Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Copying work items - hidden gotchas

Today I came across Eric Lee's post about copying work items. I also discovered this function quite accidentaly and have been happily using it for several months already.

So you right-click on selected Work Item in Query Results or on open Work Item, and click "Create Copy of Work Item..." - and voila! New item with identical data is displayed for you, so you can modify and save it. It allows one to avoid hassle of copying common fields or easily copy item to another project.

All goodness, but there are some not so obvious features within...

First, the newly created work item will be linked to the source work item (work item you copied a new work item from). If that is not your intention, and you do not glance on "Links" tab contents - you are in for surprise. And if you do that for some time then you have a whole lot of links. For example, if you have Item 1, then created Item 2 (by copying from Item 1) and then created Item 3 (by copying from Item 2) - now, how many linked items you will have in Item 3? You will have two - Item 1 and Item 2. That is surely a feature to be aware of (especially if you do not want to link those items)! I have discovered it only after I created the whole bunch of interlinked items...

Additionally, there is something very interesting in the history of the newly created work item. If you are creating items one after another (as in example above), all that information will be saved in history!

Here you can see copied work item history:

And here the first history entry expanded (and that is only a part of it):

Not that I care much about that information currently. It may be useful if you are trying to propagate bug through several Team projects (say bug found in "Project 1" will be copied to "Project 1.1" and then to "Project 1.2" - the data will be visible in history); but with current implementation of Team projects I doubt it is of much use. On the other hand, if you are copying items only for convenience, I do not see how that information is useful to anyone.

Those two I have discovered in a course of some two months of usage; but I will not be surprised if there are additional goodies in that function. And I wonder - what was the idea of the original author?

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