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Team Foundation Server Timesheet Extension

A Web-based tool for VS Team Foundation Server that enables members of development teams to submit time spent on work items and provides project managers with an ability to review and approve timesheets. This timesheet software can also generate reports on the submitted data and export them to MS Word, Excel, or .CSV.

TeamExpand, a developer of products complimentary to Microsoft Visual Studio Team System (VSTS), needed a convenient way to report time spent on work items when working with TFS. The company also needed to enable project managers and team leads to monitor, confirm timesheets, run reports to analyze productivity of the development team, and provide accurate billing to customers.

Altoros faced several challenges when working on this project. First of all, timesheets were loading slowly, as they contained too much data.

We also had to prevent TeamExpand license from being replaced with a stub in the end-customer environment.

Finally, a challenge to build a .NET 2.0 Web application that would communicate securely with Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) using security certificates for traffic.

Lazy loading pattern was used to achieve the optimal timesheet loading time. This technology is used to defer initialization of an object until the point at which it is needed. It can considerably improve efficiency. First, only summary data is loaded. If the user needs details, they are requested additionally. This solution allows loading data in small pieces, which helps decrease loading time. Caching is used for the data needed most often, so that timesheets load even faster.

To solve the issue with secure transmission of data, the team implemented the Web Services Enhancements (WSE) on the side of the application. WSE is an add-on to the Microsoft .NET Framework which includes additional specifications for security, reliable messaging, and sending attachments. This solution along with proper configuration of WCF helped to ensure a secure connection between the application and the Web service using certificates for signing traffic.

Altoros made requests to the Licensing Service in order to acquire the necessary licenses, permissions, and security certificates. This application is now fully packaged, legal, and secure.

TX Chrono is fully packaged timesheet software available as an extension for Team Foundation Server. Team Expand extended its line of add-ins to the VSTS and got a positive review from Microsoft experts. A considerable number of companies are already moving their time management and reporting into TFS with the help of TX Chrono. This makes life a lot easier for project managers and team leads.

Technology Stack

Server Platform

Windows Server 2003/2008

Client Platform/Application Server

IIS 6/7

Technologies

LINQ, Active Directory Services, MS TFS, AJAX, JavaScript, jQuery, MbUnit, Rhino Mocks, WCF, MSBuild.

Programming Language

C#

Database

SQL Server 2005/2008

Database Design Tool

MS Visio

Modeling Tool

MS Visio

Development Environment

Visual Studio 2008, Test Driven .NET, SQL Server Express 2005, TFS (source control, project management system, build machine)

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