Thursday, 29 September 2016

Too long forgotten, the Activity field in TFS

Team Foundation Server is around since 2005, and many features seem to be forgotten despite being in the same place as usual.

If I asked for a dollar/euro/pound every time I was asked this I would be a billionaire as of now:

Can I have a Development Task, Testing Task, Documentation Task Work Item Type in TFS?

You can definitely have such a WIT, but would this make any sense? Excluding any consideration about your methodology (this unfortunately is a question I keep getting regardless of Scrum/Agile/Waterfall/CMMI/etc.), why would you have a different WIT for different flavours of the same?

Usually reasons here vary, but one of the most consistent is this:

I would like to visually understand how the requirement is split and this also makes life easier for team members with different roles in the team.

I mean – the first part is fair enough. But as for the second… it is all about the human rejection of changes Smile 

So, in my opinion the best way of tackling this request (I can’t even class it as a problem…) is to use the Activity field which every Work Item has. Simple as that.

Let’s take this for example:


This comes from the backlog, and all the children tasks are…tasks Smilebut leveraging the Activity field you can categorise these children tasks:


Needless to say the Activity list can be customised. Once you do that, you might want to apply some styling rules to the task board, leading to something like this:


And as a side-effect, if you use the Remaining Work field as well – as many do, regardless of the methodology as well, given that you might need to report on it – you’ll get a nice breakdown by Activity:


It is worth mentioning that this field is around since at least TFS 2008.


  1. VSTS / TFS has simply really too feature :D that most people have no time to explore them all.