Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Private Workspace Config Mgmt w/Team System

On a recent project our team has been using Microsoft's Team System from within Visual Studio. We are using the built-in capabilities for:

  • Requirements Definition
  • Task Assignments
  • Source Control
  • Build Server
  • Bug Tracking
  • Code Coverage
  • Unit Testing

So, we're involved in it up to our necks. We've been using pieces of the system for quite a while, but this is our first immersion. The SCM is a little funky sometimes, and really annoys my SCM-geeked teammate.

Honestly, I think it has been a pretty good experience overall. I like the reporting we get out of the box (these only come into play if you do use TS for everything), and there is no question that as an extension of the IDE, having everything available in one familiar place is a big bonus.

The main point I wanted to bring up here is an early issue we had with getting our private workspaces* and build server to have all the right files from the repository. We do not share an overall folder structure, and I don't like forcing developers to have their files in any one place on disk on their machine. I am just too much of a libertarian for that.

Because this project included a couple of frameworks, we decided to install those on every machine, and depend upon the GAC for references. However, we wanted to share a signing key, a shared AssemblyInfo file, a test run configuration file, team build types, along with multiple assemblies not included in the installed frameworks.

For the shared files we decided to use the solution items folder for the solution. In order for the items here to be source controlled, and therefore downloaded from the repository, they had to exist beneath the root workspace folder. We decided that we would mimick the folder structure exactly on disk as it was in the solution items folder. Specifically, we created solution items folders, and then created their counterparts in the root solution folder on disk.

Assemblies were placed in an Assemblies directory and other files in a Common folder (unfortunately, this is still one area where the SCM can still be flakey and occasionally get latest version doesn't seem to pull new solution items).

Now, in each project we referenced the assemblies in the solution items folder rather than locally. We also needed to put links for the common key and sharedassemblyinfo.cs into each project. In order to do this, each csproj file was hand edited with a new "Compile" element:

<Compile Include="..\Common\SharedAssemblyInfo.cs">

The Link sub-element tells the project where to display this file relative to the project root.

We added a "None" element for the key:

<None Include="..\Common\ourkey.snk" />

Finally, in order for the .testrunconfig file to work, and to see the team build files they had to be included in the solution via the context menu 'include existing item' - for some reason these references did not come along with updated versions of the solution file.

With this all in place, every developer can reliably get latest and build without issue. 

*I mean this in the sense of the Configuration Management pattern given by Berczuk which I think is probably normative for most developers - do your dev in a private workspace where you control the versions of the components you are using and the version of the code you developing against. You control when and how your environment changes. This is basically done by downloading a complete environment from the repository to your local workstation.

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