Team System Web Access 2008 SP1 CTP and Work Item Web Access 2008 CTP are now available

Hakan has announced the availability of the new TSWA community technology preview (CTP) in his post, What's New in TSWA 2008 SP1.  Personally, I would say this release is beta quality or better, so don't let the CTP designation scare you too much.

Also released is the first CTP release of what we are calling Work Item Web Access (WIWA).  You may recall that we published a spec for it recently, referring to it as a "bug submission portal."  WIWA provides you with the ability to have folks create work items and view work items they have created without needing a client access license (CAL) for 2008.  This was a new condition that was added to the TFS 2008 license agreement.  Hakan has more details in his post on WIWA.

Both the CTP of TSWA and the CTP of WIWA have the same requirements as the previous release of TSWA 2008 (e.g., you must have Team Explorer 2008 installed as a prerequisite).

This release of TSWA has some really great new features.

  • Single instance with multiple languages
  • Support for specifying field values in the URL for creating new work items (works in both TSWA and WIWA)
  • Share ad-hoc work item queries
  • Shelveset viewer
  • Improved search support

I want to call out two features in particular that I really like.

Support for specifying field values in the URL for creating new work items (works in both TSWA and WIWA)

How often have you wanted users or testers to file bugs and needed to have them fill in certain fields with particular values so that the work item shows up in the correct area?  We now support providing field values in the new work item URL.  Here's the example that Hakan provided.

http://<server>/wi.aspx?pname=MyProject&wit=Bug&[Title]=Bug Bash&[AssignedTo]=Hakan Eskici&[Iteration Path]=MyProject\Iteration2&[FoundIn]=9.0.30304

This will open a new work item editor window with the following initial values:

  • Team Project = MyProject
  • Work Item Type = Bug
  • Title = Bug Bash
  • Assigned To = Hakan Eskici
  • Iteration Path = MyProject\Iteration2
  • Found in Build = 9.0.30304

Now you can start sending your users and testers a link with all of this already filled in!

Improved search support

Have you ever wanted to search for bugs assigned to someone in particular or in a particular area without writing a query?  In the past, you could only search the Title and Description fields in a work item, which I described here.  Now you can enter the following into the search box in TSWA to find any bug assigned to me that also has the word "exception" in the Title or Description.

exception a="Buck Hodges"

The core fields have shortcuts.  Any field can be used by specifying the reference name for the field.  Here's the equivalent without using the shortcut.

exception System.AssignedTo="Buck Hodges"

Here are the shortcuts for the core fields.

  • A: Assigned To
  • C: Created By
  • S: State
  • T: Work Item Type

You can use TFS macros, such as @me, in search.  For example, find all work items containing "watson" in the Title or Description that are assigned to me that are in the Resolved state and are work items of type Bug.

watson a=@me s=Resolved t=Bug

Now, if you really want to do something cool, there are the "contains" and "not" operations.  The "=" operator matches exact phrases, whereas the ":" operator is used for "contains" clauses.  The following search looks for bugs assigned to Active (i.e., not assigned to any particular person yet) where the word "repro" is contained in the History field.

a=Active History:repro

This example illustrates the difference between the two operators.  The first example finds all work items where the Title is exactly "Bug Bash" with no other words or characters in it.  The second example, which uses the contains operator (colon) rather than the exact match operator (equals), finds all bugs where the Title contains the phrase "Bug Bash" along with any other words or characters.

  • Title="Bug Bash"
  • Title:"Bug Bash"

Personally, I find myself almost always using the contains operator.

Finally, you need to be able to exclude certain things from your search.  For that, there is the not operator, which is represented by the hyphen ("-").  The following example finds all work items with "watson" in the Title or Description fields that are not assigned to me and that are not closed.

watson –a=@me –s=closed

The not operator only works with field references, so you can’t use the following to find all work items containing "watson" but not containing "repro" in the Title and Description fields.

watson –repro

However, you can accomplish this by specifying the Title field explicitly with the not operator.

watson –Title:repro

Please send us your feedback on both the new features and Work Item Web Access!

Comments (27)

  1. Sono disponibili Team System Web Access 2008 SP1 CTP e Work Item Web Access 2008 CTP

  2. Il y a eu aujourd’hui l’annonce du SP1 de TSWA dans sa version CTP d’avril. Au niveau des améliorations

  3. Il y a eu aujourd’hui l’annonce du SP1 de TSWA dans sa version CTP d’avril. Au niveau des améliorations

  4. .NETicated says:

    Tips Disabling Continuous Integration for a single check-in on Angela B&#39;s blog More &quot;How Do

  5. Sven Hubert says:

    Hi Jeff,

    we’ve examined WIWA last friday. We’ve evaluated it against the requirements of a bug tracking system used by end customers.

    First of all, the MS-Team did a great job on this. As well as TSWA, WIWA has a nice UI and is easy to use.

    But there are some missing features as well…

    Since we want to make it accessible for end customers, we need to hide nearly all work item types. Only a simplified version of the Bug work item (e.g. "Bug Report") should be visible. So we’re missing a configurable possibility for that.

    We also want to send email notifications on changes, that we made to those bug reports since we want to keep our customers informed about the bug fixing progress. So it might be nice to have a profile editor included into WIWA, where they can edit contact information which will be stored in the Active Directory.

    Last but not least, we’d like to provide filtering, since closed bugs might not be of interest anymore.

    All-in-all we like to see that MS is opening access to TFS for nonlicensed users, since this is a feature many of our TFS customers request.

    Best regards,

    Sven Hubert

    AIT AG – Germany

  6. Michael says:

    Is it the intention that WIWA can be used to give your customers the ability to create work items?  

    If so I think Sven has a good point most of the time you would really only want customers creating specific types of work items which are only actionable by support/QA.  Typically you would then have a triage process where work items are assessed and as neccessary escalated to be actionable by the appropriate staff (support, development, business analysts etc).

  7. buckh says:

    Michael, you may want to use the initial value URL feature described in the post.  That would allow you to send folks a link where when they click on it they would get the new work item editor in the browser with the parts you want pre-filled already there.

    I’ve sent both of these comments to Hakan.


  8. Hakan says:

    Hi Sven,

    I’ve posted a detailed reply at the spec feedback forum regarding your questions:

    Just to recap, although WIWA is for users without CALs, it’s "internal use" only unless you have a "external connector" license for TFS.

  9. Hakan says:


    No, WIWA is not designed to be a "customer facing" application. It’s simply for the users in your organization (employees, vendors, contractors) that might not have CALs to TFS.

    Hope that makes sense, let us know if you have any questions.



  10. Alistair Anderson says:

    I’m not clear on the difference between WIWA and TSWA – I thought TSWA was a free web access version for clients and people offsite to access work items and raise bugs – and you can switch off the access to views (like source control) per user, otherwise its a full view of Team Explorer.

    So WIWA is a lightweight version of this, but why? Because you need a licence to use TSWA but not WIWA? I thought if you have TFS you can have unlimited TSWA licences?

  11. Buck Hodges says:

    Alistair, they are both free, but the difference is in whether the user needs a client access license (CAL).

    TSWA users must have a CAL for TFS in order to use it.

    WIWA users do *not* need a CAL.  WIWA is made possible by a change in the license for TFS 2008 that allows a user to create work items and view or edit work items he or she created (you’ll need to read the license for the exact language).

    So, all TSWA users must have a TFS CAL, but WIWA users do not need to have a CAL.


  12. Buck Hodges says:

    One of the new features we’ve added to TSWA for the SP1 release is the ability to create URLs that are

  13. Rickard says:

    I choose integrated security in the setup of WIWA and now users that is not a valid TFS user get a login prompt to login to TFS.Should i use forms authentication insted?

    We are on a Team Foundation Workgroup edition.


  14. Brandon says:

    How do you recommend configuring the authentication for a large set of internal users that are largely unknown?  We don’t have a group setup and don’t have the manpower to enter each individual user into the team system valid user’s group.  I tried to use the Built in group "Everyone" but it is not an option.  I could create a generic account for everyone to use but then all the users can see all of the work items submitted and that may violate the license.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  15. buckh says:

    Rickard, TSWA/WIWA falls back to forms authentication when Windows integrated authentication fails.  So, you can leave it set to Windows auth, and it will work for folks who have accounts & passwords on the box that are the same as the accounts & passwords on their local boxes (since this is a workgroup configuration).


  16. buckh says:

    Brandon, what we’ve done internally is to add Windows groups that themselves contain sets of users.  That may be one option for you.

    As far as the Windows’ Everyone group goes, it could be that you need to change the object types in the TFS permission dialog to be able to see and enter that group.


  17. Brandon says:


    Since I don’t know all of our users by username I can’t enter them into a group and then add that group.  I’d like to pursue the Everyone group option but I cannot get the Everyone group to show up in the TFS Permission Dialog even for entire network.  Please confirm that this is in fact working.  Thanks.  


  18. Brandon says:


    It looks like Built-in Principles are not an option for TFS.  I could potentially add all of our companies users, roughly 30,000 users but we actually have only about 1000 users overall so I’m concerned there may be some performance impact having so many users.  It also seems overkill to add 30,000 users to get a thousand.   The generic account may be my best option.  Any other thoughts?


  19. Brandon says:


    Another interesting problem I have observed.  If I install work item web access on the application tier I am able to authenticate and go directly to the work item list page.  If I install work item web access on another machine (with the same TFS Client version) I go to a prompt saying I don’t have permission to access the server and then I can type in my windows username and passwork and get to the same work item list page.  Can you think of any reason the code should behave that way?  


  20. buckh says:

    Brandon, on the security group question, is there some smaller scope that encompasses all of your TFS users?

    Regarding the login issue, what you are seeing is based on how NTLM works.  What happens is that when TSWA is on the same computer as the AT, NTLM credentials can flow through via standard ASP.NET impersonation.  When TSWA is on a different computer than the AT, NTLM will not allow the credentials to flow through unless constrained delegation is turned on, which very few network admins will enable.  So, TSWA is simply falling back to the login form when the NTLM auth fails in the case where it installed on a computer other than the AT.  You can change the settings in the the web.config to use forms authentication always if you don’t want the error message about authentication failing.


  21. Deepak says:

    When I create a new work item type by "Copy work item type" from tswa, it does not copy the attachment. The reason why I ask is, my client wants to be able to move my work items from one team project to another along with attachments, without going through a lot of steps. While I thought about creating a small utility or use the Migration and Sync kit from codeplex, he isnt very thrilled about another component to go to. Could you please let me know if SP1 addresses this issue? If not, how can I achieve the same? Thanks in advance for your reply

  22. Adam says:

    Greetings Buck,

    Thanks for the great blog.  We’re seeing something similar to what Brandon is seeing, although TSWA is installed on the AT.  Here is a description of the problem.  I’ve not found much information on MSDN, although I’ve posted there as well.  We’re not seeing this in our test environment, but that the AT and DB are on the same machine, so there is no network authentication variable.

    We’ve tried adding the site to IE’s list of trusted sites, and are reviewing the server logs for anything out of the ordinary.

    Do you have any advice for troubleshooting this further, or have you seen similar problems?

    Thanks very much for any assistance.



    Getting logged out of VSTS WIT every two minutes or so.

    While entering a new defect, VSTS WIT will suddenly ask me for my user name and password, both fields are blank.  If I provide the requested authentication information one of two things happens, it either presents the blank authentication window again, or it hangs attempting to save (even though I haven’t asked it to save).

    If it just keeps asking for authentication information, I can close all the windows to get out of VSTS WIT (losing all of my unsaved work).

    If it hangs trying to save, I have to use Task Mangler to get out (losing all of my unsaved work).

    Either way, I am not able to get reconnected back to VSTS WIT, and have to close ALL windows associated with it and then reconnect from a new iteration of IE.

    When I relaunch IE I am then able to reconnect to VSTS WIT without problems and without having to provide credentials.

    It does not always happen after two minutes sometimes it can take five minutes or longer but it mainly happens if I am creating a new defect or a new query and have unsaved changes.

    When it happens to the foreground editor, all windows associated with VSTS WIT then show the same symptoms of not being connected even though the main VSTS WIT page shows me as still being logged in.

  23. buckh says:

    Deepak, Team Explorer has the same limitation where it does not copy file attachments, etc. when copying a work item.  The WIT OM doesn’t support it.


  24. buckh says:

    Adam, it’s very odd that it works for a while and then stops authenticating properly.  Do you have any proxy set in IE?  Try clearing all of the proxy settings in IE and see if that has any effect.


  25. The easiest way to do this is to use the search functionality built into Team System Web Access (TSWA)

  26. Buck Hodges says:

    We’ve now released the final version of TSWA 2008 SP1, which had previously been released as a community

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