Seventh day of Christmas… VSTS features in 2016

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true blog gave to me… seven Team Services features!

six GIFS a-dancingfive Golden Rules!
Four Community Sitesthree Maturity Modelstwo Sitecore PaaS features, and Sitecore in a NuGet feed.

If you have been using Visual Studio Team Services, you know that Microsoft regularly releases new functionality to the application throughout the year. Today we’ll recap seven new features released in 2016! These may not be the biggest changes, but they are the ones I like to see in the evolution of a product.

#1. Auto-refresh dashboards (Jan. 25)

January’s first release of the year put out some Dashboard love which allows you to configure your dashboards for auto-refresh. For those of you using nice big screens to show the latest status of everything this is a welcome addition to make sure everybody knows the view is up to date.

#2. SCVMM support (Feb. 16)

In February, the VSTS release added support for System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). This means you can provision virtual machines by connecting to SCVMM. Later releases in 2016 added more functionality here to really make sure you get full use of your VMs as part of your releases.

#3. Change Work Item Type (Apr. 13)

The April 13th release introduced a few changes for working with work items, including the ability to change the work item type. This was another gap between VSTS and other tools like Atlassian’s JIRA OnDemand. This is incredibly helpful when the team is reviewing work items and realizing something that was marked as a defect is probably new functionality, or maybe should be tracked as a higher level epic. I honestly can’t believe how long this took, and still can’t believe this is only available in the web portal for Team Services.

#4. Docker integration for build and release management (Jun. 1)

On June 1st, Microsoft released their integration for Docker which can leverage Docker Hub for Continuous Integration and also deploy to Docker hosts with Release Management. I haven’t had much of a chance to play around with Docker myself, but I’m pretty sure all the Docker fanatics out there were very happy to see this one. 🙂

#5. Filter by parent work item (Jul. 7)

The July 7th release introduced the ability to filter boards by a particular parent item (like a feature or epic). This really closes a backlog management gap that the product owners I work with often need. Once you start building a hierarchy of work items, it becomes difficult to keep tracking how all the stories come together under a larger story. This filtering helps with this challenge and allows product owners to break stories down but still maintain an ability to treat them as a single thing on the board.

#6. Custom Work Item Types (Sep.2 )

The September 2nd release brought about custom work item types which really helps VSTS compete against Atlassian’s OnDemand which for a long time has had the ability to create custom task types. This will finally bridge the gap that many teams need when choosing their work tracking software.

#7. Import Git repository (Sep. 21)

Along with several other features released in the September 21st release, the big one for me was the ability to import from other Git repositories. GitHub, BitBucket, GitLab, whatever it is… this made it easier for teams to transition into VSTS.

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