Just before Christmas we are happy to announce the Xmas Release of AIT WordToTFS. There is a bunch of new features in version 4.4 that are outlined in this blog post.
Default Connection and Auto Connect
There are many scenarios where it makes sense to save the user from being asked for the TFS connection. It is rather useful to predefine the connection in the WordToTFS template, e.g. if there is exactly one production environment. For that purpose you can define a default connection per WordToTFS template. As shown in Figure 1 the document is connected to Team Project FabrikamFiber of the Team Project Collection FabrikamFiberCollection on server VSALM.
Figure 1: Document automatically connected to the right Team Project
In that case the chosen WordToTFS template FabrikamFiber (in the red frame in Figure 1) is configured to use a particular server connection. Figure 2 shows an excerpt of the template configuration. For more information on configuring WordToTFS templates refer to the WordToTFS Online Help in section Customizing the template configuration: w2t file.
Figure 2: Default Connection and Auto Connect
The configuration in Figure 2 also shows that the attribute AutoConnect is set to true. This means that as soon as the appropriate WordToTFS template is selected, the connection to the specified Team Project is established automatically without any further user interaction.
Refresh query every time a connection is made
In some scenarios, Word is used as one out of many authoring tools. However, the TFS database always provides a consistent and valid data source. In those cases users may always want to ensure to work on the latest version of requirements, product backlog items & co. Therefore WordToTFS templates can now be configured to automatically refresh document content always after the connection has been made. Figure 3 shows document content that has been manually created by executing a work item query in WordToTFS.
Figure 3: Get Work Items in WordToTFS
After that the last product backlog item in the document (ID: 242; Title: Technician can send GPS location from iPhone.) has been modified using another editor, e.g. Web Access (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: Product Backlog Item modified in Web Access
The next time, WordToTFS connects to the Team Project, the document gets refreshed automatically with the latest changes. As Figure 5 shows, the user is notified about the update process. Due to the configured default connection and auto connect (see section before), the update is started directly after the document has loaded.
Figure 5: Auto Refresh Work Items
After the refresh succeeded, the user can see the updated document content and can continue working on an up to date data base (see Figure 6).
Figure 6: Updated document content
As the red frames in figure 6 show, the new title is available and also the revision of that particular product backlog item has been increased from ten to eleven. By using that feature, every user of WordToTFS always works on the latest work item revisions. Therefore it might be necessary to define more than one WordToTFS templates, e.g. for using different work item queries per product release. This actually depends on the use case and may be different from team to team.
Customizable UI Behavior
Another new feature is the ability to modify some UI elements. This enables users to be more aligned with customer specific terminologies that might have been established. Thus users can use WordToTFS more intuitive in their specific environment. Figure 7 shows all buttons of the WordToTFS ribbon that can get customized lables by configuration. For more information on how to customize the buttons, please refer to the WordToTFS Online Help in section Customizing the buttons of the ribbon.
Figure 7: Customizable UI Elements
Additionally, administrators can define if users can use the template manager or chose between different templates using the template selection dropdown in the ribbon. The configuration (MappingConfiguration) has two new attributes EnableTemplateManager and EnableTemplateSelection. Details on that are documented in the WordToTFS Online Help in section Customizing the template configuration: w2t file.
Track Changes Automatically Disabled
Since WordToTFS works with tables that represent work items, there are a lot of changes in table content and structure whenever work items are refreshed. Mostly users using change tracking in MS Word, manually disable the Track Changes (see Figure 8) feature in Word before updating Work Items from TFS. However, if a user updated work items having change tracking enabled, the result was often changes that can hardly be reviewed manually.
Figure 8: Track Changes in MS Word
For that reason WordToTFS automatically disables Word’s change tracking feature just before work items are retrieved from the server. After the process finished, change tracking is enabled if it was before. This makes it easier using change tracking in Word for “real” changes of content, made by the user.
The Test Reporting capabilities have been expanded as well. Since Test Suite Work Items are typically used to define the structure of a Test Plan e.g. using Microsoft Test Manager or Web Access, these items are available in WordToTFS as well. To be even more flexible in designing the test reports using WordToTFS, now there can be defined three different templates for representing a test suite. The tool differentiates between test suites on root level of the test suite tree, test suites on leaf level of the test suite tree, and all other test suites that do not match the criteria before. Figure 9 shows an excerpt of a sample configuration.
Figure 9: Test Specification Configuration Sample
Further more there is a new way to query items from the TFS database: Object Queries.
Object queries help to query additional information connected to test management objects. Currently the following objects are supported:
Object Queries can be defined using certain filters and options. During report generation the queries are executed and the results can be used by a Replacement tag as shown in Figure 10.
Figure 10: Usage of Object Queries
For more information on object queries please refer to the WordToTFS Online Help in section Using Object Queries to query additional Data for Test Management Objects.
Beyond the new features mentioned above there are some more improvements regarding the Stack Rank field as well as the Pre and Post Operations of the Test Reporting.
Whenever users manipulate work items and choose Publish Selected to write only certain changes into the database, the Stack Rank field is not touched anymore. This makes using the Stack Rank field even more stable and leverages the capabilities of TFS together with WordToTFS for ordering work items.
Last but not least the Pre and Post Operations, already available in the Test Reports, can now be used for all work item based documents. To get an up to date list of those operations for document manipulation, please have a look into the WordToTFS Online Help in section Customizing the template configuration: w2t file.
Install the Update
Attention: This update is available for major release 4, only. Please find the full details of the different versions under http://bit.ly/EnWordToTFS.
Anyone who has not installed WordToTFS, yet, can download the application from the URI mentioned before for free.
For users of WordToTFS 4.x:
If you have already installed a version 4.x of WordToTFS, it automatically searches for updates regularly. Nevertheless the update mechanism can be manually enforced by using the update button in the WordToTFS ribbon (see Figure 11).
Figure 11: Enforce update manually
We appreciate any feedback on WordToTFS. We are glad to help you, just contact us.
Thank you and Merry Xmas
Now it is time to give thanks to all users of WordToTFS for their great and valuable feedback. Without you it would have been hard to make WordToTFS as useful as it is today. A big THANK YOU!
Since we got that much feedback, we have already scheduled the next update with further improvements for the first quarter of 2015. We’re going to keep you up to date on this blog.
Furthermore the complete AIT team wishes Merry Xmas and a happy new year. See you soon!