Query by titles, IDs, and rich-text fields
Azure Boards | Azure DevOps Server 2020 | Azure DevOps Server 2019 | TFS 2018 - TFS 2013
When you want to find work items based on a keyword or phrase or a null text field, you can do so by filtering on single-line text (String), multi-line text (PlainText), and rich-text (HTML) fields. If you find that your queries take too long to return results, review the Guidance to create high-performing queries.
Supported operators and macros
Query clauses that specify a text or rich-text field can use the operators and macros listed in the following table.
Supported operators and macros
|Contains Words, Does Not Contain Words, Is Empty1, Is Not Empty1|
|Multi-line text strings (PlainText)||Contains Words, Does Not Contain Words, Is Empty1, Is Not Empty1|
|Single text (String)||= , <> , > , < , >= , <= , =[Field], <>[Field], >[Field], <[Field], >=[Field], <=[Field], Contains, Does Not Contain, In, Not In, In Group, Not In Group, Was Ever
Macros: [Any], valid with the Work Item Type field
- The Is Empty and Is Not Empty operators are supported for Azure DevOps Server 2019 RC2 and later versions
- The @Project macro is supported for Azure Boards and TFS 2015.1 and later versions. The system automatically defaults to filtering based on the current project. To learn more, see Query across projects.
Contains words for string matches
When you want to filter on a string match, try using the
Contains Words operator instead of
Contains Words operator performs a full-text search on the specified field, which is faster in most cases. Text string is limited to 100 characters.
Contains operator performs a table scan, which is not only slower, but also consumes more CPU cycles. These CPU cycles contribute towards your resource consuming rate limit.
Keyword or phrase query
Use Contains or Contains Words to list items that partially or exactly match the words or phrase that you enter.
Choose Contains or Does Not Contain to search against exact or partial matches of a word or phrase. Choose Contains Words or Does Not Contain Words to search against an exact phrase or to use the wildcard character, *. These operators use the full-text search index.
For example, specify Contains Words and inform* to filter on a text field that contains inform or information or informational.
To understand how AND/OR clauses are grouped, see Create and save managed queries, Group clauses. To view the WIQL syntax for a query, install the WIQL query editor extension which will allow you to see the WIQL version of any Query UI entry.
Undefined field value queries
You can find work items that have an undefined field value by using the equals operator (=) and leaving the Value for the field blank. For example, the following filters will list all work items of type Task whose Activity field is blank.
To list work items based on a field that isn't blank, use the not operator (<>) and leave the Value blank.
Empty or not empty HTML field queries
You can find work items where no Description has been entered. Using the Is Empty or Is Not Empty with an HTML field supports listing work items with empty or not empty rich text fields. You don't specify a value with this operator.
For example, the following query filters will list all work items where some entries have been made into the Description field.
Category based queries
To filter work items based on the category they belong to, use the In Group operator. For example, the following filter criteria will return all work items that are in the current project, assigned to the team member, and defined as belonging to the Bug Category.
What items appear in the Requirement or Task categories?
The default assignments of work item types to each category are listed below for each process.
|Process||Requirement category||Task category|
|Scrum||Product Backlog Item, Bug||Task|
However, each team can determine if the Bug work item type appears in either the Requirement or Task category. See Show bugs on backlogs and boards. Also, you can add custom work item types to a backlog. For details, see Add or modify a work item type, Add a custom WIT to a backlog or board.
Common fields for most work item types
The following table describes common fields used to filter queries. The ID fields uniquely identify work items in a list. Use the Title field to distinguish the work item from all others of the same type. The Description and other rich-text (data type=HTML) fields provide additional information that is needed to implement work and track changes. After a work item is created, you can modify all fields except for the ID. When you add and save a work item, the ID is assigned by the system and cannot be changed.
The system automatically indexes all long-text fields with a data type of PlainText and HTML fields for full-text search. This includes the Title, Description, and Steps to Repro fields. For more information and server and collation requirements applicable to on-premises Azure DevOps, see Query fields, operators, values, and variables - Full-text and partial word searches.
|Field name||Description||Work item type|
Acceptance Criteria 1
A description of the criteria to be met before the bug or product backlog item can be closed.
Before work begins on a bug or product backlog item, the criteria for customer acceptance should be described as clearly as possible. Conversations between the team and customers to define the acceptance criteria will help ensure that your team understands your customers' expectations. The acceptance criteria can be used as the basis for acceptance tests so that you can more effectively evaluate whether an item has been satisfactorily completed.
Reference name=Microsoft.VSTS.Common.AcceptanceCriteria, Data type=HTML
Bug, Epic, Feature, Product backlog item (Scrum)
|Description 1, 2||
Use this field to provide in-depth information about a work item.
Reference name=System.Description, Data type=HTML
The unique identifier that is assigned to a work item. Work item IDs are unique across all projects and within a project collection.
Reference name=System.Id, Data type=Integer
|Repro Steps (or Steps to reproduce) 1||
The steps that are required to reproduce unexpected behavior. Capture enough information so that other team members can understand the full impact of the problem as well as whether they have fixed the bug. This includes actions taken to find or reproduce the bug and expected behavior.
Reference name=Microsoft.VSTS.TCM.ReproSteps, Data type=HTML
Describes how an impediment was resolved.
Reference name=Microsoft.VSTS.Common.Resolution, Data type=HTML
Information about the software and system configuration that is relevant to the bug, code review, or feedback.
Reference name=Microsoft.VSTS.TCM.SystemInfo, Data type=HTML
|Bug, Code Review Request, Feedback Request
The project to which a work item belongs. Add this field to a query when you want to filter your list to items in one or more projects.
Note: For Azure Boards or for TFS 2015.1 and later versions, you must check the Query across projects option in the query editor for this field to appear in the drop down field list. To learn more, see Example queries, query across projects.
Reference name=System.TeamProject, Data type=String
A short description that summarizes what the work item is and helps team members distinguish it from other work items in a list.
Reference name=System.Title, Data type=String
|Work Item Type||
The name of the work item type. Work item types are defined based on the process used when you created your project. For an overview, see Choose process. To learn how to add a custom work item type, see Add or modify a work item type.
To filter work items based on their category assignment, you can use the In Group and Not In Group operators and select a category from the drop-down list.
Reference name=System.WorkItemType, Data type=String
- To learn more about working with rich-text fields, see Share information within work items.
- Upon upgrade to Team Foundation Server 2012, the Description field was changed from a field type of PlainText to HTML. Using the witadmin changefield command you can revert the data type for this field. See Manage work item fields (witadmin).
To programmatically interact with queries, see one of these REST API resources:
To programmatically interact with queries, see Query for Bugs, Tasks, and Other Work Items.