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Linking Service

The Linking Service is part of Team Foundation Core Services. It is a lightweight architecture that enables loosely-coupled and individually-architected tools to offer simple data integration through a combination of technology and conventions. The Linking Service therefore provides some of the core benefits of a common database, without the database itself.

For example, the suite of tools that make up Visual Studio 2005 Team System, version 1.0, includes version control and work item tracking tools. Each of these tools was designed separately with different principles. Introducing a standard way to identify the major items, known as artifacts, that each tool makes available, enables the work items to link to source control items and vice versa. This is done even though neither tool has detailed information about the other. Similarly, third-parties can introduce new tools to Team System. These tools can have their own specialized links. This enables lightweight data integration without modifying Team System tools.

The primary benefits of the linking service include the following:

  • Ease of data integration for new tools

    New tools introduced into the Visual Studio Team System environment by third parties can integrate data with Visual Studio Team System by conforming to a small set of conventions and implementing a fairly simple API.

  • Discoverability of links and artifacts

    Tools register artifact types and link types with Team Foundation. This ensures that any authorized program can discover through the Team Foundation administrative APIs.

  • Common behavior and UI elements

    Team Foundation does not prevent a tool from using links in situation-specific, tightly-coupled ways. However, in order to use links in loosely coupled ways, a tool can take advantage of the generic behavior that Team Foundation requires from each artifact provider and consumer.

To learn how to integrate with the Linking Service, see the Team Foundation Services Sample.

The Linking Service enables a user to see all items of all types that are tied to some artifact. For example, it can see everything related to a specific work item. The Linking Service makes this easier by taking the URI of the work item and returning a full-typed list, in a displayable form, of all the artifacts linked to the subject artifact. The Linking Service includes artifacts for which the artifact provider—in this case the tool responsible for work items—does not have information.

Team Foundation Linking Basics

Explains how the linking service supports loose coupling and tight coupling.

Artifact Provider Obligations

Explains what a service must implement to expose artifacts to other services.

Artifact Consumer Obligations

Explains what a service must implement to consume artifacts from another service.

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