We recommend using Visual Studio 2017
This documentation is archived and is not being maintained.

How to: Set a Default Value

You can set a default value for a work item type field by exporting the XML file and modifying its content. As soon as you have set the default value, you can import the XML file to start to use the updated work item type.

Required Permissions

To perform this procedure you must be a member of the Team Foundation Administrators group or a member of the Project Administrators group for the project. For more information, see Team Foundation Server Permissions.

To set default values

  1. If you are modifying a work item type on a single project, run witexport to export the XML file for the work item type you want to modify. For more information, see How to: Export a Work Item Type from an Existing Project.

  2. In Visual Studio, click File, click Open, and then click File.

    This displays the Open File dialog box.

  3. Under Look in, move to the location where you exported the file.

    If you are modifying a work item type to customize a process template, move to the location where you downloaded the process template.


    If you are running Windows Vista, you might not have access rights to certain folders. If you try to export the work item type to a location where you do not have access rights, the registry virtualization technology automatically redirects the exported file and saves it to the virtual store. For more information, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=92325 and http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=92323. To avoid this redirection, you can export the file to a location where you have access rights.

  4. Select the work item type XML file that you want to update, and then click Open. When you are prompted about line endings, click No.

  5. Find the <FIELDS> section of the XML file, and in it, the field you want to modify.

  6. Set the default value for the field by adding the rule shown as highlighted in the following XML.

    <FIELD name="My Field" refname="MyCompany.MyProcess.MyField" type="String" reportable="dimension">
                <LISTITEM value="Process Management" />
                <LISTITEM value="Planning" />
                <LISTITEM value="Execution" />
                <LISTITEM value="Review" />
        <DEFAULT from="value" value="Execution" />
  7. On the toolbar, click Save to save changes to the XML file.

  8. To import the new work item type to a single project, see How to: Import a Work Item Type to an Existing Project.

    To add the work item type to your process template, see Work Item Types.

To verify changes imported to a single project

  1. In Team Explorer, click Refresh to download the latest updates from the server.

    These updates include the changes that you just imported. Wait several seconds until all the nodes are loaded. Nodes that are still loading are labeled working.

  2. Create a new work item using the work item type you modified. To do this, right-click the Work Items node, point to Add Work Item, and then click the work item type.

    This work item is created from the work item type that you changed and imported.

  3. Notice that the modified field now uses the specified value.


    DEFAULT rules come into effect only if the targeted field is empty. Default rules do not cause existing values to be overwritten. COPY rules can be used to copy values into fields and overwrite existing values. For XML that illustrates the COPY rule, see the How to: Change the Workflow of a Work Item Type.

  4. Click Close to close the new work item. Click No when you are prompted to save the work item.

See Also