Syntax for the Work Item Query Language (WIQL)

Last Update: 4/4/2017

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You can use the WIQL syntax to construct a query that you submit from a web browser or using the Work Item Query Language (REST API).

A query defined using the Work Item Query Language (WIQL) consists of a SELECT statement that lists the fields to be returned as columns in the result set. You can further qualify the result set by using a logical expression. You can specify a sort order. Use an ASOF clause to state that a query is evaluated as of a previous time.

The WIQL syntax is not case sensitive.

Example queries

The following typical WIQL query example uses reference names for the fields. The query selects work items (no work item type specified) with a Priority=1. The query returns the ID and Title of the return set as columns. The results are sorted by ID in ascending order.

SELECT System.ID, System.Title from workitems 
where Priority=1 order by System.ID asc

The general format of a query consists of a SELECT statement and a qualifying WHERE clause. The following examples illustrate the basic syntax.

SELECT Select_List
   FROM workitems
   [WHERE Conditions]
   [ORDER BY Column_List]
   [ASOF DateTimeConditions]

The following example statements show specific qualifying clauses.

Clause Example
AND
SELECT [System.Id], [System.Title]
   FROM WorkItems
   WHERE [System.TeamProject] = @project
   AND [System.AssignedTo] = 'Judy Lew'
OR
SELECT [System.Id], [System.Title] 
   FROM WorkItems 
   WHERE [System.TeamProject] = @project 
   AND ( [System.AssignedTo] = 'Mark Steele'
   OR [System.AssignedTo] = 'Merav Sror' )
NOT
SELECT [System.Id], [System.Title] 
   FROM WorkItems 
   WHERE [System.TeamProject] = @project 
   AND  [System.AssignedTo] EVER 'Anne Wallace'
   AND [System.AssignedTo] NOT CONTAINS 'Danny Levin'
EVER
SELECT [System.Id], [System.Title] 
   FROM WorkItems 
   WHERE [System.TeamProject] = @project 
   AND  [System.AssignedTo] EVER 'Anne Wallace'
UNDER
SELECT [System.Id], [System.Title] 
   FROM WorkItems 
   WHERE [System.TeamProject] = @project 
   AND [System.AssignedTo] EVER 'David Galvin'
   AND [System.AreaPath] UNDER 'Agile1\Area 0'
Sort (ORDER)
SELECT [System.Id], [System.Title] 
   FROM WorkItems 
   WHERE [System.TeamProject] = @project 
   AND [System.AssignedTo] = 'Jon Ganio'
   ORDER BY [System.Id] [asc | desc]
Time filter (ASOF)
SELECT [System.Title] 
   FROM workitems 
   WHERE [System.IterationPath] = 'MyProject\Beta' 
   AND [System.AssignedTo] = 'Jim Daly' 
   ASOF '3/16/06 12:30'

Fields

When specifying fields, you can use the reference name or friendly name. The following examples are valid WIQL syntax.

Supported field references Example
Using reference name with spaces
SELECT [System.AssignedTo] FROM ...
Using a friendly name with spaces
SELECT [Assigned To] FROM ...
Using names without spaces—no square brackets required
SELECT ID, Title FROM ...

Operators

Queries use logical expressions to qualify result sets. These logical expressions are formed by one or more conjoined operations.

Some simple query operations are listed below.

WHERE [System.AssignedTo] = 'joselugo'  
WHERE [Adatum.CustomMethodology.Severity] >= 2

The table below summarizes all the supported operators for different field types. For additional information on each field type, see Field data types and attributes.

The =, <>, >, <, >=, and <= operators work as expected. For instance, System.ID > 100 queries for all work items with an ID greater than 100. System.ChangedDate > '1/1/16 12:00:00' queries for all work items changed after noon of January 1, 2016.

Beyond these basic operators, there are some behaviors and operators specific to certain field types.

Field type Supported operators
Integer, Double, GUID =, <>, >, <, >=, <=
Boolean =
DateTime =, <>, >, <, >=, <=
String =, <>, >, <, >=, <=, Contains
PlainText Contains
TreePath Under, =, <>

DateTime

You must quote (single or double quotes are supported) DateTime literals used in comparisons. They must be in the .NET DateTime format of the local client computer running the query. Unless a time zone is specified, DateTime literals are in the time zone of the local computer.

WHERE [Adatum.Lite.ResolvedDate] >= '1/8/06 GMT' and [Resolved Date/Time] < '1/9/06 GMT'
WHERE [Resolved Date] >= '1/8/06 14:30:01'

When the time is omitted in a DateTime literal and the dayPrecision parameter equals false, the time is assumed to be zero (midnight). The default setting for the dayPrecision parameter is false.

String and PlainText

You must quote string literals (single or double quotes are supported) in a comparison with a string or plain text field. String literals support all Unicode characters.

WHERE [Adatum.Lite.Blocking] = 'Not Blocking'
WHERE [Adatum.Lite.Blocking] <> 'Blocked'

You can use the contains operator to search for a substring anywhere in the field value.

WHERE [System.Description] contains 'WIQL' 

Area and Iteration (TreePath)

You can use the under operator for the Area and Iteration Path fields. under evaluates whether a value is within the sub-tree of a specific classification node. For instance, the expression below would evaluate to true if the Area Path were 'MyProject\Server\Administration', 'MyProject\Server\Administration\Feature 1', 'MyProject\Server\Administration\Feature 2\SubFeature 5', or any other node within the sub-tree.

WHERE [System.AreaPath] under 'MyProject\Server\Administration'

Modifiers and special operators

You can use some modifiers and special operators in a query expression.

Use the in operator to evaluate whether a field value is equal to any of a set of values. This operator is supported for the String, Integer, Double, and DateTime field types. See the following example along with its semantic equivalent.

WHERE [System.CreatedBy] in ('joselugo', 'jeffhay', 'linaabola')
WHERE [System.CreatedBy] = 'joselugo' OR [System.CreatedBy] = 'jeffhay' OR [System.CreatedBy] = 'linaabola'

The ever operator is used to evaluate whether a field value equals or has ever equaled a particular value throughout all past revisions of work items. The String, Integer, Double, and DateTime field types support this operator. There are alternate syntaxes for the ever operator. For example, the snippets below query whether all work items were ever assigned to 'joselugo'.

WHERE ever ([Assigned To] = ‘joselugo')
WHERE [Assigned To] ever ‘joselugo'

Logical grouping

You can use the terms and and or in the typical Boolean sense to evaluate two clauses. You can group logical expressions and further conjoin them, as needed. Examples are shown below.

WHERE [System.State] = ‘Active' and [System.AssignedTo] = 'joselugo' and ([System.CreatedBy] = 'linaabola' 
    OR [Adatum.CustomMethodology.ResolvedBy] = 'jeffhay') 
    AND [System.State] = 'Closed'
    WHERE [System.State] = 'Active'
    AND [System.State] EVER 'Closed'

You can negate the contains, under, in, and ever operators by using not. The examples below query for all work items that are not classified within the sub-tree of 'MyProject\Feature1'.

WHERE [System.AreaPath] not under 'MyProject\Feature1'
WHERE [System.AssignedTo] not ever 'joselugo'

Macros

The following table lists the macros or variables you can use within a WIQL query.

Macro Usage
@Me Use this variable to automatically search for the current user's alias in a field that contains user aliases. For example, you can find work items that you opened if you set the Field column to Activated By, the Operator column to =, and the Value column to @Me.
@CurrentIteration Use this variable to automatically filter for work items assigned to the current sprint for the selected team based on the selected team context.
@Project Use this variable to search for work items in the current team project. For example, you can find all the work items in the current team project if you set the Field column to Team Project, the Operator column to =, and the Value column to @Project.
@Today Use this variable to search for work items that relate to the current date or to an earlier date. You can also modify the @Today variable by subtracting days. For example, you can find all items activated in the last week if you set the Field column to Activated Date, the Operator column to >=, and the Value column to @Today - 7.
[Any] Use this variable to search for work items that relate to any value that is defined for a particular field.
NOTE

Both the @me and @today macros have default values.

@me macro

The @me macro substitutes the Windows Integrated account name of the user who runs the query. The example below shows how to use the macro and the equivalent static statement. Although the macro is intended for fields such as Assigned To, you can use it for any String field, although the result may not be meaningful.

[System.AssignedTo] = @Me
[System.AssignedTo] = 'joselugo'

@today macro

You can use the @today macro with any DateTime field. This macro substitutes midnight of the current date on the local computer that runs the query. You can also specify @today+x or @today-y using integer offsets for x days after @today and y days before @today, respectively. Note that a query that uses the @today macro can return different result sets depending on the time zone in which it is run.

The example below assumes that today is 1/3/16.

[System.CreatedDate] = @today

is the equivalent of:

[System.CreatedDate] = '1/3/16'

and

[System.CreatedDate] > @today-2

is the equivalent of:

[System.CreatedDate] > '1/1/16'

Custom macros

WIQL also supports arbitrary custom macros. Any string prefixed by an '@' is treated as a custom macro and will be substituted. The substitute value for the custom macro is retrieved from the context parameter of the query method in the object model. The following method is the API used for macros:

public WorkItemCollection Query(string wiql, IDictionary context)

The context parameter contains key-value pairs for macros. For example, if the context contains a key-value pair of (project, MyProject), then '@project' will be replaced by 'MyProject' in the WIQL. This is how the work item query builder handles the @project macro in Visual Studio.

Historical queries (ASOF)

You can use an ASOF clause in a query to filter for work items that satisfy the specified condition on a specific date at a specific time.

For example, suppose a work item was classified under an iteration path of MyProject\ProjArea and assigned to 'Mark Hanson' on 3/17/16. However, the work item was recently assigned to 'Roger Harui' and moved to a new iteration path of Release. The following example query will return this work item because the query is based on the state of work items as of a past date and time.

NOTE

If no time is specified, WIQL uses midnight. If no time zone is specified, WIQL uses the time zone of the local client computer.

SELECT [System.Title] 
    FROM workitems 
    WHERE ([System.IterationPath] = 'MyProject\ProjArea' and [System.AssignedTo] = 'Mark Hanson') 
    ASOF '3/16/16 12:30'

Sorting results (ORDER BY)

You can use the ORDER BY clause to sort the results of a query by one or more fields in ascending or descending order.

NOTE

The sorting preferences of the SQL server on the data tier determine the default sort order. However, you can use the asc or desc parameters to choose an explicit sort order.

The following example sorts work items first by Priority in ascending order, and then by Created Date in descending order.

SELECT [System.Title] 
    FROM workitems 
    WHERE [System.State] = ‘Active' and [System.AssignedTo] = ‘joselugo' 
    ORDER BY [Microsoft.VSTS.Common.Priority] asc, [System.CreatedDate] desc