After a long time without an update to our connector between MS Office Word and TFS / VSTS, we are more than happy to announce the new version of WordToTFS in the nick of time to make it an Xmas gift. The new version contains tons of new features, improvements, and bug fixes, which I am going to explain in this post.
Compared to former releases, this one brings much more new stuff. Why? Did we change our release course? The honest answer is very simple: No, but we needed some time to identify the root cause of some major bugs. Frankly spoken, the last version did not have the quality I wanted to have. Furthermore we completely rebuilt our build and release pipeline. We migrated from XAML-builds forward to the new powerful build and release engine of VSTS. As if that weren’t enough, we changed the certificate as well as the actual signing process. Beyond some new features, this brought us a lot of work and not all went smoothly ;). This is a good point in time to say THANK YOU to our customers but also to the dev-team for their patience and perseverance.
But let’s have a look at the news, the release brings around the corner. We can basically separate all the new stuff into the following categories:
- UI Improvements
- Data Processing
- Technical Improvements
Even though I explained the functionalities fairly detailed in the past, in this post I make it short for the individual changes to keep the overall length of that blog post acceptable.
Position and size of Work Item Query list
Especially with a large resolution or in multi-monitor environments, the position of the Work Item Query list, e.g. for get work items, was not at its best. Now the dialog is shown next to the appropriate drop down box in any case as shown in figure 1.
Not only the position is more ergonomic but also the calculation of the size is using an optimal amount of space on the screen.
Fields “Title” and “Id” can be used with keyboard only
When searching a work item by id or title, the user can type some values in the appropriate text boxes. However, in former versions, the intuitive way to just hit the return key to start the search was not possible.
With the new version, the return key can be used very intuitively to start the work item search.
Information about unsupported Work Item Types
Every template in WordToTFS is made, either by us or by the user, to support specific scenarios. Therefore the user chooses to not support any work item type in Word, which is available in the actual Team Project in TFS/VSTS. Nevertheless, we heard the feedback loud and clear that it might be confusing if a user runs a work item query in the web browser (TFS Web Access) and returns more items than when running the same query in Word. The technical reason is very simple and easy to explain: In WordToTFS the query result shows only those work items that are configured in the currently used WordToTFS template. Nevertheless, without any visual indicator it is hard for the user to understand where the difference comes from.
For this reason WordToTFS now notifies the user if a Work Item Query returns work items of unsupported types as shown in figure 3.
As shown in the picture, the user can see at a glance that the query actually returns 1045 more work items than shown here in WordToTFS. Hovering over the question mark unveils more details, e.g. that the unsupported work items are 19 Change Requests, 10 Code Review Requests, etc. We think that this helps the user to get a better understanding why some work items are shown and others not.
Work Item Type shown in work item search results
Another nice improvement regarding the Get Work Items pane is the visualization of the work item type. In front of every single work item WordToTFS provides a colored indicator of the work item type as shown in figure 4. This is especially helpful when the user wants to manually select some work items of a particular work item type.
The color is dynamically read from TFS, which means it is the same as the user is familiar with from the backlog and board views in TFS / VSTS. This means that customized process templates with custom colors are supported as well.
Image-only support for HTML-fields
Especially when using WordToTFS for authoring documents, HTML-based fields like the description field are usually used to add textual description underpinned by some graphics or images. However, sometimes the author wants to paste an image only, without any further textual information. This scenario is now covered by WordToTFS.
New naming schema for attachment folders of test reports
Whenever a user generates a test report with WordToTFS, it is possible to automatically download test attachments and store them side-by-side with the document itself. Now we created a new configuration option to create a folder structure and files names with human readable names. This enables the user to identify the right test attachments in the file system (see figure 5) without opening the Word document to use the embedded hyperlinks to these files.
As shown on the left hand side in the screenshot, there is a folder structure generated that matches the test suite structure of the underlying test plan. Name and id of the test suites can be read from the folder names. The file names, which can be seen on the right hand side in figure 5, also contain a lot of information, e.g. the test case id, the test iteration and the step number.
All these data make it much easier to find the desired files directly in Windows Explorer.
Before that, the files were stored as a flat list containing GUIDs in the file names to make them unique as shown in Figure 6.
In both cases, the Test Report Document contains hyperlinks to the appropriate files. However it is obvious that with the old way, the user could only access the right files via these hyperlinks.
Nevertheless, the implementation is completely backward compatible. Former test report configurations are still valid and the logic is not touched in any way. The new functionality is completely additional and no one needs to change its test report configuration unless the new functionality is desired. For more information how to configure this feature, please refer to the user guide page 57, which explains the AttachmentFolderMode in detail.
“Build vNext” Support for Test Reports
The Test Result reports refer to the build system at several places. WordToTFS now fully supports the “new” build system in addition to the “old” XAML-based build system. This means, it does not matter if your tests are based on the builds of either the old or the new build system, the build numbers occur in the test report if configured.
Office 2016 support
We have changed the references of the MS Office API to the newest version to get a better support of Word 2016. With this we also started testing with Word 2016 on Windows 10 only. Usually it also works on other combinations, but this configuration is used as test configuration for WordToTFS by default.
Dependencies to .NET Framework 4.5.2
We also harmonized the technical dependencies to the .NET Framework. The complete solution is now based on .NET Framework 4.5.2.
Online and Offline Setup
When using the ZIP-download instead of the EXE-download from our website, the user now can intuitively perform an offline setup as shown in figure 7, which means the download and respectively update source is a location within the customer’s network or the local client.
Additionally we completely wrapped the VSTO-installer, which is a ClickOnce-setup but only works in an MS web browser (Internet Explorer or Edge). To support the one click setup experience in other browser as well, e.g. in Chrome, we introduced an EXE-installer.
Beside the coding stuff we invested some time in improving the User Guide. Even if it is still far away from perfect, we’re proud that we got rid of some debts. We also refreshed some screenshots to align the user guide with the current UI.
We also updated the EULA to create certainty that WordToTFS is a free tool.
As described at the very beginning of this blog post, we had a lot of issues to fix. The most severe one was that after publishing work items from Word into TFS the description field contained a string like an url in addition to the actual images within a description field, respectively this applied to any HTML based field. Another severe one was that sometimes text was not exported completely into Word when getting work item data from TFS into Word.
Please find a list of all bugs that we fixed in this release below without further description. If somebody has detected an issue like the ones mentioned below, please double-check if the behavior still exists. If so, let us now, otherwise we’re also happy about positive feedback on the marketplace.
- Work Item Comparison fails if field ends with space
- Spell checker is disabled but not enabled anymore
- Decription field contains additional url after publishing
- Test result report by iteration path crashes
- Compare does not work correctly with Area Path
- TestResultReport command doesn’t work in cmd for WordToTFS
- GetWorkItems fails if <hr />-tag is part of an HTML-field
- Failure of publishing work item caused by the <hr> tag
- Bug Finding WorkItems by Title
- Seach Work Item by Title does not work if Team Project has more than 2000 work items
- Enable logging is not persisted
- GetWorkItem functionality cuts last row of description content
- TestSpecReportByQuery cuts off some text
- Test Report Warning while reading build number
- Table in Html-Field is not resized properly
- Word shows Slovak missing proofing language
- Test Report connects Test Suite and Test Case table unintended
As mentioned at the very beginning of this post, there is a lot of stuff in this release. I think this release is another important step in making the tool better and more powerful.
You can get the new version either via the automatic update procedure, by manually clicking the update button in the WordToTFS ribbon, or simply by downloading and installing the new version.
If you’re wondering why we have two parallel releases, version 5.4 and 6.1. The major version 5 is working with the Visual Studio 2015 API and the major version 6 of WordToTFS is using the Visual Studio 2017 API. From a functional perspective both versions are actually identical. Hence, which version to use depends on the compatibility between the Visual Studio client API and TFS / VSTS. Usually using the newest version, which means currently 6.1 is the best choice. There might be some exceptions when using a very old version of TFS (2013 or older). For anyone currently using 5.3 it is easier to update to 5.4 than to upgrade to 6.1, since the upgrade means uninstalling the old and installing the new version manually.
Nevertheless, this is the last update for major version 5. The next update will be only for major version 6 of WordToTFS.
Finally I will not miss to thank our customers and the community for their funding, support, and qualitative feedback. This shows me that developing WordToTFS in a community driven approach has been a good choice.
Merry Xmas, cheers!