Work item fields and attributes

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Work item fields are used to track information. Each work item type (WIT) definition specifies the fields defined for that WIT. Each field is associated with a number of attributes, many of which are set by the system and cannot be changed.

Each field is defined by the following three attributes.

  • Data type: Specifies the type of data that can be entered into the field, such as Boolean, Double, Integer, HTML, and String. For descriptions of each data type, see Query fields, operators, and macros.
  • Friendly name: Specifies the name assigned to the field and that you select for a Field in a query clause. This name may differ from that displayed on the work item form.
  • Reference name: Specifies the name that you use when creating WIQL query or an ad hoc work item template, using REST API commands, or defining XML work item type definitions. Once defined, the reference name cannot be changed.

For a description of each field attribute and how you can list them, see Field attributes and List field attributes later in this article. For an overview of WITs and work items, see Track work with user stories, issues, bugs, features, and epics.

Field names

The field friendly name identifies each work item field. When adding a custom field, make sure the friendly name falls within these guidelines:

  • Must be unique within the organization or project collection
  • Must be 128 or fewer Unicode characters
  • Can't contain any leading or trailing spaces, nor two or more consecutive spaces
  • Must contain at least one alphabetic character
  • Can't contain the following characters: .,;'`:~\/\*|?"&%$!+=()[]{}<>.

For additional information, see Naming restrictions and conventions.

System and predefined fields

All system defined fields have reference names that begin with System, for example, System.AreaPath, System.AssignedTo, and continue in that pattern.

Predefined fields defined by the default process begin with Microsoft.VSTS and then further differ based on their usage. Examples of predefined fields that are used in common, for scheduling purposes and integration with Office Project, for integration with Team Foundation Build, and integration with test case management (TCM) are as follows:

  • Microsoft.VSTS.Common.Priority
  • Microsoft.VSTS.Scheduling.DueDate
  • Microsoft.VSTS.Build.FoundIn
  • Microsoft.VSTS.TCM.Steps

For an overview of all system and predefined fields that are defined for the default processes/process templates, see Work item field index. For more information about specifying field names, see Naming restrictions.

Custom fields

Because custom fields are defined for an organization or project collection, you can't add a custom field to a process with the same field name that you add to another process.

When adding custom fields, note the following limits:

  • A maximum of 256 fields can be defined for each WIT
  • A maximum of 512 fields can be defined per process

The field data type determines the kind and size of data that you can store in the field. A field can have only one type defined within a project collection. This restriction encourages organizations to use common fields across projects and work item types.

When you add a custom field to an inherited process, Azure DevOps assigns a reference name based on the process name and the name of the field. For example, you add a field named Triage to the My Agile process, the reference name is MyAgile.Triage. No spaces are allowed within the reference name.

How can I determine the field data type?

You can view the data type of fields defined for your organization by opening the Process>Fields page.

Process>Fields page

When your project collection uses the Inheritance process model to customize work tracking, you can view the data type of fields by opening the Process>Fields page.

Process>Fields page

If the On-premises XML process model is used, you can look up the data type through the Work item field index. Or, you can open the Work Item Field Explorer to review the fields defined and their attribute assignments, or use the witadmin listfields command to list the field attributes. For details, see Work Item Field Explorer and List field attributes later in this article.

You can look up the data type through the Work item field index. Or, you can open the Work Item Field Explorer to review the fields defined and their attribute assignments, or use the witadmin listfields command to list the field attributes. For details, see Work Item Field Explorer and List field attributes later in this article.

Field attributes

There are a number of non-changeable and virtually hidden attributes for each work item field. The following table describes each attribute.

Note

The attribute listed in the first column of the table is supported through the Fields - Get REST API and Work Item Types Field - Get commands. The attribute listed in the second column is supported through the Work Item Field Explorer (WIFE) tool, and the FieldDefinition Properties. The attributes assigned to a field depend on the platform and version you use.

Attribute (REST)

Attribute (WIFE)

Attribute type

Description

Can change?

AllowedValues collection Gets the collection of valid values for a field that contains picklist values. You can change this by specifying a picklist or global list (on-premises). Yes
canSortBy CanSortBy boolean Indicates whether you can sort query results with this field. No
description HelpText string Specifies a description for the field, which also defines the help text that appears when you hover over the field within the work item form. Yes
Id boolean Specifies the internal ID of the field. No
IsCloneable boolean Indicates whether the value defined for the field is copied when a user chooses to copy a work item. For example, the work item Title, Tags, and Description are copied, but the ID and History fields aren't copied. No
IsComputed boolean Indicates if the value set by this field is computed by the system (True) or not (False). Examples of computed fields are ones that are set by the system, such as the ID, Revised Date, Changed Date, and External Link Count. No
IsCoreField boolean Indicates whether this field is specified for all work item types. No
IsEditable boolean Indicates if users can modify this field (True) or not (False). Examples of non-editable fields are ones that are set by the system, such as the ID, Revision, Created By, and Changed By fields No
isIdentity IsIdentity boolean Indicates whether this field is an Identity field. Identity fields are string fields used to store user identities. No
IsIndexed1 boolean Indicates whether this field is indexed to support search. No
IsLongText boolean Indicates that the field can contain more than 255 characters, such as fields assigned a data type of PlainText, HTML, or History. No
isPicklist2 boolean Indicates whether the field is associated with a picklist. The value is set to True when a custom field is defined for Azure DevOps Services and Picklist (String) or Picklist (Integer) type is selected. The value is set to False for inherited fields that define picklists. No
isPicklistSuggested2 Indicates whether the field allows users to enter their own values for a picklist. The value is set to True when a custom field is defined for Azure DevOps Services, Picklist (String) or Picklist (Integer) type is selected, and the checkbox for Allow users to set their own values is checked. Yes
isQueryable IsQueryable boolean Indicates if the field shows up within the set of fields you can add to filter a query (True) or not (False). Most fields are queryable. No
IsReportable 3 boolean Indicates if the reportable attribute is defined or set to anything other than None. Yes
IsUsedInGlobalWorkflow boolean Indicates if the field is defined within a global workflow. No
IsUserNameField boolean Indicates if the field is used to display an Identity field. No
name Name string Friendly name assigned to the field. The friendly name can't be changed for Azure DevOps Services, but can be changed for on-premises using the witadmin changefield command. On-prem only
picklistId If the field is a picklist, the identifier of the associated picklist, otherwise null. A unique GUID value is assigned when a custom field is defined for Azure DevOps Services and Picklist (String) or Picklist (Integer) type is selected. No
ProhibitedValues collection Gets the collection of prohibited values for a field that specifies such values. You can only define prohibited values for on-premises deployments. On-prem only
readOnly boolean Indicates whether the field is set to read only. For Azure Cloud Services, only custom fields can be changed to be read only. System fields cannot be modified. Yes
referenceName ReferenceName string Specifies the reference name of the field definition. No
ReportingAttributes3 Specifies Detail, Dimension, or Measure, depending on whether and how you want the field to be included in reports. Data from fields that have a value other than None for this attribute are exported to the data warehouse and can be included in reports. On-prem only
ReportingName3 string Specifies the label for a field when data appears in reports. If you do not specify a value, the field's friendly name is used. On-prem only
ReportingReferenceName3 string Specifies a different reference name to a field that is used when data is exported to the relational data warehouse. If you do not specify a value, the fields reference name is used. On-prem only
supportedOperations set The set of query operators that are valid for use when referencing this field. For a quick reference of supported operations based on data type, see Query quick reference, Operators and macros supported for each data type. No
SupportsTextQuery boolean Indicates whether the field supports text queries such as Contains Words, Does Not Contains Words. No
SystemType string Specifies the data type of the field, referencing the system name such as System.DateTime, System.String, and so on. No
type FieldType string Specifies the data type of the field, such as Boolean, DateTime, Integer, String, and so on. For a complete list and descriptions, see Query fields, operators, and macros No
usage Usage string Specifies whether the field is intended for use with work items (WorkItem) or work item link (WorkItemLink) objects. The usage for most fields is WorkItem. For a complete list of usage values, see Get Fields, FieldUsage No

Notes:

  1. For on-premises deployments, you can enable indexing for a field to improve query response times when filtering on the field. For more information, see Indexed fields later in this article.
  2. The isPicklist and isPicklistSuggested attributes are only assigned to custom fields defined for an inherited process. The Inherited process model is only supported for Azure DevOps Services and Azure DevOps Server 2019.
  3. All reporting attributes are valid only for on-premises deployments whose projects have been configured to support SQL Server Reporting and SQL Server Analysis Services.
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Reportable attributes

All reporting attributes are valid only for on-premises deployments whose projects have been configured to support SQL Server Reporting and SQL Server Analysis Services. For details, see Add reports to a project.

For a description of each reportable attribute, see Add or modify work item fields to support reporting.

For a list of fields that have reportable attributes defined by default, see Reportable fields reference.

Indexed fields

You can enable or disable indexing for a work item field by using the witadmin indexfield command. When you enable indexing for a field, you may increase the performance of finding work items whose queries specify that field. By default, the following fields are indexed: Assigned To, Created Date, Changed By, State, Reason, Area ID, Iteration ID, and Work Item Type.

If you add a custom field that you use in many of your work item queries, you may want to enable indexing for that field. For more information, see Manage work item fields (witadmin).

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List field attributes

You can list the attributes assigned to a field by using the Fields - Get REST API. Enter your organization name for OrganizationName.

https://dev.azure.com/OrganizationName/_apis/wit/fields/FieldReferenceName

For example, here we list the attributes for the Iteration Path, specifying the reference name, System.IterationPath, for the fabrikam organization.

https://dev.azure.com/fabrikam/_apis/wit/fields/System.IterationPath

Returned data:

{
"name": "Iteration Path",
"referenceName": "System.IterationPath",
"description": "The iteration within which this bug will be fixed",
"type": "treePath",
"usage": "workItem",
"readOnly": false,
"canSortBy": true,
"isQueryable": true,
"supportedOperations": [
{
"referenceName": "SupportedOperations.Under",
"name": "Under"
},
{
"referenceName": "SupportedOperations.NotUnder",
"name": "Not Under"
},
{
"referenceName": "SupportedOperations.Equals",
"name": "="
},
{
"referenceName": "SupportedOperations.NotEquals",
"name": "<>"
},
{
"referenceName": "SupportedOperations.In",
"name": "In"
},
{
"name": "Not In"
}
],
"isIdentity": false,
"isPicklist": false,
"isPicklistSuggested": false,
"url": "https://dev.azure.com/mseng/_apis/wit/fields/System.IterationPath"
}

You can list the attributes assigned to a field by using the Fields - Get REST API. Enter your organization name for OrganizationName. To get started using REST, see Azure DevOps Services REST API Reference

https://{ServerName:Port}/tfs/{Collection}/_apis/wit/fields/FieldReferenceName?api-version={version}

For example, here we list the attributes for the Iteration Path, specifying the reference name, System.IterationPath, for the fabrikam server.

https://fabrikam:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/_apis/wit/fields/System.IterationPath?api-version=4.1

Returned data:

{
"name": "Iteration Path",
"referenceName": "System.IterationPath",
"description": "The iteration within which this bug will be fixed",
"type": "treePath",
"usage": "workItem",
"readOnly": false,
"canSortBy": true,
"isQueryable": true,
"supportedOperations": [
{
"referenceName": "SupportedOperations.Under",
"name": "Under"
},
{
"referenceName": "SupportedOperations.NotUnder",
"name": "Not Under"
},
{
"referenceName": "SupportedOperations.Equals",
"name": "="
},
{
"referenceName": "SupportedOperations.NotEquals",
"name": "<>"
},
{
"referenceName": "SupportedOperations.In",
"name": "In"
},
{
"name": "Not In"
}
],
"isIdentity": false,
"isPicklist": false,
"isPicklistSuggested": false,
"url": "https://fabrikam:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/_apis/wit/fields/System.IterationPath?api-version=4.1"
}

List attributes using witadmin command line tool

You can list select field attributes—such as the data type, reportable attributes, and indexing—using the witadmin listfields command.

For example, you can enter the following command to list the attributes defined for a specified field, such as Microsoft.VSTS.Common.Issue.

witadmin listfields /collection:http://fabrikam:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection /n:Microsoft.VSTS.Common.Issue  

Field and attribute information appears for the named field, as shown in this example.

Field: Microsoft.VSTS.Common.Issue  
Name: Issue  
Type: String  
Reportable As: dimension  
Use: Adventure Works (Shared Steps), AW Future (Shared Steps), AW Current (Shared Steps)  
Indexed: False  

The Use parameter indicates the name of each project and the work item type where the field is used.

Work Item Field Explorer

You can look up the assignments of field attributes using the Work Item Field Explorer tool.

Work item field explorer

To access the Work Item Field Explorer, you must install the Process Editor (requires that you have installed a version of Visual Studio). Install the TFS Process Template editor from the Visual Studio Marketplace. You can use this version of the Process Editor to modify the old-style work item forms. You can't use it to edit forms associated with the new web forms.

To access the Work Item Field Explorer, you must install the Process Editor (requires that you have installed a version of Visual Studio) by installing the TFS Power Tools.

Project integration and project field mapping

You can change how work tracking fields map to fields in Project, and you can change how specific fields are published. See The Microsoft Project Field Mapping File.

Add and modify fields

To add fields to a process, you add them to one or more work item types. To learn more, see Customize an inheritance process.

You can add or modify the fields contained within a WIT or add a custom WIT. To learn more, see:

You can change the field name, the index, and the report attributes for any field except system fields by using the witadmin command-line tool. For more information, see Manage work item fields-witadmin.

To add fields to a project, you add them to one or more work item types. See Add or modify a field to track work.

You can change the field name, the index, and the report attributes for any field except system fields by using the witadmin command-line tool. For more information, see Manage work item fields-witadmin.