Recording: Continuous Integration with TFS

May 11, 2014 ALM, Azure, Sessions, TFS, Videos, Visual Studio , , , , ,

I had recently done a webinar on DevOps – Continuous Integration with TFS which was organized by Microsoft.
If you missed it for any reason, you can watch the recording on Youtube channel.

The duration of the video is 1 hour and will delve into various aspects of ALM such as

  • Product Backlogs and SPRINT
  • Integration with Visual Studio
  • Unit Testing (with MSTest)
  • Build Automation and Check-in policies
  • Deployment into Azure (for Azure Websites)

Webinar – DevOps: Continuous Integration with TFS

April 28, 2014 ALM, Sessions, TFS , ,

Speaker: Punit Ganshani
Topic: DevOps: Continuous Integration with TFS
Date & Venue:  May 07, 2014 (Wednesday) at 6:00 PM to 6:45 PM (SGT)
Venue: Online (Lync Meeting)

What are we going to cover? This is what you can get!
Team Foundation server
  • Our MVP will share about what’s new in TFS 2013
  • DevOps – Continuous Integration and Deployment using TFS 2013
  • TFS best practices
Questions and Answers Ask the MVP

Use this opportunity to our MVP and the Microsoft team your toughest question on Team Foundation Server 2013!

Register below or at


[Solved] TF246017: Team Foundation Server could not connect to the database

April 25, 2014 ALM, TFS, Visual Studio , , ,


TF246017: Team Foundation Server could not connect to the database.
Verify that the server that is hosting the database is operational, and that network problems are not blocking communication with the server.

Root Cause

This error can occur due to following reasons

  • Incorrect SQL Installation order especially if you are using Express edition
  • Database In Recovery
  • Database Out-of-Sync – during migration to newer version of TFS
  • Permission of Service Account is not right
  • SQL Database not running or not reachable
  • TFS Proxy not reachable


If your database server has restarted and you are trying during that time, you may face this issue. You may want to take a cup of coffee and retry after sometime.  If the error still persists, you can try debugging the below.

Check if you are able to connect to SQL database by yourself.  If you are not aware of the database connection, it is advisable to reach out to your support team in your organization to check the connectivity. 

If this issue arises only when you are checking in or doing an undo pending changes, chances are that SQL Server has logical consistency I/O error.  You can try repairing the database (or request your DBAs to do it for you) by running following command against all TFS databases


If there are database errors, your DBA should be able to resolve it. 
If there no database errors, then you need to check if the service account through which the TFS services are running (on TFS server) has same credentials and if the permissions granted are correct.  You may want to sync-up the services

If you have migrated TFS / database, you may want to check if backup of all databases is restored.  Partial restoration of backups also can cause this issue.  You can refer to the MSDN link of list of TFS databases.  This list may differ based on version of TFS.

[Solved] TF400012: Full-text search failed

March 19, 2014 ALM, TFS, Visual Studio , , ,


TF400012: Full-text search failed. Contact your Team Foundation Server administrator or try the operation again.
(Code 30046: SQL Server encountered error 0x8007042d while communicating with full-text filter daemon

Root Cause

SQL Full-text Filter Daemon Launcher may have shutdown


This error occurs only when the Daemon service is down.  TFS and its SharePoint site uses Microsoft SQL database for storing code.


Please note that the actions below have to be performed on the Data Tier of your TFS architecture.  Your data tier may reside on a data-farm if your TFS has multiple deployments.  Also if your TFS tiers are behind the organization firewall, you may be restricted in performing these actions.

To enable full text search, you can enable/configure SQL Full-text Filter Daemon Launcher (instance name) using following steps –

  • On the Start menu, point to All Programs, point to Microsoft SQL Server, point to Configuration Tools, and then click SQL Server Configuration Manager

  • In SQL Server Configuration Manager, click SQL Server Services, right-click SQL Full-text Filter Daemon Launcher (instance name), and then click Properties

  • Click the Log On tab of the dialog box, and then select or enter the account under which to run each process created by the SQL Full-text Filter Daemon Launcher service. If you choose not to use the Local Service account, then we recommend that you specify a low-privileged local user account with User rights and permissions on the local computer.

  • After you close the dialog box, click Restart to restart the SQL Full-text Filter Daemon Launcher service.

[Solved] TF400324: Team Foundation Services are not available from server

March 13, 2014 ALM, TFS, Visual Studio , , , , ,

Possible Errors

TF400324: Team Foundation services are not available from server <Server/CollectionName>.
Technical Information (for administrator): Page not found


TF400324: Team Foundation services are not available from server <Server/CollectionName>.

Technical Information (for administrator): Unable to connect to the remote server


Root cause

This error occurs primarily due to corrupt Team Foundation Server cache.  There are several reasons why the cache can go corrupt

  • Abrupt closure of TFS services on your machine
  • Multiple versions of TFS (2010/2012/2013) configured on your machine
  • Upgrade in the version of TFS at server end, but pending upgrade on client machine
  • Corrupted installation of TFS client

Validate the issue

If you are working in a team, it is preferred to have it checked with another colleague of yours if he/she is facing the same issue.
If you are working alone on a hobby project (like I am doing), you can go ahead with solution

Solution – Clearing of cache

  • Close all instances of Visual Studio
  • Open Task Manager and check if any TFS Services are running.  Select each of them and click on End Process Tree
  • Browse to the folder below and delete all the contents and folders%LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Team Foundation\4.0\Cache
    %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Team Foundation\5.0\Cache
  • Restart Visual Studio and try triggering build

If you are switching from one version of TFS to another, you may require repeating this solution again.  If you are using older version of TFS, you may have to navigate to

%LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Team Foundation\

and find out the version folder instead of navigating directly.

Post Solution Action

Post clearing of cache, you will be prompted to rebind your solution to TFS.  Don’t worry this would not let go of your local un-checked-in changes.

Team Foundation Server : Removing a Collection (client side)

March 5, 2014 ALM, TFS, Visual Studio ,

There are 2 ways to delete and reconfigure a TFS collection on your desktop (or local machine).

Using Visual Studio. 

Using Team Explorer, you can first click on Connect.  If you are already connected to a collection, you will not be able to delete it.  You will have to Disconnect by clicking on the Context Menu.

Once disconnected, you can click on Remove.  This method works most of the time.  However if you have many such collections configured, then you can use the registry mechanism. 

Also, please note that Team Explorer does not a collection unless and until it has a project associated with it.  So to delete that you will have to use Registry Mechanism


Using Registry.

Team Explorer stores the configured collections in registry folder


You can delete one of the sub-folder in Instances to delete the collection reference from Visual Studio


In the above snapshot, you can see 3 instances (collections) configured; however, in Team Explorer only 2 were visible as one of the collections does not have any project associated.

If you want to reconfigure your collection, you can again click on Connect in Team Explorer and follow through the wizard.

[Solved] TF271001: Connection timed out type SmtpException

February 21, 2014 ALM, TFS, Visual Studio , , ,


TF271001: The server response was: 4.4.1 Connection timed out type SmtpException.
TFS Email Notifications Delayed or Not Sent

Root Cause

Following are the reasons why this error can occur

  • SMTP server is down or not responding
  • Email notification time/delay has been wrongly set
  • Team Foundation Background Agent has stopped
  • There is a huge backlog of emails pending to be sent out


The default delay in notifications is 2 minutes.  If you are experiencing more than 2 minutes of delay, you can check for following solutions –

First you should check for availability of SMTP server or if there is a backlog on SMTP server.  Clear the backlog, if exists, and then wait for the backlog in the database to clear. 

You may have to check for availability of a Team Foundation Background Agent service.  You can click on Start menu (or keyboard button) and type services.msc  If the Team Foundation Background Agent has stopped, you can restart it.  Alternatively, you can use following command on Command Prompt to check the status

sc query "TFSJobAgent" | find "RUNNING"

If the issue still does not resolve, you may want to change the email notification time using one of the two methods.  After implementing any of these 2 methods, please restart the TFS IIS AppPool and Background Agent service

You can manually clear the backlog in the TFS database by firing delete commands on tbl_EventNotification and tbl_ClientEvent tables.

Team Foundation Server : Disable Work Item to be marked as Resolved

February 15, 2014 ALM, TFS, Visual Studio , ,

When you check-in a code change using Team Explorer in Visual Studio, you can associate the check-in with one or more work items.

As shown in the snapshot below, the default option that appears against each work-item is ‘Resolve’.  What this means is that when you check-in the changes, the work item status will be changed from Active to Closed.  This also means that you can check-in code later to the same work item, but it’s status will not change.


Now, this can be really tricky if you are using TFS for ALM purposes.  You would want to give a right picture to your Team Leads, Scrum Masters and Managers.  So you would want to change the default to Associate.  This can be done by a simple registry tweak


I am using Visual Studio 2013, hence the folder is


Value of Key ResolveAsDefaultCheckinAction needs to be set to False instead of True

For other versions of Visual Studio, you will have to replace 12.0 with appropriate version in the folder name

Team Foundation Server : Check-in Policies to ensure traceability

January 13, 2014 ALM, TFS, Visual Studio , ,

One of the things many teams thrive to achieve is 100% traceable code against Business Requirement Document (BRD) or Requirement Matrix.  With evolution of ALM tools, it has become very easy to create traceability matrices and to be able to view history of code and the rational behind design decisions that were taken at the time of its design and development.

So to ensure that you have 100% traceability (even with the most junior member working in your team), you need a set of tools that restrict checking in code without a a work item (or a requirement). But this also means that all your team members and stakeholders have to manage the project (SPRINT, iterations, burn-out etc.) and deliverables using the same tool. 

Assuming that everyone is using same tool and you have created the product backlog, you have to create work items (or requirements, for detailed information read my article on Product Backlog and WorkItems) and assign them to your team members with enough information such as

  • Expected Effort
  • Priority
  • SPRINT / Iteration
  • Description (and if possible, storyboard)
  • Test Cases (in many cases)
  • Sub-tasks (if the work can be divided into small tasks)

It is not necessary to define all the above attributes, but you can agree-upon, within your team, a set of standard attributes for each work-item (or requirement).

Now, the developers can check-in their code without actually associating this with any work-item.  This means even if you have created work-items (and possibly, sub-tasks or linked work-items) there is no link between a work-item and the checked-in code.  So we need some restriction on the action of the developer.  He/She should not be able to check-in without associate it with a work-item.  This is easily achievable in TFS

Whether you are using Visual Studio or Eclipse plugin, you can go to Team Explorer and click on Source Control. 


You are then prompted with a dialog where you can choose Check-in policies.  You can click on Add to view the possible Check-in policies.  Please note that this is feature is only available to users marked as Project Administrator and this has to be done once-per-project.


As a practice, I prefer to have a minimum two policies for all my collections

  • Changeset Comments Policy – Do not allow the developer to check-in without putting comments
  • Work Items – Do not allow the developer to check-in without associating a work-item

If you are keen on allowing check-in on gated builds (read: continuous integration), you can add “Builds” policy.  Click on OK.  Let’s say you want something more than a comment to be added as well for each check-in. For example, design document name.  You can go to Source Control dialog, click on ‘Check-in Notes’ and add fields in it and mark it as Required.

If any developer forgets to associate a work-item or to put a comment before checking in the code, he/she will be prompted with


You can now go to the work-item > History tab to view the code history as shown below


This ensures that you have 100% traceability of code with your requirements.  If your Business Analyst or Requirement Gathering personnel uses TFS Web Portal to key-in the requirements (read: create work-items) and the Team Lead is engaged in assigning tasks to the team, you can be rest assured that not a single requirement will be missed out and all stakeholders can get a graphical view of your iterations.

Team Foundation Server : Build Logging

January 9, 2014 ALM, TFS, Visual Studio , , , ,

When you use Team Foundation Server for Build Automation, you can configure build controller and agents.  In the Team Foundation Administration Console, you can view the Logs however these logs provide minimal information.  Even the Event Viewer provides minimal event logging rather than extensive logging.  Now even if these Logs or Event Viewer provide you information that you require, there may be cases that you do not have complete access to the build server and this build server is managed by your organization’s support groups.

In this case, you can enable detailed level logs of build service so that you can read the logs in Read Only mode without having to login to the server.  Note that this log file will have build information of all agents running on the controller and not specific to an agent.  So if you are using a Shared Build Controller, everyone with access to this log file will have information about your builds too.

To get started, you need to manually create a configuration file with following content,

  1. <configuration>
  2.     <system.diagnostics>
  3.         <switches>
  4.             <add name="BuildServiceTraceLevel" value="4"/>
  5.         </switches>
  6.         <trace autoflush="true" indentsize="4">
  7.             <listeners>
  8.                 <add name="myListener" type="Microsoft.TeamFoundation.TeamFoundationTextWriterTraceListener,Microsoft.TeamFoundation.Common, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a" initializeData="c:\Build\TFSBuildlogs\TFSBuildServiceHost.exe.log" />
  9.          <remove name="Default" />
  10.             </listeners>
  11.         </trace>
  12.     </system.diagnostics>
  13. </configuration>


Name this file as TFSBuildServiceHost.exe.config

You can customize this configuration file by adding more trace listeners or even changing the location of build log file from C:\Build\TFSBuildlogs (create if it does not exist).  If you are sharing this path with multiple teams, please make sure you only give Read Only rights to all parties.

As the name suggests, this is a configuration file for TFSBuildServiceHost.exe.  On your build server, you can locate this executable at –

%programfiles%\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010\Tools

You can copy this file in the above path.  If you are using Windows Server 2008/2012, it will validate your Administrative Privileges with UAC.

Ensure that no builds are in active state.  Start the Command Prompt with ‘Run As Administrator’ privileges and execute these commands

net stop tfsbuildservicehost
net start tfsbuildservicehost

This will restart the TFSBuildServiceHost service and voila! The log files will detailed logging will be created at C:\Build\TFSBuildlogs

Note: This has been tested on TFS 2012 / 2013.  I’ve not tested this on older versions of TFS.

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