VSOI was not surprised that a lot of news came out from Microsoft this past week during their Build event, but some of the changes announced specifically for Visual Studio Online (VSO) were very nice. The first announcement brought us the much sought-after team project renames. The second announcement was the news that there are new options for manipulating your cards on the board, including features such as filtering and specifying fields to display on the card.

These announcements did not generate the same level of excitement to the community as a whole like the announcements for Visual Studio Code for Mac OS and Linux, or the HoloLens, but since I won’t have the chance to use either of those any time soon, the VSO news is far more interesting to this guy right here. 🙂

Team Project Renames

If only I had this 8 years ago when I had to do a massive cleanup of some TFS projects! The announcement mentioned its addition to VSO, but according to Martin Hinshelwood’s post, there are steps to follow for TFS 2015 as well. However, since TFS 2015 has yet to be released as an RTM build, we will all need to wait for an on-premise solution for this.

There is an impact here though… some Visual Studio clients will not be supporting this feature nicely. As Martin points out in his post, users should be upgrading to Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 or Visual Studio 2015 to have the best experience. Other versions may require some manual steps to work cleanly with the newly named project. If you are on Visual Studio 2010, you probably need to upgrade. 🙂

Adding Fields to Cards

Of the new card options, the ability to add fields to a card to surface up more details when scanning the board stood out to me. I tried this out on my own Backlog board and found it quite straight-forward. From the Backlog board, the configuration icon in the top right has the option for “Cards” which provides a dialog where you can configure the display of the cards on the board.

For my own usage, I surface Severity on the Bug item type and Created Date on the Product Backlog Item. This allows for a quick scan of the backlog to look for high severity bugs that aren’t getting closed, or for backlog items that have been getting stale and not being placed into sprints. For the backlog items, this is incredibly important during backlog pruning to find items that need to be brought up for discussion to either prioritize or discard. If it has been 2 years and the item just keeps getting deferred, it might be time to give up on it. Or, the team is afraid of how big it is, so maybe it’s time to split it up into smaller achievable chunks. I much prefer being able to see this with a visual scan instead of a report.

What’s next?

Having the option to do this on the task board will be a nice addition. I am intrigued to see how this affects team usage of the task board, and also which fields will make the most sense to surface up for Task items. Do you have any fields for Tasks that you think would be a good idea to show on the board?

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