Customize your work tracking experience

VSTS | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013

As you plan and track your project, you'll find you may want to configure a feature or customize your experience to meet your team's tracking needs. You configure teams and team Agile tools through the web portal administration context. The method you use to customize team projects, which impacts all teams, depends on the process model you use.

Customizations you make occur at one of three levels:

  • Team project level: Add or modify work item types, data fields, backlog levels, and other objects shared across teams
  • Object level: Grant or restrict access to work tracking tools, which includes setting permissions for objects and the team project and assigning users or groups to specific access levels.

Note

If you're new to tracking work in VSTS and TFS, see Get started with Agile tools to plan and track work.

Shared resources

Each team project provides a number of shared resources that support all teams added to the project. You configure these features through the user interface or the admin context of the web portal. To understand how the system uses area and iteration paths, see About area and iteration paths.

Area path pick lists Sprint/iteration pick lists
Change the pick list of area paths to support grouping work items by team, product, or feature area.
Hierarchical area paths
Change the pick list of iteration paths to support grouping work into sprints, milestones, or other event-specific or time-related period. Activate sprints for each team.
Iterations or sprints
Shared queries Tags
Open shared queries or create your own
query using the query editor to list work items
or show hierarchical or dependent items.
Shared queries
Add tags to work items to filter backlogs and queries, or list items by tags
Add tags to filter backlogs, boards, and queries

Team projects and process customizations

Your team project determines the objects available to tracking work and the configuration of Agile tools. Specifically, the team project determines the work item types (WITs)—user stories, tasks, bugs— and the data fields used to capture information. Customized objects are shared across teams added to the team project.

Note

The method you use to customize work tracking depends on the process model you subscribe to:

  • Inheritance: Supports WSIWIG customization, available for VSTS only
  • Hosted XML: Supports customization through import/export of process templates, available for VSTS only
  • On-premises XML: Supports customization through import/export of XML definition files for work tracking objects

The following table summarizes the differences between the three supported process models. For definitions of the main work tracking objects, see Agile glossary.

Feature Inheritance Hosted XML On-premises XML
WYSIWYG editing checkmark
Create inherited custom processes checkmark
Create custom process templates (see note 1) checkmark checkmark
Inherit changes in system processes (Agile, Scrum, CMMI) checkmark
Updated process changes automatically apply to team projects checkmark checkmark
Basic customizations supported (fields, workflow, work item types, backlog levels) checkmark checkmark checkmark
Advanced customizations supported (custom link types, global lists, global workflow, team fields) (see note 2) checkmark
Update Microsoft field mappings using the TFSFieldMapping command-line tool checkmark checkmark checkmark
Use the witadmin command-line tools to edit team projects checkmark
Use the witadmin command-line tools to list information about team projects checkmark checkmark checkmark
REST API (read) checkmark checkmark checkmark
REST API (write) checkmark

Notes:

  1. A process determines the building blocks used to track work. A process template specifies an interdependent-related set of XML definition files that provide the building blocks and initial configuration for tracking work and other functional areas.
  2. Hosted XML customization supports adding and updating global lists with a process update (subject to limits on maximum size of each list). To learn more, see Work tracking object limits.

Grant or restrict access to work tracking tools

You can grant or restrict access to select features and functions through the web portal. When you add user accounts to your team, they're automatically added to the Contributor group. They then have access to most of the features they'll need to contribute to code, work tracking, builds, and test. However, the Contributor group doesn't allow users to create shared queries or to add area or iteration paths. You have to grant these permissions separately.

For a simplified view of the most common, default permissions and access assignments, see Permissions and access. If you're new to managing permissions, see Permissions and groups reference, Inheritance.

Otherwise, to grant or restrict access to select features or functions, review one of these topics:

Customize the test experience (TFS)

Several WITs support the test experience within the web portal Test hub and Test Manager client. You can customize these WITs as you would any other WIT. The following image illustrates the support link relationships.

Test management work item types

See the following resources for additional usage and customization information:

Change the pick list for a person-name field

To add values for fields associated with user accounts such as Assigned To add users to a TFS security group or by restricting access to a group or set of users. By default, the list for the Assigned To field contains the account names for all users and groups that have been added to TFS. These accounts are often synchronized with Active Directory. See Set up groups for use in TFS deployments. To limit the names of accounts in a list, see Limit the number of names that appear in the Assigned To field.

Less common customizations

You can only perform the following customizations when working with the Hosted XML or On-premises XML process models. The customizations made to process configuration apply to all teams added to the team project.

Backlog and board limits (Hosted XML, On-premises XML)

To limit the display load time to acceptable parameters, the task board is restricted to a maximum of 1000 work items. For details, see Process configuration XML element reference.

You can increase this value up to a maximum of 1500 by specifying a value for the workItemCountLimit attribute of the TaskBacklog element. For details, see Process configuration XML element reference.

<TaskBacklog category="Microsoft.TaskCategory" pluralName="Tasks" singularName="Task" workItemCountLimit="800" >
. . .
</TaskBacklog>

Change field assignments (Hosted XML, On-premises XML)

You can change the work item fields that are used in calculating capacity, burndown charts, forecasting, and velocity. Any change you make to one of the default assignments should correspond to a change made to the WIT used to define and capture information for that value.

For example, if you change the refname assigned to type="Activity" then you should include the same field in the WIT definition assigned to the Task Category which captures the activity information. For details, see Process configuration XML element reference.

The fields you assign are used by the following tools:

Tool Field type
Task board, capacity tools, sprint burndown Remaining work
Product and portfolio backlogs Backlog priority
Velocity and forecast Effort (maps to Story Points, Effort, or Size)
Task board, capacity tools Remaining work
Capacity tools Activity (Task Activity or Discipline)

Additional options

Do you want to customize your tools in a way that's not supported?

Here are a few options available to you:

Feedback and support

We welcome your feedback.

Send suggestions on UserVoice, and follow us on Twitter @vsts.

See also our comprehensive feedback and support page.