Productivity tips

Last Update: 5/17/2017

Team Services | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013

Productivity is all about producing more value in less time. You can use the tips below to work more quickly and efficiently as you work in Visual Studio Team Services or the web portal for Team Foundation Server (TFS).

NOTE

Feature availability:  The following tools and tasks are available from Team Services (cloud service) or from the web portal of the listed on-premises TFS version or a later version. Those not annotated are available from all platforms and versions. Visit the Visual Studio Downloads page to get the latest TFS update. Additional resources may be required as annotated. To determine your platform or TFS version, see Platform and version support.

Here are some of the types of productivity tools and tasks that you can access:

Quick add or update work items




Notes:

  1. Use the quick add panel from the backlog pages to add user stories, requirements, or other backlog items.
  2. Use the Kanban board to quickly add and update the status of items. Also, you support traceability by adding inline items, such as tasks and test cases, which are automatically linked as child items to the parent work items.
  3. Requires that you have installed a compatible version of Office Excel or Project (Office 2010 or later) and Visual Studio (2010 or later) or the Team Foundation Server Standalone Office Integration 2015 (free).
  4. Adhoc work item searches requires you to install the Work item search extension which is in preview and currently supported for Team Services.
  5. Code search requires you to install the Code search Marketplace extension.

Keyboard shortcuts

NOTE

Feature availability: Global and hub-specific keyboard shortcuts are only available from Team Services or the web portal for TFS 2015.2 or later version.

Type ? to access the Global and hub-specific shortcuts. Each hub will display shortcuts that work specifically within the selected hub.

Global keyboard shortcuts Code keyboard shortcuts Blacklog keyboard shortcuts

The @mention control allows you to quickly pull someone into a discussion. The #ID control quickly links the object you're working in to a work item based on its ID.

Alert a team member about a change - @mentions control

NOTE

Feature availability: The @mention special control is currently supported only from Team Services or the web portal for TFS 2015.2 or later version. For on-premises TFS, you must configure an SMTP sever in order for team members to receive notifications.

When leaving a code comment in a pull request, you can type @ to trigger the @mention identity picker. From the identity selector, you'll see a list of those people that you have you've recently mentioned. You can choose one of those names or type in the name of the person you are looking for to perform a directory search.

To filter the list, enter the user name or alias until you've found a match.

Web portal, Pull Request, Type a user name or email alias to locate a match

To @mention a user you've never selected previously, just continue typing to perform your search against the full directory.

Names of those that you mention appear in blue text. Click the @mention link name to open the user's contact card, which can provide you additional context for why they were pulled into the conversation.

Web portal, At mention user contact card accessible]

Upon completion of your selection and text entry, your @mention user will receive an email alerting them about the mention.

Email sent to at-mention user account]

When viewing their own mentioned names in conversations, users will notice that their own name is are highlighted in orange text.

Web portal, At mention of ones own name appears in orange text]

You can use the @mention control in pull request discussions, commit comments, changeset comments, and shelveset comments. You can also use the @mention control in the Discussion section of work item forms.

NOTE

Feature availability: The #ID special control is currently supported only from Team Services or the web portal for TFS 2015.1 or later version.

When leaving a code comment in a pull request, you can type # to trigger the #ID work item picker. The picker displays a list of 50 work items that you have recently modified or that are assigned to you.

You can narrow the list of suggested work items by entering keywords that match the work item type, ID, or title, or you can enter the exact work item ID.

Pull request comment area, type # to invoke work item control

To further filter the list, continue entering keywords until you've found a match. You can enter up to five keywords.

Team Services and TFS 2015.2

You can also use the #ID control in pull request discussions, commit comments, changeset comments, and shelveset comments.

Follow a work item or pull request

NOTE

Feature availability: The follow work item feature is currently available from Team Services or the web portal for TFS 2017.

When you want to track the progress of a single work item, click the Follow icon icon. This signals the system to notify you when changes are made to the work item.

Team Services Work item form, Follow icon control

IMPORTANT

For on-premises TFS, you must configure an SMTP sever in order for team members to receive notifications.

You'll only receive notifications when other members of your team modifies the work item, such as adding to the discussion, changing a field value, or adding an attachment.

Notifications are sent to your preferred email address, which you can change from your account preferences.

To stop following changes, click the Following icon icon.

Follow a pull request

NOTE

Feature availability: The follow pull request feature is currently available from Team Services or the web portal for TFS 2017.1.

To track the progress of a single pull request, click the Follow icon option from the context menu. This signals the system to notify you when changes are made to the PR.

Pull Request, context menu, Follow icon option

IMPORTANT

For on-premises TFS, you must configure an SMTP sever in order for team members to receive notifications.

You'll only receive notifications when other members of your team modifies the PR, such as adding to the discussion or adding an attachment.

Notifications are sent to your preferred email address, which you can change from your account preferences.

To stop following changes, open the PR context menu and click the Following icon icon.

Pre-populate often used work items with work item templates

Creating a work item template saves your team time by pre-populating the work item with values that the team uses most often. For example, you can create a template that specifies various default values for a bug.

Provide the team a hyperlink to this template and you save every team member from having to specify the circled fields in the form.

Bug work item form with pre-populated fields (Team Services, TFS 2017)

The following image shows a new bug form opened from a work item template. The new web form is available from Team Services and TFS 2017 once the admin has enabled it.

Bug work item form template with pre-populated fields

Bug work item form with pre-populated fields (TTFS 2015)

The following image shows a new bug form opened from a work item template from the web portal of TFS 2015.

Web portal, New bug work item template with pre-populated fields]

Quick find or access

Using the work items search box, you can quickly find work items based on ID, assignment, changed date, or keyword. To find by ID, simply enter the ID into the search work items box.

Enter or select one or more of the following shortcut identifiers:

   A =for Assigned To, (for example, A:Annie or A=@Me).</p>

   C for = Created By, (for example, C:Peter or C=@Me).</p>

   S for = State, (for example, S=New).

   T for = Work Item Type, (for example, T=Task or T=Bug).

Use the @Me macro to specify your username or account alias.

Use the =, :, and operators to specify the operations Equals, Contains, and Not, respectively.

Work item search box, find work items using macros

With the Work item search extension. installed, the work item search box changes to support an adhoc search query. It opens to a set of search results similar to that shown below. To learn more, see Adhoc vs managed work item queries and Rich work item search results.

work item adhoc search results

Find code in Git repositories

You can perform similar searches on your code based on keywords and semantic search filters across your Git repositories.

Work item search box, find work items using macros

Quick access using dashboards

You can quickly access code, builds, and work items when you add widgets and charts to your team dashboard. In addition, you can quickly open a page, create work items, or access additional tools from one of several widgets that you add to a dashboard.

Example dashboard

You may find additional tools to enhance your productivity within the Marketplace for VS Team Services.

To update your on-premises TFS, visit the Visual Studio downloads page for Team Foundation Server.