VSTS for the Lone Wolf Developer

Do you have a side project, something you chip away at in your spare time? Perhaps you are an independent developer?

Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) is a great service that provides private repos, enables you to track your work items, enables continuous integration/deployment and more. You can use it for a wide variety of projects (not just Microsoft technology).

Let me show you how VSTS - a seemingly big, complex, “enterprise” system - can work for you, a lone wolf developer.

The Lone Wolf Developer


Software developers are like wolves: you can be part of a pack, hunting down larger prey. But sometimes we run alone.

Regardless why we do it (fun, fame, fortune) we want tools and services to make our life easier. Ideally, they’d be what we use at work but simpler and cheaper (ideally – free).

What is Visual Studio Team Services?

Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) is the software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of Team Foundation Server (TFS).

When I first read about TFS it screamed ENTERPRISE, meaning it was complex, expensive and wasn’t not user friendly.

The UI/UX in VSTS has consistently evolved. It has a consumer-grade beauty and usability we come to expect from SaaS offerings such as Trello. And it keeps getting better.

It has a great free tier which, for a lone wolf, will likely be more than enough for a lone wolf.

VSTS has a great many features, many of which are actually quite useful in our situation. I’ll show you which to start with.


Part 1 - Getting Started, Projects

Part 2 - Source Control and Extensions

Part 3 - Work Item Management

Part 4 - Stakeholders and Testing

Part 5 - Builds and Releases

Part 6 - Service Hooks and Package Management