I setup my 3D printing website to use Microsoft’s new cloud-based Team Foundation Service so that I can have the benefits of source control and tie code check-ins with Agile planning. Even though MakerShop is currently a small operation, I have end-to-end Continuous Integration and pay nothing except for is the small monthly fee for web hosting. Just a year or two ago this type of build system was expensive and cumbersome to setup. This is extremely powerful and highly accessible for anyone from a one-man developer to a team. This is the future of development and the people that adopt it early are going to be a lot more productive than the developers that ignore it.
Using TFS in the cloud also lets me keep a code base synced between my different devices. I have a Windows 8 tablet with wireless keyboard that I like to use to code with when I’m out at a Starbucks. I also have a desktop that has a larger monitor that is nice to code on when I’m at home. With Visual Web Developer and TFS in the cloud I don’t have to worry about sending Zip files to myself or waiting for a service like DropBox to sync. I also have all my user stories and features in the same environment so I don’t have to keep a separate list in OneNote.
Setting Up TFS in the Cloud
I signed up for free and then chose the MSF Agile template when setting up the TFS cloud (free for up to 5 coders working on a project). This template gives you the ability to add User Stories, Features and you can reference on or more Features with each check-in you do in Visual Studio. You can manage the entire application life cycle through this new TFS in the cloud platform. I personally use the free Visual Web Developer.
Connecting Free Visual Web Developer or Visual Studio to TFS in the Cloud
Here is some handy instructions on how to connect to TFS in the cloud.
Getting Windows Azure
I have been using Windows Azure to host websites for years. It is inexpensive, reliable and integrates seamlessly with TFS in the cloud. You can sign-up for an account and get $200 worth of computing for free for the first month and get up to 10 free websites that you can keep forever. Sign up for Windows Azure.
After getting Windows Azure you can connect Azure to TFS in the cloud so that whenever you check-in your code it will automatically deploy to a staged environment in Windows Azure. You can test the deployment in the staging environment and promote it to production if it passes your test. Remember to delete the staging environment after you are through testing so you are not charged for it. With Azure’s per-minute pricing you are charged even less for testing now, because you can test for 10 minutes and only pay for 10 minutes of the staging environment instead of rounding up to the nearest hour.