Visual Studio Team Services Use Guide


Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) formerly known as Visual Studio Online is a pack of CI related services built into cloud. VSTS offers four main services:
1) Work item tracking
2) Code related services
3) Testing services
4) Build and releases

On my following blog posts I'm going to focus two of these: Code related services and build & releases.

How to start?

VSTS is included in most of MSDN subscriptions, so basically if you are working for a employer, you can start using VSTS services immeaditely. Log into visualstudio.com and start by creating a new project. VSTS got easy tutorials to follow, so I won't repeat those here.

Basic usage

Dashboards is your start view when you log into VSTS. This view is customizable, but I usually just skip it and navigate into useful pages.

Code is view into your source control system. VSTS supports two different kind of version control systems: GIT and TFVS (TFS). If you are used to use Subversion, then TFS is your pick of choice, but otherwise I would recommend to start using GIT.


VSTS navigation is mainly done from top blue bar

Under main navbar is a second navbar which contains sub-links for each page. Under code page the sub links are following:
Files is a repository browser
Commits is a version history view
Pushes contains list of push from clients
Branches has a nice list of public branches from from master (in GIT)
Tags... well it contains just list of done tags
Pull requests contains list of active build request, but its also a place to do your own pull request (if not done from Visual Studio).
Sub links in code page


Build & Releases tab contains all the needed items for CI builds and deployments.
Builds contains a list of created build definitions (and a button to do new one)
Releases contains list of release definitions and way to navigate actual done releases
Library and Task Groups can be skipped at this point.
Deployment Group is just a higher level for managing releases and buids.


Now we have covered the basics of navigation. Some of the VSTS features can be also used from Visual Studio itself. Visual Studio feature is called Team Explorer. You can do pull requests, trigger builds and manage work items without leaving the Visual Studio.

Pricing

At the writing moment, VSTS pricing looked liked this:
First 5 users: Free 
Users 6 through 10: €5.06 each 
Users 11 through 100: €6.747 each 
Users 101 through 1000: €5.06 each 
Users 1,001 and above: €3.374 each 

Prices per month

Basically you can start for free and after 5 users pricing is ~5€ each user (in west europe). Test management, build & releases and cloud load testing are separately priced. For example VSTS build time is free under 240 minutes, but extra time costs. More details about pricing can be found from Azure pricing page https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/visual-studio-team-services/


On next topic I will dig into VSTS build system and give a tutorial how to setup an ASP.NET CI build.

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