DevOps Made Simple: New Basic Process Available for Azure

DevOps can be a challenge especially for developers starting out with it. But a new Basic Process in Azure DevOps aims to pare down the more complicated methodologies.

On an April 2019 Microsoft video explaining how Basic Process works, Dan Hellem, program manager on the Azure DevOps team, told viewers that the goal is to not only attract engineers to the product but also keep them as loyal users: "We’ve been talking about putting out the Basic Process for several years. Looking at it from the perspective of a new person coming into Azure DevOps, we have three processes: Agile, Scrum and CMMI [Capability Maturity Model Integration]. The problem with those processes is they are very methodology heavy."

In a February 2019 blog introducing Basic Process, Hellem noted that Agile is the most popular of the three processes but even it can be difficult for newcomers.

"The Agile process still brings a set of concepts and behaviors that are not obvious to our new users and therefore some of those users have a hard time understanding Azure Boards (Basic Process)," he wrote. "For example, the four-level backlog hierarchy or the many state transition rules. These add complexities that new users don’t care about. New users come from tools such as GitHub with very simple work tracking, and they want Azure Boards to be just as easy."

In the video, he imagines how Azure DevOps may seem to the first-time user: "So if I’m a new engineer and I’m working with GitHub stuff and I come over and want to use Azure DevOps, are you really going to make me work with product backlog items and user stories and all those weird those weird terminologies? What we found is that when engineers start using the product, they start dropping off because it is just too complicated. We want engineers to use the product, so what we did is get rid of the baggage like Agile and Scrum and CMMI. We wanted to make it easier to work with so engineers can start working with it and start getting things done."

Keeping it Simple

To achieve their goal the Azure DevOps team reduced the scope of the process to get down to the basics, Hellem explained in his blog. "To start we reduced the number of work item types down to three: Epic, Issue, and Task. By default, users can start right away by adding Issues to their board. You will notice that the board contains 3 columns. To Do, Doing, and Done. This simplified state model is used for all three work item types."

Work item types in Agile, Scrum and CMMI contain many extra fields that are not needed for someone starting out, Hellem explained. "Our research shows that many users get confused by all of the extra fields and their purpose. In the Basic Process, we kept only the core fields and removed the rest. Only fields that are required to support other functionality survived."

Hierarchy is the last area the Azure DevOps team simplified in the Basic Process. "Instead of four levels, Basic starts with just two," Hellem explained. "Users will start with Issues, and those Issues can be broken down into Tasks. For more advanced scenarios, issues may not be enough. Some users may want a way to group their issues into specific deliverables. For these users we are providing the Epic work item type."

Beyond his blog, Hellem encourages developers to read the documentation published in January 2019, Start using Azure Boards (Basic Process). Talk about simple, the documentation only takes about two minutes to read.

Other Azure DevOps Improvements

It’s been a busy few months for Azure DevOps.

In March, Microsoft announced the commercial release of the new Azure DevOps Server 2019.

"DevOps Server 2019, used for developer collaboration, is the company's rebranded successor to Team Foundation Server 2018," explained Kurt Mackie, in an Application Development Trends (ADT.mag) article on the announcement.

"Azure DevOps Server 2019 is notable for having a redesigned user interface that follows Microsoft's Fluent design concepts," Mackie explained. "Developers get access to various services, such as Azure Pipelines for continuous integration/continuous development across different languages and platforms. It has an Azure Artifacts service for package feeds and project tracking via the Azure Boards service. Testing is supported by the Azure Test Plans component. The server also works with the Azure Repos service to integrate with Git repos."

DevOps Specialization Pays

If you think DevOps isn’t that interesting, think again. For DevOps specialists, job satisfaction is high and so is the pay.

A survey of 88,000 developers around the world, released April 9 by Stack Overflow, found that people who know DevOps are well paid and happy in their work.

In an article on the survey, David Ramel, editor of Visual Studio magazine, wrote: "Culling through that data finds one main takeaway about the DevOps movement that has been gaining steam by providing automated processes that bridge software development and IT teams to improve the build/test/release cycle:

DevOps specialists and site reliability engineers are among the highest paid, most experienced developers most satisfied with their jobs …

If you want to check out all the DevOps survey results, it’s available here.

DevOps in the Spotlight

Want to get on the DevOps bandwagon? One of the highlights at the upcoming VSLive! in Boston, happening June 9 through 13, will be an special track on DevOps.

See what the track description offers.

DevOps in the Spotlight: You have a role to play when it comes to DevOps, and in this track, you'll learn the about the tools, techniques, and concepts that you can immediately apply to your daily work.

You'll find coverage of:

  • Azure DevOps Services in the cloud
  • Azure DevOps Server on premises (formally named Team Foundation Server)
  • Writing maintainable test automation
  • Architecting solutions for DevOps and continuous delivery
  • Getting started with git
  • Azure Secure DevOps
  • Database DevOps

Find out more here.

Posted by Richard Seeley on 04/17/2019

Keep Up-to-Date with Visual Studio Live!

Email address*Country*