Creating a Work Item with defaults in Team Foundation Server

In some cases you want to be creating a Work Item with defaults in Team Foundation Server so that you can give access to users but also give them guidance on what to fill out.

The best option for this is to create your own UI that leverages the TFS API and gives the users access to only the fields that you deme pertinent. This would be the full control option. If however you don’t have time or want to do that there is a simple solution. You can create a ‘template URL’ that pre-populated the field values of a Work Item.

Figure: New PBI form with defaults

To do this you need to open your Team Project in the Web Access and click to create a new Work Item for whatever type that you want. In this case it is the Product Backlog Item. I have then gone ahead and changed the Area Path, Iteration Path and added a value for Business Value.

Figure: Copy template to clipboard

Now that we have the customisations how we like we can click the “Copy template URL” button and it will create a URL with the field data on it and save it to your clipboard.


You you look closely at the URL you will see that it has the field name “Microsoft.VSTS.Common.BusinessValue” followed by the value of “56” pre filled out in the URL.

Figure: New PBI form with custom defaults

If you drop that URL into a browser you will see the new work item page with your work item pre-populated. Now if you want you can now create a simple html page that has a list of predefined links to create work items of different types and defaults…


  • Joey Jojo

    Spelling is key to getting the point across… 🙂

    “In some cases you want to creating (sic) a Work Item with defaults in Team Foundation Server so that you can gave (sic) access to users…”

    • While those words are indeed spelled correctly thanks for pointing out the grammar problem that resulted from incorrect work usage 🙂 Should be fixed now…

  • Olavi Paananen

    Is it possible to create default tasks as well with this feature?

    • There is no automation here, so I would guess its not what you want. There have been projects in the past to do this, like TFS Event Handler, but it is an inherently broken proposition. If you need bulk default tasks for delivery then you are probably not focusing on tracking the correct things.

  • DT

    This method seems really powerful but I ran into a limit of 2048 characters for the whole length of the URL. It kinda kills some of the usefulness.

    • I agree, but that is a limitation of the internet. You are welcome to use the TFS API in Java, .NET, or REST to create work items with any number of fields set. This is just a handy shortcut.

      • DT

        This is NOT a limitation of the internet, not at all. It’s not even a limitation of IE (that’d be 2083 characters, last I checked, though a link clicked on or a desktop shortcut for that matter should work at any length). And I’m not even really on the internet. This was to make defect templates for rapid re-use by humans, and most of them would appreciate being able to rely upon the button they were given.