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What's new in planning and tracking

With the release of Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2013, several new features were added to support planning and tracking projects. They include portfolio backlogs, persistent task boards, team rooms, chart query results, and Git for version control.

New features introduced with TFS 2013 Update 4

By installing TFS 2013 Update 4, you gain access to these new features and enhancements.

Feature area


Agile planning tools

  • Switch between full screen mode and standard mode when viewing backlogs, boards, and queries.

  • Quickly reorder backlog items with new options added to the context menu.

  • Assign product backlog items to iterations with drag-and-drop while in a hierarchical view.

Work item tracking

  • Switch between full screen mode and standard mode when viewing a work item or an HTML/rich-text field within a work item form.

  • Choose whether or not to track bugs on their backlog. Although team projects created with the Scrum process template include bug tracking on the backlog, other process templates don't. Now, each team can choose to view the bugs with the product backlog or turn off including them.

  • Send a nicely formatted email directly from the work item form using the new email icon.

  • Enter full screen mode from all queries and all work items.

  • Open hyperlinks within a work item form by pressing the CTRL key and clicking the link.

  • Set area and iteration fields more easily using in-line search. With inline search, values that match what you type are instantly highlighted. Use this feature to quickly find the path you want in large, deeply nested trees.

Queries and chart authoring

  • Query-based chart authoring now includes trend charts: Stacked Area, Area, and Line. You can visualize trends across a one-week, two-week, or four-week time range. Also, in addition to field counts, you can now sum a field value across work items returned in a flat-list query. These new chart types can be pinned to your home pages, too.

  • When you review query results, you can go back to the query by pressing Alt+Q. This keeps your position in the query.

  • Copy and paste a formatted query into an email or a document.

  • Open a work item in a new browser tab with the context menu command for query results.

For a description of all new features, see Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 (2013.4) RC. For technology improvements and bug fixes, see Description of Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 RC.

New features introduced with TFS 2013 Update 3

By installing TFS 2013 Update 3, you gain access to these new features and enhancements.

Feature area


Test management

  • Test plans and test suites are now work item types (WITs). You can add fields, change the workflow, and customize them like any other work item type.

  • Permissions Manage test suites have been added to the area path security model. The existing Manage test plans permission has been re-scoped to manage only test plans. Previously, it covered permission management of both test plans and test suites.

  • The History field for test-related artifacts now provides a consolidated view of changes made to work item fields as well as changes to related artifacts such as test points and test configurations. A new field, the Test Suite Audit field, available in the test suite work item form, captures and displays these related artifact changes in the work item history.

These enhancements occur when you upgrade your existing application-tier server to TFS 2013.3. They are performed by the TFS Upgrade Wizard. If you aren’t able to access your existing test plans and test suites after the upgrade, see Manual updates to support test management

Backlog filter

Use the In progress items Show/Hide toggle to show or hide items whose workflow state corresponds to one that is mapped to the InProgress metastate.

For a description of all new features, see Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 (2013.3) RTM. For technology improvements and bug fixes, see Description of Visual Studio 2013 Update 3.

New features introduced with TFS 2013 Update 2

By installing TFS 2013 Update 2, you gain access to these new features and enhancements:

Feature area



The following enhancements require that you also update your Visual Studio or Team Explorer client to 2013.2 or later version.

Charting query results and team home page

  • Customize the colors in query-based charts.

  • Pin a query-based chart to the team home page.

  • Several enhancements made to the look and feel of the team home page.

Customize agile planning tools

  • Configure the start date of the Cumulative Flow Diagram.

  • Configure non-working days through TWA. Non-working days are now excluded from burndown charts.

For details, see Configure and customize Agile planning tools for a team project.

Shared Parameter

Shared Parameter, a new work item type (WIT), supports converting and defining sets of shared parameters to support running tests with different data.

Run the configure features wizard to add the Shared Parameter WIT to your existing team projects.

For a description of all new features, see Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RTM. For technology improvements and bug fixes, see Description of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RC.

Agile portfolio management

With portfolio backlogs, you can define a hierarchy of backlogs to understand the scope of work across several teams and see how that work rolls up into broader initiatives.

Portfolio backlog with features and backlog items

Each team project is configured with one level of portfolio backlog using the Feature work item type. In addition, you can configure up to four additional levels of portfolio backlogs. In total, this provides you with seven levels from the top-level portfolio backlog to task.

Conceptual image of 5 levels of portfolio backlog

To access portfolio backlogs from an upgraded team project, you must configure them using the Configure Features wizard. Access to portfolio backlogs requires Advanced access.

To learn more, see Work with portfolio backlogs and Add a backlog to Agile portfolio management.

Persistent task boards and burndown charts

You can now review the task board and burndown charts for sprints that have been completed.

Persistent task board and burndown chart

This enhancement, in addition to Agile portfolio backlogs, introduced a few changes to the navigation structure in Team Web Access (TWA).

Team rooms

Team rooms provide an area for fostering and capturing communication among team members, both near and far. Teams can discuss work in progress, ask questions, share status, and clarify issues that arise in real time.

Team room with messages and links to events

A team room is automatically configured for each team. In addition, team rooms can be created to serve ad hoc discussion groups and cross-group collaboration.

By using the team room instead of email threads, you automatically receive an audit trail of conversations and decisions. By reviewing the archive, you can quickly catch up with the team when you’ve been away or in a different time zone. This feature requires Advanced access.

Visualize progress by charting query results

You can quickly view the status of work in progress by charting the results of a flat-list query. You can create several types of charts—such as pie, bar, column, or stacked column—for the same query and share them with your team. Creating charts requires Advanced access. All team members can view charts created for shared queries.

A view of 6 charts for a flat-list query

Git support and Team Explorer enhancements

You can now create team projects that use Git for the version control system. You can also use Visual Studio with Git to work in a repository that’s hosted on another Git service such as CodePlex or GitHub.

Changes page in Team Explorer

Also, from Team Explorer, you can quickly switch context to other team projects that you’re connected to using the new Connect page.

Connect page, lists two connected team projects

And, Team Explorer now lists the solutions in your workspace. You can select the solution you want to work on and switch between them easily.

Open a solution from the Team Explorer Home page

Plus, you can Undock undock the Pending Changes, Changeset Details, and Shelveset Details pages from Team Explorer and open them in new windows.

To learn more, see What's new in version control.

Q & A

Q: Does TFS support epics, release trains, and multiple backlogs?

A: Yes, TFS supports many Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe) concepts. You can create team projects that support SAFe by downloading Team Foundation Server 2013 Process Template Samples - Support for Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

These templates contain the customizations described in this white paper: Scaled Agile Framework: Using TFS to support epics, release trains, and multiple backlogs.

Q: What new features were added to TFS 2012 through updates?

A: The following new features were added through updates to TFS 2012. You access these from TWA:

Q: What features were changed or deprecated?

A: See Changes made to team projects and default process templates during upgrade of Team Foundation Server.

Q: Where can I learn more about new features added to support application lifecycle management?

A: See What's new for Application Lifecycle Management in Visual Studio 2013.