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Working with Process Template Files

You customize the initial configuration of team projects for Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) by customizing one or more process template files. You can customize several types of template files, which include the root XML file, plug-in files, and XML definition files. By customizing these files, you can define the initial configuration of all team projects that are created from the process template.

You can customize elements of an existing team project by changing how its reports, work item types, and project portal function. In this case, your changes affect the way people work in that project, but they do not affect existing or future projects. For more information, see Customizing Your Team Project.

In this topic

You customize the root XML file, ProcessTemplate.xml, to define the sequence of plug-in files to be processed and the dependencies of each plug-in. The ProcessTemplate.xml file contains all task groups that must run to successfully create a team project. Each task group references a subordinate XML plug-in file (often in a subfolder) where the specific tasks are defined. In general, you specify one task group for each plug-in.

When the New Team Project Wizard creates a team project, it runs the set of plug-ins that are defined in the ProcessTemplate.xml file. For more information, see Defining the Root Tasks Using the Process Template Plug-in File.

Plug-in files define the tasks that will be run and the screens that appear when a project lead creates a team project by using the New Team Project wizard. Each plug-in file defines one or more tasks. Tasks either specify to upload a file, set permissions for a group, or define some other configuration element. The process templates for Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) provide 11 plug-in files. Each plug-in can be modified to customize a process template. Except for the Classification plug-in, plug-ins can also be deleted from the process template.

Each plug-in reads the set of tasks and dependencies to obtain the list of tasks that it must run and determine whether the requisite preceding tasks have been run. By using these definition files, you specify the initial configurations that each plug-in must implement.

A plug-in uploads files or configures data for a specific functional area. For example, the Work Item Tracking plug-in sets up work item types, queries, and initial work items for a new team project. The MSF process templates include the plug-in files that are described in the following table. For information about how to customize each of these files, see Customizing Functional Areas within a Process Template.


Plug-in file




Defines the tasks to configure the initial security permissions that are assigned to identities for Team Foundation Build and to upload the build template files.



Defines the initial iterations and areas of a team project.

Groups and Permissions


Defines the initial security groups of a team project and their permissions.



Defines the tasks to configure the initial security permissions that are assigned to identities for Visual Studio Lab Management.



Defines the initial reports for a team project and sets up the report site.

Test Management


Defines the test management files to upload that will create the initial test variables, configurations, settings, and resolution states of a team project. These settings are used by Microsoft Test Manager.

Version Control


Defines the initial security permissions for version control, check-in notes for a team project, and whether exclusive check-out is required.

WorkItem Tracking


Defines the initial work item types, queries, and work item instances of a team project.

Windows SharePoint Services


Defines the project portal for the team based on a template for a SharePoint site. Also defines template files and process guidance.

Project leads create team projects by using the New Team Project Wizard. The screens that appear in the wizard are determined by the plug-ins that are used. For example, if a process template does not include the plug-in for Windows SharePoint Services, no screen appears to ask the project lead for information about the project portal.

After the project lead finishes the wizard and clicks Finish, the wizard makes calls to the plug-ins to perform the work of creating the team project. The order in which the plug-ins are called is determined by the XML process definition files.

The following table describes the XML definition files that are used to configure the initial states for Microsoft Test Manager. These files are located in the Test Management folder. Microsoft Test Manager is available with Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and Microsoft Visual Studio Test Professional 2010. For more information, see Defining the Initial Configuration of Test Manager and Testing the Application.




Configures the default test configurations (hardware and software) that are defined for a team project. After the project is created, you can delete these configurations and create other configurations.


Defines the test resolution states that are used by Test Runner and Microsoft Test Manager.

You cannot change these states after the team project is created.


Specifies the initial test settings files. Only one file is specified, localrun.testsettings.


Defines the initial test variables. After the project is created, you can modify these variables and create other variables.

Team members use work items to track work. You might want to expand the selection of work items that is provided by Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) so that it better serves the processes that your team uses and the ways that you communicate. To do that, you can author new work item types. A work item type is a template from which new work items are created. You can also modify existing work item types.

The following table describes the XML definition files that are used to configure objects that are used to track work items. These files can be customized for a process template or afterward for an individual team project.






Specifies the file that defines how fields are mapped from Office Project to Team Foundation. For more information, see Mapping Microsoft Project Fields to Team Foundation Fields.

WorkItem Tracking/Work Item Types

MSF Agile Software Development:

  • Bug

  • Issue

  • Shared Steps

  • Task

  • Test Case

  • User Story

MSF for Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Process Improvement:

  • Bug

  • Change Request

  • Issue

  • Requirement

  • Review

  • Risk

  • Shared Steps

  • Task

  • Test Case

Defines the fields, workflow, and form for each type of work item. For more information about the work items that are defined for the MSF process templates, see the following topics:

For more information about how to customize or create work item types, see Customizing Project Tracking Data, Forms, Workflow, and Other Objects.

Work Item Types/LinkTypes

MSF Agile Software Development:

  • SharedSteps

  • TestedBy

MSF for CMMI Process Improvement:

  • Affects

  • SharedSteps

  • TestedBy

Defines additional types of links that are used to create relationships among work items.

For more information, see Customizing How Work Items are Related through Link Types.

Work Item Types

Global Lists

No global lists are defined in the default MSF process templates.

Global lists define a list of menu items that is shared across work item types and team projects. You can define global lists within work item types that you upload with your process template. For more information, see Defining Global Lists.

Work Item Types


  • Bug Category

  • Requirement Category

  • Test Case Category

  • Shared Step Category

Defines groups that associate a type of work item with a category. For more information, see Grouping Work Item Types into Categories.

Work Item Types/Queries

Team work item queries (.wiq)

Defines an initial set of team queries that support finding work items. You can add or modify these queries. For more information, see Add Work Item Queries to a Process Template.

Process guidance files are uploaded to a team project portal. These files specify links to process guidance content, project management workbooks, and sample templates and documents. All of these objects can be customized for a process template or afterward when they are defined for a team project.

The following table describes the process guidance files that are included in the MSF process templates.


Process template files do not include dashboards or Microsoft Excel reports. These files are added to the team project, depending on selections that are made when a team project is created. If no SharePoint site is provisioned for the team project, no dashboards or Office Excel reports are available. For more information about these artifacts, see the following topics: Dashboards (Agile), Dashboards (CMMI), Excel Reports (Agile), and Excel Reports (CMMI).


File type


Windows SharePoint Services/Process Guidance/Supporting Files

.htm files

Defines process guidance URL files. These files define the URL that is opened when a team member clicks Open process guidance for work item in a work item form. The MSF process templates contain links to topics on the Microsoft Web site. These files can be customized to point to other resources for process guidance.

Windows SharePoint Services/Shared Documents

.xslx files

Defines Microsoft Excel workbooks to support project management and bug triage.

Excel workbooks are defined only in the MSF process template for agile software development.

For more information, see Workbooks (Agile).

Windows SharePoint Services/Samples and Templates

.docx, .dotx, and .xslx files

Provides sample documents and templates as a starting point for creating work products. These files are uploaded to the team project portal when a SharePoint site is provisioned for the team project.