Differences between VSTS and TFS process template customizations
VSTS (Hosted XML)
Feature availability: Import process supports the Hosted XML process model which allows you to manage customizations through updating select XML definition files of a process template. This feature is only available for accounts that have been migrated to VSTS using the TFS Data Import Service. Contact us if you have any questions about VSTS process customization.
If you use the Inheritance process model, you can customize your work tracking through the user interface by creating an Inheritance process. If you use the On-premises XML process model, you can customize a process template, see Upload or download a process template and Customize a process template.
To learn more about process models, see Customize work tracking.
VSTS uses a different model than Team Foundation Server (TFS) for relating projects and process.
- In TFS, process templates are used as starting points for projects and once a project is created, the project is the scope you customize.
- In VSTS, process is shared across multiple projects and is the scope you customize.
The structure and overall syntax used in defining process templates remains the same, with only a few minor differences existing between templates you customize for import into VSTSand those you upload to support an on-premises TFS.
Unsupported customizations and unreferenced plug-in files
Any reference to the following objects in any of the XML definition files will result in a validation error upon import.
- Custom controls on work item forms
- Custom link types
- Global workflow
- Team field support
The following plug-ins and their associated files aren't used in defining a process, nor used to update existing team projects. However, they are used to create objects or artifacts when you create a new team project.
- Work item queries (defined using the WIQL syntax)
- Test Management
- Work items
The WIQL length must not exceed 32K characters. The system won't allow you to create or run queries that exceed that length.
The following plug-ins and their associated files are replaced by system defaults.
- Groups and Permissions
- Version Control
The following plug-ins and their associated files are ignored.
- Microsoft Project Mappings
- Windows SharePoint Services
Custom plug-ins aren't supported.
When customizing a process template for import, limit the number of the objects you define as specified in Work tracking object limits.
Tools with limited support
When you connect to VSTS, you can use the following tools subject to limitations:
- Visual Studio Process Template Manager: You can download a process template, but all other functions are disabled.
- Process Editor: You can use select functions to view or export a WIT definition or global list, or use the Work Item Field Explorer. Access is denied to save modified WIT and global list definitions.
- witadmin command line tool: Select commands, such as export and list commands, work when connected to VSTS. Review witAdmin: Customize and manage objects for tracking work for which commands are supported.
With witadmin, you can import and export definition files. Other tools you can use include the Process Editor (requires that you have installed a version of Visual Studio):
- For TFS 2017 and later versions, 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.
- For TFS 2015 and earlier versions, install TFS Power Tools.
Or, you can use the TFS Team Project Manager, an open-source client available from github.