluence, Fisheye/Crucible, Jenkins, SVN, NAnt/MSBuild) and home grown tools to fill in the gaps.  I’ll give a broad overview of the entire ALM process and the tools we’ve adopted along the way.


Andy Ochsner – Andy Ochsner is a Systems Architect on the Infrastructure .NET team at CSG International.  He’s been doing Agile software development almost exclusively throughout his career and believes strongly in TDD and Continuous Integration/Delivery.  He has applied these techniques using a variety of technologies, with C# and Java leading the way.  In his free time, he enjoys brewing beer.


CSG International
18020 Burt Street
Omaha, NE 68022

NOTE: Parking in any spots available in the front of the building.  If you park in back, you will have to walk around to the front to enter.  Registration will take place at a table outside of the Release Room conference room, so visitors can pass the front entry desk and take their first right to get a name tag and sign in.

About the Omaha ALM User Group

Community-driven, technology-agnostic group focused on utilizing tools and automation to support the people and processes across the complete application lifecycle.  We are always looking individuals to share their experience.  Let us know if you are interested in talking at the group.  No prior speaking experience in required.

>>> Click here to RSVP <<<

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Using Git and Visual Studio Online (Part 1 of 4)

At our latest Omaha ALM User Group meeting, a couple of nights ago, Paul Oliver gave a talk on using Git with Visual Studio Online (formerly known as Team Foundation Service). Even though we didn’t record his session Paul has decided to do a set of screencasts of his talk. The first of four parts is now available on YouTube which you can watch below.

We will post the links to the remaining videos as Paul gets them produced.

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Visual Studio 2013 Update 1 Released

visualstudioThe final release of Update 1 for Visual Studio 2013 is now available. This update consists mainly of a collection of bug fixes and there is no update for Team Foundation Server 2013 with this release (there will be an update to TFS with the release of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2).

You can see the list of fixed issues in KB2911573.

Here are the links for the various updates:

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Omaha ALM User Group Meeting, 1/21/2014

user group

The Omaha ALM User Group will be hosting its next meeting on Tuesday, January 21st at Farm Credit Services of America. Here are the details…


Git Workflow with Visual Studio Online – If your team currently uses Team Foundation Server and TFS Source Control and you’re wondering about what it will look like to move to Team Foundation Service (and Git) in the cloud, this talk is for you. Our team has now moved two projects and we haven’t looked back. I’ll talk about some of the hiccups and difficulties and how we overcame them. I’ll also share some of the reasons why we love it up here in these fluffy clouds with a Git-based workflow.


Paul Oliver – Paul Oliver sometimes writes in the third person and feels weird as he does it.

Paul is a Lead Developer at Farm Credit Services of America who works primarily with Microsoft technologies including the .NET 4.5 framework and Team Foundation Server/Service. His current passion is to focus on continuous delivery and Git to make production pushes as painless as possible. In his free time he power codes with Ruby on Rails, PostgreSQL and MySQL. What are his absolute favorite technologies, you ask? “Simple,” he replies, “I love web programming. I love building interactive HTML 5 and JavaScript web applications like EnterpriseMapper.

An equal opportunity tinkerer, he’s also created a few Android apps.Unfortunately the apps aren’t that good so you won’t find them in the Play store.


Farm Credit Services of America
We are happy to meet once again at Farm Credit Services of America.


Farm Credit Services of America
4979 South 118th Street
Omaha, NE 68137

NOTE: This is the north building. You can enter on the west side of the building.

About the Omaha ALM User Group 

Community-driven,technology-agnostic group focused on utilizing tools and automation to support the people and processes across the complete application lifecycle. We are always looking individuals to share their experience.  Let us know if you are interested in talking at the group.  No prior speaking experience in required.

>>> Click here to RSVP <<<

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