Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Work Item Explorer Extension for Visual Studio 2012 RC (Think Architecture dgml used to diagram/map/explore TFS Work Items and their associated links)

Visual Studio Gallery - Architecture Explorer Work Item Extension


SUPPORTS: Visual Studio 2012 RC


Add in for the Architecture Explorer that allows you to explore work items via their relationships and properties.

This tool was created to help people visualize the relationships between work items in Team Foundation Server. The tool allows you to drill down from requirements to tasks to changesets to files within changesets and even test results. From there you can drill up to see other requirements affected by changes to a given file.

Using this tool you can now answer some basic questions at a glance, find work items with no relationships to other work items and quickly determine the status of a given requirement.

I've downloaded the extension, what now?

The first thing to do is to navigate to C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\VisualStudio\11.0\Extensions\ and find the folder the extension was placed in. There is a file here called "TeamProject.dgml" (along with the Release Notes which are copied here). Copy this file to someplace convenient as it serves as the hook point for the extension.

I will be putting up more information (including how I created the add-in and it's history) on the Northwest Cadence blog site ( in the near future.

Release 1 notes

  • The ability to navigate to from the collection to the project(s) to the work item types within the project to the work items to the changesets, test results and test plans.
  • The work item nodes, test plan nodes, and test results nodes are all navigable
  • Each node is tagged with a category and/or property that allows you to great a legend for the graph


Getting Started

Getting started is very simple. Open the Architecture Explorer (Main Menu > Architecture > Windows > Architecture Explorer. In the Architecture Explorer select File System > Select File and browse to the TeamProject.dgml. Since the first panel of the Architecture Explorer is not extensible, this file serves as the entry point to the extension and allows the extension to hook the Explorer. Once the file is loaded, select the TeamProject.dgml node. Then select the Servers node and then at this point the extension takes over. It will pull up a list of registered TFS servers and go from there.


I thought this a pretty cool looking extension and one that I could see coming in handy. With VS2010 we got hierarchical work item support and as that version, and/or TFS2012, roles out wider I'm sure we're going to be seeing some very deep hierarches. And I don't know about you, but sometimes I just need a diagram to really grok a complicate series  of relationships....

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