9 Dec 2009

My Adventures in Codeplex

In October 2009 I created 2 codeplex projects which I would to tell you about:

SQL Server Reporting Services MSBuild Tasks (ssrsmsbuildtasks)

A few years ago I created some tasks for MSBuild to help deploy reports for my project, details can be found here,  since then my tasks have been re-used in a few other projects within my company.  However lately we have been doing a few projects which have made use of Reporting Services integrated mode with SharePoint, which meant that my tasks were unusable as they only work with a native mode report server.

So I have been updating them to include support for an integrated mode report server.  Also before I added the integrated mode support I took some time to rewrite my original native mode tasks as well.  The re-writing of the tasks includes some improved understanding of MSBuild by making more use of Item Groups and metadata for setting of report server properties of the report items being deployed. 

I placed the tasks within codeplex as I needed a better way of sharing my tasks other than through the blog post.  Also using the task is helpful in getting the your reporting project integrated with any continuous build of your project.  Another way they can help is with automating unit testing of your reporting project which I have talked about how to do from a previous post.

The SQL Server Reporting Services MSBuild Tasks are available from the following URL: http://ssrsmsbuildtasks.codeplex.com/

Server Reporting Services Slide Shower (ssrsslideshower)

While working on our Scrum for Team System process templates for Team Foundation Server (http://www.scrumforteamsystem.com) I created a useful tool.  The tool helps to show reports that are important to a scrum team in a sort slide show presentation, more details can be found through this previous post.

While writing the tool most of the mechanics of the tool doesn’t depend on Team Foundation Server or our Scrum template.  Also I thought it would be a useful tool for people who wish to demo any reports that are within their reporting services infrastructure.  So I have removed the dependences of Team Foundation Server and our Scrum Template. 

I have plans to improve the tool, within my limits of coding knowledge, to allow reports parameters values or labels to be set as it renders the reports within the slide show. I also plan to get it working with a integrated report server as well.  However my ssrsmsbuildtasks project has taken most of my time but over the next few week I plan to start making my changes to this project.

I placed the project on codeplex because within our Scrum for Team System V3 template for Team Foundation Server 2010, which beta 2 is now available from this link,  we have dropped the inclusion of this tool and plan to release it within codeplex.  This is  mainly because it was a value add tool and not needed as part of the process template. Also the changes that were made to template and the reports, which now don’t have clear defaults for our report parameters which fit into the my improvements plans that I mention above.   

The SQL Server Reporting Services Slide Shower is available from the following URL: http://ssrsslideshower.codeplex.com/

7 Dec 2009

SfTS V3 Beta 2:Helping to see the wood for the trees

Within any application lifetime management methodology, the reports are a useful tool to help see how well , or not , the project is progressing.  Within the Scrum methodology the reports which are used for tracking progress are the burndown reports.  In the Scrum for Team Systems process templates for Team Foundation Server these reports are available to help with managing the project. 

With a manual run burndown report when an unexpected trend in the burndown happens, there is an option to manually add an annotation.  This would help during a retrospective when talking about why the trend oddity occurred.  Within our previous versions of the Scrum for Team System templates our burndown reports would only show the end of each days aggregated totals.  Any unexpected totals would have to investigated to understand the underlying cause.  Previously this would have involved either using Team Foundation Explorer to review the history and comments; Using Excel Pivot Services to query the data or writing a report against the warehouse. This can take some time to create and analyse the result set. 

In connection with the above for the last few months I, with the help of fellow work colleague Kate Begley, have been working on writing the reports for the Scrum for Team System V3 process template (For which Beta 2 has been released and details are available from here) part of which has been adding drill-though report functionality to the reports.  This helps with the investigation in explaining for example why there was an unexpected up trend in our sprint burndown seen in our report below:


To get drill-though details for the end of day click on any data point for example within the blue circle in the image above, the drill though details report will be displayed as seen below:


In this example the details report shows the work items broken down by the incomplete tasks which contribute to the sprint burndown line aggregated daily totals, complete tasks which have been completed up to that day, and the tasks that have been descoped within the selected sprint / team.  The incomplete tasks are further grouped together by their states showing the subtotals for each state, as well as the grand total of incomplete tasks, which are used to make up the burndown trend.

To investigate the unexpected up trend in our sprint burndown I would need to compare the totals with the totals of the previous day. To do that I would export to excel the details report of the day concerned and the previous days details and compare these side by side to analyse the up trend, as shown below:


The above shows the reason for the up trend in this example was due to new work being added to the sprint. Please keep in mind this might not always be the case as other outcomes could of happened:

  • New tasks could have been added and the incomplete task could have had the work remaining total for it adjusted upward because of unexpected issues
  • Both the currently incomplete tasks could have had the work remaining adjusted upward because of impediments

Other reports in beta 2 which have the drill-through functionality are:

  • QA / Bug History Chart
  • Release / Product Burndown Chart by Day
  • Release / Product Cumulative Flow
  • Sprint / Sprint Burndown Chart
  • Sprint / Sprint Cumulative Flow