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I'm working with Team Foundation Server and its Version Control system on several projects. Within a specific Team Project we've created three branches:

  • Main branch
  • Dev branch, based off Main
  • Scaffolding branch, based off Dev

We do production patches on Main and Forward Integrate those to Dev. During a sprint we do work in the Dev branch and Reverse Integrate those into Main upon deploying to production. Similarly we have merging operations between Dev and Scaffolding.

In short: run of the mill, basic branching strategy.

I'd like to visualize the Forward Integration and Reverse Integration merging check-ins. With tools such as SourceTree and TortoiseHg you can get a visualization of branch and (more imporantly) merge operations in the sideline of your commit history overview.

Here's an example from TortoiseHg:

tortoisehg branching and merging

And an example from SourceTree:

sourcetree branching and merging

I'm looking for something similar for TFS and TFVC.

Must-haves:

  • Gratis or part of TFS / TFVC / Visual Studio itself;
  • Visualizes merge operations;
  • Automated (that is, "Create a flow chart in Visio" is not a solution);
  • Visualization should show operations chronologically;

Should-haves

  • If TFS-based solution: TFS 2013 (I can upgrade to later versions, but that wouldn't help me short term).

Nice-to-haves

  • Visualizes branching operations;
  • Reduces noise by optionally hiding check-ins that are not merge/branch operations.

I've looked around Visual Studio 2013 and the TFS screens, but haven't found something that has the visualization I'm looking for. The default "View Hierarchy" visualization just shows the relationship between branches, but not merge operations and check-ins over time.

I've checked The Version Control Guide but it says nothing about tooling for creating this kind of visualization. They do have a visualization that I'm actually after, which looks like this:

visualization from The Version Control Guide

I've asked on Codeplex how that visualization was created, but I didn't get any response and also fear that it was hand-crafted with Visio.

So, the TLDR / question here: is there any piece of software you'd recommend for visualizing merging/branching in TFS?


Footnote: although I no longer use TFS or TFVC, I did notice that the CodePlex repo was moved to a place that now suggests the "Branch Visualization" plugin (which I haven't tried).

  • I'd actually recommend taking a look at PlasticSCM. It's for their own repo, but it's a SCC provider for Visual Studio. It also hooks to git. – Adrien May 30 '16 at 12:40
  • @Adrien Thx for the interesting suggestion, though unfortunately it seems it's not "gratis or part of TFS/VS". Might have a peek at the trial nonetheless. – Jeroen May 30 '16 at 12:49
  • yeah, they have a community version, but that may be too restrictive (I think you don't get AD integration for example). We ran the community edition for years for free, and recently paid. I was happy to pay for it. Cheers. – Adrien May 30 '16 at 12:51
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Bourgeon plugin for Visual Studio (2013 and 2015 only) has exactly what you are looking for.

https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=StefanLober.Bourgeon https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=StefanLober.Bourgeon-VS2013

  • Thx for the suggestion. I see you(?) offered to help port the plugin to VS2017 on the marketplace Q&A, where it supposedly does not work at the moment? As for myself, I've moved on since asking the question, not working with TFS at all anymore, and instead working exclusively with git and VS2017 latest instead (so unfortunately I can't check or accept your answer anymore). – Jeroen Mar 7 '18 at 23:20
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    Lucky you. TFS is not fun although it is a massive improvement over Visual SourceSafe. Once you use Git it is hard to be happy with anything else. – Malcolm O Mar 9 '18 at 1:45
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If you use TFS repo that use TFVC instead of Git, visualizing branching and merging is already available in TFS.

TFS will give you 2 kind of views: timeline and the default view of tracking changeset.

This is the official link of TFS branching and merging feature (valid for TFS 2013 Update 2 and later):

https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/docs/tfvc/view-where-when-changesets-have-been-merged

  • Appreciate your suggestion, but this doesn't come close to the view I'm after. It merely tracks a single changeset, doesn't visualize branching/merging operations over time like Sourcetree or ToirtoiseHg does. – Jeroen Jun 20 '16 at 6:29
  • @Jeroen, You are only asking about visualize branching/merging in TFVC, not asking about visualizing multiple changesets. Therefore, to be fair, your question is not quite specific enough. This is why I have this answer based on your main question/need to visualize branching/merging in TFVC. – Eriawan Kusumawardhono Jun 20 '16 at 7:07
  • Thanks for your feedback. I'll try to clarify the question a bit. I do think there were quite some bits in the question already though. The intro references sourcetree/tortoisehg which is all about visualizing multiple change sets (which I'll clarify further in a minute), the must-haves talk about "show operations chronologically", and the example screenshot I gave also is really very different from what the "Track Changeset" window shows. – Jeroen Jun 20 '16 at 8:27

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