VSTS Build Agent Selection Demystified

Team Foundation Build, Visual Studio Team Services
One of the (many!) features I like about Visual Studio Team Services is that, while I can create my build definitions in the cloud-hosted service, I do not have to rely on the hosted build agents to run my builds. This is important because my builds might rely on specialized software that isn’t installed on the hosted agents. It’s also possible that my build processes rely on access to other resources on my local network that is not exposed to the Internet. In the case of the company I work for, we have several on-premises build servers each running multiple build agents.When we first setup the new build servers and agents and registered them with our VSTS account it didn’t take long for us to notice something a bit odd…
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PSA: Hosted XAML Builds Ending Soon

Team Foundation Build, Visual Studio Team Services
Earlier this year, Microsoft posted/updated some information on the Hosted Pool (i.e. where you run your automated builds in Visual Studio Team Services – i.e. VSTS). One item of interest in that post is that the hosted XAML build controller is planned to be shut down sometime next month (September, 2016).For accounts created after on or after April, 2016, access to the hosted XAML build controller was never provided, so this should not be an issue. However, if you have XAML builds running in VSTS, or were planning on migrating XAML builds to VSTS, you should take note.Here is the excerpt I am referring to (emphasis is mine):I'm looking for the hosted XAML build controller. Where did it go?In September 2016 we plan to shut down the hosted XAML build…
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Tulsa TechFest–Slides

API, Conferences, Extensions, Visual Studio Team Services
I first presented at the Tulsa TechFest in 2007, the second year for the conference. Since then I have only missed presenting one or two times (that I can recall). My oldest son (12) was able to attend this year as well and he really enjoyed the Gaming/Dev/Design track! The conference is really done well. I recommend you check it out next year if you’re in the area.This year, I had the pleasure to present two talks:Using REST with VSTS & TFSTeam Foundation Server (TFS) has been around for over a decade now(!) and Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) has been around for several years. One of the reasons TFS/VSTS has been successful for so many years lies in the extensibility model provided by Microsoft. VSTS/TFS provides a large set…
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Markdown to WordPress Extension Published

Utilities, Visual Studio Team Services
While I will always be a developer at heart (have been more many, many years!) by day I lead an enterprise architecture team consisting of four enterprise architects and four enterprise applications developers (along with an assortment of other contractors that help out with various development and architectural "hygiene" tasks). One area I continually push my team to excel in is communication. One of the various conduits we make use of is a WordPress-based site (hosted internally within our organization). For various reasons I won't go into in this post, we chose WordPress over SharePoint as the repository for the various guidance documents our team produces. Along the way, several other teams have also adopted WordPress for their respective team blogs. While WordPress is a very effective platform for creating…
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VS Code + Ctrl+Shift+S = Wat?!

Tips, Visual Studio Code
Like many of you out there, I’ve been using Visual Studio (literally) ever since there was a Visual Studio (and Visual InterDev prior to that). One of the keyboard shortcuts that has been burned into the muscle memory of my left hand for years now is CTRL+SHIFT+S which is a common shortcut for “Save All”. I can’t claim that this keyboard shortcut has consistently mapped to “Save All” for the life of Visual Studio but it has definitely been around for quite a while (if not its entire life).I also can’t claim that CTRL+SHIFT+S is a well-known universal key combination for “Save All”. However, taking a quick look at a few apps on my workstation (that supports multiple tabs/documents being open/edited), here’s what I found: ApplicationCTRL+SHIFT+S = “Save All” Visual…
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Creating a File in VSTS with APIs

API, Visual Studio Online
Following along the same line as some of the previous API examples I've posted I thought I'd post an example on how to make use of the VSTS APIs to create a new file in a VSTS-based Git repo. This can be handy if you need to get a file into VSTS but don't want to mess around with calling out to the Git command line or making use of various Git libraries. If you're new to calling the VSTS REST APIs or you are new to this series of articles then I would recommend you check out the other articles in this series before getting started. For our example (of creating a new file) there are two VSTS APIs that must be utilized: the refs API and the pushes…
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Custom Build Tasks in VSTS

Team Foundation Build, Visual Studio Online
[Updated 16 Jun 2016 to reflect name change from VSO to VSTS][Updated 28 Dec 2015 to reflect latest changes in command line interface]If you’ve been making use of the new Team Foundation Build technology in Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) or Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2015 then you might have wished you had the ability to create and upload your own custom build tasks. Well, that day is now here! You can now create a custom build task and upload it to your VSTS account for use across your build definitions. Caveat The ability to upload custom tasks is still considered to be in a “pre-release” mode so you might run into the occasional issue. However, if you do, Microsoft is committed to resolving any bugs/issues uncovered and will fully…
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Android: Two Weeks In

Android, Windows Phone
Well, it’s been two weeks since I officially switched to Android. I’ve been spending years (literally) reading other people’s accounts highlighting their experiences with switching from Windows Phone/mobile to Android and/or iOS (and occasionally the other way around). I figured this was my chance to finally put my initial thoughts and experiences on paper (so to speak) since I’ve been using Windows-based phones for a long time (10 years!).So, two weeks in, what have I learned? For the Clint Eastwood fans out there, I’ll break it down into The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.The GoodHardwareAs I mentioned in my previous post I switched to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. When I first got this phone I was really impressed with the look and feel of the device. I had…
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Why Should I Leave XAML Builds?

Team Foundation Build, TFS, Visual Studio Team Services
If you have been using Team Foundation Server for any amount of time (say, 2 years or more) then it’s likely you have a decent investment tied up in your XAML-based builds. It’s likely that you have spent a lot of time tweaking the XAML ever-so-carefully to get your automated builds to do your bidding. It’s also possible that you have utilized multiple custom build tasks for scenarios specific to your organization that are not supported out of the box.Along with this, you and/or your team has gained a good amount of knowledge in learning how to tie the various pieces of a XAML-based build together. So, with all that said, you might be wondering why your company should make the move to the new(‘ish) VSTS-style builds. Here are a…
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When is Enough, Enough?

Android, Windows Phone
Ask anyone who has known me for more than a few hours and odds are they can tell you that I love technology! Specifically, I am a huge fan of the Microsoft software developer ecosystem. I was a Java developer before .NET/C# became available but, once I got my hands on C#, there was no going back (to Java)! To me, .NET & C# was what Java should have been from the beginning.Since those days, I’ve written many apps – web apps, “fat client” (Windows) apps and mobile apps. Since Windows Phone (7) came on the scene back in 2010 I’ve published 9 apps (some better than others :-)) for Windows Phone. For me, it was a natural fit – writing mobile apps using C#. It leveraged the skills and…
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