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Making TFS better or what is TITS?

Those days me and my team work very hard toward new version of “The System”. This includes massive refactoring of all solutions, hard work with TFS (which not restricted to only adding files, but also deleting, moving, etc. other words, all stuff, which TFS is not really love). Because of this, we need a bunch of handy tools to make our dreams come true and to decrease unnecessary number of clicks inside Team System Explorer and Visual Studio. You do not really think, that we have no tools to make our everyday job easier. We have. However, we never package and release it. Let me introduce “TITS” – Tools, Invaluable for Team System. This suite I’m planning to release as another open source project within couple of months.

TITS - Tools, Invaluable for Team System

What “TITS” includes? First of all –

“QOF” – Quick Open File

QOF - Quick Open File

This tools is absolutely invaluable if you have big solutions. While all it knows to do is to search. But, wait, what’s wrong with build-in search of Visual Studio? First of all, it does not search Solution items and files, are in solution directory, but not in project. Also it cannot fix your typos and errors. Also it does not know to move you quickly to found solution item in Solution Explorer or in Source Editor.

Basic set of QOF features:

  • No mouse – open any file
  • No mouse – locate any file in solution explorer
  • Highlighting found items
  • Multiple files open
  • Filter by source files only, resources, owner or any other kind of filters
  • Search inside TFS, including history, changesets, shelves (either private and public)
  • …and much much more

Next tool is:

“WIBREW” – Who Is Breaking What

WIBREW - Who is breaking what

Absolutely invaluable tool to know who actually breaking what file inside TFS. For example, I do not want to lock files, while I still want to know who holds what file. TFS provides such feature out-of-the-box, however from command prompt only. You can add it even as macro. Like this:

WIBREW for poor people

However it not user friendly and impossible for use, ‘cos it looks as following:

WIBREW for poor people in action

You do not know what actually developer doing, where and why. With “WIBREW”, you can know:

  • When developer started to break files
  • What exactly he’s doing
  • Is the breaking file locked or now
  • Where the developer breaks it (workspace and computer name of the user)
  • …and much much more

Another tool is:

“WITCH” – What I have To Check-in

If you ever worked with Team Force, you know what this tool is doing. It shows you a preview of all changed files, you’ll check-in. For some reason, TFS has no such feature. Let’s imagine, that your work method is to check out everything, change something and check-in only changed files. Until here TFS does everything, however if you want to preview changeset (for example in order to compare with “WIBREW” output), you can not. Here “WITCH” comes to help.

[Here should be a screenshot of “WITCH”, but it looks exactly the same as “WIBREW” with shameless blurring]

Another invaluable tool is:

“VOCUS” – VOid CUstom Settings for check in

This tool is absolutely UI-less. It allows developers to work with their own custom settings in Visual Studio, while for check-in and check-out it format all documents, according predefined custom settings (for example indentation). How many times, you tried to merge files, when all the difference is indentation it tab size? Well, this tool solves this problem.

VOCUS – VOid CUstom Settings for check in

It stores custom settings for each user (BTW, it also makes able for each developer to restore his settings fluently in any computer) and reformat documents on check-in action toward corporate settings, when on check-out toward custom developer’s setting.

“SHMOC” – SHow MOre Code

This is not actually tool, works with TFS. It rather works with your Visual Studio Development Environment. It’s UI-less as well and makes able to hide and restore all docking windows in VS. It makes you able to write in “Dark Room” mode (which is full screen, distraction free environment) and return to Visual Studio within one button press. It can also change VS color scheme, if required.

“SHMOC” – SHow MOre Code

There are some other tools should be inside this suite, however, I still have no names for them :) Also, if you have something interesting, and you want to contribute it to this suite, you’re highly welcome.

PS: This blog is about code, but this post is 6th in row without even one line of code, so I have to fix it as soon as possible. Thus, I’ll example how WIBREW works under the hood. Other words, small example of how to work with TFS API from Visual Studio plugin.

First of all, as in any VS plugin, you need to acquire DTE2 application object:

_applicationObject = (DTE2)application;
_addInInstance = (AddIn)addInInst;

When you have it, you need to detect what TFS server you’re working with and what are user credentials for this session. The common problem of WIBREW for poor men, was how to work with this tool over VPN (when your connected session is only inside VS). So each time, you tried to run it, you had to enter your domain credentials – very inconvenience way of work.

In order to prevent it, let’s ask your environment about Team Foundation information:

private TeamFoundationServerExt _tfsExt;

_tfsExt = (TeamFoundationServerExt)_applicationObject.GetObject("Microsoft.VisualStudio.TeamFoundation.TeamFoundationServerExt");

Also, you can be notified when your work project context was changed. To do this, just subscribe to ProjectContextChanged event and handle it inside:

_tfsExt.ProjectContextChanged += OnProjectContextChanged;

public void OnProjectContextChanged(object sender, EventArgs e) {
         if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(_tfsExt.ActiveProjectContext.ProjectName)) {

Now when we know, that we have out active project context, all we have to do is to ask about changes

private VersionControlExt _vcExt;

_vcExt = (VersionControlExt)_applicationObject.GetObject("Microsoft.VisualStudio.TeamFoundation.VersionControl.VersionControlExt");

Inside VersionControlExt object you have following self-descriptive properties and methods: FindChangeSet, History, PendingChanges, SolutionWorkspace etc. however it works only with TFS solution explorer. To handle pending changes for the project without tickling TFS, we can use it internal methods. All the difference is with references. To work with Visual Studio TFS explorer methods, you should reference:
Microsoft.VisualStudio.TeamFoundation.dll, Microsoft.VisualStudio.TeamFoundation.Client.dll and Microsoft.VisualStudio.TeamFoundation.VersionControl.dll, while working with TFS API directly, use Microsoft.TeamFoundation.dll, Microsoft.TeamFoundation.Client.dll and Microsoft.TeamFoundation.VersionControl.dll from [PROGRAM FILES]\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7\IDE\PrivateAssemblies\. Just like this:

VersionControlServer _vcs

_vcs = (VersionControlServer)_server.GetService(typeof(VersionControlServer));

var _sets = _vcs.QueryPendingSets( new[] { new ItemSpec(serverPath, RecursionType.Full) }, null, null);

foreach (PendingSet set in sets) {
… //Get everything you need here

We done. It’s very easy to work with Team System from inside Visual Studio. Also it’s very easy to build useful tools, not built by Microsoft for some reason :)

Have a nice day, be good people and wait for me to beatify sources before releasing as another Open Source application.

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11 Responses to “Making TFS better or what is TITS?”

  1. Utensil Says:

    Are you seriously considering calling this “TITS”?!? I recommend you think long and hard about that.

  2. Tamir Says:

    Yes, I am. What’s the problem to call such suite “TITS”?

  3. Ryan Rinaldi Says:

    tits is a slang term for breasts. I would suggest you think of another name! :)

  4. Tamir Says:

    So what’s bad with breasts? :)

  5. DrWatson Says:

    I like TITS, but maybe something less offensive like Whopping TFS Helpful Integrated Tools: WTFSHIT

  6. Tamir Says:

    I like it :)

  7. Boris Modylevsky Says:

    These tools sound really amazing! I like especially the QOF. Waiting for their release.

    I found extremely helpful feature of VS 2008 that removes and sorts “using” statements (“Organize Usings” -> “Remove and Sort”). Unfortunately, it’s not applicable to the whole project or solution, but must be done file by file. It would be nice if it could be added to TITS

  8. Tamir Says:

    Thank you, Boris
    We’re planning to pack all such features into separate plugin. Thank you for your comment

  9. Richard Says:

    Here’s a new function for you: Get all files changed since revision number ##… Basically a patch-builder. Most useful function in SVN, and TFS hasn’t got it…

  10. espinete Says:

    where is the code of TITS ?? thx

  11. Carra Says:

    The QOF tool looks like a duplicate of the Resharper “Find in File”.

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