Archive for the '.NET' Category

Creating and Publishing NuGet Packages

NuGet is one of those tools that gets more and more important all the time. A while back, it was useful for adding small, specialized packages for particular projects. Nowadays, it’s fundamental – and going to be even more so when vNext is live. We all use it to add packages, but how difficult is it to create and publish our own packages? As it turns out, not very difficult at all.

I’d been meaning to turn my data annotation validator into a NuGet package for some time – and today, I finally did something about it. This is how you do it:

1. Get nuget.exe

Go to or and download nuget.exe. Once you’ve got it, save it somewhere nice and easy because you’re going to need to….

2. Add it to the path

Right click on ‘computer’ in windows explorer, select ‘properties’ and then ‘advanced system settings’. Then click on ‘Environment Variables’ in the dialog.

In the Environment Variables dialog, find the Path variable and click Edit.

In the next dialog, add a semi-colon at the end and then put in the full path to nuget.exe (in my case that was c:\Nuget):







3. Create a Nuspec file.

This is a little XML config/specification file used in packaging, and you generate it from the command line. Open a command window, navigate to the folder where you have your Visual Studio project file and type in:

Nuget spec

This, of course, is why you wanted nuget in the path. Nuget.exe will now generate the XML file using your assembly settings, and placing default text where it doesn’t have info. Here’s a raw one:

And here’s one that’s been edited:

4. Pack it ready for publishing

This is again done using the command line, adding an argument to tell it to package the release version, not the default (which is probably debug). I’ve put brackets around the part that you would need to replace with your own package:

nuget pack [DataAnnotationValidator.csproj] -Prop Configuration=Release

The result is another file, this time with the extension nupkg.

5. Publish it to Nuget

That means first you have to go there and sign up – which is all very straight-forward. Once you’re signed up and you’ve clicked on the link in the confirmation email, you will have an API key on your profile page, and that allows you to publish your package. Get your key and then run the following in your command window:

nuget setApiKey [key from profile page]

That means you won’t have to put in your key every time. Now go to the Upload Package page and browse for your nupkg file:


It asks you to verify the details….


And then that’s it – your package is online and available for download.


I installed the package to test it, and the config file was updated….


the reference was added…..


and the dll was in the bin directory:


And that allowed me to add the control to the toolbox and use it as part of my project:


Obviously, there’s a lot more you can do with NuGet – like adding support for multiple frameworks – and I may well look at some of the options in a future post.

Kevin Rattan

For other related information, check out these courses from Learning Tree:

Building ASP.NET Web Applications: Hands-On

Building Web Applications with ASP.NET MVC

Understanding Team Foundation Server (TFS) Pricing

I used to think Team Foundation Server was expensive. As it turns out, it is very affordable and sometimes free. There are three different versions of TFS: Team Foundation Server, Team Foundation Server Express Edition and Visual Studio Online.

TFS Express Pricing

TFS Express is a free, and can be downloaded here and installed on any computer with Windows 7 or higher. There are some limitations to TFS Express which include the following:

  • It is limited to 5 users.
  • Project data can only be stored in SQL Server Express Edition, (this means any single project would be limited to 10 GBs).
  • Can only be installed on one server, (full versions of TFS can be split across multiple servers for performance and redundancy).
  • Some advanced analytics are not supported.

As you can see from the limitations, TFS Express won’t work for large teams and large projects. However, it would be fine for smaller teams and departmental projects.

Visual Studio Online Pricing

Visual Studio Online is Microsoft’s cloud-based version of Team Foundation Server. See the article “What is Visual Studio Online?” for more information. Visual Studio Online has two options, a basic option and an advanced option which includes some advanced features. The basic option is free for the first 5 users, then $20 per month for additional users. The advanced option is $60 per month for all users.

However, there is no charge for developers who already have Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscriptions. Essentially, if you have an MSDN subscription you already are paying for Visual Studio Online (or TFS) whether you use it or not. A lot of companies are paying for MSDN, but aren’t using TFS because they think it is expensive, not knowing that they are already paying for it.

Team Foundation Server Pricing

If you want a local install of the full version of TFS you need a server license and each developer needs a client license. The server license can be purchased for about $500 and the client licenses are about the same.

However, just like with Visual Studio Online, TFS is included with MSDN subscriptions. So, if you already use Microsoft tools you may already be paying for it.


Getting started with TFS is easy and affordable. If you’re working with a team of 5 or fewer people, you can use TFS or Visual Studio Online for free. If you are an MSDN subscriber you are already paying for TFS.

Team Foundation Server Training

Team Foundation Server makes it easy to manage and track work on any type of project, and this is just a small sampling of the capabilities of TFS. Visual Studio Online makes getting started with TFS easy, and for small teams it is free. To learn more about TFS you may be interested in Learning Tree course 1816, Agile Software Development with Team Foundation Server.


Doug Rehnstrom


Managing Projects with Team Foundation Server (TFS)

Recently at Learning Tree, we wrote a training course on Team Foundation Server (course 1816, Agile Software Development with Team Foundation Server). It seemed natural to use TFS to manage the course writing process.

Creating the Team Project

We used the online version of TFS, called Visual Studio Online to manage this project. Visual Studio Online was perfect for two reasons. First, it is free for up to five users (and a course development team is that small). Second, all the members of the team work in different locations, thus everything needs to be accessed online. (See the post “What is Visual Studio Online?” for more information.)

We created a team consisting of the three people (the author, technical editor and product manager). Every task must be assigned to a team member. We also added a team member named “1816 Team”. This is for tasks that need to be done by the team collectively, not done by an individual.

Defining Team Members

Dividing the Project into Iterations

At Learning Tree we have a number of milestones when developing a course. We have a course planning meeting. A few weeks later there is an alpha meeting. Then, there is the beta of the course, and lastly there is the first run of the course. Before the end of each of these milestones there is a long list of tasks that need to be accomplished.

These milestones provided natural iterations for the project. These iterations and their start and end dates were entered when defining the project.

Defining Iterations


Adding Work to the Backlog

The next step was to add everything that needs to be done to the backlog. Each item is assigned to a team member (or the team collectively) and an estimate of effort is assigned to each item as well. An example backlog item is shown below.

Adding Backlog Items


To accomplish a backlog item, a number of specific tasks need to be done. So, each backlog item is divided into tasks. Like backlog items, tasks are assigned to team members and their effort is estimated. An example is shown below.

Dividing Items into Tasks

Each backlog item is assigned to an iteration. This is just a matter of dragging and dropping each item into the appropriate iteration using the online tool. The final results look as shown below.

Product Backlog


This might seem like a lot of work, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal. All tolled maybe we spent a couple hours on this. It’s also something that can evolve; at any time items can be added, removed or changed.


Tracking Project Progress

The obvious question is, “why would I want to do all this?” First, it makes it easy for team members to know what they need to do. Second, it helps the manager know whether the team is on schedule or not.

In addition to the backlog, there is a Kanban board view of the project. The Kanban board graphically depicts what each team member is working on, what they have finished and what they have left to do. Each team member just needs to drag items into the appropriate column and update the work remaining for each item as they do their work. The Kanban board can be organized either by team member or by backlog item. See the screenshots below.


Kanban Board Organized by Team Member

Kanban Board Organized by Backlog Item


Team Foundation Server Training

Team Foundation Server makes it easy to manage and track work on any type of project, and this is just a small sampling of the capabilities of TFS. Visual Studio Online makes getting started with TFS easy, and for small teams it is free. To learn more about TFS you may be interested in Learning Tree course 1816, Agile Software Development with Team Foundation Server.


Doug Rehnstrom



Setting Up a Continuous Integration Server with Team Foundation Server (TFS)

What is Continuous Integration?

The goal of continuous integration is to allow developers to check in their code, compile it, run the tests, and deploy the application all in a single step. To accomplish this goal a number of things must be setup.

First, a version control system. Programmers check their work into the source control. Changes from each developer are merged to ensure there is a single master version of the program.

Second, the team needs automated testing. This is done using a unit testing framework. There are many such frameworks for every modern development language.

Third, there must be a test environment that the application will be deployed onto. Much of today’s software is written using Web technologies. Thus, the team will need a Web server they can deploy to for testing their application.

Fourth, a build server must be set up. The build server detects when code is checked in, compiles it, and then runs the tests. If all the tests succeed, the build server will deploy the application.

Sounds like a lot of hard work? Microsoft Team Foundation server makes it easy.

Team Foundation Server Version Control

TFS has two versions control systems. One is called Team Foundation Version Control and is a Microsoft product. The other is Git, an open source version control system. When a project is created with TFS one of these version control systems is selected. Both integrate with Visual Studio, and programmers can easily check in their code changes whenever they choose to.

Automating Builds with Team Foundation Server

Team Foundation Server includes a build service. To tell the build service what to do, you create a build definition. This is done from Visual Studio Team Explorer. Click on the Builds button and the select New Build Definition.

Team Explorer

When defining a build you need to specify a trigger that determines when the build runs. Select Continuous Integration and the build will run every time a programmer checks in his code.

Build Configuration

Visual Studio will automatically detect your unit tests and include them when running the build. That’s easy. The trick is to automate the deployment of the application. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is by specifying a Publishing Profile when defining up the build. This is done on the Process tab of the Build Configuration dialog. See the screen shot below. Notice, the command tells the build service to deploy when it runs and use a publishing profile called “LocalDeploy” to determine where to deploy the application.

Automating Deployment



Defining a Publishing Profile

Publishing profiles are created as a part of a Web project in Visual Studio. They specify where the Web application will be deployed. In the screenshot below, the publishing profile specifies that the application should be deployed to a virtual directory on the local machine. This could be any machine though, and any number of publishing profiles can be created in a Web project.

Publishing Profiles


Team Foundation Server Training

As you can see, setting up a continuous integration server using Team Foundation Server is easy and flexible. To learn more about TFS you may be interested in Learning Tree course 1816, Agile Software Development with Team Foundation Server.


Doug Rehnstrom

What is Visual Studio Online?

The name “Visual Studio Online” might be misleading. Visual Studio Online is not an online version of Microsoft’s Visual Studio development tool. It is actually an online version of Team Foundation Server (TFS).

Visual Studio Online and Team Foundation Server are complete application lifecycle management tools. The advantage of Visual Studio Online over TFS is it is completely managed by Microsoft in the cloud. All you have to do is create an account and you’re off and running. Microsoft will manage the servers and do the backups for you automatically.

Once you have your account, you and your development team can create any number of projects. Each member of the team can utilize Visual Studio Online to help manage his or her work.


Visual Studio Online Home Page



Visual Studio Online for Analysts

Business analysts can use Visual Studio Online to enter work items and documentation. This documentation can be as detailed and sophisticated as needed. Customizable templates are included to make entering requirements consistent and simple. Documentation is formatted as html and external files like images and models can be added as attachments.


Work Item Input Screen



Visual Studio Online for Programmers

Programmers can utilize Visual Studio Online for source control, automated builds and integrated unit testing. Visual Studio Online integrates seamlessly with Visual Studio, and can be used from other development tools like Eclipse and Xcode as well. Multiple source control systems are supported out-of-the-box. Automated builds can easily be setup to compile the code, run all the unit tests, and even deploy the application to test servers.


Source Code Screen


Visual Studio Online for Testers

Testers can use Visual Studio Online manage user acceptance tests. Test scripts can be entered. A test runner is included for testers to enter the results. There is sophisticated reporting included to track tests over time.


Test Management Screen


Visual Studio Online for Managers

Managers can use Visual Studio Online to track team progress. Large projects can be divided into iterations. Work items can be scheduled within iterations and assigned to team members. Team members can easily enter their progress on work items assigned to them. The tool automatically creates product backlogs, Kanban boards and burndown charts.


Product Backlog


Kanban Board



Getting Started with Visual Studio Online

Getting started with Visual Studio Online is easy. There is nothing to install or setup as everything can be done within the browser. Visual Studio Online is even made available for free for teams of five or less. All you need to get started is a Microsoft account.


Go to the URL, for more information. Click the “Get started for free” link to set up your account.



Visual Studio Online and Team Foundation Server Training

You may also be interested in Learning Tree course 1816, Agile Software Development with Team Foundation Server which will get you and your team quickly up to speed using both Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Online.

Doug Rehnstrom

Visual Studio 2013 GitHub Source Control

I posted here a while back on using GitHub with Visual Studio 2010. It was a fairly involved process using a third party plugin. Well now you can integrate with GitHub directly from Visual Studio, and it’s much, much easier. I used it yesterday to make my DataAnnotationValidator (blogged about here) available on GitHub for anyone who wants to use it – and, hopefully, so I can collaborate with others on developing it.

Although GitHub integration is now easier, it’s still a trek through unfamiliar and somewhat confusing screens, so I thought it might be helpful to put together a beginner’s guide to working with GitHub and Visual Studio 2013.

First things first – if you’re not already a member, join GitHub. Then you’re ready to begin. I happen to need to put together a little Web Forms / DynamicData demo for a customer, so I’m going to use that project as my example (and then take it down again so I don’t clutter up my GitHub page) .

I created an ASP.NET Web Application and ticked the ‘Add to source control’ box.

Then I chose Web Forms and got rid of authentication as I don’t need it for the little demo I’m putting together.

The next screen asks you what kind of source control you want. Obviously enough, the answer for us is Git:

Now you want to click on the Team Explorer tab under Solution Explorer.

That takes you to the following view and encourages you to download the command line tools. I’ll leave that up to you and focus on the Visual Studio integration:

Now it’s time to setup what’s going to be stored on Git, and what isn’t. I see no point in storing the external packages, so I want to exclude them. Click on the Changes option and you see an interface which initially assumes everything is going to be stored on Git:

I selected the packages folder, right-clicked and chose exclude:


So now I have a list of included and excluded changes:

It’s time to enter a commit message and then click Commit… Except that you need to set up your email address and user name first:

Click on the Configure link and it takes you to a screen where you can enter your details. Notice, it also includes a couple of ignore rules for Git-related files:

So with that set up, we can fill in a commit message and commit our changes.

This commits them to our local repository, so we’ll get a dialog re. saving the solution:

And now we’re finally ready to sync with Git:

We click on the link to go to the Unsynced Commits page, and enter the URL of our destination repository:

Except we don’t yet have a repository on GitHub. So next we need to open up a browser, go to GitHub, sign in and click on the Add | New Repository link.

I created a DynamicDataGitDemo public repository (as you have to pay for private ones, and I’m only really interested in GitHub for open source projects). I also chose not to add a ReadMe or a license just yet, as we want an empty repository for Visual Studio. We can always add a ReadMe and license later on.

And finally we have a repository and we’re ready to upload our source code:

For that, we need the https link that’s available on this screen (and later, elsewhere in the interface).

So we copy that into Visual Studio and then press Publish:

Which, not unsurprisingly, brings up a dialog asking us to provide our credentials (which we won’t have to do again if we allow it to remember them):

And that’s it. Enter your GitHub username and password, click OK, and your source code is saved to GitHub.

From that point on, you can push changes up from your local repository, or pull down changes from GitHub. On my DataAnnotationValidator project, I added a ReadMe file and a license via GitHub’s browser interface (the latter as a text file, as the tool only generates one on initial creation) and then used Visual Studio to pull them down to my local repository, as well as subsequently adding changes locally and pushing them back up.

Overall, it’s a lot less fiddly than it used to be – as are so many other things inside VS 2013.

Kevin Rattan

For other related information, check out these courses from Learning Tree:

Building ASP.NET Web Applications: Hands-On

Building Web Applications with ASP.NET MVC

Check Out Federal News Radio’s “Ask the CIO” Segment Sponsored by Learning Tree!

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