Visual Studio Online Process Customization: Private Preview or vNext?

Process customization is very important to our customers’ ability to adopt Visual Studio Online. In May we announced our “Private Preview” that is intended for organizations that are currently using TFS on-premises and want to move to Visual Studio Online but can’t because of the lack of process customization. Over that last several months we have received hundreds of inquiries from organizations and individuals wanting access to the private preview.  Many of these requests would be better fulfilled with our process customization vNext solution that will be available in the next couple sprints. We thought this would be a good opportunity to provide some clarity on the difference between the two solutions.

What is the difference between the Private Preview and vNext?
Private preview is intended for medium to large organizations that are currently using TFS and want to move to Visual Studio Online. If you are familiar with XML editing of work items in the TFS on-prem product then you will feel right at home. Once you make your XML edits, you then zip up the process and manually upload them through the interface in Visual Studio Online. The system will run through a validation routine and will either display a list of errors or accept. For more details, check out our MSDN documentation.

vNext is our next generation of process customization. Process customization will be straight forward and easy to configure.  The offering will include simple integrated web UI experiences and REST API’s that you can use to automate process customization to fit your needs. Justin Marks did a great blog post in July that covers the details and roadmap of our plans.

When is process customization available?
Access to the private preview is available today. We will start releasing the first bits of process customization vNext in the fall. We then anticipate to improve on the experience every 2 to 3 sprints over the next several months. See Justin’s blog post for details on our roadmap.

Can anyone enroll in the private preview?
Yes, however, it is a private preview.  When requesting access, we ask customers to provide their existing process templates from TFS on-premises for review to help us determine which flavor of customization would be the best fit for your organization.

If you are interested in enrolling please email us at vsocustpt@microsoft.com

Why should I wait for vNext?
Most of our customers do not have complex process customization needs. If you are looking to add fields, states, and work item types then vNext is going to be a fantastic experience.  The private preview exists to support large organizations, with large investments in customization of TFS on-prem, to migrate to Visual Studio online. Also consider that the private preview does not support a process customization REST API’s and making changes to the process is a manual operation. 

If I enroll in the private preview will I also get vNext functionality?
While we plan to bring pieces of vNext to our private preview customers, most of the functionality will not be accessible right away.  Private preview customers will need to go through a conversion to vNext once feature parity is reached between the two systems.  This is why we strongly suggest teams wait for vNext.

We hope this clarifies things you have around the Visual Studio Online process customization story. Feel free to post your questions.

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