Ad hoc vs managed work item queries

Azure Boards | Azure DevOps Server 2019 | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013

You have two ways to perform work item searches: semantic or ad hoc searches and managed queries.

You perform semantic or ad hoc searches using the work item search box (shown below)

Choose any Boards page, enter a keyword or phrase in the search box, and press Enter or choose the  start search icon.

Work Item Search box

You add and run managed queries using the built-in query-editor available from the Boards>Queries page.

Web portal, Queries page, new queries experience, Editor view of a Flat List Query

You perform semantic or ad hoc searches using the work item search box (shown below).

In the search box, check that the text says Search work items. If it doesn't, use the selector to select it. Enter a keyword or phrase in the search box, and press Enter or choose the  start search icon.

Search Work Items Text Box

You add and run managed queries using the built-in query-editor available from the Work>Queries page.

Web portal, Queries page, new queries experience, Editor view of a Flat List Query

Web portal, Queries page, Editor view of a Flat List Query

Editor View of a Flat List Query - On-premises TFS

For details about semantic or ad hoc searches, see Perform a semantic or ad hoc work item search. For details about managed queries, see Create managed queries with the query editor.

Use semantic or ad hoc searches to perform the following tasks:

  • Find a specific work item using its ID or a keyword
  • Find one or more work items across all projects in a fast, flexible manner
  • Perform full text search across all work item fields
  • Review work items assigned to a specific team member
  • Search against specific work item fields to quickly narrow down a list of work items
  • Determine what key words will support a managed search

Use managed queries to perform the following tasks: |

  • Review or triage a group of work items
  • Perform bulk updates on several work items such as change Assign To, Iteration Path, or more
  • Review parent-child or dependent links among work items
  • Create a status or trend chart from a flat list query
  • Create a list of work items that you'll export to Excel or Project

Note

With semantic search, you search against a more fully indexed set of fields. With ad hoc search, the number of fields that are indexed are limited.