Adhoc vs managed work item queries

Last Update: 4/4/2017

Team Services


Feature availability:  You can perform adhoc work item queries using the Work item search extension. This Marketplace extension (in preview) is currently supported for Team Services.

With the Work item search extension installed, you have two ways to perform work item searches: adhoc and managed. You perform adhoc queries using the work item search box (shown below), whereas you perform managed queries using the built-in search function available from the Work hub, Queries page.

Search Work Items Text Box

Use adhoc queries when you want to:

  • Find a specific work item using its ID or a keyword
  • Find one or more work items across all team projects in a fast, flexible manner
  • Perform full text search across all work item fields
  • Review work items assigned to a specific team member
  • Search against specific work item fields to quickly narrow down a list of work items
  • Determine what key words will support a managed search


    When you install the Work item search extension, you extend the full-text search engine to index all work item fields.

Use managed queries when you want to:

  • Review or triage a group of work items
  • Perform bulk updates on several work items such as change Assign To, Iteration Path, or more
  • Review parent-child or dependent links among work items
  • Create a status or trend chart from a flat list query
  • Create a list of work items that you'll export to Excel or Project (requires that you have installed the Team Foundation Server Standalone Office Integration 2015 (free) plug-in)

Work item search box context

Note that when the Work item search extension is installed, the work item search box is repurposed to support adhoc queries. In order to initiate a managed search, you need to open the Work>Queries page.

To learn more about each search type, see these topics: