How Do I Get Started With Team Foundation Server?

This question pops up quite often and I thought it would be useful to have a refreshed summary of resources to help you get started with installing Team Foundation Server and getting it to the point where you can try things out with it. I’m going to struggle to keep this short but hopefully this will point you in the right direction.

Ready built virtual machine vs installation

If your intention is to have a “sandpit” TFS installation where your interest is in using it, rather than installing and configuring TFS, then you should consider the ready built TFS virtual machine that includes Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and Team Foundation Server 2010 already installed and configured. It’s available in different formats:


Windows Virtual PC

Virtual PC 2007 SP1

These were built with all updates as of 8th Dec 2010 and will run until 1st June 2011.Whether or not you use the virtual machine there are some labs that are useful to run through to give you an idea of some of the capabilities of TFS. These are in the download in the virtual machine links.

If you would like to install TFS from media then you have two main options:

Download a TFS trial

Download TFS from MSDN if you have a subscription. It’s worth being aware that a full TFS server licence and CAL is now included in MSDN so take advantage of that if you have it.


There are a couple of great resources to be aware to help you install TFS:

TFS Installation guide. This is not included in the media and is well worth downloading and reading prior to installation. It covers hardware and software requirements, including some hardware sizing guidance, and installation and upgrade scenarios.Top tip (it does mention this but it’s a common question): after you download the installation guide, you cannot view its contents unless you right-click the .chm file, click Properties, and then click Unblock.

Note that you can install full TFS on a single machine or split it out over multiple machines (Application Tier, Data Tier, Build Agents, Test Agents etc.). Another option is the TFS Basic configuration which gives you version control, work items and automated builds, but not reporting and SharePoint integration. This reduces the installation requirements and complexity but at the cost of integrated reporting.

The MSDN TFS 2010 Administration guide is also worth noting. To begin with (and possibly forever) you may only need one Project Collection so stick with the default but familiarise yourself with the concepts.

The ALM Rangers Visual Studio TFS Upgrade Guide. This is focused on upgrades but contains a lot of useful information generally.

Post installation

There are a few aspects to consider once you have TFS installed. One of the first is choosing the appropriate process template(s). Without going into detail here each TFS project needs to use a process template to configure it to suit the way you want to work. A vanilla TFS installation includes two process templates – MSF for Agile and MSF for CMMI but there are several others to choose from. A quick guide:

MSF for Agile. The “default” process, generally Agile and Scrum-like. A good choice either if you’re not sure, or you lean towards an agile approach but don’t want a pure Scrum process.

MSF for CMMI. Designed to help you reach CMMI requirements. More rigorous than MSF for Agile.

Microsoft Visual Studio Scrum. A free, relatively new and pure Scrum implementation from Microsoft.

Scrum for Team System. A free, well established and pure Scrum implementation from EMC Consulting (formerly Conchango).

Essential Unified Process. A free agile use case driven process from Ivar Jacobson International.

There are others, and more information, available from the Process Templates and Tools site.

Another area that can be very important to consider is how to configure the version control within TFS. The ALM Rangers Branching Guide is an excellent walk through of the different branching strategies that you can consider and configure within TFS. Don’t forget that there are migration tools for migrating (with history) from VSS, Rational ClearCase and ClearQuest, SVN, CVS, StarTeam and others.

Training and Mentoring

If you feel that you would benefit from training and/or mentoring on either the installation or in using TFS then there are a variety of options. We have a number of UK partners that specialise in TFS, including our Gold partners Black Marble and nFocus, and we can recommend a number of partners who specialise in training, agile processes or testing with Visual Studio and TFS.

We run a series of free LiveMeetings on a variety of TFS related topics that are listed and updated here.

QA Training run public scheduled TFS courses like the Effective Software Engineering using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and the Administering Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010.

I hope this is useful, and I know I haven’t covered everything. If you find a useful resource please add it to this post in the comments for everyone’s benefit and I’ll update this as and when new or better resources are available.