Retrieve Work Item Discussion History using Visual Studio Online’s REST API

At TechEd North America Microsoft announced the availability of a preview REST API for Visual Studio Online.  Anyone who has spent time around Team Foundation Server will know that it’s always had a strongly-typed C# SDK which can be used to extract and manipulate work items held in TFS.  This REST API is new and will eventually be available for the on-premise hosted version of TFS.

In a lucky coincidence I’m doing some work that requires me to extract work item information for other purposes so I decided to give the API a whirl.  As you can see it went pretty well!

*Strictly* speaking, it isn’t a complete Work Item as by default Attachments and History are both excluded.  Interestingly both of these tend to be pain points for other traditional tools to deal with too :).

Luckily the new REST API offers support for retrieval of “Updates” which represent the set of fields changed on each update to the Work Item.  This can be any combination of fields or comments directly added to the history by users.

The demo code below shows how you can build out the history so it displays “Discussion Only” items and excludes all others.  As it’s early days for the API maybe we’ll see the sort of logic covered here wrapped in an API call so you don’t need to parse these objects locally.

Once the entire solution is ready I’ll post the source up on Github.  Note you’ll need to enable the “Alternate Credentials” on your user profile to get this code working.

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