First thoughts on Customizing Process in VSTS

Published 10 March 05 01:14 PM | dmckinstry

I've been hearing that VSTS was readily configurable in terms of process.  Based on my research in MSF for Agile Software Development, I determined that it was finally time to dig in and look at tailoring the process...

With the assumption that reading the documentation helps, I started by downloading and installing the Visual Studio 2005 Team System 1204 CTP Extensibility Kit... and then spent the next 2-3 hours reading and rereading.  I tried to get things working based on the command line tools and had minimal success.  Then, I finally looked in the right place and discovered that they aren't needed in the December CTP of VSTS.  You can do the imports and exports from Team Explorer.

Here is my brief summary that you can use to customize the MSF Agile process delivered in the December CTP for your purposes:

  1. Download and install (but don't get bogged down in) the Visual Studio 2005 Team System 1204 CTP Extensibility Kit.
  2. Export the default MSF Agile process to your hard disk.  Do this from the Team menu in Visual Studio 2005 by selecting Team Foundation Server Settings > Process Template Manger.
  3. Select MSF Agile and export it to a clean directory on your hard disk (e.g., "C:\Process").
  4. Modify the name and description in the MethodologyTemplate.xml file.  Although you don't have to rename the process, you probably want to so that your original start point is still available for comparison.
  5. Make changes in other files, as appropriate to tailor the process.  The extensibility kit will provide good detailed documentation and the schema for XML files.  Start small and test often.
  6. To test your process, go back to the Process Template Manager (from step 2) and select "Import", and point to your updated MethodologyTemplate.xml file.
  7. Then, create a new team project based on your new process.

You can repeat steps 5-7 as needed... and if you're serious about building your own process you probably will go through it numerous times.  Each time you import you will just be replacing the template from your last import.  Also note that importing a new version of your process will not effect projects already created against a prior verions of your template.  That is, a project will carry with it, the version of the process under which it was created!

Within a few of hours after getting the first export completed, I've managed to add fields including UI and MS Project mappings, change iterations, and change the default work items.  I haven't tried to update the SharePoint/Process Guidance pieces or the Groups and Security.  And my efforts to write protect my "Scheduled Start Date" from everyone but PMs isn't working yet.  But overall...  this stuff is great!

Have fun!

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