Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) is one geeky goodie

I must admit when I first used it, VSTS can be overwhelming and scary, especially to non-technical people. Here in Australia, Atlassian products are very popular. And I can understand why. The combo of Jira, Bitbucket & Confluence is very good.

However, with what VSTS has become now, being an all-inclusive platform that caters for pretty much what the combination of most Atlassian products do and more, I kinda want to just stick with VSTS for everything. Here’s a table of the Atlassian product equivalents of the different VSTS modules:

VSTS Atlassian Feature description
Work Jira Scheduling work using Kanban boards, reports, etc
Code Bitbucket Version control of code using GIT
Builds & Releases Bamboo CI/CD pipeline support
Wiki Confluence Documentation
Test ? Test plans & load tests
Dashboard ? Shows Work, Code, Builds, Releases, Test, Wiki in one dashboard

Let’s start with the VSTS Dashboard

The mighty dashboard combines everything into one. I don’t think Atlassian has a product that aggregates all of the data into one dashboard. I’m pretty sure you can build something where you can configure Atlassian integrations but with VSTS, it comes out of the box. If you have used the Azure portal and customised the dashboard, you will feel at home as it’s the same customising experience.

Here’s a screenshot of what my customised dashboard looks like that took just a few clicks to setup. Ooops, I have a strange burndown going on there:

VSTS Dashboard

If you check the top navigation, you will see all the VSTS modules that I have compared with the Atlassian products.

VSTS Code

Nothing fancy here. It just has all your normal GIT stuff such as fork, clone, commits, branches, pull-requests, tags, files, etc. It also obviously allows you to edit your code on the fly (although who uses this these days…)

VSTS Code menu

VSTS Work

Just like JIRA, you can setup Epics, Features, User Stories, Tasks and Bugs. You also have sprint burn down charts and other sorts of reports. You can setup queries and favourites, and link items to others. You can also setup work schedules and user availability percentages. And of course, everyone’s favourite Kanban board is there too!

Last time I checked, you need some sort of third-party plugin to install on Jira so you can use it to add and manage your Test plans. VSTS has it's own section for that.

VSTS Build and Release

Microsoft got it right when they have enabled setting up of CI/CD right from your Visual Studio IDE. Seriously, only a few clicks is what it takes to setup a CI/CD pipeline for your project. And all your build/release definitions and history are available within VSTS. Check out this article I made when I realised how EASY it is to setup a CI/CD for your GIT code.

VSTS Wiki

Nothing fancy but obviously good to have all your documentation right within VSTS. It’s almost like a blog site for your project.

VSTS Test

I haven’t used this myself, but this where your team can setup test plans, track progress, and get insights about your project.

But there’s more!

You can also move from one project to another and you will get the same modules for each project. You can setup user/team access,  security, etc. The best part is, it’s free for the first 5 users. So if you haven’t used it, seriously, you need to have a play. It does feel overwhelming to begin with, but just like Azure, you get used to it and it just works from there on.

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