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Custom Work Item Types Now a Thing in Visual Studio Team Services Sprint 105

Full process customization gets nearer to reality with the ability to create custom work item types. Plus, work item history and release management get more refined in this month's Web release.

It's another month, so it's yet another roundup for Visual Studio Team Services features, rolled up into Sprint 105 that was released to the Web a week ago, with a few more features being rolled out in the next few days. Of significance this month is that VSTS gets nearer to "full process customization" with the ability to create custom work item types, and work item history and release management gets more refined.

With customizable work item types, developers choose the field, layout and color of work items. Developers will notice a "New Work Item Type" option once they've created an inherited process and migrated projects to use it. These customizable work item types can be deleted, and the capability to disable and deprecate will be enabled in the near future. At some point, Microsoft's Brian Harry explains in a blog post, these customizable work item types will eventually "lead to the full replacement of the Power Tools Process Template Editor with the new web based experience in TFS on-prem too."

One other new feature is the refining of the work item history tab. "One of my favorite improvements this sprint is the new work item history experience," writes Harry. "The one we've had for a long time was kind of dull, noisy and hard to read.  The new one is super nice.  Note, it's not quite finished yet – there are a few more improvements coming in the next sprint deployment."

Microsoft's Aaron Bjork details specific changes made to the work item history tab in the release notes: "Individual revisions are now grouped by date buckets and summarized in a left pane, complete with adornment icons that help you quickly identify changes. Quickly scan the history pane to spot the revisions with comments, work item state changes, assignment changes, attachments, and links."

He adds that they've "also made quite a few "under the hood" changes to ensure better performance for work items with lots of revisions."

One other highlight of Sprint 105 has to do with release management: A Manual Intervention task allows developers to manually pause a deployment in the middle of it. A number of manual steps can be performed at the apuase, with the deployment then continuing on with the rest of the automated steps, or the build can also just be rejected.

Harry notes that "The significant thing about this task is that it's the first incarnation of automation pipeline tasks that can release the agent and then later reacquire a new one and continue. This sets us up to enable a variety of long running workflows without keep agents reserved."

See Bjork's release notes for a number of other features in this sprint.

About the Author

Michael Domingo is a long-time software publishing veteran, having started up and managed several developer publications for the Clipper compiler, Microsoft Access, and Visual Basic. He's also managed IT pubs for 1105 Media, including Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine and Virtualization Review before landing his current gig as Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief. Besides his publishing life, he's a professional photographer, whose work can be found by Googling domingophoto.

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