New Work Hubs

Aaron Bjork

In our recent post “New navigation for Visual Studio Team Services” we shared an early look at our plans for the upcoming year. For the Work hubs in VSTS, we’re investing in ways that address usability issues many of you have shared with us. In this post, we’ll describe a few of the first steps in that journey.

From one hub to three

In talking with users, we found that many struggled with the complexity of our Backlogs hub. Though powerful, the Backlogs hub was home to too many features. This often made it difficult to find the feature or capability you’re looking for.

To address this problem, we’ve split the Backlogs hub into three distinct hubs:

  • Backlogs. The Backlogs hub is now home to just the Backlogs for a project. A backlog is a prioritized list of work for the team. Backlogs provide planning tools such as work item hierarchy, forecasting, and sprint planning.
  • Boards. The new Boards hub is home to all Boards for a project. Boards are used to communicate status and flow.  Cards (work items) move from left to right across the board through columns defined by the team. The board is highly customizable and includes engaging visual cues to help teams limit their work-in-progress.
  • Sprints. The new Sprints hub is home to features used to plan and execute an increment of work.  Sprints support teams working at regular sprint cadence (usually 2-4 weeks) to deliver incremental value.  Each sprint contains a Sprint Backlog, a Taskboard, and a view to manage and set capacity for the team.

The new Work hubs provide you with simpler navigation, making it easy to jump to the feature you need.

Previously, managing work across teams took several clicks and full-page navigations. Each visit to a backlog, board, or sprint often required changing team contexts. With our broader navigation update, team context is no longer in the global breadcrumb, creating a more person-centric navigation experience. Now, you’re able to favorite individual backlogs, boards, and sprints across any team, making navigation between these items significantly easier. Additionally, quick search is available in every item picker to help you find things you haven’t favorited.

If you’re new to the project (or unsure what to search for), click “Browse all” to view a directory of your backlogs, boards, and sprints.  Directories offer a powerful filter and browse experience. On each directory, we highlight your Favorited items, the items associated with Teams you’re a member of, and of course a full list of all boards, backlogs, or sprints in the project.

Team Profile pane

The new Team Profile pane provides quick access to all related team items as well as information about the team’s administrators and members. To access the Team Profile pane, click on the team icon next to the Favorites star. Use the Team Profile pane to easily jump to another item for a team, or quickly favorite items you want to visit regularly.

New Sprint Features

Along with these core navigational updates, you’ll also find a few handy new features:

  • New Sprint. Create your next sprint or subscribe to an existing sprint schedule directly from the Sprints hub.
  • Sprint Planning. Use the new Planning pane in your backlog to drag and drop work items into future sprints. The Planning pane includes sprint dates, work item counts, and planned effort.
  • New work item. Add requirements to the top of the Taskboard or use quick create to add to the top, bottom, or row of choice on your Sprint Backlog.
  • Updated Filters. Use filters for Assignee, Work Item Type, State, and Tags to tailor the views to your needs.

Looking ahead

As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, these changes are just the first steps in a set of larger changes. If you’re worried that teams are going away, rest assured that teams are still an important artifact in VSTS. We’ve spent the better part of the last year learning from many of you about the wide variety of approaches and uses for teams. It’s been extremely helpful and is informing how we think about the future. Our goal is to provide more flexibility for backlogs, boards, and sprints – making them useful with or without teams. In fact, that’s where we’re headed next.  We plan to unlock boards from teams so you can create custom boards for a variety of scenarios.

Try the preview and send us feedback

The new Work hubs are available as part of the VSTS navigation preview. Enable preview features from your profile in the top right corner of your VSTS project and send us your feedback! We look forward to hearing from you.

Aaron Bjork Sondra Batbold


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