TFS and VSO guidance – Teams

I often get questions along the lines of “How do we do this in TFS?” It can be anything from setting up teams to choosing the best process template or how to structure a useful area path tree. My answer is always “Well, it depends…” because that is the truth. It really does depend on quite a lot of things. Fortunately, most of the time, you can change how you do things as you gather more and more experience from working with TFS in your organization. On the other hand, if you start out wrong it might require quite a lot of work to rectify that mistake. This realisation quickly turns the original question into “Ok, so how are we supposed to do this in TFS? Are there any recommendations or best practices? What does Microsoft say?”

Well, if you take a quick look at MSDN Library you will quickly realize that Microsoft actually has quite a lot to say. But over the years they have become less and less prescriptive. Which is good. Unless you are looking for some solid pointers… As far as recommendations and best practices goes these golden nuggets of information can sometimes be difficult to find.

So, this is the first post in a series where I will try to give you some solid guidance on TFS/VSO or point you towards existing solutions and recommendations. These posts will be based on my experience from working with TFS over the last 10 years.

Setting up Teams

What you need to know here is that the default way of setting up Teams in a Team Project is flawed. It works, but it is flawed and it will often cause grief down the road. Why? Because it uses the Area Path field to define your teams. This is not what the field was originally intended for. The Area Path field is intended to categorize work into product areas. The team is not a product area. Having multiple purposes for one field is bad design and this will quickly become apparent when you want two teams to work on the same product as you suddenly find yourself maintaining two identical area path structures in TFS, one for each team.

A much much better way to set up teams in TFS is to add a separate Team field, which is actually fully supported by Microsoft and opens up a hidden Team settings interface in WebAccess. It will require some customization of your TFS but it is definitely worth the effort.

Team field settings page

Unfortunately, for those of you who are using VSO it is currently not possible to do the necessary customizations in VSO. You’re stuck with the default. This might change in the near future though as VSO process customization is coming.

Migrate a TFS project to another process template.

Back in 2011, 4 years ago I wrote a blog post called “Manual upgrade a TFS project to a new Process template”. Since then I have got some questions and feedback and now it’s time for an updated version based on the latest process templates in TFS 2015, this time from Agile to Scrum.

  1. Start with downloading the process template you want to upgrade to, to disk with the process template manager, for example to D:\MyDownloadedTemplate

2. Backup your old work item types in the TFS project you want to upgrade in case you need to do a rollback. Use the process template editor in Team Foundation Power Tools or from a Visual Studio command prompt with Witadmin.exe.

MD “C:\Temp\MyWorkItemBackup”

CD C:\Temp\MyWorkItemBackup

witadmin.exe exportwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /n:Bug /f:”Bug.xml”

witadmin.exe exportwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /n:Task /f:”Task.xml”

witadmin.exe exportwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /n:”User Story” /f:”UserStory.xml”

witadmin.exe exportwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /n:Issue /f:”Issue.xml”

witadmin.exe exportwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /n:”Test Case” /f:”TestCase.xml”

3. If you have custom fields, add them to the downloaded process template with the process template editor.

4. Some work item types have different names in Scrum and Agile; because of this you first have change the name in the new template to the name of the work item type in the old template, Impediment to Issue and Product Backlog Item to User Story.

5. Upload the Work Item types from the new template to your project with Witadmin.exe from the Visual Studio command prompt.

CD C:\MyDownloadedTemplate\Scrum\WorkItem Tracking\TypeDefinitions

Witadmin.exe importwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”ProductBacklogItem.xml”

witadmin.exe importwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”Task.xml”

witadmin.exe importwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”Bug.xml”

witadmin.exe importwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”TestCase.xml”

witadmin.exe importwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”CodeReviewRequest.xml”

witadmin.exe importwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”CodeReviewResponse.xml”

witadmin.exe importwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”FeedbackRequest.xml”

witadmin.exe importwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”FeedBackResponse.xml”

witadmin.exe importwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”SharedStep.xml”

witadmin.exe importwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”Feature.xml”

witadmin.exe importwitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”Impediment.xml”

6. Rename Issue and User Story to Impediment and Product Backlog Item

witadmin.exe renamewitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /n:”Issue” /new:”Impediment”

witadmin.exe renamewitd /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /n:”User Story” /new:”Product Backlog Item”

7. Upload the categories.xml

CD C:\MyDownloadedTemplate\Scrum\WorkItem Tracking

witadmin.exe importcategories /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”Categories.xml”

8. Upload the ProcessConfiguration.xm

CD C:\MyDownloadedTemplate\Scrum\WorkItem Tracking\Process

witadmin.exe importprocessconfig /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /p:”Demo-Agile” /f:”ProcessConfiguration.xml”

9. If you want the queries associated with a Scrum project copy them from an existing project.

10. Remove your old reports from your project from the project report page and use tfpt.exe from Team Foundation Power Tools to create new reports.

tfpt addprojectreports /collection:http://MyTFS:8080/tfs/MyCollection /teamproject:”Demo-Agile” /processtemplate:”Scrum” /force