Team Services | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | Visual Studio 2015 | Team Explorer Everywhere | Previous versions
Using work items to track your work provides a host of benefits, including the ability to easily share information. You can capture most information within the work item Description or other rich-text formatted field. If you need to maintain the information in a different format, you can easily link to or attach a file.
Here's a list of the most common ways in which teams share information and plans using work item tracking.
Feature availability: Some features are only available from the web portal or a Team Foundation client such as Visual Studio or the Eclipse plug-in, Team Explorer Everywhere (TEE).
|Task/feature||Web portal||Visual Studio||TEE (Eclipse plug-in)|
|Email summary list with links to work item(s)|
|Print work item(s)|
|Email link to a work item query|
|Email query results list|
|Rich text fields|
|Link objects, attach files|
|Storyboard and link to storyboards|
|Release summary (Team Services)|
In addition, if you have stakeholders who don't contribute code but want to contribute to the discussion and review progress, make sure you provide them stakeholder access so that they can view work items and dashboards.
Email, print, or send links to work item(s)
Some of the most common ways information is shared within a team or across teams is by emailing lists or links to work items.
Email a single item
You can quickly email a summary of one or more work items. Summaries include the values assigned to these fields: work item ID, title, work item type, assigned to, state, and tags.
You can only send the email to addresses that are recognized by the system, that is accounts of team members or stakeholders. If you add an email account that the system doesn't recognize, you receive a message that one or more recipients of your email don't permissions to read the mailed work items.
From the web portal, open the Actions menu and choose the email option.
From the web portal for TFS 2015, open the work item and click the mail icon.
Note: If you connect to an on-premises TFS, your TFS admin must have configured an SMTP server for the email feature to work.
From Visual Studio or Team Explorer, choose . This option requires that you configure Office Outlook on your client computer.
From Eclipse, open the work item and click the mail icon.
Email summary lists with links to items
Another way to share items is by emailing summary lists, such as a sprint summary plan or active bugs list. You can do this from a backlog or query results list.
Depending on the option and client you choose, summary lists may or may not include a hyperlink to the work item ID.
To email items from the web portal: Open a backlog or query and highlight the items from the list. Open the context menu for one of the selected items and select to email them.
If you want to mail a list of all items in the backlog or query, simply click the mail icon.
Note: Your TFS admin must have configured an SMTP server for the email feature to work.
To email items from the web portal for TFS 2015: Open a backlog or query and highlight the items from the list. Open the context menu for one of the selected items and select to email them.
If you want to mail a list of all items in the backlog or query, simply click the mail icon.
To email items from Visual Studio: Open a query, highlight the items from the list, and then choose the Send selection to Microsoft Outlook from the context menu. This option requires that you configure Office Outlook on your client computer.
From Eclipse: Open a query, highlight the items from the list, and then choose the Copy selected items to the clipboard from the context menu. Paste the clipboard contents to your email application.
Copy formatted list of work items
With this option, you can copy an HTML formatted table of selected items. You can then email this list using your choice of email client.
From the web portal, open a backlog or a list of query results.
Select the work items you want to copy.
The formatted table contains a link to each work item included in your selected results list.
Paste the contents of the clipboard into your email client or other application. To open a linked work item, requires users to have read access to the team project or area node for those work items.
To print the details of a work item, open a query in Visual Studio that contains the work item(s) you want to print, and select or highlight those items that you want to print. Then, choose the print option from the context menu.
Copy the URL to a single work item
Note: All URLs you copy, regardless of the client you use to copy them, opens the work item in the web portal.
From the web portal, simply copy the URL from the web browser address or hover over the title and then click the copy-to-clipboard icon.
From the web portal for an on-premises TFS, open the work item and then from the context menu for the browser, choose the copy link option.
From Visual Studio, right-click the work item tab to copy the URL. The URL opens the work item in the web portal.
From Eclipse, open a query that contains the work item, and then open the context menu to Copy the URL for the selected work item.
Rich text fields
To convey detailed information, you can format text and insert images inline within the description field or any HTML field type.
The rich text formatting toolbar appears above each text box that can be formatted. It only becomes active when you click within the text box. You can format text in HTML data fields, such as the Description, Accepted Criteria, and History. Available fields depend on the work item type, if you've customized the process, and the platform you work on.
The specific set of formatting features differs depending on the client you use. In all clients, you can bold, italicize, and underline text. You can also add and remove hyperlinks, format text as ordered or unordered lists, and add images.
Rich text formatting toolbar - Team Services & TFS 2017 web portal
In Team Services, you can use the icon or CTRL+Spacebar to remove formatting from highlighted text.
Note: The History field is no longer a rich-text field. To annotate the work item history, add to the Description or Discussion fields.
Rich text formatting toolbar - TFS web portal and Team Explorer Everywhere
Rich text formatting toolbar - Visual Studio
From Team Explorer you can choose the font, font size, and text and background colors.
If inline images aren't displaying correctly, see Resolve images that don't display in Team Explorer.
You can also use the following shortcut keys to format your text:- Bold: Ctrl+B
- Italic: Ctrl+I
- Underscore: Ctrl+U
You can copy and paste HTML text or an image from another application directly into the text box using Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V shortcuts.
To support traceability and add context to work items, you can link items to other work items or objects. From a links control tab, you can choose from various link types to based on the objects you want to link to.
Again, your link options will differ depending on the client you use. For specific guidance, see these resources:
- For Team Services: see Add work items, link items
- For TFS: see Add work items (on-premises TFS), link items
- All: Link items to support traceability and manage dependencies
To help track a work item, use the or Attachments tab to attach a file with supplemental information.
For example, you can attach a screen image that illustrates a problem, a line of code in a text file, a log, an e-mail thread, or a product feature's specification.
Attachment control toolbar - Team Services & TFS 2017 web portal
Tip: From Team Services, you can drag and drop files into the attachment area. From the browse menu, you can multi-select several files and attach within a single action. Also, from Team Services and TFS 2017.1 and later versions, you can add attachments to your pull request comments. Attachments can be added by drag-and-drop or by browsing. For details, see Format comments with markdown, Attachments.
You can edit, open, save, or delete an attachment by clicking an attachment and opening it's actions menu.
Attachment control toolbar - TFS 2015 web portal and Team Explorer Everywhere
Click the plus icon to add an attachment. Click an item and then click to open the attachment or to save a copy.
Attachment control toolbar - Visual Studio Team Explorer
Tip: From Visual Studio, you can drag and drop files into the attachment area.
Click the plus icon to add an attachment.
Click one or more items and then right-click to open the menu options to download or delete several attachments.
By default, the size of work item attachments is limited to 4 MB. For on-premises deployments, you can use the TFS web service to increase the size of files you attach up to 2GB.
Storyboarding your ideas and goals increases visual understanding. With PowerPoint Storyboarding you can bring your ideas to life with storyboard shapes, text, animation, and all the other features that PowerPoint provides.
Feature availability: Storyboarding with PowerPoint requires Office PowerPoint 2007 or later and the TFS Storyboarding add-in. You install the TFS Storyboarding add-in for PowerPoint by installing one of the latest editions of Visual Studio (2013 or later) or Team Foundation Server Standalone Office Integration 2015 (free).
By linking your storyboard to a work item, you provide your team access to the shared file where they can add their comments. From the , Links, or a Storyboards tab, you can link storyboards that you created using PowerPoint Storyboarding or other application. When you make changes to a linked storyboard, the work item continues to link to the file with the latest changes.
Start storyboarding - Team Services & TFS 2017 web portal
You can open Storyboarding with PowerPoint from the actions menu within a work item form.
To link to an existing storyboard, click the Links tab and add a storyboard link.
Storyboards tab control - TFS 2015 web portal and Team Explorer Everywhere
From the Storyboards tab, click Start Storyboarding to open Storyboarding with PowerPoint. Or, you can link to an existing storyboard.
Storyboards tab control - Visual Studio Team ExplorerTo open PowerPoint with storyboarding, see Storyboard your ideas using PowerPoint.
Email release summary
From the Release hub, choose a specific release and click the Send Email icon to share the results of that release.
Feature availability: This feature is currently available only from Team Services.
In the To box, start typing the name of the team member you want to send the summary mail to.
Optionally, enter a note about the release or un-check any section you don't want included. The default is to include all details, environmental summary, issues, and work items associated with the release.
As you can see, there are many ways to share information using work items alone. See these additional tools and features to support planning, tracking, and sharing information with your team.
Work item hyperlink format
How do you define a hyperlink that opens a work item? Specify a URL that conforms to the following syntax:
For Visual Studio Team Services:
For on-premises TFS:
AccountName specifies the name of the Visual Studio Online account.
ServerName specifies the name of the server that is running Team Foundation Server.
Port specifies the port that Team Foundation Server uses. The default value is 8080.
CollectionName specifies the name of the team project collection.
TeamProjectName specifies the name of the team project.
WorkItemNumber specifies the ID of the bug, task, or other work item to which you want to link.
If you work from an on-premises TFS, you can use a SharePoint site to share and access documents from your team project.
Your team can use the SharePoint site to share information in the following ways:
- Share data contained in reports or dashboards
- Share team progress using predefined or customized SharePoint dashboards
- Share documents, files, images
- Share team knowledge and processes using the SharePoint wiki.
To learn more, see Share information using the project portal.
Resolve images that don't display in Team Explorer
If an in-line image fails to display in a work item form you view from Team Explorer, but does display in the web portal, your Visual Studio credentials to access Team Services or TFS have expired.
You can resolve it with the following steps.
- In Visual Studio, click View>Other Windows>Web Browser (Or, use the shortcut Cltr+Alt+R).
- In the web browser, locate either your Visual Studio Team Services or TFS account.
- Login with your account.
- Refresh your work item in Team Explorer.
You may find additional ways to share information and collaborate as a team by adding a Marketplace extension.