Using Project Policy to Control the Conversion Between Outlook and TFS objects for the Whole Team

Configuration settings regarding the conversion between Outlook and TFS objects which are now managed per team project, can be put in place in form of a project policy, in which case they are automatically distributed to all team member using TeamCompanion. This means that TeamCompanion will behave in the same way when any team member performs an action covered by these settings.

Productivity in daily tasks is all about small tricks and enhancements. Imagine that all mails originating from work items which circulate between your team members used the same formatting? Imagine that, when someone sends you a bug, you could quickly find a particular information like bug severity just by scanning the email? Or that all bugs created from emails followed the same layout?

In this post we will talk about how your team can use a single set of configurations put in place in form of a project policy. You will learn how TeamCompanion can help your team unify the structure and layout of information you all come across daily while working in between TFS work items and your email folders.

Turning on a Project Policy

In our previous post, we described new features introduced with TeamCompanion v5.2, which allow you to manage configuration settings for conversion between Outlook and TFS objects per team project, and to configure conversion rules separately for each work item type. 

Only project administrators have the right to manage project policies. In comparison with users without administrative privileges, they see two additional controls on the Project Settings tab, which are used to manage project policies: the checkbox Set as project policy, located in the Server/Project group, and the button Save to Server, located next to the Reset button on the bottom of the tab.

A project administrator will first configure and tests the desired set of rules locally, handling these as a local customization available only for himself. Once he is satisfied with the rules, he will turn them into a project policy in the following way:

  1. He will check the checkbox Set as project policy and,
  2. He will click on the button Save to Server.

Note: A project policy is set only after performing both these steps!

Turning On A Project Policy

Distribution of a Project Policy

Configurations put in place as a project policy are automatically distributed to all team member using TeamCompanion. Everyone will automatically retrieve these settings next time they start Outlook or when they connect to a team project.

The Project Settings tab for users without administrative privileges will look like on the following picture. They will see the note “Project settings locked for editing by TFS administrator.” and all controls on this tab and all sub-tabs will be read only. Such users will be able to explore policy rules, but not change them. They can not set any local preferences in case a policy exists. The Reset button will manually retrieve current policy settings from the server.

Users without administrative priviledgles cannot change policy settings.

Project administrators will retrieve policy configurations the same way as users without administrative privileges, but they will have the option to change policy settings, as described in the following chapter.

Note: Project policy settings are retrieved each time you start Outlook.

Shared editing of policy settings by project administrators

Each project administrator can manage project policy settings. After a policy is put in place, configurations are automatically retrieved from the TFS server and available for further editing.

A project administrator can further explore different configuration options locally. He can change a settings, close the Options dialog and thereby save this change only locally. If he wants to reset his changes and return all values to match the actual project policy saved on the server, he can accomplish this by clicking on the Reset button. When he has tested his changes, he can save them as an updated project policy by clicking on the button Save to Server.

Note: If an administrator closes Outlook without saving his changes to policy settings to the server, when he starts Outlook next time, his local changes will be automatically reset to values saved on the server as the current project policy!

To reset a project policy to default values got when installing TeamCompanion perform following steps:

  1. Uncheck Set as project policy and click on the button Save to Server (this will remove the project policy),
  2. Click on the button Reset (this will reset local settings to default values),
  3. Check Set as project policy and click on the button Save to Server (this will save the reset settings as project policy).

Note: Examples in this blog are based on the Brian Keller’s Visual Studio 2012 RTM ALM Virtual Machine, which has been upgraded to Office 2013, Visual Studio and TFS 2013 RC and expanded with TeamCompanion 5.2. RTM.

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