Adhoc vs managed work item queries

VSTS | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017


Feature availability:  The Work item search feature is available from VSTS and TFS 2017 and later versions.

You have two ways to perform work item searches: adhoc and managed. You perform adhoc queries using the work item search box (shown below), whereas you perform managed queries using the built-in search function available from the Work hub, Queries page.

Search Work Items Text Box

Use adhoc queries when you want to: Use managed queries when you want to:
- Find a specific work item using its ID or a keyword
- Find one or more work items across all team projects in a fast, flexible manner
- Perform full text search across all work item fields
- Review work items assigned to a specific team member
- Search against specific work item fields to quickly narrow down a list of work items
- Determine what key words will support a managed search
- Review or triage a group of work items
- Perform bulk updates on several work items such as change Assign To, Iteration Path, or more
- Review parent-child or dependent links among work items
- Create a status or trend chart from a flat list query
- Create a list of work items that you'll export to Excel or Project


With Work item or adhoc search, searches are performed against a full-text search engine that has indexed all work item fields.

Work item search box context

Note that with Work item search, the work item search box is repurposed to support adhoc queries. In order to initiate a managed search, you need to open the Work>Queries page.