The Origin of the Specs

According to Wikipedia, there are over 800,000 species of insect, only 82,000 of which are "true bugs". The same sort of thing can be said about work items in Visual Studio Team System if you drop a few orders of magnitude. Here's a quick note on the evolution of work items within our dogfood system.

When I first arrived here a little over a year ago, we used our dogfood Team Foundation Server pretty much exclusively for product bugs. Some time after around the start of the new year, there were the occasional 'Task' or 'Scenario' items thrown into the mix. The tasks mostly described non-developer deliverables, such as "prepare automated test runs to run as normal user." Scenarios were used to track the quality of a particular feature (it's "Overall Gut Feel", or OGF). Even so, the mix was still highly in favor of bugs by a ratio of fifty to one.

Over the duration of the Beta 2 final test passes, the ratio jumped to only ten to one, and included the new "Test Task" specifically designed to help track QA work such as test infrastructure, automation, and test planning. Then, through the start of summer, the ratio tilted wildly and showed only about two bugs for every three non-bug items. We were doing extensive testplanning, test automation development, and other "behind the scenes" work here on the test team, and really started to take full advantage of the Team Foundation work item system.

Since then, we've settled back to about a ten to one ratio as we've intermingled intense test passes with test development. Looking through the mix on my plate, I currently have two test tasks (one on a test failure to investigate and one code review), seven OGF tracking items updated every few builds, and seven localized OGF items. I have the occasional active bug assigned back to me to verify a repro or fix, test task on new infrastructure to write, and other such tasks. It's a rare day that I don't start in by opening "My Active Work Items" to help plan my schedule.

The system really works, and has had the flexibility to track everything from the daily grind to the "big ticket" items. As a tester over on the Version Control team, I consider myself a moderately neutral observer, and I am definitely impressed.