Did I delete the right lab?

It was bound to happen in the end, the wrong environment got deleted on our TFS Lab Management instance. The usual selection of rushing, minor mistakes, misunderstandings and not reading the final dialog properly and BANG you get that sinking feeling as you see the wrong set of VMs being deleted. Well this happened yesterday, so was there anything that can be done? Luckily the answer is yes, if you are quick.

Firstly we knew SCVMM operations are slow, so I RDP’d onto the Hyper-V host  and quickly copied the folders that contained the VMs scheduled to be deleted. We now had a copy of the VHDs.

On the SCVMM host I cancelled the delete jobs. Turns out this did not really help as the jobs just get rescheduled. In fact it may make matters worse as the failing of jobs and their restarting seems to confuse SCVMM, took it hours before it was happy again, kept giving ‘can’t run job as XXX in use’ and losing sight of the Hyper-V hosts (needed to restart the VMM service in the end).

So I now had a copy of three network isolated VM, so I

  • Created new VMs on a Hyper-V host using Hyper-V manager with the saved VHDs as their disks. I then made sure they ran and were not corrupted
  • In SCVMM cleared down the saved state so they were stopped (I forgot to do this the first time I went through this process and it meant I could not deploy the stored VMs into an isolated environment, that wasted hours!)
  • In SCVMM put them into the library on a path our Lab Management server knows about (gotcha here is SCVMM deletes the VM after putting it into the library, this is unlike MTM Lab Center which leaves the original in place, always scares me when I forget)
  • In MTM Lab Center import the new VMs from the library
  • Create a new network isolated environment with the VMs
  • Wait……………………….

When it eventually started I had a network isolated environment back to the state it was when we in effect pulled the power out. All took about 24 hours, but most of this was waiting for copies to and from the library to complete.

So the top tip is try to avoid the problem, this is down to process frankly

  • Use the ‘mark a in use’ feature to say who is using a VM
  • Put a process in place to manage the lab resources. It does not matter how much Hyper-V resource you have you will run out in the end and be unable to add that extra VM. You need a way to delete/archive out what is not currently need
  • Read the confirmation dialogs, they are there for a reason

New book from Gojko Adzic ‘Impact Mapping’

A common problem with getting software developed is the needing to get everyone aiming for the same goal. This too often gets lost in the development process; the real goal of the business is not communicated to the development team.  It maybe that the goal professed by the business is not the one they even really want, but their current viewpoint obscures the true goal.

In this new book from Gojko Adzic provides a excellent introduction to Impact Mapping as a tool to help address this problem. It describes using workshops and simple graphical tools as a way to tackle this problem of keeping an eye on the true goal. These are tools to use well before starting down the user story/ALM path to make sure the goal of your project is sound, known and measurable.

This is a refreshingly thin books that should be easily accessible to anyone involved in software projects irrespective of their technical skill level or team role. Well worth a look by everyone

Black Marble at the 2012 Abbey Dash

Another good turn out this year for the Age UK Abbey Dash 10K in Leeds. Over 9000 runners this year, certainly seemed much busier than previous years.

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Again Black Marble had staff members running. As with last year we did a wisdom of crowds based handicap race for the impressive Black Marble trophy (we all estimate each others expected times, the winner is who beats mean estimate the most). This year there was a tie to the second between Jon and Becky, who are as we speak negotiating over trophy sharing for the next year.

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Congratulations to all who took part, I am sure plenty of good causes benefited from the efforts of everyone who ran

Upcoming free events from Black Marble

Winter is rushing on, so it is time for a new season of Black Marble events in Yorkshire.

21 Nov 2012 (All day) – Whats New in SharePoint 2013

All the updates and announcements from the Microsoft SharePoint Conference around SharePoint 2013.

27 Nov 2012 (AM) – An Introduction to Windows 8 Development

We welcome Microsoft Evangelist Mike Taulty to present a morning on Windows 8 for developers.

27 Nov 2012 (PM) – ReBuild

Bringing the key announcements and developments from Microsoft Build about Windows 8

5 Dec 2012 (All day) – Architecture Forum in the North 5

Our Architecture Forum returns, now in its 5th year, and Black Marble and Microsoft once again invite you to join us for a unique opportunity to learn about the latest technologies and best practices from luminaries in the field of computing.

17 Jan 2013 (AM) – A Windows Azure Update

Take time to out to explore a round-up of what’s new in Windows Azure from the last 12 months. Join our experts for their views on what’s been happening, what’s coming and how it will impact your business.

30 Jan 2013 – The Tenth Annual Technical Update – AM

From Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8, to Visual Studio 2012 and SharePoint and Office 2013 – join us as ever for our views on the new releases, as we focus on the story for IT managers and Business Decision Makers.

30 Jan 2013 – The Tenth Annual Technical Update – PM

From Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8, to Visual Studio 2012 and SharePoint and Office 2013 – join us as ever for our views on the new releases, as we focus on the story for developers and Technical Decision Makers.

For full details and registration check out the Black Marble site

Why does ‘Send to > email link’ in SharePoint open Chrome on my PC?

I must have clicked something in error on my Win 8 PC as when I open one of our SharePoint 2010 sites and select a file, right clicked and selected Send To > Email Link instead of an Outlook email opening my PC tries to open Chrome.

A bit of quick digging showed the issue was that the file association for mailto: was wrong. You can check this setting in IE > Internet Options > Programs > Internet Programs > set Programs (button)

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Once I changed this to Outlook I got the behaviour I expected

TF900546, can’t run Windows 8 App Store unit tests in a TFS build

Today has been one of purging build system problems. On my TFS 2012 Windows 8 build box I was was getting the following error when trying to run Windows 8 App Store unit tests

TF900546: An unexpected error occurred while running the RunTests activity: ‘Unable to load one or more of the requested types. Retrieve the LoaderExceptions property for more information.’.

On further investigation, I am not really sure anything was working too well on this box. To give a bit of background

  • I have one build controller build2012
  • with a number of build agents spread across various VMs. I use tags to target the correct agent e.g. SUR40 or WIN8

In the case of Windows 8 builds (where the  TFS build agent has to run on a Windows 8 box) the build seemed to run, but tests failed with the TF900546 ‘its broken error, but I am not saying why’ error. As usual there was nothing in the logs to help.

To try to debug the error I added a build controller to this box, and eventually, just like Martin in his post noticed, after far too long, that I was getting a error on the build service on the Windows 8 box and the agent was not fully online.

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The main symptom is the build agent says ready, but shows a red box (stopped). If you hit the details link that appears you get the error dialog. Martin had a 500 error, I was getting a 404. I had seen similar problems before, I really should read (or at least remember) my own blog posts.

I can’t stress enough, if you don’t see a green icon on build controllers and agent you have a problem, it might not be obvious at that point but it will bite you later!

For me the fix was the URL I was using to connect to the TFS server. i was using HTTPS (SSL), as soon as switched to HTTP all was OK. In this case this was fine as both the TFS server and build box were in the same rack so SSL was not really needed. I suspect that the solution, if I had wanted SSL, would be as Martin outlined, a config file edit to sort out the bindings.

But remember….

That having a working build system is not enough for Windows 8 App Store unit tests. You also have to manually install the application certificate for test assembly as detailed in MSDN as well as getting the build service running in interactive mode.

Once this was done my application build and the tests ran OK

More thoughts on addressing TF900546 ‘Unable to load one or more of the requested types’ on TFS2012

A while ago I posted about seeing the TF900546 error when running unit tests in a previously working TFS 2012 build. The full error being:

TF900546: An unexpected error occurred while running the RunTests activity: ‘Unable to load one or more of the requested types. Retrieve the LoaderExceptions property for more information.’.

Well late last week this problem came back with avengeance on a number of builds run on the same build controller/agent(s). Irritatingly I first noticed it after a major refactor of a codebase, so I had plenty of potential root causes as assemblies had been renamed and it was possible they might not be found. However, after a bit of testing there were no obvious candidates as all tests worked fine locally on my development PC, and a new very simple test application showed the same issues. It was defiantly an issue on the build system.

I can still find no good way to debug this error, Stackoverflow mention Fuslogvw and WinDbg, as well as various copy local settings and the like. Again all seems too much as this build was working in the past, just seemed to stop. I tried a couple but got no real information, and the error logs were empty.

In the end I just tried what I did before (as I could think of no better tactic to pin down the true issue). I went into the build controller config, removed the reference to the custom assemblies, saved this settings (causing a controller restart), then put it back (another restart of the controller)

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After this my test started working again, with no other changes

Interesting a restart of VM running the build controller did not fix the problem. However this does somewhat chime with comments in the StackOverFlow thread that causing the AppPool in MVC apps to rebuild completely, ignoring any cached assemblies, seems to fix the issue.

Change in the System.AssignedTo in TFS SOAP alerts with TFS 2012

Ewald’s post explains how to create a WCF web service to act as an end point for TFS Alerts. I have been using the model with a TFS 2010 to check for work item changed events, using the work item’s System.AssignedTo field to retrieve the owner of the work item (via the TFS API) so I can send an email, as well as other tasks (I know I could just send the email with a standard alert).

In TFS 2010 this worked fine, if the work item was assigned to me I got back the name richard, which I could use as the to address for the email by appending our domain name.

When I moved this WCF event receiver onto a TFS 2012 (using the TFS 2012 API) I had not expected any problems, but the emails did not arrive. On checking my logging I saw they were being sent to fennell@blackmarble.co.uk. Turns out the issue was that the API call

value = this.workItem.Fields[“System.AssignedTo ”].Value.ToString();

was returning the display name ‘Richard Fennell’, which was not a valid part of the email address.

The best solution I found, thus far, was to check to see if had a display name in the AD using the method I found on stackoverflow. If I got a user name back I used that, if I got a empty string (because I have been passed a non display name) I just use the initial value assuming it is a valid address.

Seems to work but this there a easier solution?