New fields bring Kanban goodness to queries, and more

Sondra Batbold

In VSO, the Kanban board is your control room. Like traditional switchboards and status indicators, the board empowers teams with mission critical information: which work items are in progress, where the bottlenecks are, who the work is assigned to, and so on. There’s a certain calm to knowing all of this… and we get it. As consumers of our own product, we demand a data-centric experience too. Here’s what we did to turn the dial.

On September 18th, we announced the creation of three new system fields:

  1. Board Column: current Kanban board column
  2. Board Column Done: False (Doing) or True (Done) when work items are in a split column
  3. Board Lane: current Kanban board swimlane

These fields capture valuable data from the board and light up various work item experiences across VSO.


Where can I use these fields?



This one came to us directly from our UserVoice community – the ask was for the ability to report on Kanban from the query editor. Now, you may add any or all of these fields to the query editor for better results on board metrics. Board fields are also available in column options, so viewing a list of data quickly is a breeze. If Excel is your tool of choice, you can export as usual; board fields are available in Excel as read-only text.



Here we’ve configured a chart with the new “Group by” option “Board Column,” which gave us a pie chart of our work items color coded for customized columns. On the Kanban team, we pin our chart to the team dashboard for a simple health check of our work items.



In agile teams, things move fast. We update our work items, complete code reviews, resolve bugs, and make great features. In order to keep momentum, we want real-time updates and that’s why we use VSO Alerts. By adding a board field to the filter, you can set an alert like “notify me when a specific story has been picked up and is now under development”. Alerts can be set for a single user, specific team members, or the entire team.


As you can see, Kanban fields add a ton of value to how teams view data and manage their work. We want to hear how your teams are using Kanban fields. Leave us a comment below, or reach out to us on Twitter with #vsonline to let us know what you think!


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