Auto generating Code Review Email for TFS

Hyderabad Microsoft Campus

We use a small command line tool called crmail to auto-generate code review email from shelveset. I find the whole process very helpful and thought I'd share the process and the tool (which has some really cool features).


  1. Automatic generation of the email from the shelveset details

  2. Hyperlinks are put to TFS webaccess so that you can review code from machines without any tools installed, even without source enlistment. Yes it's true!!! The only thing you need is your office's intranet access

  3. You can even use a Windows mobile phone 🙂 and even some non MS browsers. Ok I guess I have sold this enuf

  4. This is how the email looks like with all the details pointed out

  5. Effectively you can see the file diff, history, blame (annotate), shelveset details, associated bugs, everything from your browser and best thing is that all of these takes one click each.
    This is how the fill diff looks in the browser


  1. Team System Web Access (TSWA) 2008 power tool installed on your TFS server. For the shelveset link to work you'd need TSWA SP1 CTP. The other features work with the base TSWA 2008 install...

  2. Outlook installed on the machine on which the email is generated

  3. Enlistment and TFS client installed on the machine on which the email is generated

  4. For reviewers there is no pre-req other than a browser and email reader.

Dev process

  1. The developer creates a shelveset after he is done with his changes. He ensures he fills up all the details including the reviewers email address ; separated

  2. He runs the tool with a simple command
    crmail shelvesetname

  3. Email gets generated and opened he fills in additional information and fires send

  4. Done!!


Ok they just click on the email links. Since mostly these are managers what more do you expect out of them? Real devs will stick with firing up tfpt command line 🙂

Configuring the tool

  1. Download the binaries from here

  2. Unzip. Open the crmail.exe.config file and modify the values in it to point to your tfsserver and your code review distribution list (if you do not have one then make it empty)

  3. Checkin to some tools folder in your source control so that everyone in your team has access to it


Self help is the best help :), download the sources from here and enjoy. Buck Hodges post on the direct link URLs would help you in case you want to modify the sources to do more.

Comments (8)
  1. Ian Ceicys says:

    Very cool tool! Thanks for posting. I’m sure many customers are interested in this functionality.

  2. Martin Hinshelwood on TFS Error: MSB4018: The "BuildShadowTask" task failed unexpectedly and…

  3. Bertrand Huard says:

    I will be giving this a try.


  4. crowleym says:

    We have noticed that a shelveset with a "rename" change in it causes CRMail to crash with the following error.

    Failed: Index (zero based) must be greater than or equal to zeor and less than the size of the argument list.

    Is this something that can be fixed? We are willing to help out if you like.


  5. oo says:

    @crowleym: same for me, crmail refuses to work when files have been renamed in the shelveset.

    is the source code for crmail available?

  6. Yes the source is linked from this very post. Feel free to download and fix. You can send me the fix back and I’d be happy to upload it again. Hopefully by next couple of weeks I’ll be able to get some time to fix it…

  7. ayfuga says:


    Could you please give information about how to configure auto generate e-mail on shelve set?

    There is no any mail set on TFS.

    I have found only this on internet (…/ms400808(VS.80).aspx ) but this is about communicating exchange server with TFS server. Could you tell us about the process please?

  8. Fix says:


    I fixed the bug you were having.  I took the liberty of checking in Abhinaba's original code to github, updating the solution for Vs2010 and fixing the string.Format bug that was causing errors when the change type fell into the else clause.…/CRMail

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content