Visual Studio/TFS 2013 Update 4 RC Available

imageIn case you missed it, Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 RC (Release Candidate) is now available for download. Also, this is a “go-live” release which means you can use this update in production environments and there will be a supported upgrade path from the RC to the final release (RTM) version.

What’s in Update 4?

You can view the details of this release here along with some of the ALM-specific improvements here, and web-specific enhancements here. However, here are some of the highlights:

  • CodeLens improvements
  • Lots of updates to Release Management
  • Review and merge code with Git pull requests
  • New lightweight chart features in TFS
  • Improved JSON editor
  • Better JavaScript IntelliSense when loading modules with RequireJS
  • Support for SQL Server 2014
  • Much more…

Download Links

  • Visual Studio 2013 with Update 4 RC – the Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 download is currently available via web installer only. See Creating a Full Installation Set below for instructions on how to obtain the full set of installation files.
  • Team Foundation Server 2013 with Update 4 RC – the TFS installation is available via a web installer or as a disk image (ISO).
  • Other products are available for update as well. Click on the Visual Studio 2013 with Update 4 RC link above and then click on the Details button to see a list of other products that can be updated.

Creating a Full Installation Set

The Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 is available as a web installer (1.8MB); However, you can run the installer with the /layout switch if you would like to download the entire set of installation files (e.g. to install the update on multiple machines while downloading it only once).

For example, press Windows+R and enter: {path}\VS2013.4 RC.exe /layout(replacing {path} with the download path where the installer has been saved) and press Enter. This will cause the setup program to prompt you for a download location:




For the Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 RC, the complete file set takes up about 5.5GB of disk space.

Posted in TFS 2013, Visual Studio 2013 | 1 Comment

Mastering Multiple Desktops in Windows 10

Some Quick Background Information

For years, Windows has had the ability to easily switch between running applications by pressing the ALT+TAB key combination. As one would expect, this still works, just as it always has, in the Windows 10 Preview. Also, since Windows Vista, the WIN+TAB key combination provided an alternate view for switching among tasks – one that takes advantage of hardware graphics acceleration.


What’s New in Windows 10

With Windows 10, there is also now an option of creating and switching among multiple desktop configurations. Firstly, to create an additional desktop, you can press WIN+CTRL+D. Doing so will create a new, “empty”, desktop and immediately switch over to it.

To switch between desktops, press WIN+TAB. This opens the new Task View and displays a list of open desktops from which you can select one.


Use the LEFT/RIGHT arrow keys to navigate among the open apps for the selected desktop. Pressing ENTER (with a particular app selected) will take you directly to that app. Press TAB to jump to the desktop images at the bottom of the screen. Pressing ENTER on a particular desktop will take you directly to that desktop. You can also click on the “+” icon at the bottom of the screen to create an additional desktop (if you prefer to use the mouse over the keyboard shortcuts).

Note: I do not know what the maximum number of desktops is that can be created. The list of desktop images at the bottom of the screen is limited to about 9 1/2 desktops (the image for the 10th desktop is clipped by the edge of the screen on my PC). However, I created about 15 desktops without any (obvious) issues. This is something that might be more obvious in future releases of Windows 10 as feedback is provided on the Preview version.

You can get a preview of the apps open in a particular desktop by hovering your mouse over the desired desktop image at the bottom of the screen. Clicking on a desktop will select and open that specific desktop.

Note: You can also open the Task View with the mouse by clicking on the Task View icon in the task bar as shown below:


Running Multiple Instances of Apps Across Desktops

One issue you might run into immediately while setting up additional desktops is the ability to run multiple instances of various apps. For example, on your default desktop (the one that is created for you automatically when you first start Windows 10), open your favorite web browser (e.g. Chrome, IE, Firefox, whatever). Then create a new desktop by pressing WIN+CTRL+D. Open the same browser again and you will be taken directly to the previous desktop where you opened the browser for the first time.

You might be thinking this is less than useful if you want multiple desktops with their own, independent instances of an app (in this case, a web browser) open. There is a simple solution… Go back to the new desktop that you just created (press the WIN+CTRL+LEFT/RIGHT keys to quickly navigate amongst your desktops). Once there, press SHIFT+App Icon/Shortcut (e.g. if you’re opening Internet Explorer, Press SHIFT+IE Icon/Shortcut). This will open a new instance of that app within that desktop. Neat, huh?

If you happen to have icons pinned to your task bar, you will notice a special indicator under any icon that happens to have an instance open in another desktop. For example, in the screenshot below, you will notice several icons indicating that they are open in other desktops.


Keyboard Shortcuts for Multiple Desktops

Here is a complete list of keyboard shortcuts that apply to multiple desktops:

Keyboard Shortcut Description
WIN+TAB Opens the new Task View
WIN+CTRL+D Creates and opens a new desktop
WIN+CTRL+F4 Closes the current desktop
WIN+CTRL+LEFT/RIGHT Navigates among open desktops

What About Windows 7 & 8.1?

You might not realize it but Windows has provided support for multiple desktops since Windows XP/Windows Server 2003 (and possibly since before then, I’m not sure). However, Microsoft did not provide an interface for making use of, and switching among, multiple desktops. However, that did not stop Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell, from Sysinternals (now owned by Microsoft) from creating a utility to take advantage of this capability.

If you’re still running Windows XP(!), 7, or 8.1, the utility, simply called Desktops, can be downloaded and installed from here.

The Desktops utility allows you to setup keyboard shortcuts for switching between four separate desktops.


Although you can take advantage of multiple desktops in Windows XP, 7, and 8.1, the integration is not as clean as what is now offered in Windows 10 Preview. However, if you’re not ready to jump on the Windows 10 Preview, you can at least still work with multiple desktops if you so desire.

Although I’ve only been using multiple desktops in the Windows 10 Preview for a few days now, I have a feeling I’ll find it hard to live without them very soon :-)

Posted in Windows, Windows 10 | Leave a comment

Bing Developer Assistant for Visual Studio

Microsoft has introduced a new Visual Studio extension – Bing Developer Assistant for Visual Studio (currently tagged as Beta). This extension allows you, the developer, to locate millions of code snippets and sample projects from within the Visual Studio IDE. Essentially, this extension combines the features of two previous extensions: Bing Code Search and Sample Browser.

Code Snippets in IntelliSense

The Bing Developer Assistant extension provides some nice additions to the Visual Studio IntelliSense experience. Most notably, it can provide you with a code snippet that is relevant to the API you are actively coding against. For example, in the screenshot below, I am looking at the IntelliSense for the Send method of the SmtpClient class:


If you happen to be on an API that doesn’t have any code samples, you’ll see something like the following:


The cool part is that you can opt to share some of your own code samples if nothing is found. Nice!

Sample Browser

Taking the code snippets one step further is the Sample Browser. This feature allows you to search for multiple code examples at once as well as for sample projects that can be downloaded and opened in Visual Studio.

Playing off the above examples, let’s say you want to find some examples of how to send e-mail using C#. In the Bing-powered Code Samples toolbar, enter “send mail” and press Enter. A new tab will be opened looking something like this:


Offline Searching

One final feature of the Bing Developer Assistant is the ability to perform your searches while offline. You can configure the folders that are indexed via the Tools->Options->Bing Developer Assistant->Code Snippets options. For example:


Caveats & Observations

  • The new IntelliSense features are currently available for C# only – other languages will likely be supported in the future.
  • The new IntelliSense features do not work in conjunction with ReSharper’s IntelliSense features — you must choose one or the other!
  • I’ve noticed some “quirks” when searching for sample projects – e.g. sometimes sample projects will be listed in the search results but clicking on them to view the details does not work (these tend to be at the end of the list).
  • The Code Samples search box is included in the “Standard” toolbar – i.e. it cannot be turned off or moved to another area of the IDE without dragging along the entire “Standard” toolbar. A comment on the extensions web site implied that the search box will have its own toolbar at some point down the road.

All that said, I can definitely see the potential usefulness of this add-in and plan to keep it turned on for now to see if it truly makes a difference. Now if we can only figure out how to tie the searches into Bing Rewards Winking smile

Download Links

Posted in Utilities, Visual Studio 2012, Visual Studio 2013 | Leave a comment

Extending TFS and Visual Studio Online eBook–Update 1

TFSBookLogoBack in May, I wrote about the initial release of Extending TFS and Visual Studio Online, an eBook that Mike Douglas and I have been working on. To reiterate, the primary focus of this book will be to provide scenario-based examples on how to utilize the new REST-based APIs and Service Hooks. Based on our everyday experiences with TFS and Visual Studio Online, along with feedback from our readers, we plan to provide a book that will be simply indispensible for anyone wishing to extend TFS or Visual Studio Online using the new API.

Although our original plan was to publish updates every few weeks, the typical summer schedule has gotten in our way a bit (e.g. vacations, activities, nice weather, etc.) so it’s taken a little longer than originally anticipated to get the first update out.

That said, I’m happy to announce that Mike and I have just published the first update to the book! Although we have made several tweaks throughout the book (based on our readers’ feedback!) the major update to the book includes the completion of two chapters: Ch. 15 – Service Hooks and Ch. 17 – Using OAuth.

The current table of contents is as follows (though, still subject to change):

  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Part I – The Basics
    • Chapter 1: Overview of Team Foundation Server
    • Chapter 2: A History of Team Foundation Server APIs
    • Chapter 3: A REST Primer
  • Part II – Using the Team Foundation APIs
    • Chapter 4: Our First REST API Call
    • Chapter 5: Work Items
    • Chapter 6: Team Foundation Version Control
    • Chapter 7: Git
    • Chapter 8: Build Definitions
    • Chapter 9: Builds
    • Chapter 10: Workspaces
    • Chapter 11: Team Room Management
    • Chapter 12: Team Room Activities
    • Chapter 13: Reporting and Charts
    • Chapter 14: Projects and Teams
    • Chapter 15: Service Hooks
  • Part III – Other Resources
    • Chapter 16: Using Fiddler
    • Chapter 17: Using OAuth
    • Resources

The chapters listed in bold have been at least partially completed. The chapters in blue are the most recent chapters completed for the latest update.

If you have an interest in extending Team Foundation Server and/or Visual Studio Online, then this is (will be) the book for you. Purchasing the book now locks in all future updates for only $4.99!

You can read more about the book and purchase it here. Please utilize the feedback section on the book site if you have any questions and/or suggestions. We welcome any and all feedback – especially if it helps us to provide a better, and more useful, book for everyone.

Learn More

Posted in eBooks, TFS, TFS API, Visual Studio Online | Leave a comment

Visual Studio Online License Changes on the Way…

ChangeAheadBrian Harry announced today some exciting changes coming to the set of Visual Studio Online licensing plans. Long story short, they (Microsoft) will be adding a new Stakeholders license license for Visual Studio Online – and, making this an even better announcement, the Stakeholders license will be completely free!

Here is the list of features that will be supported by the Stakeholders license for Visual Studio Online (once available – currently planned for mid-August, 2014):

  • Full read/write/create on all work items
  • Create, run and save (to “My Queries”) work item queries
  • View project and team home pages
  • Access to the backlog, including add and update (but no ability to reprioritize the work)
  • Ability to receive work item alerts

Some features that are explicitly excluded from this license include:

  • No access to Code, Build or Test hubs.
  • No access to Team Rooms
  • No access to any administrative functionality (Team membership, license administration, permissions, area/iterations configuration, sprint configuration, home page configuration, creation of shared queries, etc.)

In addition to the new Stakeholders license, Brian also announced that the Test Hub functionality will become available in the Visual Studio Online Advanced plan. This will alleviate the need to purchase Visual Studio Test Professional for many scenarios.

The following table lets you compare the features available across the various Visual Studio License offerings (click the image to view a larger version):

Visual Studio Online Plan Feature Comparison

Read the full details on Brian’s blog here.

Posted in Visual Studio, Visual Studio Online | Leave a comment

Visual Studio “14”–CTP 2 Available

Today, Microsoft released the 2nd CTP for Visual Studio “14”. According to Brian Harry, there will be “tons” of CTPs between now and the final release (expected sometime next year).

Without going into a lot of detail here’s a short list of what’s new in this CTP (from the Visual Studio Blog):

  • Save and Apply Custom IDE Layouts. You can now save and apply custom layouts for tool windows in the IDE. The Save Window Layout and Apply Window Layout commands are under the Window Menu and you can also rename, reorder, and delete layouts from Manage Window Layouts.
  • Light Bulb Editor Adornment. Light Bulbs are an extensible editor adornment to identify and help you fix issues in your code. To use them, place the caret on a line with an issue or hover over an issue and you’ll see a light bulb that lists actions you can take to resolve the problem and even a preview of proposed solutions.
  • Editor Touch Support. The Visual Studio Editor now supports touch gestures for scrolling, pinch-to-zoom, tap-and-hold for context menus, double-tap for word selection, and line selection by tapping in the margin.
  • VC++ Property Pages and Editor Enhancements. We updated the Configuration and Platform dropdown values for VC++ Property Page dialog to remember the last user selection when the dialog is closed. We also added Move Function Definition (move the body of a function definition to source or header/in-class definition) and Implement Pure Virtuals (quickly create definitions for a class that inherits constructs ([abstract] class, struct, etc.) containing pure virtuals). We also updated Create Declaration/Definition to include Code Peek and improved Find in Files to enable subsequent results to be appended to previous results (“append mode”). Checkout the VC Blog for details on these enhancements.
  • ALL CAPS. Last week with the RC for Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 we added an option to sentence case menus; in this VS “14” CTP we changed Menu Bar styling to Title Case for everyone to help us get feedback on the change. We’ll use the feedback we get to help determine if we keep it as it is in this preview, make it an option under the Tools/Options menu, or take some other path.

You can view the full details of the CTP here and you can download the bits here.

NOTE: It is recommended that you do not install this CTP along side any other version of Visual Studio. If you don’t have a spare development/test machine lying around or you don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up a new virtual machine, you can always run the new Visual Studio “14” CTP 2 on Azure.

If you run across any bugs in the CTP and/or have any suggestions, please submit them on Microsoft’s Visual Studio Connect site.

Posted in Visual Studio, Visual Studio "14" | Leave a comment

Enterprise Architects User Group–Omaha

The next (2nd) meeting will be held Tuesday, July 8th at BCBSNE offices (1919 Aksarben Drive) from 6:30-8:00pm. This meeting will focus on how different organizations are executing Enterprise Architecture. Aside from general information sharing the goal of this meeting is to use this information to gauge interest in deeper dives for future meetings.

We will have two presenters to share their organization’s EA practice:

Aaron Long – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska
Jeff Bramwell – Farm Credit Services of America

Dinner will be provided at 6:30pm along with a networking time and the presentations will start at 7:00pm. The meeting is held in the Aksarben conference room which is located in the main lobby.

Posted in User Group | 1 Comment

Visual Studio/TFS 2013 Update 3–Release Candidate

Microsoft released today Visual Studio 2013 (and Team Foundation Server) Update 3 Release Candidate (RC).

There is a great video on Microsoft’s Channel 9 site covering many of the features and enhancements in Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 RC. If you don’t have the time (or desire) to watch the video right now (it’s about 50 minutes in length) then keep reading…

Here is a summary showing some of what’s new in Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 (RC):



Probably the biggest change with CodeLens is that it now supports Git-based repositories. Since it works against a local Git repository, it doesn’t matter if your repository is sourced out of Visual Studio Online or any other Git repository (e.g. GitHub). It’s worth noting, however, that TFVC-based repositories hosted in Visual Studio Online are not yet supported by CodeLens (this will be coming in a future update).

Here’s a quick screenshot of CodeLens showing a commit for a particular method:


Code Map

Various enhancements including a better zoom experience, link styling and additional usage of color.


Visual Studio IDE

This is either a small change or a huge change, depending on your perspective. There is now an option within Visual Studio to offer Mixed Case menu bar items.

Previously, you had to rely on a manual registry change to modify the menu casing. Now it’s as simple as checking a checkbox to revert to the old-style menu text. Also, this setting will roam with your other Visual Studio settings (assuming you haven’t disabled roaming).


Test Case Management

You can now customize Test Plan and Test Suite artifacts, including the ability to add custom fields and workflows.

Release Management

You can now deploy apps using Desired State Configuration (DSC) or Chef. Nice!

PowerShell   ChefDeployer

Application Insights

Application Insights is now included in Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 RC without having to add the Visual Studio Extension that had to be manually installed in previous versions.



Posted in Visual Studio 2013 | 2 Comments

Application Security Chalk Talk

ITSecurityAt Farm Credit Services of America, where I am employed, we go through great lengths to ensure our development teams have plenty of training opportunities to help ensure we can develop the best possible user experience for our customers. These opportunities might come in the form of local or national conferences, self-paced learning – such as with Pluralsight – or in-house training – some of which is taught by employees and others taught by outside experts.

Starting this week, we have the pleasure of bringing in two top-notch security experts from TrueSec to provide application security training to all of our developers – Hasain Alshakarti and Fabio Viggiani. While here, they have graciously agreed to host an Application Security Chalk Talk for anyone interested in attending. This chalk talk is not specific to .NET-based development but applications development in general. If you know of anyone else that might be interested in attending, please forward this along.

We will be hosting the chalk talk this Thursday, June 19th, at Farm Credit Services of America starting at 6:00pm (CDT). If you have an interest in learning more about application security then we’d love to see you there! Click on the link below for further details and to register.

More about the trainers…

Hasain Alshakarti

Hasain Alshakarti is an acknowledged security expert and computer industry speaker. He has spoken at TechEd North America, TechEd Europe, and TechDays, as well as other events and conferences across the world. Besides being a very popular instructor for the last 16 years, Hasain is specially focusing on Security Assessment, Network Security and PKI, and helping customers understand and implement security measures. Hasain has a background as a developer and works closely with developers to help them understand security demands and realize them in applications and systems without losing functionality and usability. He is a member of the TrueSec Security Team and a recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award in Enterprise Security. Facebook: Twitter: Blog:

Fabio Viggiani

Fabio Viggiani is a leading web application and penetration testing expert at the security power house TrueSec. Fabio has a broad experience from penetration tests of banks, agencies and all sorts of enterprise customers around the globe.

His main focus is web application hacking, but he also has deep knowledge in more generic infrastructure hacking on both Windows, Linux and other platforms.

Fabio has a unique capability when it comes to getting an overview of an entire target environment and identify its vulnerabilities down to every detail.

Click to Register

Posted in Security, User Group | 1 Comment

Running Visual Studio 2014 CTP on Azure

imageYesterday, I posted about Microsoft’s recent release of Visual Studio 2014 CTP. Whereas most developers are eager to download, install, and try out new software releases, there was one caveat mentioned in this post that is worth paying attention to:

NOTE: It is recommended that you install the CTP on a machine that has no other version of Visual Studio installed.

In other words, don’t install this on your primary/production machine!

Since we can’t (shouldn’t) install the CTP release on our primary machine, a common approach would be to setup a virtual machine (VM) with Visual Studio 2014 CTP installed along with any other tools you typically make use of. Depending on what you use to manage your VMs, this might take several minutes or it could take hours (e.g. if you had to manually install the guest operating system, Visual Studio 2014 CTP, etc.).

There is an easier way… Microsoft Azure.

One of the many features of Azure is the ability to create virtual machines. In fact, there is a virtual machine gallery whereby you can choose from one of several preconfigured VMs. As of now, the gallery contains an image for Visual Studio 2014 CTP. Sweetness!

If you’re not familiar with setting up a new VM in Azure, you can follow these steps.

Step 1. Logon

Logon to Azure at If you do not already have an Azure account, you can setup a free trial. Or, if you have an MSDN subscription, you could be eligible for some free usage credits as a perk of your subscription.

Step 2. Create a New VM

Once logged in, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Virtual Machines tab (on the left of the web page) and click “Create a Virtual Machine”


  2. Click “From Gallery”


  3. Select “Visual Studio” on the left and then select “Visual Studio Professional 14 CTP”. Then click on the right arrow at the bottom right of the page.


  4. Enter the required information and click on the right arrow at the bottom right of the page.


  5. Enter the required information for the creation of the cloud service – be sure to select the region you would like the VM to be created in (I’ve selected South Central US for this VM). Next, click on the right arrow at the bottom right of the page.


  6. Select any additional software that you would like to have installed on the VM. I am creating this one with the default settings. Then click on the checkbox at the bottom right of the page to complete the VM configuration.


  7. Your VM will be provisioned and started. This can take a few minutes to complete.


Step 3. Connect to Your VM

  1. To connect to your newly created VM, make sure it is selected and click on “Connect”.


  2. This will start the download of an .rdp file. Click on Open and click “Connect” on the dialog.


  3. Enter your logon credentials (specified in step 2.4 above) and click on “Yes” in the resulting warning dialog.


  4. This will launch your newly created VM, complete with Visual Studio 2014 CTP, in a remote desktop connection window.


Now you can play around with the new Visual Studio 2014 CTP without fear of messing anything up on your primary machine and it took only a couple of minutes to setup and configure!

Posted in Azure, Visual Studio "14" | Leave a comment