Drive Git development from a work item

VSTS | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017


Feature availability: The Development section appears in the work item web form for VSTS and TFS 2017 or later versions, configured with the new work item tracking experience. It supports both Git and TFVC version control repositories. Go here to learn how to add a Git repository for your existing team project.

One of the ways your team can drive their development and stay in sync is to link your work items to the objects created during development, such as branches, commits, pull requests, and builds. You can begin that linking by creating a branch from one or more work items. Later, you can create pull requests, quickly open commits, and maintain a record of development operations performed to complete specific work.

The Development section records all Git development processes that support completion of the work item. This section can show your team information needed to take the next development step and minimize navigational steps to accomplish common development tasks. It also supports traceability, providing visibility into all the branches, commits, pull requests, and builds related to the work item.

Work item form, Development section

From it, you can quickly access branches, pull requests, and commits which are linked to the work item. Also, you can initiate a pull request for a branch you've created or linked to from the work item.

Workflow process to create a branch and pull request

Consider creating a new branch when there are no linked code artifacts. If there is a branch but no pull requests, consider creating a pull request. Here's a typical workflow sequence when working with a Git repository.

  1. Start work on the work item by creating a branch. You can add a new Git branch from within the Development section...

    User story work item form, Development section, create new branch

    ... or, from the form's Actions icon Actions menu.

    User story work item form, Action menu, add new branch

    Name the branch and select the repository on which it's based.

    Create a branch dialog box

    Branches you create are automatically linked to the work item.


    You can only create a branch once you've added files to the main branch, which is always named master. VSTS automatically adds a README file to the initial repo created with each new team project.

  2. The system will open to the repository and branch that you just created.

    You can edit a file within the web portal.

    Or, if you have extensive file edits or need to add files, then you'll need to work from Visual Studio or other supported IDE. You'll want to add a new local branch from the branch you just created. For details, see Update code with fetch and pull, Download changes with fetch. (While any code editing and committing process will work, we work best with an edition of Visual Studio.)

  3. Add or modify files in the branch that you created.

    From Visual Studio or other supported IDE, commit and push changes from your local branch to the repository.

    Commit and push changes

    If this is the first time pushing changes from a new branch, you'll need to publish the branch before pushing your changes. For more details, see Share code with push.

  4. Create a pull request from the work item form.

    You create a pull request to merge the changes you made to a master branch and get your changes reviewed by other members of your team.

    Work item form, create pull request

  5. Your view will switch to the Code hub, Pull Requests page. Complete creating the pull request as shown.

    Pull Request page, Create pull request


    Once you've created a pull request, you can't create a new pull request for the same branch until you complete the previous pull request.

    Pull Request page, Create pull request

    Check the box for Squash changes when merging and then complete the merge.

    Complete pull request dialog box, check squash-merge

  6. Upon completion, you should see a similar screen as follows.

    Pull request, completed notification

  7. Open the work item form or refresh the form, expand the Development section (click the full screen icon icon), and you'll see the links that have been added to support the operations you just completed.

    Work item form, Development section, links added

Create a branch for several work items

You can also add a new branch from the work item listed on the backlog or Kanban board without having to open the work item. Using multi-select, you can select several work items and create a new branch where they're all linked to the branch.

For example, here we select the first five items to link to a new branch.

Select multiple items from backlog

And, we specify the name of the branch.

Create new branch dialog

All items listed under the Development section also appear under the Links tab icon Links tab. All development actions initiated from the Development section are also logged under the History tab icon History tab.

Links tab, development links

To link a work item to an existing object, click the Add link Add links icon and then choose the link type.

Select multiple items from backlog

Link work items to support traceability.

If you want to remove a link, you can do so from the Development section by highlighting it first and then click the delete icon delete icon.

Development section, delete a link

Or, you can select it from the Links tab icon Links tab and click the delete icon remove link icon.

Learn more about tracking work with work items and developing with Git from these resources:


To learn more or to customize the Development links control, see LinksControlOptions elements, Development links control.   �

Keep in mind that the Development section only appears when using the web portal for VSTS and TFS 2017 or later versions. The work item tracking experience and forms that appear in Visual Studio will be missing several of the features that the web portal makes available.

Associated work items in build

With Git commits, any work items that have been linked to a commit will be listed under the Associated work items in the build summary page.

Work item form, Development section

Links shown in this section appear as a result of these actions:

  • Creating a branch, commit, or pull request from the work item
  • Specifying the work item ID during a commit, pull request, or other supported Git or TFVC operation
  • Specifically linking the work item from the Development section or Links tab icon Links tab to a source code branch, build, or other supported Git or TFVC operation.

Hovering over any entry listed under the Development section activates the hyperlink to the associated object.

The link types you can add within the development section are Branch, Build, Changeset, Commit, Found in build, Integrated in build, Pull Request, and Versioned Item.


The link types, Found in build and Integrated in build are only available from VSTS and only work with the current build processes (not XAML builds).

Artifact-to-artifact link types