Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter

2008-02-16

When tools are not as good as you think

Next week, we're migrating the last of our stuff to TFS 2008 and that also includes the product backlog and the sprint backlog.

We then decided to take a new look at our work item templates so they are really good after the migration. We took our old templates, compared with Conchango's Scrum template and cross checked with our Scrum literature. We're not quite there, but Monday, I hope we're up and running.

Well, back to the tools! Having edited the XML files which makes up the work item templates, we were tipped that the Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server Power Tools Work item template editor was really nice. I beg to differ. For example, there are no error handling on upload of templates. The command line tool we used for uploading files include error handling.

So what happened was that we used the power tools to try to upload a new work item type. Nothing happened. I mean nothing. We didn't see any messages that the command could not be completed. We could then see that it hadn't. How: well, we couldn't create a work item of that type since there was no such template on the server. Using the command line tool, we saw an error in our template which made an import impossible. Nice to know. We also could see where the error was. That is nice.

Another problem is the dialog boxes. If you want to edit something, say an attribute on a work item. You need to double click the item in a list. A dialog box is opened. And then if you then want to change something, say a work flow rule, you need to click a button and perhaps another one. The last time I saw such a UI was when I used the formula editor for nested formulas in Excel 97. If you think the nested dialog boxes for changing settings in Outlook is a UI horror story make true, this will give you nightmares. And the best is again the error handling. Because there is non. So if you for example create a work flow rule that is not supported, you can click OK as many times as you want. And the only way to see that the setting was not saved is selecting the attribute in a list and clicking View XML.

Well, I can see that I'm not alone in experiencing problems. For example: Mike's Blog.

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