Are you ready for Visual Studio 2012.2?

Are you ready for Visual Studio 2012.2? We sure are!

Currently Visual Studio 2012.2 CTP4 has been released with a “Go-Live” license (which means that you are supported in production) and the gold version just arrived moments ago!

A hot topic right now consists of the many changes Microsoft is making in their release cadence of products. It looks as though Microsoft is moving to quarterly updates and a yearly major release. This has already been reflected in Windows and Windows Phone but we will likely need to wait and see for the rest of the Microsoft products. However, the Visual Studio team has pushed this speculated cadence a bit further and are dropping to production in three week Sprint. What?!?! Yes, you heard right… they are releasing a NEW version of Visual Studio & Team Foundation Server every three weeks! Wowzers!

Figure: Installing Team Foundation Server 2012 Update 2

If you are using then be aware that it always has the latest drop. The Visual Studio team updates this every three weeks and is doing hot-fixing every week. We are starting to call it “Update Monday” as Monday mornings in Seattle are one of the low usage times for the service and often the Visual Studio team takes advantage of this and drops the update. But what about on-premise?

If you are running Team Foundation Server locally you are still able to install every 3 weeks, as they will be releasing a Community Technology Preview (CTP). However these CTP’s will not be upgradable until they add a “Go-Live” moniker to it. As stated earlier, “Go-Live” means that the product team will fully support that version in production. At the moment only the final CTP before the gold version is “Go-Live”.

Many of our consultants are always on the latest and greatest version for demo boxes and often are able to run the latest supported CTP for customers and answer update questions.

What’s new in Visual Studio 2012.2

Although there is a full list of features on the Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 website, below includes a list of hand-picked features that the consultants at Northwest Cadence are most excited about:

  • Team Explorer Connect (James Tupper)

    The team has added a new ‘connect’ button to the team explorer to let you see all of your projects across multiple collections and servers.

    Figure: New list of Connections to make it easy

    This lists all of your projects regardless of collections on a host as well as your local and remote Git repositories.

    Bonus reminder: the Visual Studio Tools for Git are available for any version of Visual Studio 2012.

  • Work Item Tagging

    This helps with the non-customizable world of the cloud and also provides a bonus on-premise in the work item freeform tagging. You no longer need a “blocked” field as you can just tag the work item with “blocked” and then filter the backlog.

    Figure: Tagging allows you to query without needed new fields

  • Customizable Kanban columns (Steven Borg)

    While we want to maintain a standard set of states for our work items, there also needs to be flexibility to leave each team free to have whatever columns on their own Kanban board they want and need.

    Figure: Add swim lanes to your Kanban board

  • Cross browser Coded UI Testing

    You can now perform Coded UI testing against Firefox. This is a big benefit for teams that are not directly targeting Internet Explorer.


  • Web based Test Management and Execution (Dan Wood)

    Figure: Creating and managing tests cases

    They have added a web based test runner to allow you to execute manual tests and collect the results even on non-Microsoft platforms. Awesome…


  • TF Build 2010 Controllers (Martin Hinshelwood)

    With Team Foundation Server 2012 Update 2 you can now connect your existing Team Foundation Server 2010 SP1 Build Controllers. If you have a large infrastructure with tens of build servers, then you can now upgrade over time while still moving to 2012. For more information, you can read the provided Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 supports 2010 Build Servers information.

    Figure: TF Build 2010 connected to TFS 2012

    This is a major un-blocker for many large customers that want to move to TFS 2012, but have a lot of work to do on the build side.


In additional to these awesome new features there are a host of fixes for issues in exiting features. These fixes will allow your developers to spend less time scratching their heads wondering why things don’t work and more time delivering new features to the software.

Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 – Feature List

Here is a full list of the new features directly from Microsoft.

Agile planning

  • These features help provide easy and flexible agile planning for any team.
Team Foundation Server
  • New work item tags are added to provide lightweight metadata for work items.
  • A Connect dialog box is added to Team Explorer to locate different team project connections and projects.
  • You can now send a work item as an email message in TFS Web Access.
  • The TFS Configuration Wizard and persistent customer settings in upgrades are improved
  • Servicing is now available in High Availability SQL environments.
  • You can now more quickly and easily customize columns directly through the backlog Kanban board.

Quality enablement

These features help provide lightweight browser-based test management and execution to reduce the time that is required to continuously enable quality in software projects.

Unit testing
  • Windows Store app unit testing now supports interaction with the UI thread.
  • Windows Store app unit testing now supports the use of an async lambda inside Assert.Throws Exception.
  • New unit test playlists enable the control and execution of a subset of unit tests.
  • Support is now provided for group unit tests by class.
UI testing
  • Support is now provided for extended cross-browser use.
  • Support is now provided for UI testing for Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7.
Microsoft Test Manager
  • You can now customize resolution states and failure states for test analysis.
Test Case Manager (Web Access)
  • You can now view and edit test cases in a test plan from TFS Web Access.
  • You can now run manual test cases, and file bugs from TFS Web Access.

Windows development

These following Windows development features are provided:

  • An HTML Visual Profiler to diagnose UI responsiveness issues and latency in visual updates
  • The latest version of the Windows App Certification Kit

Line-of-business development

These features help provide additional capabilities to modernize existing line-of-business (LOB) applications and to create new business applications across connected devices that are powered by continuous services.

  • You can now build cross-browser, HTML-based mobile web apps that can run on any modern device.
  • You can now publish business apps to a SharePoint 2013 app catalog in addition to Windows Azure and Internet Information Services (IIS).
  • Support is now provided for web and load testing for SharePoint applications.
  • Support is now provided for record and playback through Coded UI to perform UI validations on SharePoint 2013 applications.
  • IntelliTrace support is the same as that provided in SharePoint 2010.
Phone tools
  • The program enables unit testing for Windows Phone.
  • The program lets you build and deploy workflows of Windows Phone projects from the command line.

Developer experience

These features provide improvements in the IDE to help create a better and more productive developer experience.

Blend for Visual Studio 2012
  • Support for Sketchflow, WPF, and Silverlight
  • A blue theme in the Visual Studio 2012 IDE
Code map
  • Improvements in code map debugger integration and responsiveness
Workflow Designer
  • Debugging experience improvements that are related to how various data types are displayed in the Locals and Watch windows
  • Improved symbol loading in IntelliTrace and profiler
  • View of nested parameter values in an IntelliTrace log that is collected from System Center
Performance and reliability
  • Performance improvements in XAML designer load for the following scenarios:


At most, I would recommend making sure that you have a plan to upgrade your TFS server every quarter. A great cadence may be timing the update to your system one month after the release to give it time to settle, but why every release? As you can see the feature list it is immense. I have not included any of the bug fixed that are also in there and are not available separately. Many of the added features and fixes may in fact increase efficiency among your teams, why not try?!?

With the number of new features and fixes there will always be something that is a ‘killer feature’ for any given update for your teams. Or “must haves” that gets them banging on your door asking when you are doing the install… so get ahead of it and be able to say “we are doing it next month” which will make you look like the good guy and savior Smile.


Don’t delay and don’t dawdle… get Update 2 today!


For help upgrading please contact Rick Flath at or (425) 455-1155, to see how Northwest Cadence can support your team!


Warning: always install the update in a test environment first before installing it in production!

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