Prabhu Kumar

a tech twaddler..

Visual Studio 2015 and .NET 4.6 Released (and more!)

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Big release day today! Microsoft today announced the release of Visual Studio 2015, Visual Studio 2013 Update 5, TFS 2013 Update 5, .NET 4.6

Check out the blog posts below for more details on what’s new in the release.

The Visual Studio Blog

Soma’s blog post

ScottGu’s Blog

.NET Blog – Announcing .NET 4.6

Note that one big guy missing from the list is TFS 2015, it’s still in RC2 and will be RTM’ed very soon.

Take the tools out for a spin and if you have any feedbacks or suggestions send them across using Send-a-Smile, User Voice or the Visual Studio Connect Site

Written by Prabhu Kumar

July 20th, 2015 at 9:37 pm

Using SonarQube IntelliJ plugin for Code Analysis

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SonarQube provides a plugin for IntelliJ (and Eclipse as well) which is a great tool to perform dev-box code analysis before committing or checking-in your changes. It gives the developers a chance to check and make sure they aren’t introducing any new defects or technical debt in the code they have added or modified. Here’s how to set up the plugin and get going.

Install SonarQube IntelliJ Plugin

  • Launch IntelliJ and go to File -> Settings -> Plugins
  • Search for ‘sonarqube’ and install the plugin


Setting up SonarQube plugin

  • In IntelliJ go to File -> Settings -> Other Settings -> SonarQube
  • Add details about the sonar server here. The plugin will use this to download the quality profile/analyzers etc.
  • This plugin executes the analysis in preview mode where no data is pushed to the server.


Associate your IntelliJ project with Sonar project

  • Right click on the project in IntelliJ and select "Associate with SonarQube…"
  • Search for the sonar project and select it


Running the analysis

  • Make your code changes
  • Right click on the project and select Analyze -> Run Inspection by Name…


  • In the search box type "Sonarqube" and select "SonarQube Issue" from the result list
  • In the "Inspection Scope" dialog, select Custom Scope and set its value to Changed Files. This will ensure that the analysis is run on the files modified by you.



  • The plugin will run the preview analysis and display the results in the inspection tab. The inspection shows issues in two files which were modified before the analysis.


Written by Prabhu Kumar

July 14th, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Branch Policies in Visual Studio Online

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Branch policies in VSO allow you to set certain rules against branches in your Visual Studio Online git repos. They are more or less like gated check-ins which TFS has had since forever. Visual Studio Online supports the below policies by default:

  • Changes must be submitted to a branch only via Pull Requests
  • A build must complete successfully before changes can be merged to the destination branch
  • Add certain reviewers if the pull request modifies files in certain paths in the repo

To know more details on the complete workflow involving pull requests on visual studio online, check this excellent post

Setting up branch policies

To setup branch policies login to your visual studio online account and navigate to the team project, which has the git repo you want to set the policy on. You will need to have administrator privileges on the team project to setup the policy. After you’ve navigated to your team project, click on the settings wheel icon on the top right corner, this will take you to the admin panel of your team project. Select the ‘version control’ tab, and on the left rail select the branch you want to set the policy on (master branch in my case), and click on ‘branch policies’ tab. Refer the figure below, the click points are highlighted in yellow.


Under ‘Automatically build pull requests’, select both check boxes. You will need to provide a build definition here which VSO will queue every time a pull request is submitted or updated with a new commit. The second check box, ‘Block the merge’, is actually optional, if you want to allow the merge even on build break, you can uncheck this. Though I’m not sure why you’d want to do that.

The next section, ‘Code review requirements’, allows you to control how changes can be submitted to master branch. The first check box, ‘Require code reviews using pull request’, ensures that any changes to master happen only via pull requests and no one is able to push their changes directly to master. ‘Allow users to approve their own changes’, allows to you add yourself as one of the reviewers and approve the changes, which is nuts really :-)

The last option, ‘Add a new path’, enables you to add reviewers optionally depending on the files involved in the commits. For scenarios where you really want Dave C to look at the changes if anyone modifies files under \kernel\base. It has support for wild chars as well.

After the policies are set, when someone tries to push their changes directly to master, they see this:



So what you need to do now, is move your changes to a feature branch, push that branch to server and create a pull request to merge the changes to master. This workflow is explained in the link shared above.

Now let’s say, the feature branch was pushed and a pull request was created, but the change list has a silly syntax error. You will see the branch policies show up in the right rail and a build will be queued for verification.



Since the pull request had a syntax error, the build will fail and attempting to merge the changes to master will be blocked.



The next step is to fix the build failure, add a commit to the pull request and make sure you have at least one approval from reviewers. As soon as you push your local branch to server, a new build will be queued automatically and the status updated.


To enhance this even further, you can improve your build definition by, let’s say, adding a unit test build step and a code analysis build step, to ensure that all unit tests pass, before the pull request can be accepted and merged into master.

Written by Prabhu Kumar

July 13th, 2015 at 8:53 pm

Setting up an on premise build agent with Visual Studio Online

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In this post we’ll look at how to configure an on-premise build agent to work with your visual studio online account. If you haven’t given Visual Studio Online a try yet, I suggest you head over to, sign-in using your Microsoft account, create a free VSO account and take it for a spin! If you’re new to VSO, these channel9 videos should help get you up to speed.

Create a team project and add sample code

For our purposes here, we’ll create a new team project and add a simple Windows Forms application to it and set up the build agent to build this project. After you log into VSO, select the ‘new’ link from under ‘Recent projects and teams’ section to create a new team project. I selected Agile process template and git as the underlying version control, but these aren’t necessary for our discussion here, you can try out other combinations as well.


Navigate to the newly created team project and select ‘Open with Visual Studio’. This should launch Visual Studio and might ask you for credentials to connect to VSO. Clone the repository and add a new solution to the repo, commit the changes and push them to the server. The project should now show up in the VSO portal.



Configuring the build agent

For the demo here, I’ll be using my trusty Lenovo ThinkPad as the build agent. Log into your VSO account and select the gear icon on top right of the screen to go into your account settings. Click on ‘Control Panel’ and select ‘Agent Pools’. image

Click on ‘Download agent’ to download the VSO agent binaries and the scripts to configure the agent. Save to your favorite location on the disk and extract it (for e.g. to c:\agent). You might need to unblock the zip file before extracting it, just right click on the zip file, select properties and check the ‘unblock’ box. The zip file contains the binaries for the build agent and also a powershell script, ConfigureAgent.ps1, which will help you setup the machine as a build agent.


Open a powershell prompt and navigate to c:\agent and run ConfigureAgent.ps1. This will launch a command prompt window and ask you details about the agent, here’s what to select:

Name for this agent: leave as default or give a fancy name

URL for the Team Foundation Server: your VSO account URL (in my case this was

Configure this agent against which agent pool?: default

Work folder path: leave as default

Install the agent as Windows Service: Y


Your build agent is now setup and if you go to the account settings and refresh the agent pool, you should see the new agent listed under the default pool.


And that’s it! The build agent is now ready, we just need to create a build definition which will use this agent to build our project.

Note: The last step in the build agent setup, install as windows service, is optional. But I couldn’t get the project to build if the agent isn’t installed as a windows service. I will investigate this and update later.

Create a build definition

Go to the Build tab of your team project and click on + to create a new build definition. You can start from an empty build definition; add the ‘MSBuild’ task to the definition, browse and select the solution you want to build.


Under the ‘general’ tab, choose the default queue. Remember this is what we used while creating the build agent.


Give the build definition a name and save it. Select ‘Queue build…” after this to trigger a build. Within few seconds you should see the build being run. If you want to publish the build artifacts to a file share or any other location, you can add another task to the build definition ‘Publish build artifacts’, and set it up accordingly.


Written by Prabhu Kumar

July 7th, 2015 at 1:36 am

Posted in Development

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Creating a simple java web app using IntelliJ IDEA and setting up remote debugging

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I had to get this setup up and running at work, thought it’ll be a good idea to jot it down here. The first step is to install IntelliJ IDE from here. I installed the ultimate edition which has a free 30-day trial, but the steps below should work well with the free community edition as well. We’ll be hosting the app on Tomcat server (running on a remote machine) so go ahead and install it from here. I installed version 8 using the windows service installer. And of course, since you’re developing a java app make sure you have the jdk installed.

Launch IDEA and create a new project, we’ll call it SimpleJavaWebApp. Select Java Enterprise and Web Application. Make sure the project SDK is set correctly and application server is set to the version of Tomcat you installed.


Let’s add a Java servlet to the project. Right click on the src folder in project explorer and select New –> Servlet, give the servlet a name and add it to the project.


Open and copy paste the below code in the doGet() function,

If you are seeing an error which says “java: try with resources is not supported in –source 1.6”, go to project properties by right clicking on the project and selecting Open Module Settings, select Project on the left rail and change the Project Language Level to 8.

Let’s modify index.jsp to put an entry point to our servlet,

Modify web.xml file and put the below servlet configuration in it, the url pattern is case sensitive so make sure it matches your servlet name exactly,

Go to Build –> Rebuild Project, and make sure the project is building fine. Let’s now package our application in WAR format (Web application ARchive) and deploy it on a machine running Tomcat.

Right click on the project and select Open Module Settings, click on Artifacts on the left rail and select + to add a new artifact type. Click on Web Application : Archive and select the project name.


Now when you build the project you will find file SimpleJavaWebApp_war.war generated under \SimpleJavaWebApp\out\artifacts\SimpleJavaWebApp_war folder.

Let’s deploy our app now, go to the machine where you installed Tomcat (it could be the same machine too), and under the Tomcat installation directory, copy the above WAR file under the webapps folder. For me the path is “C:\Program Files (x86)\Apache Software Foundation\Tomcat 8.0\webapps”. To make sure your app is working as expected, navigate to http://localhost:8080/SimpleJavaWebApp_war/ and check if the web page loads up correctly.


So the bulk of the work is done. We’ve created a simple Java web app, added a java servlet to it, deployed the application on Tomcat and made sure that the servlet code is invoked correctly. We’ll now look at how to remotely debug this app. This is useful is cases where you have the application running on a server, and your code and source enlistment are on a different machine.

To get remote debugging working, we need to instruct Tomcat to start the JVM in a “debug” mode and then attach to the JVM from IDEA.

Open Tomcat server properties, go to the Java tab and add the below entry under Java Options (make sure you add this in a new line),



Restart the server and check if you can access SimpleJavaWebApp from a remote machine. I setup the server and deployed the war file on a different machine and navigated to below URL to check,


We now need to create a debug configuration in IDEA to connect to this machine. Go to Run –> Edit Configurations… Click on the + icon and add Tomat Server –> Remote configuration. Make sure you specify the host IP address correctly. You can also modify the ‘Open Browser’ option so that the java app launches when you start debugging.


Switch to ‘Startup/Connection’ tab and set the TCP port to the one you used while setting up Tomcat, 1043 in this case,


Save the debug configuration and set a breakpoint in the doGet() function in file. Now start debugging. You should see the web browser launch and when you click on the link to invoke the servlet, your breakpoint should be hit.


In case you see an error in IDEA which says ‘unable to connect : connection refused’, you might need a firewall exception for incoming connections on port 1043 (and 8080 too). So go to Windows Firewall settings and create an inbound rule on TCP port 1043 to allow incoming connections, and that should fix the problem.

Written by Prabhu Kumar

March 29th, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Hello VS!

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After having worked for AppEx (a.k.a Bing Apps or MSN Apps) for over 3 years, it’s time for me to move on. We shipped the MSN Sports app on pretty much every platform over the last few years, and it was fun all along! Met some great folks in the team, made some amazing friends and got to learn a lot from some of the smartest out there. The next chapter begins at Visual Studio Online, with an exciting new project! It’s going to be hardcore tech and I’m really looking forward to all the fun :-)

Also, this blog could use some updates once in a while ;-)

Written by Prabhu Kumar

March 22nd, 2015 at 10:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Learning By Slipping

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Here’s an old, but still relevant, post by Steven Sinofsky on shipping products,

Some excerpts,

“In order to slip you need to know the ship date. When people talk about projects shipping “first quarter” that is about 90 different dates and so that leaves everyone (on the team and elsewhere) guessing what the ship date might be.  A date is a date.  All projects should have a date.  While software itself is not launching to hit a Mars orbit, it is important that everyone agree on a single date.  Whether that date is public or not is a different question.”

“Interestingly, the error rate in short-term, continuous projects can often (in my experience) be much higher.  The view of continuously shipping can lead to a “project” lasting only a month or two.  The brain doesn’t think much of missing by a week or two, but that can be a 25 – 50% error rate.  On a 12 month project that can mean it would stretch to 15-18 months, which does sound like a disaster.”

“When a task cannot be partitioned because of sequential constraints, the application of more effort has no effect on schedule.  The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned. The Mythical Man-Month – Frederic P. Brooks

“Quality is the most difficult to manage and why the test leadership is such a critical part of the management structure of any project.  Quality is not something you think about at the end of the project nor is it particularly malleable.  While a great test manager knows quality is not binary at a global level, he/she knows that much like error bars in physics a little bit of sub-par quality across many parts of the project compounds and leads to a highly problematic, or buggy, product.  Quality is not just bugs but also includes scale, performance, reliability, security, and more.”

“Quality is difficult to manage because it is often where people want to cut corners.  A product might work for most cases but the boundary conditions or edge cases show much different results.  As we all know, you only get one chance to make a first impression.”

On the same topic, if you know that you suck at planning and factor this in next time, it might actually prove a little useful ;-)

Written by Prabhu Kumar

February 14th, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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* chirp * chirp *

Written by Prabhu Kumar

December 11th, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Posted in Rant

Get ‘Programming Windows 6th Edition’ by Charles Petzold for $10!

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Programming Windows 6th Edition

O’Reilly has a special offer on the new book that Charles Petzold is working on, Programming Windows 6th Edition. This should be a great book covering Windows 8 app development in C# and XAML.

You can get this book for $10 now (offer lasts till 31st May), and future editions of this book, as and when new chapters are added, will be available to you for free.

Read more at Charles’ blog here:

Shop at:

Written by Prabhu Kumar

May 30th, 2012 at 8:37 pm

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A festive feel for the 404 page?

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Was just playing around with JavaScript and came across this snowflake tutorial by Kirupa, we have a fancy 404 page now :)

Try this –

Snowfall effect –

Written by Prabhu Kumar

December 18th, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Development,General