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What's New in Planning and Tracking

With the release of Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012, you have more support to develop experiences that will delight your customers. Using the new tools, you can visualize work in progress and organize work to align with your team’s methods and processes. Also, you can illustrate user stories using lightweight tools, and implement a continuous feedback strategy to engage your stakeholders.

Upgrading your application-tier servers with the latest update 1 for TFS 2012 provides access to new features provided with the update. To learn more about the new features provided with the latest update, see Learn more about new features.

The following table summarizes the new tasks you can perform using the features made available with the RTM release of TFS 2012. You can initiate or access some features only through Team Web Access or Team Explorer. See Feature accessibility and client applications .

Important noteImportant

To access new features provided with the RTM release of TFS 2012 from an upgraded team project, you must configure them using the Configure Features wizard. See Configure features after a TFS upgrade.

Supported tasks

Supported tasks and new or enhanced features

Plan, track, and manage work visually

  • Manage the product backlog, sprints, and tasks using Agile tools.

  • Run daily standups with a task board.

  • View real-time burn down charts.

  • Balance capacity by activity or team members.

Support multiple teams within a team project

  • Create customized home pages for teams.

  • Specify the areas and iterations a team owns and the dates for sprints to occur.

  • Define and manage team favorites and team alerts.

  • See status and gain quick access to team favorites from a lightweight dashboard.

Engage stakeholders to provide feedback on working software

  • Initiate and manage feedback requests and track responses.

  • Capture actionable data through annotations, screenshots, and video or audio recordings as stakeholders interact with software.

Illustrate requirements with storyboards and link storyboards to work items

  • Quickly depict features and applications to be built using PowerPoint Storyboarding.

  • Link storyboards or any network-shared file to work items.

Work more efficiently, switch context more easily, collaborate more effectively

  • Organize upcoming, ongoing, and suspended work while increasing transparency and reducing the impact of interruptions. 

  • Request and respond to code reviews.

  • Quickly switch context between teams and team projects.

Manage portfolios of team projects using Microsoft Project and Project Server

  • Manage project portfolios and view status and resource availability across software teams.

  • Allow each team member to use the tools that they prefer, work at the level of precision that supports their needs, and share information transparently.

Both Team Web Access and Team Explorer have undergone a face-lift both inside and out. Many of the improvements help to increase performance, provide a richer UI experience, and deliver a more scalable and extensible UI.

One of the things you'll notice right off is the lighter, faster, and feature-rich pages of Team Web Access. As you can see from the image below, the familiar pages –home, source, and build – remain. The new work context now contains the new Agile backlog and task board pages, as well as the work items page. For more information, see Collaborate.

Home page (Team Web Access)

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Team Explorer now supports different pages or contexts, rather than a single page. In addition to the Home page, each "node" from the previous release now has its own page. A convenient search box that appears at the top of each page works just like the one provided with Team Web Access. For more information, see Use Team Explorer to interact with Visual Studio ALM and Find Work Items by ID and by Using the Search Box.

Managing Work in Team Explorer

Many of the changes that you'll see in Team Explorer have been added to support developers to boost developer productivity. For more information, see the My Work and Pending Changes pages that are described below in Work more efficiently, switch context more easily, collaborate more effectively.

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Related topics: Collaborate | Customize the Backlog and Board Pages Using Process Configuration

In the current release, you can manage the backlog and plan sprints using Team Web Access and the backlog and board pages. These tools replace the Excel workbooks provided with the previous versions of Microsoft process templates. You can customize these pages by customizing the process configuration for your team project.

You can quickly define new user stories or product requirements using the Add Panel on the product backlog page. New stories appear in the backlog based on where you’ve placed your current focus (mouse pointer).

You can quickly change the sort order and backlog priority of backlog items simply by dragging the item to a new location within the list. And, you can roughly forecast the number of iterations it will take to complete a set of backlog items by turning on forecast.

You can plan an iteration by dragging items from the product backlog to an iteration. Items remain on the backlog page until their status is changed to an active, committed, or in progress state.

Moving an item into the current iteration

As part of planning an iteration, you can specify time off for the team and individuals, and the capacity of team members and the activity associated with that team member. These entries are used to calculate capacity and burn down charts and are specified separately for each iteration.

Example Capacity for a Team

On the current iteration page, you can add tasks, specify remaining hours for each task, and view the rollup of capacity by activity or individual team member. The backlog page automatically determines which iteration is the current iteration based on the current date and the dates assigned to the iterations.

Sprint in progress, showing capacity

On the task board, you can drag items to different columns to change the status. You can quickly update hours worked and add new tasks. In addition, you can filter the view to focus on just those tasks assigned to individual team members, or switch to view all tasks for all team members.

Example Taskboard for a Team

You can view real-time burn down chart of the current or past iterations. Data in this chart comes from the data store and therefore always reflects the latest data available.

Burndown chart

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Related topics: Collaborate (dig deeper)

All of the Agile tools describe in the previous section can be used by individual teams that work in the same team project. You can use these tools in the ways that best fit with your own software development practices. Small teams that work on different product areas can manage their backlog and iteration cycles, separate from other teams.

You define and manage team membership through the Administration mode in Team Web Access.

Add a User as a Team Administrator

You can define areas and subareas, iterations, and sprint dates to support tracking work and managing sprints.

Example Iterations for a Team

You can use the Team Favorites area on the Home page to display a lightweight dashboard of progress and quick access links. You add an object to Team Favorites from the context menu for the object. From the dashboard, you can see progress and open work item queries, build definitions, and the change history for source control folders.

Lightweight dashboard for Team Web Access

Team members can quickly move back and forth between different teams and team projects.

Switch context to another team

Team members can specify different credentials when connecting to Team Web Access or Team Explorer, a useful feature when testing or developing applications.

Connect to a team project with other credentials

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Related topic: Request and review feedback

Getting the right feedback at the right time from the right individuals can determine the success or failure of a project or application. Frequent and continuous feedback from stakeholders supports teams in building the experiences that will delight customers. As stakeholders work with a solution, they understand the problem better and are able to envision improved ways of solving it.

With the feedback request form, you can specify the focus and items that you want to get feedback about. Use this tool to request feedback about a web or downloadable application that you’re working on for a future release. Upon submitting a feedback request, the system creates a Feedback Request item.

Request feedback link

Upon receiving an email requesting feedback, stakeholders can launch Microsoft Feedback Client or download it for free. Stakeholders can directly interact with working software while recording rich and actionable data for the team in the background through annotations, screenshots, and video or audio recordings.

From the Start page, stakeholders can launch an application and view additional instructions for accessing the software for them to provide feedback.

Launch application to provide feedback

Within the feedback tool, stakeholders can capture their interactions with the software as video, audio, or both. Stakeholders can stop, start, and delete recordings prior to submitting their feedback. In addition, stakeholders can input type-written comments, take and annotate a screen-shot screen, and add a file attachment. And, for each feature that stakeholders review, they can provide an overall rating of one to five stars.

Start recording a feedback sessionAdd text, insert an image, take a screenshot

As each stakeholder responds to a feedback request item, the feedback tool creates a feedback response work item which links to the original request. With the Feedback Requests work item query, you can review all feedback requests and their linked responses.

Feedback requests

You can elect to open or save recordings from the linked session in the Stakeholder Comments field.

Play feedback session recording

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Related topics: Storyboard your ideas using PowerPoint | Add and share storyboard shapes

You can illustrate user stories quickly using PowerPoint Storyboarding, or within a work item by illustrating the story through formatted text and inline images. Providing a visual image of what the team needs to build allows you to get feedback from both your team and stakeholders.

You can quickly prototype a new or modified interface by using PowerPoint Storyboarding. With this tool you can build a storyboard from a collection of pre-defined storyboard shapes, capture existing user interfaces and customize the layouts of your storyboard, and link the storyboard to a work item stored in Team Foundation Server.

To create your storyboard, you can drag and drop images from the Storyboard Shapes pane in addition to using all the features present within PowerPoint. These features include clipping and inserting screenshots, hyperlinking from one page to another, animation, inserting images and shapes, and aligning and grouping objects.

PowerPoint Storyboarding Start Page

You can save a custom shape to My Shapes and then use it in the same way that you use the predefined storyboard shapes. Also, you can export shapes to share with others on your team or import shapes that others have created.

Add shape to My Shapes

By linking storyboards to backlog items, team members can always access the latest version of the storyboard. The Storyboard link type enables this type of linking. From the STORYBOARDS tab, you can link a work item to any file that has been saved to a network share.

Storyboard links control in Team Web Access

Related topics: Develop Your App in a Version-Controlled Codebase | Day in the Life of an ALM Developer: Write New Code for a User Story

Developers can use the Team Explorer My Work, Work Items, and Pending Changes pages to more easily and effectively organize upcoming, ongoing, and suspended work. In particular, as a developer you will find My Work helps you get back into “the zone” by allowing you to easily restore tool windows, breakpoints, file edits, and more when you resume a task that you were working on earlier. 

Related topic: Develop Code and Manage Pending Changes

Using My Work, developers can organize upcoming, ongoing, and suspended work while increasing transparency and reducing the impact of interruptions.

To Do List on My Work Page in Team Navigator

Related topic: Day in the Life of an ALM Developer: Suspend Work, Fix a Bug, and Conduct a Code Review

With one action, Suspend Work, you can save your workspace for one task and clean it to start work on a new task. This action saves your work to Team Foundation Server, including changes to code, tests, and other files, and important bits of state such as open windows, breakpoints, and watch window variables. You can then resume work on a task that you suspended earlier.

Suspending some work

You can conduct multi-party code reviews that include overall, file-level, and code block-level comments and comparison of new code with existing code. Requests and responses are tracked within the new Code Review Request and Code Review Response types of work items.

Related topic: Day in the Life of an ALM Developer: Suspend Work, Fix a Bug, and Conduct a Code Review

Requesting a code review

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Related topics: Enable Data Flow Between Team Foundation Server and Microsoft Project Server | Understanding How Data Flows From Project Server to Team Foundation Server | How to: Add Project Server to Team Foundation Server

By installing Team Foundation Server Extensions for Project Server, project managers can use Project Server to access up-to-date project status and resource availability across agile and formal software teams who plan and track their work in Team Foundation Server. This integration enables data to flow from work items in Team Foundation Server to tasks in enterprise project plans in Project Server. Project managers and software development teams can use the tools that they prefer, work at the level of precision that supports their needs, and share information transparently. After the two server products are configured, the synchronization engine maintains scheduling data and resource usage for the configured data in the mapped enterprise project plan and team project.

As the following illustration shows, data moves from Project Server, to Team Foundation Server, to the status queue in an instance of Project Web Access or Project Web App (PWA), to the enterprise project plan, and finally back to Project Server.

Updates to Mapped and Mirror Fields

Step 1   Team Foundation synchronization: The synchronization engine automatically detects additions and changes that were published to Project Server and pulls those updates into Team Foundation Server.

Step 2   Status synchronization: As team members add or modify work items that are set to Submit to Project Server, the synchronization engine automatically submits updates to the status queue.

Step 3   Approval synchronization: When an update is approved, it appears within the enterprise project plan. Notification of approval or rejection is written to the work item history in Team Foundation.

Step 4   Publish synchronization: When the project manager publishes the project plan, the updates are written to Project Server.

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For a summary of changed and deprecated features, see Changes Made to Upgraded Team Projects.

  • Insert inline images in HTML fields: You can now insert images inline in any work item form field that corresponds to the HTML data type. You can copy and paste HTML text or an image from another application directly into the text box using Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V shortcuts.

  • Bottom-up tree queries: You can now create a tree query that finds parent items based on filters specified for the child items by using the Match linked items first filter option.

  • Merge on save: Now when you save a work item that has been updated by another team member, the system provides you with an option to save the merged set of changes.

  • Contains Words and Does Not Contain Words: You can now find work items by filtering on text fields that are indexed for full-text search, which correspond to: Description, History, Steps to Reproduce, and Title. See Query Fields, Operators, Values, and Variables.

  • Link work items to diagrams: You can now link work items to model diagrams using the Model link type. See Supporting Traceability.

  • PreEmptive Analytics: Through the administration console, you can add third-party PreEmptive Analytics tools that helps provide insights into application adoptions, user behavior, and software quality. Adding these tools uploads additional work item types for tracking purposes. See PreEmptive Analytics.

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