Ruminations of J.net idle rants and ramblings of a code monkey

TFS 2008 + Project Server 2007: Sharing a workspace

Microsoft has two project management products … Microsoft Project (and the accompanying Project Server) and Team Foundation Server. Project is much more general; it’s designed to manage any type of project. TFS is very specialized; it’s designed to manage software projects. So one could reasonably say that TFS, from a project management perspective, focuses on a specific use case for Project. TFS’s Project integration certainly helps to make that case.

Both TFS and Project Server integrate with Sharepoint for collaboration. That makes sense; there is no reason for Microsoft to reinvent the wheel when it comes to web-based collaboration. Sharepoint does that and it does that pretty well. Extending Sharepoint for this additional functionality is certainly the best use of limited development resources.

But what happens when an organization uses both Project Server and TFS? The question – and the debate – over which implementation to use for storing project-related documents in inevitable. Both add features to the Sharepoint site – TFS adds “Team Collaboration Lists” and Project Server adds “Project Workspace Collaboration Lists”. I really don’t see any clear, undisputable reason to choose one over the other. The path of least resistance is to have one site for TFS and one for Project Server; but this leads to confusion for the project team – what document goes where? Or … you have a project manager that gets addicted to the drag-drop upload providing by the Team Foundation Client when the organization has chosen to put all essential deliverable documents in the Project Server Project Workspace. Or … you have a project manager that works exclusively in Project Server and gets … annoyed … that the developers have to go to another site to find the docs. TFS was supposed to solve this and it does – if you only use TFS.

Regardless, it all violates the Prime Directive of software development – the KISS principle. That’s "Keep It Simple, Stupid” for those of you that haven’t heard it. Developing world-class enterprise software is complicated enough as it is. There is absolutely, positively no need to introduce additional layers of complexity that have no direct business value to the project. Simplicity is a virtue that I wish more developers had – and one of the reasons that I love TFS is that, when used well, it helps simplify the tedious aspects of software projects (I’ve always hated status reports!) in a way that is easy for a developer to do while working on the project. That’s the tip of the iceberg but I’ll stop there.

All that babbling aside, I’m sure that you, dear reader, have figured out by now that Project Server and TFS are both being used by the organization that I’m currently working with to implement TFS. And I was issued the challenge to bring these two products together to at least use the same Sharepoint site for their workspaces. I found this article but I thought that there must be a simpler way to do it. And yes, there is. The method that you use depends on whether you create the TFS project (and associated Sharepoint site) or the Project Server workspace first. I’ll detail both.

Requirements for Both Solutions

  • The Project Server Sharepoint components need to be installed on the target Sharepoint server.
  • The Team Foundation Server Sharepoint components need to be installed on the target Sharepoint server.
  • Use TFSAdminUtil ConfigureConnections to point the TFS server to the target Sharepoint server and related URIs. All TFS-related Sharepoint sites will use this server and top-level URI. If you have existing Sharepoint/TFS sites, you will need to migrate them to the new server.
  • The TFS administrator will need administrator permissions on Project Server.
  • You will need to use TFSConfigWss to configure the URLs for Sharepoint on the target server.
  • The TFS top-level URL needs to be a wildcard inclusion. An explicit inclusion won’t work. Well, maybe it will, but I don’t know how to make it work. Maybe someone with deeper Sharepoint knowledge will show how to do this. I certainly hope so.
  • Project Server does not need to default to the same site collection as TFS. Project Server’s Sharepoint integration is more flexible than TFS’s.

Project Workspace First

  • Customize your TFS project template: Remove references to the Sharepoint task in . Since the site already exists, you will get an error creating the project unless you remove the Sharepoint tasks from project creation.
    • Remove (comment) references to the Sharepoint plugin (under the plugins element).
    • <plugin name="Microsoft.ProjectCreationWizard.Portal" wizardPage="true" />
    • Remove the portal groups
    • <group id="Portal" description="Creating project Site" completionMessage="Project site created.">
      <dependencies>
      <dependency groupId="Classification" />
      <dependency groupId="WorkItemTracking" />
      <dependency groupId="VersionControl" />
      </dependencies>
      <taskList filename="Windows SharePoint Services\WssTasks.xml" />
      </group>

  • Create your project workspace. Make sure that it uses the same top-level URL that TFS uses. Fortunately, Project Server lets you do this.
  • Create the Team Project using the template that excludes Sharepoint and with the same name as the Project Server workspace. The naming is important; if the names don’t match for the Project Workspace and the Team Project, it won’t work. Fortunately, Project Server doesn’t tie you to the project name for the workspace.
  • Downside: The TFS template won’t add any documents, document libraries or reports. Since that performs some “magic” to Excel/Project lists that are tied to the Team Project, you lose that. And you’ll also have to add any reports to the project manually.

Team Foundation Project First

  • Setup:
    1. Don’t require project workspace creation when a new project is published (PWA … Server Settings … Project Workspace Provisioning Settings – Set “Allow users to manually create project workspaces in Project Server and Save).
    2. Create a blank Team Project based on your template. Activate the “Project Workspace Collaboration Lists” feature for the site (that’s the only additional feature that you need).
    3. Create a template from the site but don’t include content – the TFS template will add this. .
    4. Specify your new template as the template for the TFS project creation wizard (Windows SharePoint Services\WssTasks.xml). The template should be global on the Sharepoint server.
    <Portal>
    <site template="TFS-Project" language="1033" />
    ...
    </Portal>

  • Customize your TFS Project: Specify the target template for the TFS task to your new template. Since the Sharepoint project template (STP) already has the Project Server features activated, you don’t need to do that step. During project creation, TFS will add all of your default document libraries and documents. This includes whatever majik they do to make Excel and Project files in the template work with the proper Team Project.
  • Publish the Project: but … don’t include the Project Workspace. See link referenced above. You will not get the option for "Do not create a workspace at this time” unless you do Setup step 1 (a step that Neil didn’t mention).
  • Associate the Project Workspace with the TFS site: In the article referenced above, Neil details this quite well. I won’t repeat it here.
  • Downside: Require manual association of the project workspace Sharepoint site with the TFS Sharepoint site.

Neither option uses undocumented extensibility points for TFS 2008. And yes, there are variations between the two that work – with unique sets of good/bad/ugly. This post is long enough without going into all of the possible permutations.

Very Important Disclaimer: While nothing here falls outside of the documented extensibility points for TFS 2008, I doubt that anything is in the product team’s upgrade test cases – especially since nothing here seems to be documented anywhere else.  I have not yet tested the upgrade path for either of these techniques to TFS 2010. Considering the (very frustrating) lack of guidance and documentation for these techniques, I cannot say anything one way or the other. I will, however, be testing and experimenting with the upgrade paths (Hyper-V shapshots ROCK!!!) and any goodness that I discover will be published here. Of course, I’m more than happy to work with the TFS product team on this …