Team Foundation Server (TFS) has provided Sharepoint integration since its inception in 2005. That integration included SharePoint site templates and automatic site provisioning as well as support for browsing document libraries from inside Visual Studio Team Explorer.
In the ensuing years, a lot has changed – both in SharePoint and in TFS. The extensibility models have evolved, TFS has added dashboards, SharePoint has added modern team sites (to replace their classic sites), and more. It’s time for us to take a step back and rethink what integration between TFS and Office’s premier collaboration tools looks like.
With the next major release of TFS, we will no longer offer the TFS Extension for SharePoint. Additionally, we have no plans to go back to TFS 2017 and add support for installing the TFS Extension for SharePoint on SharePoint 2016. However, to enable customers who want to upgrade their SharePoint servers to 2016 or later, we will provide a way to remove the older TFS Extension and unblock SharePoint upgrades. Older versions of TFS (TFS 2017 and before) will continue to work with their supported versions of SharePoint but, going forward, we will be rethinking our integration.
We still believe Integration between TFS and SharePoint (and other Office applications, like Microsoft Teams) is important, however, we need to do it in a way that is in line with modern trends and supports both on-prem and cloud based solutions.
Why are we doing this?
The older TFS/SharePoint integration required the TFS Extension for SharePoint to be installed and running on the SharePoint server. Not only did it use unsupported SharePoint interfaces, it only worked when both TFS and SharePoint where installed on-prem. Both TFS and SharePoint have evolved to provide rich cloud experiences: Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and SharePoint Online. We need an integration solution that works both on-premises and in the cloud.
We are moving away from the tightly coupled integration solution, to a loosely coupled model using public APIs and extensibility frameworks. The existing integration simply could not be brought into the future.
As we reposition to the future, our integration story will support both TFS and VSTS working with SharePoint Server and SharePoint Online.
What features are impacted?
There are 3 features provided by the existing TFS/SharePoint integration.
Feature #1: Create a SharePoint site when creating a team project
Formerly, when you created a team project, you could choose to create an associated SharePoint site.
Moving forward, we will no longer offer the option to create a SharePoint site when creating a team project.
Customers can create a SharePoint site using SharePoint's own interface. SharePoint administrators can enable site creation for end-users.
Additionally, Microsoft has introduced Microsoft Teams which allow a team of people to collaborate on a set of shared resources. Every Team gets a shared SharePoint site and Documents library.
We already offer integration with Microsoft Teams for both TFS and VSTS. As we look to the future, we are looking for more opportunities to integrate with both Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.
Feature #2: TFS Web Parts on Classic SharePoint sites
We provided SharePoint web parts which displayed TFS data such as a work item query, recent builds, or recent check-is. The web parts worked on classic SharePoint sites and did not work on the modern SharePoint sites offered in SharePoint 2016 or SharePoint Online.
Going forward, we will no longer support these SharePoint web parts.
TFS and VSTS now offer Dashboards. TFS Teams can create any number of dashboards to meet their needs. Here is an example:
Looking to the future, we are investing in our dashboards solution. We will be creating more widgets to provide instant insights into your data. Additionally, you can find widgets developed by our partners on our Visual Studio Team Services Marketplace.
Going forward, we will provide ways of displaying TFS Dashboards on SharePoint pages. See “Our vision for reporting” below for more information.
Displaying Excel Reports on SharePoint sites will continue to work
One of the important use cases for SharePoint is to create an enterprise portal that aggregates information from many sources. Historically, you’ve displayed TFS data on your SharePoint portal by using Excel Services to pull data from the TFS data warehouse and render it in SharePoint.
Going forward, Excel Charts will continue to work. You will still be able to create Excel based charts and host them on SharePoint sites. These charts can still connect to the existing TFS cube to get data. Any existing Excel based charts hosted on SharePoint sites will continue to work.
However, we will no longer automatically deploy and configure the Excel charts when creating the SharePoint site. You will need to upload and configure them manually – like you would for any other charts you want to include on SharePoint.
Our vision for reporting
Our goal is that TFS Dashboards will meet your most of your reporting needs. And where it doesn’t meet your needs, Power BI provides a powerful platform for visualizing and analyzing your data. We are actively working on a plan that allows you to load TFS data into Power BI. Once you create a Power BI chart, you will be able to display that Power BI chart on a TFS Dashboard or a SharePoint page.
In the future, we will provide a way to embed a TFS or VSTS Dashboard on a SharePoint site. From SharePoint, you will select which TFS or VSTS Dashboard you want to display, and it will be embedded on the SharePoint site, much like you can embed a Power BI dashboard today.
Feature #3: Manage a Documents library via the Team Explorer Documents pane
If you had configured a SharePoint site for the Team Project, the Team Explorer displays a Documents pane to allow you to manage the Documents libraries on that SharePoint site.
Going forward, we will no longer support the Documents pane within Team Explorer.
We encourage customers to use the OneDrive for Business sync client, which works for both SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online. The OneDrive for Business sync client lets you select any SharePoint document library and sync the files to your local computer. The user can edit the files using Windows File Explorer, and changes are synced back to SharePoint.
OneDrive for Business works for both Windows and Mac, and provides mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
Additionally, if you are using Microsoft Teams, it provides easy access to the team’s Documents libraries.
Upgrading to SharePoint 2016
TFS 2017 does not support installing the TFS Extension for SharePoint on SharePoint 2016. If you have a TFS 2017 server configured to integrate with SharePoint 2013, upgrading to SharePoint 2016 will encounter errors (e.g.: MissingSiteDefinition, MissingFeature, MissingWebPart)
We have created a solution that enables you to upgrade your SharePoint 2013 to SharePoint 2016. It ensures your TFS SharePoint sites display properly, while disabling the existing integration. The solution is currently in private preview. If you are interested in upgrading to SharePoint 2016, please reach out to us on this email: [email protected] We will provide you with instructions and a download to this solution.
TFS/VSTS and SharePoint - together, a great solution
SharePoint is still a valuable resource to TFS users. SharePoint offers an accessible way to store Office documents shared by the team. SharePoint sites can be configured to show all kinds of information. We expect and encourage TFS teams to use SharePoint.
Our goal is that TFS teams can use SharePoint without laborious configurations. It will just work.
If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to comment on this blog post or send email to [email protected] Sending email will allow us to follow up and dig into any specific concerns you have without divulging information in a public forum.
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