Azure DevOps is an amazing tool to run your project from start to finish. But did you know you can make it even better by installing additional extensions written by Microsoft or the community?
As Azure DevOps consists of 5 major buckets of features (Boards, Repos, Pipelines, Artifacts and Tests) I’ve put on a list of the 5 most useful extensions that everyone using Azure DevOps should install in their organization.
Ok… I will start by cheating a bit. Currently the most valuable extension for Azure Boards is Delivery Plans but as Microsoft announced some time ago this is going to become a full GA feature of Azure DevOps soon so you are getting an extra recommendation for now ;)
So the main extension I would recommend in in this section is Azure DevOps Open in Excel. Seems pretty obvious to have that functionality especially when you are a project manager / scrum master and you need to quickly work with a lot of work items for the team as this is a bidirectional feature so after making changes to the work items you just click_Save_ and it’s saves the changes back to the service.
The only problem with that extensions is that Microsoft claims it’s experimental and hasn’t been updated in some time now so use it at your own risk but for now - it gets the job done! :)
I think I had the biggest problem choosing a single extensions for this part of Azure DevOps but after long thinking it just has to be Code Search.
The way this extensions enhances your search experiences vs “not having” it is just amazing. No matter if you have a single project in your organization or hundreds of projects this is so great being integrated into various parts of the UI/UX experience and in addition giving you features like semantic ranking or filtering - you just can’t live without it after you’ve tried it!
Azure Pipelines is also pretty hard to choose just a single extension because it really depends on what you are developing so your needs may be different. But at the same time the amount of different extensions for this part of Azure DevOps is super impressive.
So as I mostly do Azure related stuff my pick goes to an extension which is currently in Private Preview and that is Azure Cosmos DB Emulator.
Azure Cosmos DB is a great non-relational cloud database with a bunch of amazing features (to put it lightly). It can also be run locally for you development purposes but with this extension you can incorporate it into your pipelines and for example execute tests during those pipeline runs and report back the results. This of course this runs in the most popular (and sometimes overheaped) technology these days which are containers but in this case it makes sense as it’s light and efficient :)
With this I will bend the rules a bit again. Why? Because Azure Artifacts is the youngest of the bunch and to be honest there are not that many extensions for this part of Azure DevOps. So I want to take this opportunity and recommend something which allows you (amongst many other things) interact with Azure Artifacts - Azure DevOps CLI.
This command line interface is great if you need/want to interact with Azure DevOps in a programmatic way and you don’t want to fiddle around with REST calls to the Azure DevOps API - which you can always do if needed or something is missing in the cli.
Here I had no doubts which extension it will be and the final one for today is Test & Feedback.
This is a great tool to give to your stakeholders/testers to test out what you have created, provide them with an easy way to create bugs/issues or other work item types directly in your project and tied to your test cases. The extension has two cool features:
- First is that people with a Stakeholder license in Azure DevOps can do almost all the same things as people with paid licenses so this can cut down your cost quite a bit if you have a lot of non-developer people who need to test your solution
- And the second part is that it also has a disconnected mode which means that you can use it not being even connected to a project in Azure DevOps and just export and share your feedback session.
So those are my Top 5 Azure DevOps extensions you should install. What are your favorites and recommendations? Feel free to leave a comment bellow the post :)