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History & auditing

Last Updated: 9/30/2016

Team Services | TFS "15" | TFS 2015 | Previous versions

The history of a work item tells you who opened the item, what changed, and why. This information helps you track how an item changes over time. When you enter information in the history field, provide as much information as possible to help the next work item owner understand what has happened and what they have to do.

You can use either the web portal or Team Explorer to view the history of a work item or find work items based on the contents of the History field. When you perform a search on the contents of the History field, it returns only work items that have changes recorded in that field. That is, it doesn't register changes that were made to text in other fields.

Find work items based on the contents of the History field

You use the query editor to add the History field to a query clause.

You can filter for work items by the date on which they were changed or for a specific time period. If you limit the scope of your query, it can help with performance by only returning those results that fit the date range that you want to include.

Filter forInclude these query clauses
Items whose History field contains the word "reproducible"
History Contains Words reproducible
Items whose History field doesn't contain the word "beta" History Does Not Contain Words beta
Items that contain the phrase "stack traces" and were closed but reactivated       History Contains Words stack traces
      State Was Ever Closed
      State <> Closed
Items closed within a specified time period       State = Done
      Closed Date > 7/1/2015
      Closed Date <= 7/21/2015
Items I've been associated with       History Contains Words MyName
      Assigned To Was Ever @Me

Tips for using the query editor

  • Type the complete word or phrase that is specified in the History fields of those work items that you want to find.
  • Enter the full text for the word that you want to search. The History field is indexed for full-text search. If you enter only a partial word, the query will not return work items that contain the full word. For example, if the History field contains the phrase reproducible behavior and you search for repro, the work item will not be found. However, if you search for the complete word reproducible, the work item will be found. You can also search for the string with a wild card, such as repro*.
  • The query editor ignores common words or stop words as defined in Configure and Manage Stopwords and Stoplists for Full-Text Search.
  • On the query editor toolbar, click Run query or Run query icon and confirm that your query returns expected results.
  • If you don't receive the results you expect, adjust the word or phrase that you entered, and run the query again.

View the history of work items

An entry is made to the History field each time a work item is saved. To view the history of changes, open an existing work item, and then choose the history tab icon or History tab, or for some work item types, choose the Details tab.

To view only the comments that were added to the log, choose the Discussion Only tab. To view all changes made to the item, choose the All Changes tab, and then choose the show all changes link for a specific date and time.

View History tab - TFS Web portal, Team Explorer

View History tab - Team Services
Note: The History field is no longer a rich-text field. To annotate the work item history, add to the Description or Discussion fields.

If you open the work item from the web portal, you'll see the state change history diagram. To see the entire history of state changes, choose Show all.

State change history diagram (web portal only)

The history details shown depend on the platform, version, and client you user.

To view only the comments that were added to the log, choose the Discussion Only tab. To view all changes made to the item, choose the All Changes tab, and then choose the show all changes link for a specific date and time.

View change history

Click an entry in the left pane to view the details of changes made.

History tab - Team Services

Fields that support history, auditing, and revision tracking

You can use the following fields to filter queries and create reports. Several of these fields are populated with information as a work item progresses from one state to another. Other fields update when the work item is modified. Some fields don't appear on the work item form, but they are tracked for the WITs listed.

Field nameDescriptionWork item type

Changed By

The name of the team member who modified the work item most recently. All

Change Date

The date and time when a work item was modified.


Closed Date 1

The date and time when a work item was closed.


Created Date

The date and time when a work item was created.

History The record of changes that were made to the work item after it was created. Every time that the work item is updated, information is appended to the history, which specifies the date of the change, who made the changes, and which fields were changed.

You can add formatted text to the history field. Once you've saved the work item, you can't alter the history.

The History field, along with the Description, Steps to Repro and Title fields are automatically indexed for full-text search as described in Query fields, operators, values, and variables.


Resolved Date 1

The date and time when the work item was moved into a Resolved state. (Agile and CMMI process templates only)



A number that is assigned to the historical revision of a work item.


State Change Date

The date and time when the value of the State field changed.

Test Suite Audit Tracks additional operations performed when modifying a test suite, for example: adding tests to a test suite or changing configurations. This field can be viewed through the History tab or through a separate query. There will be a consolidated history view, including changes performed to work items field and changes resulting from related artifacts such as test points and configurations. Test Suite

1 For these fields to be defined for a WIT, they must be included in the WORKFLOW section of the WIT definition. For example, this syntax is included within the FIELDS definition when transitioning to a Resolved state:

<FIELD refname="Microsoft.VSTS.Common.ResolvedDate">  
   <SERVERDEFAULT from="clock" />  

To learn more about creating and saving queries, see these resources:

Getting the history programmatically

See the following resources for ways to extract history information programmatically.


On-premises TFS

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