Are you lost in the ALM Rangers desert?

We had the first of a few (numerous) RangerTalk sessions to talk about our dashboard and where to find interesting and important information gems. To ensure maximum transparency and share some of our learning's with the broad community switched from email to this blog post when typing up the minutes.

image… who knows where I am standing?

First batch of important questions

What is Ruck?

Extract from Ruck Guide:

In the game of Rugby, a Ruck is a loose Scrum. Ruck is the word used by the Visual Studio ALM Rangers to define our unique and flexible process which is a loose implementation of Scrum. The Visual Studio ALM Ranger projects have unique challenges and constraints based on geography, language, skills, time zones, and the fact that every Ranger has a day job and their participation is on their own time.image
Ruck works in the spirit of Scrum, Agile, Lean, and Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF), where the Rangers are guided by the Team Principles, Individual Mindsets, and the Agile Manifesto. No single process fits every project and we must be pragmatic in our approach to managing a project and its team members. Like Scrum’s Just in Time (JIT) Planning, the Rangers will often have some JIT processes as we learn and adapt. The goals are to codify our repeatable Ranger process and uncover the best practices for use in future Ranger projects. The Ranger focus is on collaboration, working within our aforementioned constraints and successful execution within time boxes.

For more information, see …
ALM Guidance: Visual Studio ALM Rangers — Reflections on Virtual Teams
How the Visual Studio ALM Rangers use Team Foundation Service to Get Ready for Visual Studio 11

How do I get involved in Ranger project(s)?

This was the question that really made me switch from email to blog post, because we can break down this question info sub-questions:

How do I get involved in a Ranger project as an active ALM Ranger?

Keep an eye on the Rangers dashboard (see below), an eye for the [ Announcement Rangers ] and [ Kick-off Rangers ] tags in ALM Ranger forum emails for new project, release and kick-off announcements, watch recordings from kick-off meetings you may have missed and select a few projects that interest you, that cover technologies you are passionate about and for which you can contribute invaluable experience and passion. Talk to the project lead for the selected projects and determine which project needs the most help … select, assimilate and go, go, go.

How do I get involved in a Ranger project if I am not an ALM Ranger?

While an ALM Ranger project is in development phase we typically only engage with ALM Rangers and ALM MVPs to ensure that the public release is top quality and a true value-add before engaging with the rest of the world. If you are really passionate about joining a specific Rangers project, find a Ranger nearest you, ask for a nomination and get assimilated into our family. Alternatively engage with the teams once the solution is released, sharing candid feedback, ideas and issues on their project discussion forum, which is typically on

How do I get involved in recommending a Ranger project??

We triage ideas from Visual Studio UserVoice quarterly. If you have an idea for an ALM Rangers project, please raise an idea on Visual Studio UserVoice as described in Submit your Visual Studio idea using UserVoice.

For more information, see …
Understanding the Visual Studio ALM Rangers
Introducing the Visual Studio ALM Rangers
Visual Studio ALM Ranger Solutions
Submit your Visual Studio idea using UserVoice - Willy's ...‎
What happened to your (Rangers) idea on UserVoice

Bathroom mirror URLsimage

I have this weird tendency of writing important information on our bathroom mirror, especially when I am researching technology, preparing for an exam or meeting, or simply battling to remember important facts. Makes brushing teeth and the occasional shave a more interesting chore :) In this section I will highlight a few URLs that should find a corner on your mirror, desktop, Surface, …

URL Treasure My blog … which you have found if you are reading this Smile 

The only thing I would like to highlight on my blog is that on the top right of the blog home page you will find a few tiles that help you find important Rangers information quickly.
image The Visual Studio ALM and TFS team blog bringing you news, technical articles, and other useful content about Visual Studio ALM and Team Foundation Server. ALM Ranger posts on this team blog are primarily release announcements. The home for all active ALM Rangers, as explained below. An index of all Distinguished, Honorary, Active, Associate and Stakeholder ALM Rangers from around the world. An index and summary of all ALM Ranger solutions, dating back to Visual Studio 2005. An index of all the magazine, flash and video publications by the ALM Rangers. A pointer to the paper-based ALM Readiness Treasure Map which provides a master catalogue (treasure map) of the available ALM Readiness content from the Rangers, DPE, PFE and P&P to guide us through the process of becoming proficient in ALM practices. A pointer to the Windows Store App, that brings the ALM Readiness Treasure map to your Surface.
A phenomenal treasure from Brian Keller containing a Visual Studio ALM Virtual Machine along with hands-on-labs / demo scripts, giving you a single virtual environment for learning about or demonstrating a wide range of ALM capabilities.  


Our home on

When the Team Foundation Service was launched we were the first to register and probably the first to move all our on-premise TFS instances to our home on the Team Foundation Service. We literally agreed to “lift” and “throw away” our anchor to the on-premise environments and have since been dog-fooding the environment and fine tuning our new home.

As shown below we use the root team to keep an eye on all project teams (left image) and each team has their own focused project team home (right image), which gives them a visual and productive collaboration environment.


Where do we store our stuff?

I reworded the question from specific artefacts (i.e. documentation, code, raw video sessions, …) to “Stuff”, because at this stage we share everything, except the final videos, in version control in our Team Foundation Service team project collection. We typically store the videos on file shares, download sites and Channel 9 … but the rest is in version control.

So, if you are an active ALM Ranger looking for something you know to look for recordings on the dashboard, or divert to our home on the Team Foundation Service instead.

For more information see …

Our dashboard

Finally let me talk about our dashboard, which is the last remnant of our Extranet environment that does not yet live in our Team Foundation Service home. It is only accessible by active ALM Rangers and for that reason I will keep this discussion to explaining the main areas on the dashboard, rather than drilling into the details.


# What do I find there? When should I visit the area?
1 The latest news and four tiles to take easily visit the old portal, raise a support call, find quick reference checklists for projects and the latest and greatest Ruck guide.
We welcome Rangers who are keen to help us keep this area of the portal fresh and interesting :)
Regularly … preferably daily.
2 A list of important URLs, such as UserVoice, Controlled Vocabulary, templates, recordings and administrative tasks, such as keeping your contact details up to date. When you have forgotten one of the less frequently used URLs … a place I visit often Smile
3 A list of active ALM Ranger email distribution lists, such as forum, support, infrastructure and project specific DLs. When you are not sure which DL to use or what its (cryptic) name was.
4 Discussion Forums … a remnant of our Dev11 dog -fooding and an area that will probably disappear. When looking for ALM Ranger Dev11 discussions.
5 A list of all known ALM Ranger projects, categorised into active, service mode, planning, etc. states. When you are looking for projects to join.
When you need contact details, i.e. project lead.
6 A list of forthcoming ALM Ranger meetings, including the ICS file. When you are looking for a meeting that is not on your calendar.
7 A list of ALM Ranger Ruck Masters, categorised into certified and in-process of certifying Ruck Masters. When you are looking for a Ruck Master.
8 A list of ALM Ranger nominations, categorised into nomination status. When you are interested in knowing where the nomination for a potential ALM Ranger is in terms of the triage.

Hope this summary of questions, answers, pointers and information gives you a treasure map to find your way around the ALM Rangers ecosystem.