Microsoft Unveils Azure DevOps Server 2019 RC2

SERVER NEWS: This is the final release candidate for Azure DevOps Server before the full, final version is released in the coming months.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft has released its latest Release Candidate 2 version of its upcoming Azure DevOps Server 2019 platform in preparation for the final release of Azure DevOps Server 2019 later in 2019.

The latest RC2 version of Azure DevOps Server was announced by Erin Dormier, a Microsoft program manager, in a Jan. 22 post on the Microsoft DevOps Blog. RC2 is the company's last planned prerelease before the final release of Azure DevOps Server 2019, she wrote.

Included in RC2 are a wide range of new features since the earlier RC 1 version, including support for Azure SQL Database, a new navigation experience, an available Analytics marketplace extension for reporting, a New Work Items hub, support for draft pull requests and new Boards, Backlogs and Sprints hubs.Users can upgrade immediately from the earlier Azure DevOps Server 2019 RC1 version or from previous versions of the former Team Foundation Server (TFS), which is now Azure DevOps Server. Direct upgrade to Azure DevOps Server is supported from Team Foundation Server 2012 and newer.

Interim Tasks Required Prior to Upgrade

If your TFS deployment is on TFS 2010 or earlier, users must perform some interim steps before upgrading to Azure DevOps Server 2019.

In RC2, work teams can now link their GitHub Enterprise commits and pull requests to Azure Boards work items, which adds features such asbacklogs, boards, sprint planning tools, multiple work item types, wrote Dormier. By using this new feature, users have a workflow that integrates with developer workflows in GitHub.

The new draft pull requests features means better in-process communications between developers as they are seeking to make code changes on the fly.

"In order to prevent pull requests from being completed before they're ready and to make it easy to create work in progress, we now support draft pull requests," wrote Dormier.

One of the other key changes in RC2 is built-in compatibility with Azure SQL Database. "In order to simplify the experience of running Azure DevOps 2019 in Azure, we've enabled support for Azure SQL Database (General Purpose S3 and above)," Dormier wrote. "This will allow you to leverage extensive backup features and scaling options to suit your needs while reducing the administrative overhead of running the service. Note that your Host VM must be located in the same Azure region as your database in order to keep latency low."

Home for Work Tasks

The New Work Items hub has been added to provide a home for work tasks as they are being addressed by users.

"Here, you have many different list views of your work items that are scoped down for you," wrote Dormier. "You can view ‘Assigned to me’ to quickly get a glance at all the work that is assigned to you, or ‘Recently updated,’ which shows you all of the work items in your project that have been most recently updated."

Users can even look further down their lists and filter tasks by type, assigned to, state, area, tags and keyword, she added. "Once you have your desired list view, you can then sort the work items by simply clicking the column's header. If one column is too narrow for you to view the full content of the column, you can easily resize the column in the header area," Dormier said.

The New Boards, Backlogs and Sprints hubs also add new capabilities for users.  The Backlogs hub was split into three distinct hubs to improve the user experience, which previously was overly complicated with features, she wrote. "This often made it difficult to find the feature or capability users were looking for."

Separate Hubs for Each Task

The old combined hub has now been split into separate hubs for each task.

The Backlogs hub is now used only to track backlogs for a project using a prioritized list of work for the team. The new Boards hub is home to all Kanban Boards for a project that are used to communicate status and flow. The new Sprints hub keeps track of features used to plan and execute an increment of work, with each sprint containing a sprint backlog, a task board, and a view to manage and set capacity for the team.

The source code for Azure DevOps Server 2019 RC2 can be downloaded through an ISO or through a web install.