Test Plan and Test Suite Customization with TFS2013 Update3

Manoj Bableshwar

One of the top feature requests from Microsoft Test Manager/Test Case Management users across various forums has been the ability to customize the Test Plan and Test Suite artifacts. Based on the feedback, with Team Foundation Server 2013 Update 3, we are adding the functionality to add custom fields and workflows to Test Plans and Test Suites, along with other new features such as change tracking and enhanced permissions.

Customization for Test Plan and Test Suite artifacts: One of the key benefits of customization is the flexibility to align the workflows and fields of artifacts used for tracking activities with the business processes used by your organization. With TFS 2013 Update 3, this concept can be extended to your test lifecycle, by customizing test plans and test suites. For example, you can now do the following:

  • Change the default states of a test plan from “Active” and “Inactive” to say, “Authoring”, “Testing”, “Ready for SignOff”, and “Completed”, to better reflect the test activities practiced as part of your software development model.
  • Add additional user fields to test plans and test suites, such as reviewers, approvers, signoff owner, etc. required for accountability or audit requirements. 
  • Add custom fields to test suites such as Test Type, with values such as “Functional”, “Regression”, etc., to highlight what type of tests are contained in the test suite.

The process to customize test plans and test suites is similar to existing TFS work items, which means you can use the familiar witadmin command or the Process Editor toolset for customization. Existing test plans and test suites will be migrated to work-item based test plans and test suites as a part of the TFS upgrade process, ensuring a seamless transition for existing environments.



Enhanced Permissions Model for Test Plans and Test Suites: With work item based test plans and test suites, you can extend the area-path based permissions model that you use for existing TFS work items such as user stories and bugs to test plans and test suites. Additionally, a new permission to manage test suites is available with TFS 2013 Update 3. Going forward, the ‘Manage test suites’ permission can be used to moderate access to operations performed on a test suite such as:

  • Creating and deleting test suites
  • Adding test cases to test suites or removing test cases form test suites
  • Changing test configurations associated with test suites
  • Modifying suite hierarchy (moving a test suite)


The existing ‘Manage test plans’ permission will be scoped-down to restrict access to test plan properties such as build, test settings, etc. Like the existing ‘Manage test plans’ permission, the new ‘Manage test suites’ permission can be assigned at an area-path level, meaning different users/user groups can be granted exclusive access to different test suites within a single test plan. To easily migrate to this enhanced permission model, the existing test suites will be placed under the same area-path as that of the test plan and the permission for ‘Manage test suites’ will be copied from the existing ‘Manage test plans’ permission during the upgrade.

History/Auditing for changes to Test Plan and Test Suite: Work Item History can now be used to track changes to test plans and test suites. Changes to work item fields of test plans and test suites such as ‘State’ or ‘Iteration’ will be tracked as its done for existing TFS work items. Additionally, operations performed on test plan and test suite, for example: adding tests to a test suite or changing configurations, will be tracked using special field called ‘Audit’ in the work item history. With this, there will be a consolidated history view including changes performed to work items field and changes resulting from related artifacts such as test points and configurations.


You can get started with exploring these features by downloading and upgrading to TFS 2013 Update 3 CTP1. Kindly note that CTP1 is not a go-live release.


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