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Troubleshooting Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Project Work Item Integration

The following information assists you with troubleshooting problems that can occur when you use Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Project.

Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Project require a connection to Team Foundation Server when they perform certain actions such as publishing or refreshing data, updating areas and iterations, and viewing links and attachments. If problems occur when the program connects, you may see error messages indicating that Team Foundation Server cannot be found.


  • Check that you have installed Team Explorer on your computer. If the project plan or spreadsheet you are opening was sent to you through e-mail, you may not have the Team Explorer add-in that is required to make the list operational. For more information about installing Team Explorer, see the Team Foundation Installation Guide (

  • Check that you have permissions. If the errors you receive indicate read-only or blocked actions, you may not have permission to act on the data. For more information, see Team Foundation Server Permissions.

  • Check that network connections on your computer are functioning correctly. Try to run other applications that also require network connections. If they also have problems, then there is likely a network problem.

  • Check that Team Foundation Server is operational. Try connecting from Team Explorer. If you cannot connect from Team Explorer, then Team Foundation Server may not be available or the Team Foundation Server name may have changed.

  • Check to see whether the Team Foundation Server name has changed. If the Team Foundation Server name has changed, you must re-create your work item lists and Microsoft Project connections. To connect a project plan to a new Team Foundation Server, you must create a new project plan. To re-create a work item list, see the procedure in the next section.

When you create a work item list, the Team Explorer add-in caches connection information about the list inside the spreadsheet. If the data becomes corrupted, the work item list may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • The banner at the top of the list is missing.

  • The list appears disconnected. For example, when you select a cell, the drop-down button does not appear for selecting values.

A common cause of problems with work item lists is when updates are made without the Team Explorer add-in. For example, if you send the spreadsheet through e-mail to a user who does not have Team Explorer installed, they can make unrestricted changes to the work item list. When you reopen the modified spreadsheet on a computer that has Team Explorer installed, the work item list may no longer function correctly.


  • Check that you have not created any list objects that begin with the name VSTS_. This prefix is used by the Team Explorer add-in to identify work item lists. If you use a macro to create other list objects that have the same prefix in the name, the work item lists will not function correctly.

  • Check if offline changes have corrupted the list. When working offline, or without the Team Explorer add-in, unrestricted changes can be made to the list. In general you can correct these problems by refreshing or publishing the list.

  • Check that you have appropriate permissions for the work that you are performing on the work item list. For example, if you have read-only permissions, the Team Explorer add-in will prevent you from changing cells when you are connected to Team Foundation Server. This may appear as if the list is not functioning correctly. For more information, see Team Foundation Server Permissions.

  • If you cannot fix the work item list, you can re-create it using the following procedure:

To re-create a work item list

  1. Make a backup copy of the spreadsheet. This will prevent data loss such as losing unpublished data in the list.

  2. Select the whole work item list.

  3. From the Edit menu, select Delete.

  4. Select the cell where you want to create the new work item list. Be sure there is sufficient room to create the list.

  5. On the Team menu, select New List.


    If the spreadsheet is not bound to Team Foundation Server, you are prompted to connect to one. For more information, see How to: Connect to Team Foundation from Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project.

  6. In the New List dialog box, you can create a query list or an input list.

  7. To create a query list, select the Query List option, and click a team query from the Select a Query drop-down list.

  8. To create an input list, select the Input List option.

  9. Click OK.

  10. Select the columns you want to appear in the new work item list. For more information, see How to: Add or Remove Columns in the Work Item List.

  11. Import work items if you created an input list. For more information, see How to: Import Work Items in Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project.

  12. Save the spreadsheet.

If you select a new area path or iteration path for a project task, the available options may appear out-of-date. If you view or edit areas and iterations from the Team menu, they will appear up-to-date. This is because the Areas and Iterations dialog box maintains a connection to Team Foundation Server. The area path and iteration path columns in the project plan are maintained through a cache. The cache is only updated when you refresh the project plan.


  • If the areas and iterations appear out-of-date, refresh the project plan. From the Team menu, select Refresh.

If the problem you are troubleshooting does not appear here, there are other resources available to help track down the issue. For more information, see Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server Known Issues ( or to view knowledge base articles, visit Microsoft's support Web site (