The Ramblings of Two Microsoft .NET Developers, TFS, and Visual Studio ALM Guys --- "Yes, we are both named Ed."

Connecting to TFS from Microsoft Office Outlook



Office Outlook 2010 LogoWe recently got awesome new laptops at work (which are just awesome BTW) and on the standard image included a Team Foundation Server tool that I haven’t used in a while:  TeamCompanion 3.0.  I had used earlier releases of the tool but always seem to forget to install it whenever I pave my machine as I do quite frequently.  It’s been a while and I must say… the 3.0 version is just awesome.  I’d like to go over a few things that I really like in the latest release.

Experience

The experience of connecting to TFS inside Outlook is just first-class.  The same icons that are used in Visual Studio Team Explorer are the ones that appear in Outlook.  That really does make a difference for me…  Notice that I can also add certain work item queries that I’m interested in to the Favorites area as well.
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If you are using Outlook 2010, you’ll notice that TeamCompanion adds a handy ribbon tab:

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Work Items Galore

There are so many things you can do whenever working with work items with TeamCompanion!  For instance, let’s say you get an e-mail for a customer of a great feature request.  It’s super quick to create a new feature request work item or attach the e-mail to an existing work item.

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What’s even cooler is that if the e-mail refers to a specific work item in the content (i.e. “Bug 1234”) then TeamCompanion can let you open the rich work item form to look at the details or edit the work item.  This is especially helpful for alert e-mails that you may get from TFS.

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Even cooler is that all of the normal Outlook features work like replying, forwarding, flagging, categorizing, setting alerts, etc.

Other Work Item Features:

  • Offline Work Item Support
  • Scheduling Work Item Queries to Run
  • Great Rendering of a Work Item
  • Creating Tasks/Meeting Requests from Work Items
  • Printing
  • Editing Areas & Iterations
  • Bulk Editing
  • Searching Work Items
  • “Query By Example”

Reports

I think my favorite feature of TeamCompanion has to do with handling reports.  By default, the rich reports you get with TFS are all scoped at the Team Project level.  However, I find myself frequently needing to filter to a particular Area Path and Iteration Path.  TeamCompanion actually allows you to save those common filters that you perform every day and store them.  Allows you to have all of the presets that you want.

Another handy feature is the ability to send an e-mail with the report easily within Outlook.  Nice!

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I’m certainly not doing the latest release of the product justice.  They did a great job with improvements and new features from previous versions that I have used.  I’d suggest you’d download the trial and kick the tires.

 

Ed Blankenship

Posted in TFS | Tools | VSTS | VSTS Process


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