VSTS New work item form futures (January 2016)

About two months ago, the new work item form made its debut in Visual Studio Team Services – checkout my blog post with all the details on this release if you haven’t seen it yet. This new work item form brought a redesigned look and feel to work items and set up the foundation for process customization, a new discussion experience, and a fresh and modern UI.

As I shared then, this was just the first step of a long journey to create the best web-based work item tracking form in the industry. Given that the new year is upon us, I wanted to share a rough estimate of the work that is ahead and get you excited with all the new value we will be delivering in the upcoming months. I will be updating this blog post every 6 weeks to account for the progress we’ve made and what is still left in our queue.

NOTE: The timeline is subject to change and some of the designs below are early mocks to prove concepts.

Planned Date Feature
H1 2016
  • Developer workflows inside the work item form – Completed
  • Header improvements – Completed
  • Sticky behavior in groups – Completed
  • Links in the front page – Completed
  • Admin layout improvements – Completed
  • New control extensibility – Completed

Developer workflows inside the work item form (Completed)

Users will be able to work with branches, pull requests, and commits from within the work item form. By focusing on workflows and on getting started with work without leaving the work item, we will create a link between two of the most important spaces in our product: code and work. This new experience is almost ready and you shall see it very soon!

 

Header improvements (Completed)

One of the main pieces of feedback we’ve gotten is that data density in our header can be improved. Through a better use of the real-estate we will increase the amount of information contained in this section. We will bubble up the reason field next to the work item’s state and address the concern that these two fields are not close to each other. As users have pointed out, their value diminishes because of not being together and we will fix this.

 

Sticky behavior in groups (Completed)

The new work item form allows users to collapse groups. We have heard that people really like this feature because it allows individuals to focus on the fields that are meaningful to them. However, the state of the group resets every time the user opens a new work item. By doing this work, the state of the groups per work item type will be remembered, allowing users to focus on the fields that really matter to them.

Links in the front page (Completed)

In the upcoming months the links experience inside the new work item form will be receiving a lot of attention. The first thing we will do in this area is to create a new control to display important links in the front page of the new form. This control will be customizable and will allow users to display the link relationships they care about –parent, child, related, etc.–. It will also streamline the creation of links and improve their discoverability.

Admin layout improvements (Completed)

Last month, we released our first major milestone for process customization – the ability to add a field and modify layout (check out Justin Mark’s blog post on the topic). We enabled drag and dropping capabilities and the response from our customers has been great. However, work here is not done. In the upcoming sprints we want to increase the fidelity of our UI and bring discussion and our new development group into the admin layout. We will also unblock our first section and allow users to add HTML fields to their work items.

New control extensibility (Completed)

Today, we support 3 contribution points inside the new work item form –action, page, and group extensions–. Through these contribution points, users can add additional functionality to their work items and even implement specific business logic. A few months from now we will enable a 4th contribution point: control extensions. This contribution point will extend the work item form to include user developed controls and enable various scenarios, that are difficult or not possible using the built in controls.

All this new functionality is still a couple of sprints away from being deployed across the service but hopefully it gives you a sense of where we are going. I’m excited to hear your feedback as we deliver each item. Expect updates on this page as we complete our new experiences.

–  Jose Rady Allende @JMRady