Customizing Your Team Project

When you create a new team project in Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), the team project settings, tools, and content are determined by the process template that is selected in the New Team Project Wizard. As you work with the team project, you may find that the initial settings no longer meet your needs and that you must customize the team project.

For example, you may find that the Contributors group that was created by the process template is too general and that you need more role-specific groups, such as Developer and Tester. Or you may find that the default team queries are useful but that you need to provide additional team queries. After your team project is created, you can customize it in several ways.

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Create groups or change existing groups. As a project administrator, you control what tasks team members can perform by specifying group membership and permissions. To simplify this task, Team Foundation provides default groups and permissions settings.

If the default groups are not adequate or appropriate, you can update those groups or create new groups. You can also add or remove individual users to a group or grant and revoke permissions for a group.

Set permissions on team query folders. You can organize and share team queries by using folders and subfolders. You can set permissions on queries and folders that are created under Team Queries to enable or restrict access. You can set permissions for individual users, Windows groups, or Visual Studio Team Foundation Server groups.

When you create a new team project by using either of the Visual Studio ALM process templates, the team project does not include a classification structure for areas, and includes a minimal set of iteration paths. If you use a process template from another company, the areas and iterations for the team project may not be set.

You can customize the structure of your team project by defining a hierarchical set of features or components as area paths. In addition, you can define a hierarchical set of time periods, known as iterations or sprints. By providing these two structural hierarchies, team members can assign their work to the corresponding product area and to the iteration in which the work is to occur.

For more information, see Create and Modify Areas and Iterations.

You can customize work item types to fit your workflow or different types of work items that you want to track. For example, you can customize types of work items in the following ways:

  • Add fields.

  • Rename fields.

  • Restrict the list of allowed values for fields.

  • Make fields required or read-only.

  • Make one field dependent on another.

  • Automatically populate field values.

  • Rearrange the appearance of information on the form.

  • Change the states and supported state transitions.

  • Change which Microsoft Project column a certain field is mapped to.


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Add, remove, or customize how you use a work item field to track data. You can customize an existing work item type or create a work item type to meet your project tracking requirements.

Add, remove, or customize how you use a work item field to track data. You use work item fields to track data for a work item type and to define the filter criteria for queries, in addition to generating reports. Any data element that you want to track, to use to define the workflow, or to appear on the form for a work item type must be defined in the work item type definition file by using the FIELD element.

Modify and customize the work item form for a work item type. You can control the way a work item type displays user-interface elements through the FORM section of the work item type definition. Each work item type must have one and only one form. You describe the whole form, which includes all its tabs, fields, and groups.

Share pick lists across work item types. To quickly update the contents of pick lists that are used for many work item types, you define global lists.

Add, remove, or modify the states or transitions that control workflow. You control the workflow by defining its initial state, its valid states, the valid transitions between those states, and the users or groups that have permission to perform those transitions.

Modify how fields map from Office Project to Team Foundation. If you use Office Project to plan and schedule your team projects, you may want to review and modify the field mappings that are used for scheduling. If you add new data fields to a work item type, you can map the field so that it appears in your plan.

The Office Project field mapping file is an XML file that you can upload and download from the server that hosts the team project collection.


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Create a type of work item. You can create a type of work item from an existing type. You can add a field, add rules to the field, define the allowed values for the field, add states and transitions for the type, and change the form layout for the type.

Create and customize link types. You can customize an existing link type or create a link type to meet your project tracking requirements. Link types are used to create relationships between work items.

Create and manage categories of work item types. You can group one or more work item types in the same project into a category. Categories are useful when your team projects contain similar work item types that are named differently. Define categories to support queries, reports, and team collaboration.


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Track the status of work items and generate reports. You can generate a list of work items by using work item queries. You can build simple or complex queries to pinpoint the information that you need. Also, you can display results of a query by using a flat list or by using a tree list that illustrates the linked associations among work items.

Define reports that support your project tracking requirements. Depending on the process template that you use to create your team project, you may have several reports already defined. You can customize these reports even more or create new reports. These reports may contain new data fields that you added to work item types.

You can create your own custom reports by using Business Intelligence Development Studio, by using the SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services designer, or by extracting the reports and editing their XML manually.

Define dashboards that provide insight about the progress of your team. Depending on the process template that you use to create your team project, you may have several dashboards already defined. You can customize these dashboards even more or create new dashboards.


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Create or maintain process guidance for your team. Process guidance explains all the roles, forms, reports, and workflow that are used in a team project. You can create process guidance to match the processes that your team should follow and customize that guidance as needed.

Change the format of alerts. You can customize the content and format of e-mail notifications for changes that you or your team members make to work items. For example, you can generate notifications for projects, work items, and build events, and you can customize the appearance and behavior of the notifications that are sent to team members.

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