Delivery Plans, Search Enhancements Come To Team Foundation Services 2017 Update 2

Update 2 is now out, and with enhancements to Delivery Plans and a more simplified Work Item search capability comes more pull request and git improvements, and a new build definition editor.

Update 2 is now out, and with enhancements to Delivery Plans and a more simplified Work Item search capability comes more pull request and Git improvements, and a new build definition editor.

Delivery Plans isn't quite part of TFS 2017.2. It's downloadable as an extension in the Visual Studio Marketplace. If you're familiar with Visual Studio Team Services, Delivery Plans was previewed with it in the May release (in fact, most of the features here are typically previewed in VSTS prior to being tested and rolled out in TFS). Delivery plans is an organizational tool that tracks work items per team members using a calendar-based timeline view. Team members can customize their view of the plans using Field Criteria and Markers, and expand/collapse views to identify gaps when forecasting deliverables.

The Work Item Search capability is new, using Microsoft Code Search. From the release notes: "We want on-premises customers to tap into the same value that has delighted our VSTS users and so we have made the decision to deprecate the old work item form and old extensibility model.." In this case, the newer one provides for a more simplified Work Item search capability, able to provide full search across work items from all projects in a collection. Because it works per collection, it has to be installed for each collection that needs to be searched. As such, it has to be installed and configured, but once that's done Microsoft Code Search can find what's needed quickly.

Microsoft's Brian Harry notes the sheer number of pull request improvements, and in fact writes in his blog that "improvements to Pull requests and branch policies are too numerous to mention." Among the ones he highlights in TFS 2017.2: adding people to PRs and providing notifications and tracking updates is easier; comments have better management capabilities; editing branch policies is enhanced; and "Support for multiple builds per branch, including optional builds/tests."

Also new is a Build Definition Editor, which is also another feature carried over from Visual Studio Team Services. In a nutshell, it provides for a pipeline view of a deployment using a visual representation of the elements, much like a flow chart. More details on its capabilities is in this VSTS news item here.

There are also a number of Git, release management, and testing enhancements. The full release notes that goes beyond the highlighted features in this article is here.

About the Author

Michael Domingo is a long-time software publishing veteran, having started up and managed developer publications for the Clipper compiler, Microsoft Access, and Visual Basic. For 1105 Media, he managed, Virtualization Review, and was Editor in Chief of Visual Studio Magazine and host of The .NET Insight Podcast until 2017. Contact him via his photography Web site at

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