Month: September 2014

Accessing TFS. Why Team Explorer and troubleshooting

Here is the big question, how to enable the “Team tab” in Excel without installing the Visual Studio in manager’s computer J, the answer is obvious, installing Team Explorer on his/her computer, but not always is so straightforward, sometimes we have restrictions from IT and we have to look for workarounds.

The list of options is not so big but we have a bunch of clients that can give us access to Team Foundation Server, with more or less capabilities depending what we want to do and the client.

Primary Clients:

Task-specific clients:

Office-Integration clients:

Let’s stop at Office-integration clients for a minute. These add-ins (COM Objects that have to be installed and registered in our OS prior use in Office) supports Office 2007, Office 2010 or Office 2013.
The way to install them is through the Team Explorer standalone installation or with any edition of Visual Studio.

Non-straightforward and dangerous workaround

You can try to do a workaround that is extract the TFSOfficeAdd-in.dll from the Team Explorer ISO and register it manually in the target OS as follows:
regsvr32 TFSOfficeAdd-in.dll

Uninstalling any previous clients (if exists) using the next script:

regsvr32 /u TFSOfficeAdd-in.dll

Also you would need to install the right .NET Framework version required, 2.0, 3.5 or 4.0, depending on the version that you are using.

Note: Make sure that the DLL is available in C:\Windows\System32\

Note: You have to run it as an Administrator, and in some cases depending on the OS, shut down Windows Defender and Windows Firewall.

After this process is finished go to excel and enable the plug-in:

  1. Open Excel
  2. Click File à Options àAdd-ins
  3. Select COM Add-ins

  1. Check the Team Foundation Add-In

This implies to register it as an Excel COM Add-In in the OS, it will require administrative rights and also the installation of .NET Framework as well. Also if they want to uninstall this from the computer further it will be a dirty job. Extra configuration on MS Project and MS Excel will be required as well.

Note: Verify or configure the .NET Programability Support option in the Install or remove individual Office programs and components:

Last step should be to check the registry of Windows we have to make sure that the Entries for Microsoft Office Add-ins are created properly.
For example, for Excel you would find them here:


You can find extra information about the needed keys here:

Note: This steps can be used as well for troubleshooting in case the Team Explorer repair option doesn’t work.

My recommended choice for a non-invasive installation is to install Team Explorer as a standalone installation.

Why Team Explorer?

Team Explorer is the client software that you use to access the Team Foundation Server functionality. And we can think that it is only to extend Visual Studio in order to connect to Team Foundation Server but it is not the case.

Team Explorer has side-by-side compatibility of Team Foundation clients. You can run Team Explorer with:

  • Microsoft Test Manager
  • Microsoft Project
  • Microsoft Excel
  • PowerPoint Storyboarding.

Even exists a MS Word non official Add-in provided by the Visual Studio ALM Rangers and published in Codeplex here.

How it works?

In MS Project the process is the same:

What can you do with this Team options?

For example, using Excel you can add or modify work items with Excel as well update reports. More info here.

Using MS Project, you can create your backlog and tasks, publishing and refreshing your work items, timelines, resources usage, etc. More info here.

Using PowerPoint, you can turn your ideas and goals for your PBIs in something more visual. Storyboarding is part of the PBI in TFS2012 and TFS2013. More info here.

So here is the main ask for you, how far do you want to go?

As depending on the client that you are using the possibilities will be extended or reduced. It’s not part of this blog post to cover one by one all the features accessible through the TWA, Team Explorer and Office, for that just access to this link and check the Tasks and client support tables, but summarizing what you can do with these clients here a short list:

  • Manage source code and builds
  • Plan a project, track progress
  • Bulk add and modify work items
  • Add and modify work item links
  • Collaborate with team members and stakeholders
  • Happy planning! –

Eduardo Ortega

Links of interest:

Compatibility between Team Foundation clients and Team Foundation Server:
Choose the Team Foundation client to support your tasks:
Connect Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project to a team project:
Microsoft Project and Microsoft Excel Integration Architecture:
Working with Team Foundation Clients:
Managing Work Using Team Web Access:
Bulk add or modify work items with Excel:
Work in Limited access view or Work Item Only View:
Work in Team Explorer:


Microsoft Visual Studio Team Explorer Everywhere 2010 with SP1:

Microsoft Team Explorer Everywhere 2013:
Visual Studio Team System 2005 Team Explorer:

Microsoft Visual Studio Team Explorer 2010 – ISO:

Team Explorer for Microsoft Visual Studio 2012:
Team Explorer for Microsoft Visual Studio 2013:

Installing and Configuring TFS 2010 with PS2010, SP2010 and SQL 2008

Today I was configuring a Virtual Machine with TFS 2010, as some of my clients want to integrate it with the PMO and using it together with Project Server 2010, SharePoint 2010 and Visual Studio 2010.

This is a very common combo as in many companies they have a PMO (Project Management Office) where they are tracking all the projects committed in the company using MS Project and Project Server as EPM. SharePoint in these scenarios is a critical tool as it will show all the reports related not only with the project management but also with the development progress, thanks to the integration with TFS 2010.

The trick is how to combine PS and TFS together to link the management with the development and how to leverage SharePoint to gather all the reports we need about both. But not only that, from the Project Server Web Access, you also will be able to approve changes on the product backglog, control the timesheets and how these changes that come from Visual Studio can affect to your project planning and reflect them automatically on MS Project.

But step by step, let’s start by the TFS 2010 installation and for now let’s take a look to the different topologies that we can find when we are facing these scenarios:

Simplest Topology


Here all server components are deployed on a single physical server (this is the case of the smallest VM I have set up for testing.
This is usually designed for small product development team with less than 50 users.

Team Foundation Build and the team’s test components can be installed in the same server as well.For reporting services, you can install SQL Server 2008 with SSRS and SSAS on the same machine and either use Sharepoint Services v3 that comes with the Windows Server or Install Sharepoint 2010 on the TFS Machine.

If you just use the SQL Server Express you have to realize that the integration with Sharepoint will not exist.If you install WSS 3.0 instead Sharepoint some dashboards won’t be available either (

So the final configuration would be something like this:

Using SQL Server 2008 and WSS 3.0 in the same single server.

If we want to have all the reports available on SharePoint we have to install SharePoint 2010 and not WSS 3.0.

The installation process for TFS is so straight forward. Just let me share two guides with you before I go through the process:

Team Foundation Installation Guide for Visual Studio 2010

Administration Guide for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Team Foundation Server

  1. Supported Operating Systems: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 (important to install Service Pack 2 for WS2003 or WS2008). So choose any of these 3 for your server. (you can install it on a Windows Vista/7 but SharePoint and any reporting tools won’t work on them)

  2. Enroll the machine in your AD in case you are working on an Active Directory environment. Just create a user called TFSAdmin with admin rights on the local machine. Verify that the account you will use to install Team Foundation Server is a member of the Administrators security group on the server where you will install Team Foundation Server.Note: Other service accounts should be set up depending on the TFS components that are going to be active. For more information:

  3. Install IIS Web Server with the ASP.NET Extensions with the Required Role Services and also the HTTP Redirection Role Service. As TFS makes heavy use of Windows Authentication, the Windows Authentication role service is also required. And finally the role service for IIS6 Management Compatibility too.

  4. Install SQL Server 2008 with Reporting Services in Native Mode (not SharePoint Integrated mode) and don’t configure the RS yet. Just set up Database Engine Services, Full Text Search, Reporting Services and Analysis Services. Add Client Tools and Management tools and we a ready for the next step.

  5. Install WSS 3.0 in the server or either install SharePoint Server 2010. Make sure that SharePoint user can access to the SQL Server. Just open SQL Server, and add a new Login. Type the fully qualified name for your SharePoint service user in the Login name box. The format of the username is domain_name\username. So, if your domain is MyDomain and the user is WSSSERVICE, you’ll enter MyDomain\WSSSERVICE.

  6. Check that SharePoint is working properly just checking the http://localhost website.

  7. Open the SQL Server Reporting Services Configuration Management Tool and configure the Reporting Services. Don’t forget to use the same user TFSAdmin during the set up process.

  8. Now it is time to Run the TFS Set-up installation.
  • Select Team Foundation Server. At this point we don’t want to install the Team Foundation Build Service (also is recommended to install it in a separate server).
  • After the installation finish, select the checkbox “Launch Team Foundation Server Configuration Tool” and click on Configure.
  • Now is when we have to decide the topology of our TFS. As we mentioned before, Basic or Advance configuration can work as we are installing our TFS in a single server that can have/not have SQL Server and SharePoint installed on it. If we check both configurations we can see de difference:

  • In my case I will go for the Advanced
    topology as I already have installed SharePoint Server 2010 and SQL Server 2008. Just make sure you are filling up correctly the wizard blanks like the SQL Server Instance (use the Instance name that you have created and click on Test)Account name for running the TFS Services:
    The IIS Web Site Default Name, port and Virtual Directory:
    And finally the default Project Collection
  • It’s very important that we kkep attention to the Readiness Checks to validate all the data input before and to check if something is wrong with our services or accounts.
  • Finally once is done, you will be ready to go, just install the Team Explorer 2010 or Visual Studio 2010 to Start Creating and Managing Team Projects!
    If you are using Eclipse or other development tools you can also download Microsoft Visual Studio Team Explorer Everywhere 2010 with SP1.

 I highly recommend to install the respective Service Packs:

  • SharePoint 2010 SP1
  • SQL Server 2008 SP1
  • Windows Server 2008 SP2
  • Team Foundation Server 2010 SP1

Wrapping up,

There are a lot of tools and software to install, of course my first recommendation would be to acquire Team Foundation Server 2013 for several reasons (main one are integration, capabilities, templates, reports,…), but still there are many customers out there with TFS2010 and a lot of CALs, and it is a very good product, despite is 4 years old. The greatness of TFS is the integration, doesn’t work alone, it integrates completely with Project Server, with SharePoint, with SQL Server, with Visual Studio, MS Project, MS Excel and not only with Microsoft Technologies but also with Eclipse, XCode, GIT…

I recommend to take a look to this video from Channel 9 where you can see all the power of TFS 2010 in action, called Microsoft Project Server 2010 and Microsoft TFS 2010, better together: (video).

That’s all for now, just let me drop you below some recommended installs for the scenario.

See you next time!

– May the plan be with you –

Eduardo Ortega Bermejo


In the Application tier we would need:

Team Foundation Server 2010 RTM with the following updates installed in the correct order:

In the Database tier, SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 1 (or TFS installation will block you).

Clients (Visual Studio & Microsoft Test Manager):

The MSSCCI Provider allows non-Microsoft tools to connect to TFS:

Team Explorer Everywhere (TEE) is an Eclipse IDE/Java implementation of the TFS client:

If you work in a cross-platform environment, you may also want to install the build extensions that allow you to execute Ant or Maven 2 builds and publish any JUnit test results back to TFS.

If the scenario also includes Project Server, is highly recommended to install the Feature Pack for Visual Studio Team Foundation Server and Project Server Integration, only available through MSDN Suscriptions..


Team Foundation Installation Guide for Visual Studio 2010:

Microsoft Visual Studio Team Explorer 2010 – ISO:

Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation server 2010 SP1:

Dashboards (Agile):

TFS 2010 Power Tools – December 2011:

Reporting Services Configuration Tool: