Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012: Adopting Agile Software Practices: From Backlog to Continuous Feedback

Sam Guckenheimer, Neno Loje (2012)
Review date: May 2013


"Cute" was my first spontaneous reaction after having figured out how this book is written. The formula underlying this book is the following: explain an agile concept, like the sprint or the backlog, and show how TFS or Visual Studio supports it. Pretty much the whole of this book is one variation of this concept or another. This has some consequences.

Readers who know nothing about agile will pick up some terminology, and readers who know nothing about the TFS and Visual studio will get an overview of their capabilities.  

The upside of this style of writing a book on a tool is that it becomes more reading-friendly. Books about tools tend to be very dry and rather boring. By placing the tool in a bigger context, the authors achieve higher readability and a more fluent text. The downside is that the technical part of the book gets watered down. In the case of this particular book, a reader cannot use it to actually do anything practical with neither the TFS nor Visual Studio. The text is too high-level; all it does is list capabilities. That in itself doesn't have to be bad, if you're after this kind of thing.

Personally I read this book from the perspective "I know about agile, tell me something about the TFS", and I was barely satisfied. The book has nice pictures, sometimes gives sort of concrete examples, but content-wise I'd say it's just a step above a longer product sheet or some kind of marketing material.

Again, a good thing is that it's able to point the reader to many resources, and give an overview of the major functional areas that the TFS has to offer. The bad thing is that in order to actually do anything with the TFS, the reader has to follow up on these resources and references.

What did I like the most then? Being after some basic knowledge about the TFS, I liked the chapters that contained examples of how the tool could be used and what information or service it provides. I particularly took notes in chapter 6, "Development", which is about version control, testing, code analysis, and related topics.

Another favorite was chapter 9, "Lessons Learned at Microsoft Developer Division", in which the authors openly and honestly share the story of their journey towards becoming an agile organization and improving the quality of Visual Studio itself. What's good about this chapter is the level of honesty and the will to share. In fact, this is the chapter I enjoyed reading the most.

In my opinion, this book was "ok", a three out of five. It's nicely written, but too superficial for my taste. I wanted more info. On the other hand, had I gotten that, maybe the reading would have been a pain. In its present form, the book is quite easy to read. So, maybe my expectations were at fault in this case. After all, I did get an introduction to the tools and I know where to turn form more information. Nonetheless, I believe that the book achieves a bigger impact with readers totally new to both the tools and agile.

Read or not read? I've told you the book's formula. You decide.

Who should read this book

Readers new to both agile and TFS/Visual Studio will get a gentle introduction to both topics after reading this book.


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  • 2013-08-05

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