Enhance team spirit with Visual Studio 2013.4 and Team Foundation Server 2013.4



In this blog post, I’ll discuss new enhancements introduces as part of Visual Studio 2013.4 and TFS 2013.4. If you’re not aware, the Release Candidate of Visual Studio 2013.4 and Team Foundation Server 2013.4 is announced by Brian Harry’s blog post on 16th Oct 2014. The download links are as below:

Lets start looking at how some of these ALM improvements can make your life easier.

1. Planning and Tracking Enhancements

There are many small improvements to Team Foundation Server (TFS) with Update 4 in the Work Item tracking and planning area. These improvements enhance overall experience of working with TFS toolset.

1.1 Visualize trends and aggregate field values – More analytics, increased visibility

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. Learn more about how to view the status of your progress.

1.2 Quickly reorder backlog items – Very handy for large projects with multiple iterations

If you had a large backlog, it was hard to drag and drop items to a different position. The context menu for backlog items now contains options to move an item directly to the top or to a specific position in the backlog. Also drag and drop also extended to hierarchical views – you can now assign product backlog items to iterations with drag and drop.

1.3 Full screen mode support for backlog views, boards, queries – Run you daily scrums, show what is in TFS live on screen

If you’re running a daily standup or viewing large backlogs, it’s useful to be able to maximize the screen space and see as many items at once. Now you can hide all the chrome in the UI and have full-screen views of the backlog and boards. The toggle to enter full screen mode works for all the pages under the Backlogs and Queries tabs in the Work hub. Press ESC to return to the full work item view.

1.4 Full screen mode support for all HTML/rich-text fields  – See More. Read More. – Excellent for Team Work during troubleshooting

You can now enter full screen mode for rich-text fields to help improve the readability and usability. For example, the Steps to Reproduce field can be maximized as shown below. The button toggles the text area between full screen mode and the work item view. Press ESC to return to the full work item view.

Maximize button to expand the steps to reproduce text area

1.5 Better triage experience – New Shortcut for navigating to old query – Run through with the team without too much to/fro

To improve the triage experience when you review query results, you can go back to the query by pressing Alt+Q. This keeps your position in the query.

1.6 In-line search for area and iteration fields from the work item form – Inline Search, highlight matched part of name

Often when triaging or assigning work items it’s necessary to change the area and/or the iteration path. Finding the path you want in large, deeply nested trees can be difficult. With inline search, values that match what you type are instantly highlighted. For example, type Team to highlight all path entries that contain the work Team in their name.

Area path search made easier

1.7 Open hyperlinks quickly – A step less is equal to time saved!

If you have a hyperlinks defined within an HTML field, press the CTRL key and click the link. Previously it was a two step process to click the link, and then click the “navigate to…” command at the top of the text area.

1.8 Teams choose whether or not to track bugs on their backlog – track what you really interested in

Some teams want their bugs to show up on their backlog, some teams only want user stories/requirements.  In Update 4, you can now choose your preference.  As part of this, bugs can also now appear on the kanban board.  It’s a step to also enabling them fully on the task board. Each team can now choose to view the bugs with the product backlog or turn off including them.

Uncheck to remove bugs from the backlog and Kanban board

More details about adding bugs to the task board are here.

2. Stakeholder license – True Team Work, Visibility to everyone

One of the key asks from TFS has been to enable access to people who just need access to basic work management capabilities and project status tracking. In a scenario, where Client Service Team or Ops team require access to Project Item tracking. They are not actively changing/updating the items but interested in knowing what is happening on the ground. Update 4 includes the licensing changes that enables people who just need access to basic work management capabilities and project status tracking to do so at no charge.

Unlimited free stakeholder licenses now available for TFS 2013.4 RC, including:

  • Full read/write/create on all work items
  • Create, run and save (to “My Queries”) work item queries
  • View project and team home pages
  • Access to the backlog, including add and update (but no ability to reprioritize the work)
  • Ability to receive work item alerts

Control panel

With Stakeholder licenses, you can now give your stakeholders/customers these licenses at no added cost, and they can actually gain insight into your project’s progress. This promotes more transparency & team work. Make sure you check your bug count before getting clients in. 🙂

3 Test Management 

3.1 Associated Test SuitesKnow how you would impact your teams in advance

A test case can be shared among multiple test suites.  It sure would be nice to know when you are changing a test case which suites you are affecting.  With Update 4, you can with the Associated Test Suites pane.


3.2 Recent Test ResultsDon’t discover what is already known – See it right (side).

A new pane that makes it super easy to see what the recent results for a test case are.


3.3 Test case chartingTest analytics, gain insights into your test cases!

To provide better visibility into what’s happening with Testing, a new Test charting ability has been added to the suit. It would allow you to visualize test planning and test results.  You can pin these charts to your project homepage and everyone can see them – even Stakeholders.



If you have already worked with Microsoft Test Manager, you’re familiar trend reports/recent test results. However, usually developers don’t have access to MTM that easily. With the above enhancements to Test Management, now testers and developers can view these in Web Access, which is a significant step forward in promoting information access in all part of application lifecycle – and to extend it further your clients can see how your test cases are doing.

If you haven’t already installed these updates, I would strongly recommend it to be worth a try. You won’t be disappointed with the productivity benefits – specially when you looking at application lifecycle as a team sport.

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