Two Quick TFS Performance Tips

Team Foundation Server (TFS) continues to improve, but one area I’ve struggled recently is performance. I work in a very large codebase that knocks up against the 100,000 file limit with a single branch (yes, that’s a smell of bigger issues). Anyway, here’s two quick TFS performance tips that may help you be more productive.

1) Create Separate Workspaces for Each Branch

Annoyed that the TFS Source Control explorer is slow? The culprit may be too many files in a single workspace. The solution is simple. Create a separate workspace for each branch you’re working with. Name each workspace descriptively so you can easily switch between them. Having multiple mapped branches in the same workspace will make TFS Source Control Explorer extremely slow if you have over 100,000 files in your workspace (we hit this cap after a single branch). You can manage and rename your workspaces in Visual Studio here:

TFS Workspaces

2) Consider not creating a feature branch at all

If you’re working by yourself on a feature. you can simply work off main and create a shelveset each day to save your work until you’re ready to commit to the main line. This avoids the time-consuming overhead of branching. Just think about the list of overhead you take on with a feature branch:

  • Create branch
  • Get the entire repo again
  • Burn a ton more space on your hard drive due to duplicated physical files
  • Keep the branch updated via merges from main
  • Merge your changes back to main later
  • Switch between your branch and main so you can fix bugs in the main line

That’s a lot of pain that may not be necessary. Assuming you’re working by yourself, the only potential downside to using shelvesets off of main that I see is this: Bug fixes in main may be tricky if your new feature changes impact code related to a reported bug in a previous version. That’s a minor downside that I find worth accepting for all the time it saves by avoiding the overhead listed above.

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One thought on “Two Quick TFS Performance Tips

  1. Another option is to use the ‘TF HISTORY’ command line. I found this performs well despite the 100K file limit (2 seconds v. 38 seconds in my case).