I've just started at a new company where the developers use TFS and Visual Studio 2013; they seem to use the two names interchangeably so I'm getting myself confused with which one is which and which one does what.

I've been creating test plans and test cases in the online version of VS, assigning them to work items and been creating bugs with no problems. However, it seems that I should be using the proper install for VS alongside MTM (which it looks like I don't have).

I can't find any good tutorials for the VS install and the details provided on the MS website are awful. I need to know how to create test plans and assign them to projects, how to get MTM and how to utilise it for exploratory testing.

3 Answers 3


TFS=Team Foundation Server. All things microsoft that require storage and integration get run through this. VS=Visual Studio. All things that are "visualized" are pushed through this. MTM=Microsoft Test manager. This manages all tests.

So with this then TFS stores everything and synchronizes it. VS is a method to visualize things in order to interact with them (i.e. code files primarily). And MTM is for the test execution/creation/updates/reporting. Versioning is important as these all correspond with one another. 2013 means you need to get the 2013 version of MTM and VS as well since you want all of your functionality to synch up correctly. If you don't then there may be some problems with the way some "work items" function.

As a simple note "work items" are anything that is stored in TFS and work is done against. So test cases are "work items" that have a specific type of "test case". Just as bugs are "work items" that have a specific type of "bug". These can be custom defined as well so it depends on what your company has implemented.

Review 2012 ones as those will probably give you the bulk of what you need to know and have been around for awhile. 2013 is minor tweaks and modifications that you can google/youtube specifically. I have found the best ones tend to be on youtube...

~Google/Youtube "TFS tutorial" and "MTM tutorial" and "Visual Studio tutorial" You will find some helpful tutorials starting from beginners up. Most of TFS and Visual Studio are focused on coding so unless you need to utilize source control and the code editor then a basic knowledge is good enough.

Web and stand alone can accomplish most of the same things, but the web looks prettier and is easier to pick up. Some things are not supported through the web though so you will want to look at it through the stand alone.

MTM and Visual Studio access the same "Work Items" in TFS and therefore you can see the test cases from both...but only MTM has the specific functionality to create/update/execute tests as you will want to do.

  • Actually, since TFS 2012 it's been possible to create, update and execute tests from the TFS web portal - and each interface into the TFS repositories has things only it can do. In 2012, tagging is web-only, assigning automation routines to test cases is VS-only, and managing test environments is MTM-only.
    – Kate Paulk
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 16:12

The short answer is "yes".

Some of the places you can look are Microsoft's Channel9 site, in the TechEd presentations. Some that I know are particularly useful are:

Other useful sites include:

  • MSDN blogs - there are a ton of these and they will often include step-by-step guidelines.
  • Stack Overflow - questions here tend to be much more technical but if someone's had a specific issue chances are good there's an answer buried in the assorted TFS tags

The main reason your devs are using TFS and VS more or less interchangeably is that once the TFS server is configured and Visual Studio is connected, integration is almost seamless. Integration with MTM is similar, although there are things that can only be done in specific locations.

The simple distinction is that TFS is the server, reporting, coordination, management, and project web portal hub. VS is a software development environment which also has the ability to do most of the functional things the project web portal can do. MTM is a testing environment which also has the ability to do most of the functional things the project web portal can do.

If your system also has SharePoint integration, you get even more interesting web portal capabilities (none of which can be handled by VS or MTM).


In this tutorials they cover the basics of TFS and also advise on more courses you can take. https://www.udemy.com/tfs-2015-dev-and-qa-focused/learn/v4/ (its free)

  • 1
    Link only answers usually get removed! Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 10:01
  • TESTasy is right, but at the same time this is exactly what the question asked for. I closed the question because, in spite of the decent answers by Kate and mutt, this isn't the kind of question we really want to be condoning.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 14:43

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.