Rangers Sabbatical, part 1 - Prologue

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 02/05/2010 - 08:40

For more in this series, please visit the series index.

Welcome to the first part of a series of posts which I wrote during and after my Rangers sabbatical. In future posts I will talk about the trip in detail, but this post will just cover the history of the trip and what all these odd terms I may use mean.

The Rangers

The rangers are NOT related to any of the following:

A football team
A TV show
A military group
An ice hockey team

The Rangers are group of individuals which is made up of internal Microsoft staff, mostly from MCS (Microsoft Consulting Services); MVP’s (external people awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award) and key community leads.

The Rangers are linked to a specific Microsoft product, in my case it is VSTS (Visual Studio Team System), and not all products have a Rangers team.

The goal of Rangers is to fill in the gaps in products with custom solutions and guidance – so that may include information on how to run TFS (Team Foundation Server) on a virtual machine, quick reference posters for the product, or additional tools.

This is different from the MVP program, where you are awarded a MVP for work you have done because you become a Ranger for the work you will do and there are specific goals, projects and guidelines for the work.

A more in depth view of the Rangers team and the structure can be found at in the post on VSTS Rangers Positioning Rangers and Projects.

Normal Process

The normal process for all Rangers work, even those who work for Microsoft, is that this is an extra effort team. Meaning that you have your day-to-day job and this is done in evenings, weekends or on bus rides. This really becomes a labour of love for the product.


Me working on a bus during the sabbatical. Picture from Willy-Peter Schaub


The sabbatical is a new idea to the Rangers, where an external person (MVP or community member) takes leave from their day-to-day and spends time working directly with the product teams. For VSTS this means that you would need to be in one or more locations, since the VSTS/VS/Rangers team is spread out between Vancouver, Canada; Seattle, Washington, USA; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Hyderabad, India and China.

Map from http://www.oera.net/How2/TextureMaps2.htm and pins added by me (not accurately)

This idea is so new to the Rangers that I am the first person to take part in it and me this meant I would spend two weeks in Vancouver and a week in Seattle.


While this trip was not a business trip for me, it was business for Microsoft and I got access to a lot of info, people, places and experiences which I cannot talk about because of the NDA I have with Microsoft. So if you ask yourself why this seems so little for the amount of time, part of it is that the NDA doesn’t let me and the second part is that the technical aspects of the work will be covered in a separate series.