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Dylan Smith ALM / Architecture / TFS

In TFS 2012 Update 2 Microsoft introduced the ability to tag Work Items (


I absolutely love the idea of tagging Work Items.  Especially because they allow you to add custom metadata without needing to do any WITD customization.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a great help to enable the Single Team Project approach.  However, there are some big problems, that IMO make Work Item Tags almost unusable for any large project.

  • Tags in their current form are only really usable in Web Access. When viewing WI’s in VS or MTM you can’t enter/modify tags, and you can only even see them in the results grid, the WI Detail form doesn’t appear to include tags.

  • I can’t query by tags in my WI Queries

  • I can’t merge tags.  Say if I had a tag to indicate hot fix bugs, and some people typed “HotFix” and some typed “Hot Fix”.  Even once I discover this there’s no way to easily correct the tags other than going into each Work Item one at a time and changing it (can’t use Excel to bulk edit Tags either).

  • I can’t delete tags.  So in the above HotFix example, even if I go through and change every WI to “HotFix” the next time somebody creates a new one they will still see the incorrect “Hot Fix” tag in the dropdown.

  • If I have tags that I’m using to categorize Work Items, say “Priority: High”, “Priority: Medium”, “Priority: Low”, I may want to go and ensure that every WI has a Priority tag assigned.  As far as I can tell there is no way to search/query/filter for this.  I can’t do a “show me all work-items without one of these 3 tags”. You can’t do any kind of “negative” filtering.

  • I can’t filter SSRS reports or generate excel based reports on tags.

  • I can’t have security on tags, who can create tags, delete tags, scope tag groups to teams, etc..

These issues are big enough blockers that I can’t recommend teams use tagging until at least some of them have been resolved.  WI Tagging makes for a great demo, but it needs some more love and care before most of my teams can actually start using it.

Posted on Monday, September 16, 2013 4:10 AM | Back to top

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