Visual Studio Online | Welcome Cloud Development

It was not until recently that I was introduced to the term ALM. Application Lifecycle management. No idea when this Three Letter Abbreviation was invented but the problem it describes are much older, and familiar to a lot of Dynamics NAV developers.

About three years ago I wrote this article, that caused quite some stirr in the NAV Channel, unintended, but typical for our community I think.

So what is the problem definition.

Keeping track of Development History. Why did What happen and When.

After writing the article I dropped the subject. We started the Partner Ready Software initiative and ALM is/was not part of our initial primairy focus. When presenting our vision on Dynamics NAV development I use these slides:

What we tried…
What we need…

And from a pure software quality concept this is true.

But that does not take away the fact that ALM is quite cool too. And a recent development caught my attention that might be of interest to all Dynamics Partners, but especially the smaller ones or the ones who still do customer based development.

Until recently TFS had to be installed on premisse and it is “something to maintain” for IT guys.

When Waldo and I were in Redmond (WA) last year for MVP Summit I went to a session about ALM where Visual Studio Online was presented, as Luc van Vugt also mentions in one of his posts.

On first thoughts you might think this allows you to code C# in the cloud, and yes, you can do that if you want. But a better naming would be TFS Online since it allows a Team Foundation Server to run in the Cloud for free without any hassle or cost. How cool is that!

This is definately something that brings ALM back into my area’s of interest and I have already spent some time exploring it.

You can setup different projects in the tool and it allows you to define work items and sprints to work scrum. You can define team members and do planning and even do visual kanban planning. Really super cool!

The first downside I found is that it is still required to use an on site tool to check in and check out objects. You can use Team Exporer which is free.


But TFS also allows you to use PowerShell to check in and check out objects which means it can be integrated with existing Dynamics NAV PowerShell scripts. This would be very interesting to NAV Partners and we won’t need all these third party tools to integrate.


GIT & Microsft Dynamics NAV

Another concept that I stumbled on while exploring VSO is GIT. I am not quite sure yet how to combine these two concepts in NAV but the way I look at it is that GIT helps while doing development and work is still unfinished, and when you check in objects in TFS they are ready to be tested.

TFS is integrated with GIT and I am going to spend some time investigating what the options are and how they can work together.






  1. Luc van Vugt says:


    Glad to read you got somehow infected too. I tried to pervade the message at NAVTechDays: it’s fun to work with TFS and it surely pays off.

    BTW (for those who did not read my post Mark is referring to): initially Visual Studio Online was called Team Foundation Service.

    So have fun and keep us posted (apparently you find more time recently to that than me). And of course be welcome at one my next workshops.

    b rg


  2. devch says:

    Nice to see interest in this field 🙂
    I’am currently exploring the integration possibilities of TFS (with TFS SDK) and NAV. The goal would be to have a something similar to what you have in Visual Studio but for NAV clients.
    Powershell sure is nice, but i think it’s nice to have an interface which shows your work items etc and your current workspace like you have in VS.

    The project is still in an alpha stage but performs quite well. But if you are interested i can keep you informed about it.



  3. waldo says:

    For the past 2 years, we have been working with TFS with 15 developers for both product development as customer development, doing more then 50 projects in TFS. All this with our own tool “iFacto ReVision”, which extends the C/SIDE development experience with shortcuts to: Check In/ Check Out, View History, View changes with previous checked in objects, Rollback changes, … or to use Mark’s words: “Why did What happen and When” .. and extended by “by who” :-). And all that, accessible from within C/SIDE.


  4. waldo says:

    If you want to use PowerShell .. you’ll need a way to do object-handling with PowerShell. It is somewhat clumsy at this moment (object handling can only be done on command prompt) .. I get you going in my most recent blogpost on that (and a few more will follow):
    (but then again, I don’t mind to “use third party tools to integrate” :-).)


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.