First thoughts on VS 2011 ALM Preview from Testers Point of View

After a quick lap around the VS2011 ALM Preview its obvious that the focus has not really being on testers, ALM has been the focus and this was defiantly needed. They have mad some much needed improvements to the ALM particularly for agile and this is great. I’m going to start of with the things i like though.

Visual Studio


  • Search as been made easier, no more complex queries to just open that work item someone has asked you about big plus for me.
  • Code review seems like a nice feature
  • The web version has had major improvements for ALM and looks great, i haven’t had time to use it though but i can see some thought has been put in to understanding how we work on a day to day basis. My only concern here is will it work on other browsers? there are a lot of MS web projects that only work in IE but as techies we use all sorts of browsers.
  • Rich tasks and bug logging should make for a good experience
  • Intellitrace for production, (This would be great to have but if its only part of Ultimate again sadly it will be unaffordable to many i think)
  • Preview tab is great and so is the new team explorer


  • It looks like there hasn’t been any improvements to Coded UI Test in particular how you manage them and multiple UI Maps. this is very needed in my opinion. There is still no way to use an existing MTM recording in a different UIMap to the default UIMap.uitest. Also the UIMap Editor that was added in FP1 is missing. I hope this means its getting a revamp, its still early days and if they can get the workflow from MTM to CUIT working well and then management of CUIT working well it will be a very powerful system. Lets hope well see some improvements here.


Microsoft Test Manager


  • The new feedback tool looks good, it would be very helpful for opening a feedback channel to our stakeholders. The question will be can this be install separately to MTM and VS and will it need a license? If so it might not be as useful
  • I think the best improvement i have seen is the Exploratory Testing.
    • Its very rich, you can add rich text, images and files


    • When your read you can create test cases and bugs that contain rich information. You don’t even need to record the steps as this is done for you. All the information in the screenshots below came just from running through the test, taking a screenshot, Adding some comments and attaching a file. I think this will be very handy at saving us time but still logging in depth what has been tested. You can also have a third party app to open snapshots before adding them so you can add notations. 5 stars for effort here.


  • Test cases have been enhanced a bit, now they support rich fonts and you can attach files to a step.


  • New settings within a test runner for exploratory testings make it to enable recording and annotation settings


  • It looks like there is still no reporting improvements. Test Scribe got us part way there but often shows to much info and their needs to be a built in solution.  I couldn’t see Test Scribe installed so maybe they are working on this.
  • It looked like i could paste an image into a test step but this crashed MTM. It would be nice if you could do this. Being able to visualise what it should look like is good.
  • You still can’t modify a test case while running it. I find that often the steps i had created are not quite the same as the end result especially if your creating the test case at the same time as development. If they combine this being able to have screen shots in steps when you could also update the screenshot when it goes out of date.
  • Still no conditional steps. I think this is a very needed feature. Often a test case’s steps is not quite the same for each iteration because the input has created some conditional extra step. Just being able to create something like If the dialog appears then enter this value and select ok would be very helpful. UI is not Flat but at the moment that’s the only way to create test cases.
  • I still get mixed up between the plan screen and test screen, it would be good if you could run a test case from the plan screen as well.
  • The enhanced Recording Annotation settings only seem to be for Exploratory Tests

Lab Management

I can’t tell if there has been any changes here. here are a few things on my would like to see improved list

  • Copy and paste between Host Machine and the Virtual Machine
  • Ability to attach iso files through MTM
  • Ability to shutdown before snapshots (our snapshots are huge because of this mistake as it stores memory and virtual memory as well to ensure it brings it back to the exact state)
  • Some way to update a snapshot. like Restore > Run Script > Retake Snapshot. I know this could be hard due to the nature of the problem but there has been so many times y

In Summary i think the new features they have added are great and i think its important they focus on making these features as complete and daily work friendly as possible instead of trying to cover to much which had been a past impression. In saying that though there could still be a few improvements people have been waiting on since VS2010

  1. #1 by Anutthara on September 21, 2011 - 12:56 pm

    Great post! Thanks Ryan – I am glad you liked the improvements and I hear you loud and clear on the feature requests. Stay tuned for the Beta 🙂

  2. #2 by Doug Turnure on September 22, 2011 - 5:13 am

    Thanks for providing the great feedback, Ryan!

  3. #3 by Beau on February 26, 2012 - 10:44 pm

    Congratulations on your MVP award Ryan! Good on you 🙂 Wishing you all the best for your future endeavours.
    Beau @ Beautique Realty

  4. #4 by RBurnham on February 27, 2012 - 4:58 am

    Thanks everyone

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