TFS 2012 Summary, and Getting VS/BIDS 2008, VS 2010 working with TFS 2012

Having worked with Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2005 for many years, I was recently given the challenge of setting up the latest version of TFS 2012, which would have to work by providing source code control for the following products:-

  • Visual Studio 2008 – the BIDS version that comes with SQL Server 2008 R2
  • Visual Studio 2010 Professional Edition

TFS 2012

Now in the past the challenge was to make TFS 2005 work with Visual Studio 2005, Visual Studio 2008, and Visual Studio 2010.  I distinctly remember having all manner of issues when it came to getting VS 2005, and 2008 work as it involved uninstalling and re-installing and applying service packs and Team Explorer.  It was not joyful work to say the least.  So I am going to outline the steps to get the above two listed products working with TFS 2012, given that the tools are older than the source code control system !! This was all new to me.

Step 1: The TFS 2012 Setup and Some Other Details

The current development team I work with consists of just three developers with the occasional contractor, and the use of TFS 2012 will be for mainly as a source code repository, and nothing major more.  So after doing some research it seems that TFS 2012 comes in two distinct flavours – the Express Edition and the Full Edition.  The former is meant for small development teams and will use a native SQL Server 2012 Express database, and if you want you can configure a project portal by installation of WSS 3.0, or SharePoint 2010 Foundation.  By default the software package comes with WSS 3.0 if you want to install it.  Also of note about TFS 2012 Express Edition is that it is Free – so it will save you money if you don’t need something big, and if you don’t need SharePoint then you will save on hardware resource to.  In my case I did not install the SharePoint component, or the Reporting Services components. 

Our infrastructure team provided me with a Windows 2008 Enterprise server with just 2GB RAM, 40GB system drive, and after installation there was 17GB left, which will in all likelihood be used for just the storage needs of the code (I hope).  Also of interest will be that I followed the normal guide lines when setting up TFS, which include:-

  • Ensuring that the account used to install TFS is a local administrator and a domain account.
  • Ensuring that the TFS Service account is an AD account with password set to never expire and not the same as the installation account.
  • Ensuring that there is also a TFS Build Service account which is an AD account where password is set to never expire.

After installation you will need to understand a few security concepts regarding TFS, which have not changed to my understanding since version 2005:-

  • There are some pre-defined groups, and these groups have permissions.
  • You can add users to these groups or create new groups and assign those new groups permissions which include such permissions as creating new projects in TFS.

For more details on this subject please read:-

The initial security details described above should be setup using what is called the Administration Console on the actual TFS server.  The setup of the TFS repository and its security is at different levels:-

Level 1: TFS Application Server Level – {created after initial setup, and will contain the initial global groups and users}

Level 2: TFS Project Collection Level – {administrators will need to create these – a default collection named ‘DefaultProjectCollection’ is created initially}

Level 3: TFS Project Level – {users create these using Team Explorer 2012 or VS 2012 for storing their sources}

Level 4: Solution Level – {represents a folder within a project level which can be used to contain VS projects and solutions}

Users of TFS will be familiar with Level s 1, 3, and 4, but the Project Collection level is something that did not exist in TFS 2005, and TFS 2010 (don’t know if it exists in TFS 2010).  Each TFS Project Collection will contain a number of Projects which we shall see later needs to be created in TFS 2012 either using Team Explorer 2012 or Visual Studio 2012.  Having played around with these levels – I think Microsoft have done a very good job, gone are the days of the manual setup of folders to keep logically related VS Projects within a single TFS Project level.  It is much better in design and that’s my TFS 2012 research so far for what it’s worth.

Step 2: Getting Visual Studio 2010 working with TFS 2012

Obviously you will need to have Visual Studio 2010 installed already, and then you must install the following components in the order specified (note all downloads available from Microsoft):-

  1.  Visual Studio 2010 SP1 (around 1.5GB download this)
  2. Visual Studio 2010 SP1 Team Foundation Server 2012 Compatibility GDR
  3. Visual Team Explorer 2012

Once the above is installed you should be able to connect to TFS 2012 using the normal methods (which I assume you know) – you simply provide the URL to the server in the form:-


When you connect you will be presented within the VS 2010 dialog with all the Project Collections created on the TFS 2012 server.  However, to actually create a project within the Project Collection – you can ONLY do this through use of the Visual Team Explorer 2012 tool which can be used stand-alone.

Step 3: Getting Visual Studio 2008 / BIDS 2008 working with TFS 2012

I had a bad experience with this but to save you any time – if like me you are still using SQL Server 2008 R2, then you will probably be using Business Intelligence Development Studio – which of course is a fancy name for the Visual Studio (Integrated Shell), and it will be based on the 2008 version.  To ensure that you can get it to work with TFS 2012 then please ensure you install the following components to get it working – IN THE ORDER SPECFIIED BELOW:-

  1. Install Team Explorer 2008 for Visual Studio 2008
  2. Install Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 (SP1)
  3. Install Visual Studio 2008 SP1 Team Foundation Server 2012 Compatibility GDR

You HAVE to install in the above order otherwise you will not be able to connect to TFS 2012 properly from BIDS 2008/VS2008, and get famous error message stating unrecognizable characters in the connection.  The only difference after installation when you get around to connecting to TFS 2012 – is that for the connection URL you need to provide the specific Team Project Collection, as the example shows:-


The above is necessary because VS 2008/BIDS 2008 when bought into this world had no concept of the project collection in their Team Explorer interfaces.  If you do not provide the Project Collection name you will end up probably like I did, which will be to get a login dialog appear, and every time you specify the correct credentials you end up getting a TFS error message which implies you don’t have the correct credentials to log onto the server. 

The IMPORTANT thing to remember is that if you are not using VS 2012 then you MUST create projects within Project Collections using Team Explorer for VS 2012, this is by design from Microsoft and there is no way around the problem.


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