VSTS Bot – First Thoughts

So I recently read about the new VSTS Slack Bot.  This type of automation really gets me pumped as it aligns with one of my core DevOps principles, automation!!

So it pretty easy to setup.

  • Hit this page and click the Add to Slack button.
  • You will then need to get your access code from with your VSTS account and type it into the Slack Bot

From there you can do things like view\create a Release by typing “Releases” and then clicking the “Create” button. (GH-LunchMenuAction = My Release for my Google Home Action)


You can also view approvals and launch builds.


Kind of a cool little add-on from Microsoft.  It’ll will be interesting to see what functionality is added in the future.

Note – Stuff like this is why I would recommend going with VSTS and not TFS on-premise.  Eventually VSTS will have all TFS on-premise features, plus its cheaper and you get updates hassle free….  Its only a matter of time.

VSTS – New User Email Address

I just created a new Visual Studio Team Services account and wanted to add some colleagues to the account.  However, my colleagues do not have Outlook or Hotmail user accounts.  What to do?

After some quick research, it turns out that because this new VSTS account is not backed by Azure AD (I didn’t expect it to be), they would need to create new Microsoft accounts.


The following is directly from the VSTS docs.

  • If new users don’t have Microsoft accounts, have them sign up.

I assume this would mean have them get a new (@Hotmail, @Outlook) account.



Lets say I am in need of a private Git repo for a small 3 – 5 person team….  Where should I look?

For this blog post I looked at GitHub and VSTS.  Below is the pricing for both.

From the links above, you will notice that VSTS is the better deal.  Its basically free, plus it includes many additional features!

So, I know I can connect my Jenkins instance to GitHub, but can I connect Jenkins to my VSTS Git repo?  The answer is yes and it’s basically the same process as connecting to GitHub

  1. Create your public\private keys with ssh-keygen
  2. Add your public key to VSTS
    • vsts_ssh.png
  3. Create “SSH Username with private key” Jenkins credential
    • User private key from #1 here
  4. Use this new credential when configuring Git in your new job

Now you will probably want your new Jenkins job to launch when changes are made to the VSTS Git repo.

Below are some of the options you have with Jenkins and VSTS

I must say that Microsoft is really pushing out some cool products!

Brian Harry – DevOps Presentation

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to listen to Brian Harry speak twice this week. (At work and at MHTA)  I have been a big follower of Brian since the early TFS 2005 days, so I was pumped!!!

His talk was about DevOps and his VSTS teams journey.  Below are some of the highlights I wrote down from his presentations.

  1. His team always strives to find the root cause of issues… Always!!!
  2. His team works in 3 week sprints.
  3. It takes his team about 2 weeks to push out VSTS updates to all locations.
  4. They push releases internally 1st which is a lot quicker.
  5. They have feature teams, with each feature team responsible for all aspects of there code.  (e.g. Build, test, deploy, production support, etc…)
  6. Their feature teams have dedicated roles that are responsible for troubleshooting issues in production .
  7. Brian uses VSTS to help planning his farm tasks.
  8. You can not put a timeline on your DevOps journey.  If so, there is a good chance you will fail.
  9. He highly recommended the book “Drive” by Daniel Pink!
  10. Merging is really expensive
  11. They have release branches and that is about it.  (In addition to master\mainline)
  12. More “Shift Left” testing, which mean more unit testing.
  13. Feature flags are a huge part of DevOps

Overall I really enjoyed listening to him and was able to congratulate him on the success of TFS and VSTS.


VSTS For Family Planning? Get out!

Visual Studio Team Services (aka VSTS) is the online\cloud hosted version of Team Foundation Server.  There are some differences\benefits between the 2 which Buck Hodges clearly explains here.

Microsoft offers free access to VSTS for smaller teams. (5 users)  This free access will allow you to get a pretty good handle on the VSTS online tool and its features.  I must say I am thoroughly impressed.  I have been a TFS user since the 2005 days and appreciate how far the tool has come.

So, after playing around with the tool I started pondering the idea of using it to help plan family tasks every week/month.  By doing this, my family could get exposure to task boards, burn-down charts, stories, etc…  So without even knowing it, they would be learning the ways of Scrum.

Below is a quick mock up of a family task board for an April iteration.


VSTS offers the ability to setup notifications and also allows you report off of past tasks.  I can see both of these coming in handy.

You can also get VSTS on your mobile device, although I would consider this app useless for this family project.  Seems to be geared for a PM or manager.

If I decide to give VSTS a try for family planning, I will be sure to provide the results here.  🙂