Use templates to add and update work items

Azure Boards | Azure DevOps Server 2020 | Azure DevOps Server 2019 | TFS 2018 - TFS 2013 | Visual Studio 2015

With work item templates, you can quickly create work items that have pre-populated values for your team's commonly used fields. For example, you can create a template that defines the area path, iteration path, and activity to use when creating a task.

You can use work item templates to create work items or bulk update several work items. For examples that show usage of work item templates, see Sample work item templates.

Note

Work item templates are distinct from process templates. For information on process templates, see Choose a process template or these specific topics for the default process templates: Basic, Agile, Scrum, or CMMI.

Supported template tasks

The availability of template task options depends on the client and platform version available to you. You can add and manage work item templates from the web portal or from Visual Studio 2015 or earlier versions. Visual Studio 2015 and earlier versions support working with templates by installing the Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2015 Power Tools. These templates only appear in your view of Team Explorer.

As shown in the following table, a ✔️ indicates the task is available from the web portal or from Visual Studio 2015 or earlier versions. (Make sure that you have selected the content version based on your platform version).


Task

Web portal

Visual Studio 2015


✔️

✔️


Manage work item templates
(Define, edit, delete, copy link, create copy, and rename)

✔️

✔️


✔️

✔️


✔️

✔️


✔️

✔️


✔️

✔️


✔️


Tip

The templates you define through the web portal are distinct from those you define through Visual Studio. Web portal templates can only be managed and applied to work items through the web portal. Similarly, Visual Studio templates can only be managed, viewed, and applied to work items in Visual Studio. However, you can use the URLs of both template types to add work items through the web portal.

Prerequisites

  • To add, capture, edit, or delete work item templates through the web portal, you must be a member of the team under which you add them.

  • To apply a work item template, you must be a Contributor of the project and a member of the team under which the work item template is defined.

  • To add, capture, edit, or delete work item templates through the web portal, you must be a team administrator.

  • To apply a team template, you must be a Contributor of the project and a member of the team under which the work item template is defined.

Capture a work item as a template

The steps to capture a work item differ based on the platform, version, and client you use.

Templates captured through the web portal are assigned a GUID.

  1. From the web portal, open a work item that you'll use as the basis for a template.

  2. Choose the actions icon to open the menu. Choose Templates and then Capture.

    Capture work item field definitions as a template, latest version

    Name the template, select the team for which you want to save it under, and optionally define or clear fields. Save the template when finished.

    Capture template dialog

  3. Once you've saved the template, choose Copy link to capture the URL for the template.

  4. You can paste the URL link into a browser to create a work item, or provide it to others for their use to add work items. For example, you can add it as a hyperlink to a project wiki, a dashboard via a markdown widget, or other shared network resource.

    Use the URL whenever you want to add a work item of the type you've defined with its predefined values.

Templates captured through the web portal are assigned a GUID.

  1. From the web portal, open a work item that you'll use as the basis for a template.

    Within the web portal, work item templates are associated with a team. Only those templates that are defined for a team are accessible when you go to apply a template to work items using the web portal.

  2. Choose the actions icon to open the menu. Choose Templates and then Capture.

    Capture work item field definitions as a template

    Name the template and optionally define or clear fields. Save the template when finished. The template is saved under the team you selected in the first step.

    Capture template dialog

  3. Once you've saved the template, choose Copy link to capture the URL for the template that you can use to add work items using the template.

  4. Use the URL whenever you want to add a work item of the type you've defined with its predefined values.

    You can save the URL as a text file or add the URL to a dashboard or web page as a hyperlink.

If you connect to an on-premises TFS and primarily create work items working in the web portal, you can create a hyperlink that captures the default values you specify for a template. Choose the hyperlink, and it opens the template in the web portal.

  1. From the web portal Queries page, open a new work item.

    Open a new work item from the web portal Work page

  2. Fill in the default values you want the template to specify. You can leave required fields empty, or place some text in them

    Here, we fill in several values, including tags, but leave the Title blank. When you're done, copy the URL for the template.

    Define fields and choose Copy the URL

  3. The URL defines each predefined field, for example (line breaks added for clarity):

    http://fabrikamprime:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/Fabrikam%20Fiber/_workItems/create/Task?%5B
    System.AssignedTo%5D=Jamal+Hartnett&%5B
    System.Description%5D=%3Cp%3EAlways+include+Remaining+Work+and+links+to+any+related+bugs+or+user+stories.%3C%2Fp%3E&%5B
    System.Tags%5D=Web%3B+Phone%3B+Service&%5B
    Microsoft.VSTS.Common.Activity%5D=Development&%5B
    System.IterationPath%5D=Fabrikam+Fiber%5CIteration+1
    

    Tip

    The URL won't contain defaults defined for the work item type. To specify a default field value, see Add or modify a field. Also, there is a 2000 character limit imposed by some browser clients with no work around.

  4. Use the URL whenever you want to add a work item of the type you've defined with its predefined values.

    You can save the URL as a text file or add the URL to a dashboard or web page as a hyperlink.

Manage work item templates

You can view the list of templates defined for each work item type, and also add, edit, copy, delete, rename, and copy the link of a template. All templates are defined and managed for a team.

You must be a member of the team to add or edit team templates.

  1. From the web portal, open settings for a team.

    Choose Project Settings.

    Open project settings

    Expand Boards and choose Team configuration. If you need to switch to a different team, use the team selector.

  2. Choose Templates.

    From here, you can choose any work item type to view or add templates for that type.

You manage templates from team settings. All templates are defined for a team. If you're not a team administrator, get added as one. Only team or project administrators can change work item templates.

  1. From the web portal, open settings for a team.

    Choose the gear icon to open the settings for a team.

    Here we open the admin page for the Web team.

    Open the admin page for the Web team.
  2. Choose Work>Templates.

    Open Work - Templates page for team

    From here, you can click any work item type to view or add templates for that type.

Manage templates for a work item type

  • Choose the work item type to view the templates defined for each type.

    For example, choose User Story to view templates defined to capture user stories.

    Screenshot, choose User Story templates

  • Choose the work item type to view the templates defined for each type. For example, choose User Story to view templates defined to capture user stories.

    Manage user story templates

Create a work item template

  1. From the work item type page, choose the green plus icon New template to create a template from scratch.

    Add a user story template
  2. Name the template and optionally add and remove fields. Save the template when finished.

    Once you've saved the template, click Copy link to capture the URL for the template that you can use to add work items using the template.

  1. From the work item type page, choose the actions icon for an existing template to access the menu options to Edit, Delete, or Copy link.

    Open template action menu
  2. To rename a template, choose to edit the template, change the name, and then save your changes.

Create a copy of a template

  1. To duplicate an existing template, choose the actions icon for an existing template and select the Create copy option.

    Copy an existing template
  2. Name the template and optionally add and remove fields. Save the template when finished.

Delete a template

  1. From the web portal, open Project Settings>Team configuration>Templates.

  2. Choose the actions icon to open the menu, and choose Delete.

    Screenshot of Delete a template menu option.

  3. Choose Delete from the Delete template confirmation dialog that displays.

    Delete template confirmation dialog.

    As indicated in the confirmation dialog, you can't recover a template once it's deleted.

Managing work item templates from the web portal is only supported from TFS 2017 and later versions.

Add a work item using a template

The main method for adding a work item using a template is to open the template link within a browser window. To get the template link, see the next section Copy the link to a template.

You can share these links through email, a network share, or a team dashboard.

Use the URL whenever you want to add a work item of the type you've defined with its predefined values. Copy the link to a shared network or send to your team via email. Also, consider adding a link to the team dashboard.

  1. Go to Project Settings.

    Open project settings

    Expand Boards and choose Team configuration. Then, choose Templates.

  2. Choose the work item type whose template you want to copy.

  3. Choose the actions icon to open the menu, and choose Copy link.

    Screenshot of Copy link template menu option.

    You can save the URL as a text file or add the URL to a web page as a hyperlink.

  1. Choose the gear icon to open the settings for a team.

    Open team admin context

  2. Choose the Work>Templates tab. Then, choose the actions icon for the template you want to copy and select Copy link.

    Copy link of a template

    You can save the URL as a text file or add the URL to a web page as a hyperlink.

Managing work item templates from the web portal is only supported from TFS 2017 and later versions.

Apply a template to new or existing work item(s)

You can apply a template to a single work item or perform a bulk update of several work items.

Apply a template within a work item

  1. Open a new work item or an existing work item that you want to update using the fields defined within a template, choose the actions icon to open the menu, select Templates and then select the name of a pre-defined template.

    Apply a template to an existing work item within the form

    Only those templates defined for teams that you belong to appear.

    Tip

    Refresh your browser to discover the latest templates that have been added. If you don't see any templates, it may be that there are none defined for the work item type.

  2. Save the work item for the changes to be applied. The fields changed are noted in the History field.

Apply a template within a work item

  1. Open the work item that you want to update using the fields defined within a template, choose the actions icon to open the menu, select Templates and then select the name of a pre-defined template.

    Apply a template to an existing work item within the form

    Tip

    Refresh your browser to discover the latest templates that have been added. If you don't see any templates, it may be that there are none defined for the work item type.

  2. Save the work item for the changes to be applied. The fields changed are noted in the History field.

Apply a template to several work items

  1. To bulk update several work items, first select them from the backlog or a query results list, and then open the actions menu for one of them. All work items you select must be of the same work item type. For example, all user stories or all bugs.

  2. Choose the template to apply.

    Bulk update several work items

  3. Field changes are automatically applied and work items saved. To learn more about bulk updates, see Bulk modify work items.

  1. To bulk update several work items, first select them from the backlog or a query results list, and then open the actions menu for one of them. All work items you select must be of the same work item type. For example, all user stories or all bugs.

  2. Choose the template to apply.

    Bulk update several work items

  3. Field changes are automatically applied and work items saved. To learn more about bulk updates, see Bulk modify work items.

The feature to apply a template to existing work items from the web portal isn't supported for TFS 2015 and earlier versions.

Add or remove tags from templates

You can add tags to a template and they'll be applied to the work item when you use the template. To add two or more tags, delimit them with a comma (,).

Edit bug template, add or remove tags

If you don't specify tags to remove, then all tags present in a work item will remain defined even when you apply a work item template to an existing work item.

You can specify a work item template that specifies several field values using the following syntax. Use the URL whenever you want to add a work item of the type you've defined with its predefined values.

https://dev.azure.com/{OrganizationName}/{ProjectName}/_workItems/create/{WorkItemType}?
[FieldReferenceName 1]={FieldValue 1}&
[FieldReferenceName 2]={FieldValue 2}&
[FieldReferenceName 3]={FieldValue 3}&
. . .
http://{ServerName}:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/{ProjectName}/_workItems/create/{WorkItemType}?
[FieldReferenceName 1]={FieldValue 1}&
[FieldReferenceName 2]={FieldValue 2}&
[FieldReferenceName 3]={FieldValue 3}&
. . .

For example, the following syntax specifies a work item task with title TaskTitle, and specifies values for the Assigned To, Description, Tags, Activity, and Iteration Path fields.

https://dev.azure.com/{OrganizationName}/{ProjectName}/_workItems/create/Task?
[System.Title]=TaskTitle&
[System.AssignedTo]=Jamal+Hartnett&
[System.Description]=<p>Always+include+Remaining+Work+and+links+to+any+related+bugs+or+user+stories.</p>&
[System.Tags]=Web;+Phone;+Service&
[Microsoft.VSTS.Common.Activity]=Development&
[System.IterationPath]=Fabrikam+Fiber%5CIteration+1
http://{ServerName}:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/{ProjectName}/_workItems/create/Task?
[System.AssignedTo]=Jamal+Hartnett&
[System.Description]=<p>Always+include+Remaining+Work+and+links+to+any+related+bugs+or+user+stories.</p>&
[System.Tags]=Web;+Phone;+Service&
[Microsoft.VSTS.Common.Activity]=Development&
[System.IterationPath]=Fabrikam+Fiber%5CIteration+1

Tip

There is a 2000 character limit imposed by some browser clients.

You can save the URL as a text file or add the URL to a dashboard or web page as a hyperlink.

You can add links to a markdown widget that appear on your team dashboard in the web portal. These links open a work item with the template defined fields predefined.

Note

Multiple team dashboards and the Markdown widget are available for Azure Boards and TFS 2015.2 and later versions.

For example, the following widget contains links to three templates.

Markdown widget with links to templates

To learn more about the markdown widget see Add Markdown to a dashboard, Markdown widgets.