Sorting by multiple columns in work item tracking

Recently I was showing someone the results of a bug query and sorting by more than one column in work item tracking in Team Explorer.  When the person said he didn't realize that feature existed, I decided it would be worth posting.  This also works in Team System Web Access.

To sort by more the one column, simply hold the Shift key when clicking the column header of the column you would like to sort next.  If you want to sort descending instead of ascending, continue to hold the Shift key and click the header again to flip the sort ordering.

In the screen shot below, I'm sorting first by Priority and then by Area Level 4.  You cannot tell from looking at the column headers which column gets sorted first.


This works in the 2008 version and newer of Team Explorer and Team System Web Access.  I was using Team Explorer 2008 SP1 in the screenshot above.

Since I'm on the topic of subtle but useful features, there's a handy way to diff files in version control by holding the Shift key and double clicking on a pending change.

Finally, did you know that you can use the formatting toolbar in VS to insert rich text into your work items?  With TSWA it's more obvious because the formatting toolbar is shown just above the text box.  In TFS 2010, the work item editor in Team Explorer also shows the formatting toolbar with the text box.

[Update 3/23/09]  Sunder Raman, now program manager for the TFS Reporting feature area, reminded me of a couple of great posts he wrote a year ago.  Be sure to check these out for more useful work item tracking tips.

Comments (6)

  1. Thys says:

    Thanks! This comes in very handy indeed.

  2. Buck Hodges , one of our Dev Managers, recently referenced one my posts and I got a couple of emails

  3. Michael Ruminer on TFS Admin Tool Codeplex Project Adding Improved Community Support and TFS Admin Tool

  4. Dylan72 says:

    We’ve tried implementing some of Sunder’s tips. They look good, but not all seem to work with TSWA (Team System Web Access). I have posted on his blog regarding the process of disabling an Iteration specifically, which has failed for us and one other reader.

    Unfortunately, Sunder provides no contact information as such, so I hope it gets noticed. Just tread a little softly with these tips if you are using TSWA, and await further notice… (we are using TFS 2008 and latest version of TSWA.)

  5. buckh says:

    Dylan, I’ve forwarded the comment to Sunder.

    Which issues did you have with TSWA?  It’s entirely possible that since I was using a 2010 build of TSWA and trying to rememeber what 2008 SP1 did and did not do that I may have gotten it wrong.


  6. sunder says:


    I just sent you an email and replied to your comment on our team blog. I tried out my workaround and we found the issue where Web Access isn’t refreshing on the WHEN rule. We  logged a bug for us to address in our upcoming release. I will update the post and note this for other users as well.

    Thanks a lot for your feedback, it helped us catch this issue!


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