Managing Role-Based Work Item Views

TeamCompanion v5.2 introduced the support for multiple role-based work item views. Members of each user role get only the subset of work item information necessary for their work. By providing simplified views specific to different groups of users, TeamCompanion optimizes the work item user interface, simplifies it and supports a much more efficient work experience. With such an efficient user interface even the novice users can work effectively from the very beginning.

This blog discusses in more detail how to define role-based default and multiple views for different users and groups and what rules are used when a user belongs to multiple groups for which you have defined different views. It explains properties and configuration details from a technical point of view and is aimed primarily at project administrators.

TeamCompanion allows you to create different role-based views for work item forms. For example, you could have a high level overview view for your business stakeholders, which contains only a small subset of all work item fields they want to focus on, namely fields related to business value and schedule. Further views can be used by different types of subject-matter experts (SME) interested in specific aspects of the work item (e.g. specifics of the business scenario a work item relates to, quality and testing or perhaps details related to release management). The default view showing all data would be suitable for the core development team, which still needs access to all technical details.

Team administrators are provided with the supplementary tool to centrally manage role-based views for each team project (available as separate download for TFS 2012and TFS 2013). Using this tool you can define role-view mappings on three possible levels:

  • per user,
  • per TFS group, and
  • per active directory domain group.

To create an entry in the role-view relationships table, first choose a user or a group using the Add button. Then click in the corresponding cell in the column Default Layout Name to edit it, and manually enter the exact name of the view as specified in the work item type definition.

Supplementary tool for central management of role-based work item views

Basic Rules

The default view is used to display all work item types for users who:

  • do not belong to any group for which role-view mappings are defined,
  • have no directly assigned role-view mappings.

Note: The default view comes from the default work item form view which always exists in the work item type definition and is used by other TFS clients such as Team Explorer or Team Web Access.

Only one role-view mapping entry for each user and group can be added to the table.

When a user or a group has a role-view mapping defined, TeamCompanion does the following when deciding how to display each work item:

  1. If the work item type definition contains the view matching the one stated in the Default Layout Name column, then this view is used.
  2. If the work item type definition does not contain the view matching the one stated in the Default Layout Name column, then the default view is used.

After a user or group is assigned a view, they need to (re)start Outlook for these settings to apply.

Defining Views over More Work Item Types

A simplified view targeted to a particular group of users, for example business stakeholders, may be used in several work item types. In other words, a stakeholder using a high level overview for a User Story, will need a high level overview for a Task as well. As a consequence of the basic rules stated above, you can achieve this is in the following way:

  1. Edit the definition of the User Story work item type and define a custom user story view for your stakeholders. Let’s name it Stakeholder View.
  2. Edit the definition of the Task work item type and define a custom task view for your stakeholders. Name it using the same view name as in the User Story, Stakeholder View.
  3. Add an entry to the role-view relationships table, specifying the group your stakeholders belong to (or a particular stakeholder) and reference the Stakeholder View in the Default Layout Name column.

Note: The number of views defined within each work item type definition is not limited.

Using Multiple Views

Until now we have explained how the view stated in the Default Layout Name column is used as the view of choice for the corresponding user or group referenced by the role-view mapping.

Some project roles can use multiple different views for the same work item type. A development lead, for instance, could use an overview view by default, giving him just a subset of all information available in the work item. When discussing work items with developers, he can easily switch to the full view and access all information.

TeamCompanion provides the option to use such multiple views as well. Alternative views are defined in the column Other Layouts as a semi-comma separated list of work item type view names. The default work item type view is referenced using the syntax {Default}.

The following example references the default view and another 2 views:
{Default};All in view (Devs);Just the content view (SME)

To add multiple views to an existing entry in the role-view relationships table, click in the corresponding cell in the column Other Layouts to edit it, and manually enter the semi column separated list of view names.

Supplementary tool for central management of role-based work item views

When a role-view mapping contains the definition for multiple views, then an additional dropdown control named Layouts appears in the toolbar of the work item form. It contains the list of all views available for that user. This list is defined by the current work item type definition and the definition of default and multiple views in the role-view mapping.

Work item form with layouts dropdown containing the list of available role-based views

 

More precisely, the list in the Layouts dropdown is an intersection of the set of views from the work item type definition and the set of views which is the result of the union of the default and all multiple views defined in the role-view mapping.

The following table contains a few examples to clarify there rules:

Process Template:
Views in the
work item type definition

Admin Tool:
Default Layout Name
column

Admin Tool:
Other Layouts

column

TeamCompanion:
Layouts

dropdown list

{Default}
All in view (Devs)
High level overview (CxO)
Just the content view (SME)

All in view (Devs)

{Default}
High level overview (CxO)
Just the content view (SME)

{Default}
All in view (Devs)
High level overview (CxO)
Just the content view (SME)

High level overview (CxO)

All in view (Devs);

All in view (Devs)
High level overview (CxO)

{Default}

High level overview (CxO)

{Default}
High level overview (CxO)

All in view (Devs)

High level overview (CxO)
View_A

All in view (Devs)
High level overview (CxO)

All in view (Devs)

View_A
View_B

-

As you can see from the examples, for work item types containing at least one of the multiple views, the Layout dropdown will be visible. The dropdown will not appear when just a single view is valid for the work item type after resolving all rules.

Note: In case the view specified in the Default Layout Name column does not exist for a work item type, then the default view for that work item type will be used, no matter it the type contains any of the multiple views.

View Resolution Rules

More than one entry from the role-view relationships table can apply to a single user. For example, a user can have directly assigned role-view mappings and he can be a member of the group which has its own role-view mapping. Or a user can be a member of two groups both having their own role-view mappings assigned.

In order to define which views are valid in such cases, TeamCompanion offers the option to prioritize entries in the role-view relationships table. Using the up and down arrows on the left of the table, the order of table entries can be adjusted.

TeamCompanion uses following rules for view resolution:

  • Top positioned entries are resolved first.
  • If more entries apply to a single user, then only the highest prioritized mapping will be used. Other mapping will be ignored.
  • When the order of entries in the role-view relationships table is changed, then users will get new mappings after they restart Outlook.
    Note: Depending on the order of performed actions, the first displayed view will most probably be the old one (from the cache). Once validated against server, new view will be used instead.
In the following example, Julia has a particular view mapped to her user credentials. In the same time she is a member of the TFS Development Team. In this case, TeamCompanion will use the Julia’s View.
    User/Group Default Layout Name
    Julia Ilyiana Julia’s View
    TFS Development Team Team View

In case the order of the views is changed, as in the following table, TeamCompanion will use the Team View for Julia.

    User/Group Default Layout Name
    TFS Development Team Team View
    Julia Ilyiana Julia’s View

In the following example, Julia is member of both TFS groups, Development Team and Web Team. As the mapping for the Development Team is listed first in the table, TeamCompanion will use the Team View for Julia.

    User/Group Default Layout Name

    Development Team

    Team View

    Web Team Web View

If you have any further questions regarding the management of role-based work item views, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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