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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.

Work items correspond to the basic elements to be tracked in a project, such as a new feature, a user experience, a code defect, a task, or an issue. The account name of the person responsible for creating, managing, resolving, or doing the work represented in the work item is set in the Assigned To field. Status of the work is tracked through the State field.

From the TWA home page, you can create a work item of any type. To work in Visual Studio, jump to this section.

  1. If you or your team hasn’t created a team project, do that now.

  2. If you haven’t been added as a team member, get added now.

  3. From a web browser, connect to the team project that you want to work in. For example, the Fabrikam, Inc. team navigates to http://fabrikamprime:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection/Fabrikam%20Fiber%20Website/.

    From the TWA home page, you can choose the type of work item you want to create.

    Visual Studio Online or TFS 2013.1 or TFS 2013.2 on-premises

    Home page -  create work items

    Team Web Access –TFS 2013 on-premises

    Home page -  create work items (TFS 2013)
  4. Enter a title and then save the work item. Before you change the default State, you must save it.

    Product backlog item work item form

    To learn more about each field, see the following topics based on the process template used to create your team project: Scrum work item types (Product Backlog Item plus others), Agile work item types (User Story plus others), and CMMI work item types (Requirement plus others).

Type an ID in the Search work items box and then choose the search icon.

Seach work items text box

Or, using the Context Menu Icon context menu, add filters to find items based on assignment, status, a keyword, or a work item type.

For example, enter A=@Me T=Task to list all tasks assigned to you. Use the =, :, and operators to specify the operations: Equals, Contains, and Not, respectively.

Once you have a results list, choose Editor to modify the filter criteria and refine your search results.

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.

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.

Scrum workflow states - forward states and reasons

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.

Scrum workflow states - atypical backward flow

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.

Each work item contains one or more tabs with link controls. These controls support linking the work item to one or more objects defined in TFS.

Link controls in Visual Studio Online and TWA

You can create links between work items by using one of the link control tabs within a work item form. Some work item types have three or more link control tabs. Each tab is designed to support specific types of links and restricts the types of link relationships made. See Link controls, restrictions, and field reference.

Link control tab in work item form (Team Explorer)

Work item form link toolbar controls

You can create links from within a work item form, from a work item that appears in a list of query results, in Microsoft Excel, or in Microsoft Project. You can also use any of the client programs for Team Foundation, such as Team Explorer and Team Web Access, to create links or attach files.

Also, you can use the context menu in TWA or Team Explorer.

Link a work item to an existing work item (Team Explorer)

Link to an existing work item

You should link your changes to your work items so that your team can understand what work was done or how a bug was fixed.

Team Foundation version control (TFVC) lets you link work items to version control changesets or versioned source code files by using the Changeset and Versioned Item link types. When you check in pending changes or use My Work to check in changes, work items are automatically linked to your changes.

Git lets you link work items to commits by using the Commit link type. To learn how, see Manage and commit your changes.

  1. 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.

  2. Open the Work Items node Work Items page.

  3. Choose the type of work item to create, for example, Product Backlog Item.

    New work item menu - Add a PBI
  4. Enter a title and then save the work item. Before you change the default State, you must save it.

    New Product Backlog Item (Team Explorer)

    To learn more about each field, see the following topics, based on the process template used to create your team project: Scrum work item types (Product Backlog Item plus others), Agile work item types (User Story plus others), and CMMI work item types (Requirement plus others).

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 link 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: 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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