Customizing Project Tracking Data, Forms, Workflow, and Other Objects

You can customize how you track your team project and how you design your workflow, work item forms, and data fields by customizing one or more work item tracking objects. You can customize the following work item tracking objects:

  • Work item type defines the rules, fields, states, and transitions for a work item that will be tracked on a team project, such as bugs, requirements, and risks. This object also specifies the fields you can use to track data and display the form for the work item type. There are three main components that define a work item type:
    • Work item fields define the types of data that are associated with a work item type. Each field is defined by a number of attributes, including its data type, use in reporting, and whether or not it is indexed. You can also specify optional elements that restrict, auto-populate, or place conditions on the values that can be entered in the field through the work item form.
    • Workflow defines how a work item is tracked by defining the states, transitions, and reasons by which a work item progresses from an open or active state to a closed or completed state.
    • Work item form defines the layout and contents that appear on the form that team members interact with to track work item data.
  • Link type defines the rules and restrictions that control the relationships that can be made between work items.
  • Global list defines a list of values, a pick list, that you can use across work item types to select a value for a work item field.
  • Category defines a group of work item types that track similar items of work but are referred to by different names. Categories are useful for running queries, generating reports, and setting default work item types in specific instances.

Your team members can use work items to track work to be completed on a project. They can create a work item based on a default work item type such as a bug, requirement, risk, or task. The exact set of default work item types available depends on the installed methodology, such as Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) for Agile Software Development and MSF for CMMI Process Improvement. A work item type is a template from which work items of that type are created.

You can add customized work item types to the default set to make Team Foundation help with the processes your team uses and the ways that you communicate. For example, you might want to create work item types for a project-specific bug, a change request, a quality of service requirement, a risk to manage, and a scenario-based task.

After you create a work item, it contains the fields and behavior that were defined in the work item type from which you created it.

Each work item type is a set of XML definitions that you can author or modify to customize the work item type to meet your needs.

In addition to creating work item types, you can also modify existing work item types. For example, to better support the processes used by your team, you can add fields to a work item type or change the workflow behavior of a work item type.

You can create and modify objects to track work items by using Process Editor, a power tool for Visual Studio. This tool is not supported. For more information, see the following page on the Microsoft Web site: Team Foundation Server Power Tools April 2010.

Common Tasks

  • 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. Each work item type corresponds to an XML definition file that is imported to a team project.
  • Understand how to name fields and other work item tracking objects. You can specify a friendly name for all work item tracking objects, and for some you must also specify a reference name. Both types of names must meet the requirements defined based on the object type.
  • Create and customize a type of work item. You can create a type of work item from an existing type, and then 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.
  • Identify how you use existing fields to track information and progress. You can define and customize types of work items more easily if you use existing fields to store common kinds of data.
  • 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 as well as to generate reports. Any data element that you want to track, use to define the workflow, or appear on the form for a work item type must be defined in the work item type definition file by using the FIELD element.
  • 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. The WORKFLOW section of the work item type controls how a work item is tracked.
  • 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.
  • 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, reporting, and team collaboration.

Related Tasks

  • Look up the schema definition for an element of a work item type. You can view the syntax used for each schema element that is associated with types of work items.
  • Work Item Type Schema Reference
  • Determine the work item customization option that supports your tracking requirements. You can customize work item types for your teams and projects and what determines the scope of your changes.
  • Determining the Scope of Your Customization Requirements
  • Identify what can be localized in a work item type definition. You can localize some parts of the work item type definition so that they appear in the user’s native language.
  • Work Item Type Definition Localization and Globalization
  • Understand what types of links support your project requirements. Before you start to create links between work items, you should analyze how you might use links to plan your project and track the status of work items.
  • Choosing Link Types to Effectively Track Your Project
  • Import, export, and manage work item tracking objects. With the witadmin command-line utility, you can create, delete, import, and export categories, global lists, types of links, types of work items, and work item fields. Management of these objects is performed for a project collection or a specific team project.

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