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Get started using work items

To plan and track a software development project, you create work items defined in Team Foundation Server (TFS). With work items, you can assign work, track status, and coordinate efforts within the team. You can link work items to one another, as well as to changesets and source code files.

The procedures in this topic show how to work in Team Explorer. You can perform similar procedures in Team Web Access (TWA), although the details might differ slightly.

To create or find work items, first connect to your team project.

  1. If you haven’t been added to the TFS Contributors group, get added now.

  2. In Visual Studio, open Team Explorer and connect to the team project that you want to work in.

    Connect page, lists two connected team projects

    If Team Explorer is not visible, on the menu bar, choose View, Team Explorer. If it’s your first time connecting to the team project, go here.

  3. Open the Work Items node Work Items page.

  4. Choose the type of work item to create, for example, Product Backlog Item. Enter a title and then save the work item. Before you change the default State, you must save it.

    Add a work item

Use the search box to find a specific work item by its ID. Enter a keyword or phrase to find work items based on a Title or Description field.

Also, you can enter a shortcut identifier. For example, the following shortcut phrases are valid: A:Annie or A=@me for Assigned To, C:Peter or C=@me for Created By, T=Task for type of work item, S=New for State.

Use the =, :, and operators to specify the operations: Equals, Contains, and Not, respectively.

Find a work item using the search text box

For more information, see Example search box queries and Query for work items.

Each team member can update the status of a work item or change the value of any writeable field in the work item form, except History. Modifications made to a work item are recorded in the History field. You can’t change the ID.

To track the progress of a work item, change its State. The following diagram shows both a typical and an atypical workflow progression for the product backlog item provided with the Scrum process template.

State Diagram for a Product Backlog Item

State diagram for Product Backlog Item

Typical workflow progression:

  • Create a product backlog item in the default state, New.

  • Change the state from New to Approved.

  • Change the state from Approved to Committed.

  • Change the state from Committed to Done.

Atypical transitions:

  • Change the state from New to Removed.

  • Change the state from Removed to New.

  • Change the state from Approved to Removed.

  • Change the state from Committed to Approved.

  • Change the state from Done to Committed.

Each work item contains an audit trail of changes made to it. You can view these changes through the History tab.

View change history

To view only the comments added to the log, choose the Discussion Only tab.

To view all changes made to the item, choose the All Changes tab, and then choose the show all changes link for a specific date and time or field.

Tip Tip

From TWA, choose the Expand/Collapse (Collapsed) expand icon for a specific date and time as the following illustration shows.

View change history in Team Web Access

To find work items based on its history, see Query for work items using the History field.

A: By linking work items using Related or Dependent link types, you can track work that is dependent on other work. To learn more, see Link work items to support traceability.

A: You can add a work item that is automatically linked to an existing work item from the links control tabs. For example, you can add a task that is linked to a backlog item from the Tasks tab.

New linked work item icon and form on Tasks tab

For more information on linking, see Link work items to support traceability.

A: In Visual Studio, right-click the work item tab to copy the URL. The URL opens the work item in TWA. In TWA, simply copy the URL from the web browser address.

Email a hyperlink for a work item

A: The quickest way is to start by creating your backlog. If you have a number of PBIs, user stories, requirements, or tasks that you want to bulk add, you can use Excel or Project.

If you are planning a product suite and managing progress across several teams, you’ll want to read Work with portfolio backlogs and how to setup a hierarchy of teams.

A:Open an existing query or create a query to filter work items based on your search criteria. Common ways that are used to filter work items are by area path, iteration path, and by adding tags.

A: The Storyboards tab in the PBI form allows you to link to storyboards that you've uploaded to a shared network location. You can link to any URL that your team can access. Also, you can link to storyboards that you created using PowerPoint Storyboarding.

A: You can connect to TFS through a web browser or from several clients. See Choose the Team Foundation client to support your tasks.

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