Team Foundation Service December Update

Team Foundation Service December Update

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Today, I’m proud to announce a significant update to our hosted Team Foundation Service.

In the 3 months since we went public with the service at //build/, we’ve pushed over a dozen updates to address bugs that customers have reported or we’ve witnessed in production. This update, however, is the first time you’ll see significant new functionality in the service. We continue to iterate on new capabilities for TFS 11 and will frequently update the Team Foundation Preview Service with that functionality.

So, without further ado, here’s a top hits list of what’s coming!

Navigation Updates
As we’ve used the preview and gotten feedback from you, we’ve learned several things. First, the top level navigation in our web UI was confusing. Here’s what it looked like and some of the conclusions we reached.


1) The two level navigation framework with project/team as one horizontal and activity as another is hard to follow due to the lack of chrome and the dynamically changing list of options.

2) The numerous ways to end up in administrative mode and the subtlety in the UI between the different modes caused people to get lost.

3) The most common tasks were too many clicks away.

In response to this, we’ve redone the navigation model to add a bit more style, change the project/team selection to a drop down, rework administration mode and more. We’ve also fleshed out the hubs (like Source) and improved the navigation for them. We think the result is visually appealing, easier to use, and requires less navigation.


Richer Homepages
We’ve enhanced the homepages you get for teams and team projects to make them more interactive and intuitive. You’ll now get visualizations of project status such as team capacity and burndown for the current iteration. You can also mark work item queries, build definitions, and source control folders as “Team Favorites”. Each team favorite appears as a tile on the home page representing the count of work items, the build status, or the count of recent check-ins.

homepage graphics

Simplified Web UI for Small Teams
TFS 11 introduces a new first class concept of a “team.” Your team project can be decomposed into a set of “teams,” each with their own backlog, taskboard, favorites, etc. The current web UI delineates the web experience for team projects and teams. We know, however, that many of our users work on single-team projects where this distinction is unnecessary. To simplify things, we’ve collapsed the team project and team pages for those users. If your team project is just one team, you won’t need to switch between multiple pages.

Since the launch at //build/ we’ve spent much time analyzing performance, focusing particularly on making the Agile project management features (product backlog, sprint planning and taskboard) even snappier. On our large dogfood server, I’ve seen response times for some of those pages drop by 75%. Between that and the plethora of async UI, the product really feels much more responsive.

E-mail Notifications
We’ve had a lot of folks asking when e-mail notifications will be turned on. It’s coming in this release. As a user, you’ll simply provide an e-mail address and setup notifications to start receiving them. You can also subscribe your entire team to a notification if you want to make sure that everybody receives certain alerts.

To get started, take a look at your profile settings and make sure you’ve got a legitimate e-mail address specified.

e-mail settings

Along with enabling email notifications, we’ve implemented a new UI for managing subscriptions. It’s way better than TFS 2010 and even better than the TFS 2010 notification power tool.  There’s a “basic” UI for the most common alerts that I want to sign up for:


And an “advanced” UI with lots of cool capabilities like expanded notification criteria, a query builder for very flexible alert definition, the ability to subscribe an entire team to an alert, and (assuming I’m an admin) the ability to manage all of the alerts in the system. All in all, it’s a much improved experience for notifications.


Forecast Lines
We’ve added a cool feature to the product backlog that will project where your iteration boundaries are likely to fall based on your team’s velocity and the estimates on your product backlog items. You can toggle it on and off from the menu above the backlog, and you can customize the velocity used to make projections.

forecast lines

In-Tile Taskboard Editing
On the taskboard, you can now edit the “assigned to” and “remaining work” field on the work item tiles rather than double-clicking them to open the entire work item form. This can make routine updates much easier in your daily standup.

on-tile editing

We hope you’re enjoying using the Team Foundation Service and we truly appreciate all of the great feedback you’ve shared with us thus far. We’re confident that these changes will make the experience even better. If you haven’t used the service yet, we invite you to sign up at and take it for a drive. Signing up requires an invitation code, but keep an eye on Brian Harry’s blog for a new code to be released after our servicing interval. If you miss that opportunity, you can request one at or get one from a friend who already has an account.

We’re anxious to hear even more from you so please let us know how we are doing. You can reach us through our user voice site, through Microsoft Connect, or this blog. We’re always listening.

Doug Neumann
Program Manager, Team Foundation Service

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  • We demonstrated the Preview to customers today and several questions were asked. If you can't answer them and I should look elsewhere, feel free to redirect me.

    1. Will the MSF Agile and Scrum templates have a chart like the old Product Cumulative Flow? We find that invaluable for seeing how scope is added to the backlog. The Burndown won't reveal that well.

    2. On the task board, it shows ToDo, In Progress, and Done. Can the task board columns be changed by customizing the status?

    By the way, the drag and drop paradigm is well-loved. Both for reordering work items and changing task status. These sorts of ease-of-use things are much appreciated.

  • I have propably stupid question, but have you plan to change all icons in UI to metro style or you wan't leave xp/aero style icons (eg. save, delete, settings, undo, refresh, etc).

  • @David - Yes, the traditional reports will continue to exist.  They won't be integrated into the web ui Doug is showing in this post, but they will be there.

    And yes, the columns will be change-able.  Right now, they're not on the preview because they're tied to the states on the work items, and we haven't opened up work item customizations on the preview.  For on-premise installations, they will be 100% customizable.

  • @Slawek - Yes, the icons will be changing.  

  • Will we finally be able to rename team projects?

  • The experience is getting better by the day!

    Keen to know if the Tfs Task board can be customized? Have posted a question on the msdn forum,

    Cheers, Tarun

  • @Aaron - About the TFS Azure will have all of the same reports as we've had on premise?

    We'll get access to the SSAS OLAP cube and Transactional Warehouse in SQL Azure?

    I'd love to be able to move to hosted (multiple datacenter/geo-located) TFS on Azure....builds that infinitely scale are really wetting my appetite as well.

  • I've logged into the tfs preview....but I'm finding the site/application difficult to use.

    BTW...where is the reports tab? At the top, I only see Home, Work, Source, Build.

    Shouldn't there be a Reports tab be up there too?

  • Will it be possible to have the task board work in a kanban style with work-in-process limits per column? You can see some examples how this could look like at

    Keep up the good work, Håkan

  • The web pages are really slow when saving workitems.

  • Is there an updated training kit available?

  • Regarding the "Simplified Web UI for Small Teams", I had previously divided a project into five teams and could navigate to the Board for each of the teams and only see tasks for that group.  It is unclear to me how to do that now.  I have a Top Level team and each of the subteams are members of it.  Should I remove them from that membership?  The goal is to have a Project level view for certain people, a team lead role that can view their team's work in the context of the project, and an individual team member that has a default Board view of just the work for the team members.

    I have not made the connections in the updated UI to accomplish this, though it may be to the limited setup of my test project.  Any guidance would be appreciated...Thanks.

  • @Tarun - the taskboard is built for customization, but we've locked down customization on the preview for now.  We want to make sure we can upgrade your projects without blowing away your customizations, and until that's possible we're blocking customizations.

    @Hakan - Kanban support is on our backlog.  I'll pass along the good word to our Hakan :-).

  • The new Email Notifications look great.  It would be great to see support for linked queries when defining a custom alert.  This would enable scenarios such as "alert me when the finish date for any task associated to my product backlog items changes".

    Regarding the Product Backlog, it would be nice if the columns were personalizable.  I know I can customize this at the project level, but there's always going to be someone who wants a column that I didn't include in there (and someone else who wants a different column, and someone else who... you get the idea).

    Finally, and I know this is a stretch, but it would be great to have Excel integration made available from this UI.  When planning an iteration sometimes its easier to create the tasks in Excel so you can use copy/paste to create a bunch of tasks with similar attributes rather than creating each one individually and manually via the web UI.  I can "work around" this by using Team Explorer and exporting to Excel, but in neither of those places can you see how close you are to filling up capacity.  

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