Differences between Team Services and TFS process template customizations

Last Update: 4/24/2017

Team Services (Hosted XML)


Feature availability:  Import process supports the Hosted XML process model which allows you to manage customizations through updating the WIT definition of a process template. This feature is only available for accounts that have been migrated to Team Services using the TFS Data Import Service. Contact us if you have any questions about Team Services process customization.

If you use the Inheritance process model, you can customize your work tracking through the user interface by creating an inherited process.

If you use the On-premises XML process model, you can customize a process template, see Upload or download a process template and Customize a process template.

To learn more about process models, see Customize work tracking.

Team Services uses a different model than Team Foundation Server (TFS) for relating projects and process.

  • In TFS, process templates are used as starting points for projects and once a project is created, the project is the scope you customize.
  • In Team Services, process is shared across multiple projects and is the scope you customize.

The structure and overall syntax used in defining process templates remains the same, with only a few minor differences existing between templates you customize for import into Team Services and those you upload to support an on-premises TFS.

Unsupported customizations and unreferenced plug-in files

Custom link types and global lists aren't supported in Team Services at this time. Any reference to these objects in any of the WIT definition files will result in a validation error upon import.

  • Custom controls on work item forms
  • Custom link types
  • Global workflow
  • Team field support

The following plug-ins and their associated files aren't used in defining a process, nor used to update existing team projects. However, they are used to create objects or artifacts when you create a new team project.

  • Classification
  • Queries
  • Test Management
  • Work items

The following plug-ins and their associated files are replaced by system defaults.

  • Build
  • Groups and Permissions
  • Lab
  • Version Control

The following plug-ins and their associated files are ignored.

  • Microsoft Project Mappings
  • Reports
  • Windows SharePoint Services

Custom plug-ins aren't supported.

Object limits

When customizing a process template for import, limit the number of the following objects you define.

  • 64 WITs
  • 512 fields per process
  • 256 fields per WIT
  • 16 custom states per WIT
  • 64 person-name fields
  • 1024 field rules per process
  • 64 global lists / 512 items per list
  • 128 pick list values per field
  • 5 portfolio backlogs
  • 32 categories per process

Tools with limited support

When you connect to Team Services, you can use the following tools subject to limitations:

  • Visual Studio Process Template Manager: You can download a process template, but all other functions are disabled.
  • Process Editor: You can use select functions to view or export a WIT definition or global list, or use the Work Item Field Explorer. Access is denied to save modified WIT and global list definitions.
  • witadmin command line tool: Select commands, such as export and list commands, work when connected to Team Services. Review witAdmin: Customize and manage objects for tracking work for which commands are supported.

With witadmin, you can import and export definition files. Other tools you can use include the Process Editor (requires that you have installed a version of Visual Studio):

Or, you can use the TFS Team Project Manager, an open-source client available from github.