David Allen who is an MVP from Infront Consulting Group in the UK just completed a great video going through use of Visual Studio Authoring Extensions. David does extensive work in management pack authoring so I’m always anxious to share out any content from him!
It’s that time of year again! I know it’s April when my days start getting filled up with slides and demos. Yet another Microsoft Management Summit is upon us, and I’ll be flying off to Vegas this weekend.
A little bit different for me personally this year as I’m not doing a breakout session for the first time in ten years. Instead, I’ll be delivering an instructor led lab on Visio Management Pack Designer. Doing the session three times on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday so there should be plenty of space for people to attend. I’ll also be participating in a session on Thursday with Marcin Jastrzebski and Daniele Muscetta that includes new Azure monitoring and a good demo of Visual Studio Authoring Extensions. Plenty of other outstanding sessions this year including one on custom dashboards, and I’m looking forward to attending several myself.
I’ve had requests for another set of sessions like the full day marathons on MP authoring that we delivered at MMS a couple of years ago. I’m actually in the process of updating those materials and am going to get them recorded this summer. Those will go online so we can finally have them available for everyone.
I have some free time during the conference if anyone wants to talk about management pack challenges that you're trying to solve. I’ll be in the Expo most of Wednesday. Or just send me a message, and let’s work out another time to meet. Special bonus if we can work out a discussion over pints of Guinness!
Some Love for Visual Studio Authoring Extensions
We announced Visual Studio Authoring Extensions back at MMS last April, and it’s now become our standard tool for building complex management packs. While we provided some basic documentation for VSAE, we’ve been lacking in a collection of exercises for building a variety of monitoring scenarios. In an effort to rectify that, we have posted a collection of new exercises in the Management Pack Authoring Guide on the TechNet Wiki. These are the same exercises that were published in the Operations Manager 2007 Management Pack Authoring Guide, but they have been updated to include VSAE in addition to the existing Authoring Console example. Just the exercises for building a Service Model (classes and discoveries) and a Health Model (monitors and rules) are available at the moment, but we will be getting the Presentation and Composition exercises updated as well.
In addition to the updated exercises, we have a collection of the completed management pack and Visual Studio project in the TechNet Gallery for you to download. There is a separate download for Service Model and Health Model. This allows you to have a look at what the completed exercise should look like and help troubleshoot any issues with your own work.
There are some other topics that we need to cover for VSAE such as how to create a management pack bundle and how to work with resources such as images. That content will be coming shortly.
Please also keep in mind, that this is a wiki. If you see any issues with our exercises or content, or if you think that you can augment them with some better content, then please go ahead and do that. As always, please send a mail to MPAuthor@microsoft.com if you have any questions or concerns. If there is any management pack authoring topic that you feel we have not addressed properly, then we want to know.
Custom Shape for Visio Management Designer
We put out an article in the TechNet Wiki and the code for a sample shape in the TechNet Gallery for creating a custom shape for the Visio Management Pack Designer. My apologies for the delay on this since I showed a preview of this way back at MMS in April. Since the VMPD has been beta though, we had not finalized the interface for custom shapes. It turns out that there were some changes made that broke that sample. They were good changes though since it’s much easier to install that custom shape on a workstation. The example I showed at MMS required you to register your DLL in the GAC, while we now just need to copy it to a particular folder.
If you are interested in creating a custom shape for the VMPD then this should be all you need. We are planning on creating a project on CodePlex in the near future to collaborate on some custom shapes. The idea is to give you a base starting point for your own requirements in addition to giving you access to some custom shapes that you can use for your own management packs.
As always, please contact me at MPAuthor@microsoft.com if you have any suggestions on how we can improve your access to content that you need. I would also like to hear about custom shapes for the VMPD that you think would be valuable since those could form the base of a sample project.
System Center Authoring Hub
I wanted to call everyone’s attention to the new System Center Authoring Hub on the TechNet Wiki. This is intended to provide a single location for all content related to authoring custom scenarios in System Center. We even have a vanity URL for it at http://aka.ms/scauthorhub.
This is meant to address two issues related to authoring content that we've been challenged with for some time. First is a way to better get the assistance of the community. The MP Authoring Guide has been well received and has been our definitive source of knowledge for technical content related to designing and writing management packs. The problem though is that it's not easy for us to readily update, and we have no opportunity for the community to contribute to it.
The second challenge is that there are a variety of technologies to automate Operations Manager and other System Center components, and they aren't properly associated with one another. A single monitoring scenario might include a management pack, a runbook, and some SDK customization, but we've left it up to you to figure out where all that content lives. In addition to that, we really don't have a suitable place to document scenarios that include multiple components.
Our vision with the Authoring Hub is to tie together all of the authoring and customization content across System Center under a single umbrella. We will still maintain deep content like the MP Authoring Guide as its own entity, but it will now tie back to the top level hub as opposed to living under the Operations Manager content as it does now in the TechNet Library. The idea is to put it alongside other content like the System Center Integration Guide and content that we will be creating in the future such as a proper Runbook Authoring Guide.
As you can see, this will involve a combination of new content in addition to moving content from the TechNet Library to the TechNet Wiki. We are in the process of moving the entire MP Authoring Guide and updating it to include exercises for the new authoring tools. I'll make sure to announce on our Twitter feed when we get significant updates out there. At some point when all the content is moved, we'll consider removing it from the Library altogether. New content and guides will be delivered on the wiki in order to maintain community involvement.
As always, please don't hesitate to provide your feedback and requests to MPAuthor@microsoft.com.