Monday 1 October 2018

Azure DevOps Default Enabled Alert/Notification - Which Can be a Nightmare for an Admin

As an admin of an Azure DevOps account you may be creating sample environments to simulate production behaviors, before applying any process changes to a Team project. In this case your choice would be to create a new team project and try out a simulation first. However, you might want to do the simulation with close to production data, so you will try to find a mechanism to make a copy of work items etc. from your production to a simulation Team project. How to do this with various options available is not the discussion today (which we can discuss in another post), as this post  is to show you an alert that must be turned off, before you do any sort of work item data duplication as a bulk, to avoid spam emails to many users of your Azure DevOps account. A lesson learnt the hard way is shared with you to prevent you from falling to same pitfall.

Purpose as explained was to move the Work Items from a production team project to a simulation team project. The choice was to create a new Azure DevOps account backed with the organization AAD (Azure Active Directory) as the need was to share the simulation Team project with the organization users. You must be wondering why new account? Can’t it be done with a new team project in same account? and use bulk copy work items available “out of the box feature” which is the simplest way to do this. Unfortunately you cannot create a new Team project when you do not have the collection admin access to your production Azure DevOps and that was the only reason for going ahead with new account. However, spam email issue discussed above will be there regardless of new account or not unless you do not turn off this alert which is enabled by default.

Being a person check things before you do, I did verify the notification settings of the new Tem project created in the new Azure DevOps account and no alters related to Work Items configured. So any manipulation to work items would not result in notifications was the expectation by looking at the Notification page in Team Project level.image

Executed the bulk work item transfer and here comes the unexpected. Several end users started complaining about multiple notifications on work item assignments to them, thinking it was production environment. The simulation team project all aspects including name and iteration, and area paths etc. created exactly similar to production. So, no wonder the spam emails mislead the end users and some even believed the work item data in production  altered. Not  good impact at all. The damage is done already as the bulk work item move was finished by the time complains about the spam emails started to raise.

So where on earth this setting is for sending email notifications as work item update? Which should be shown in the Team Project notification settings page in my opinion.image

It is available in the account notification setting and by default having an alert if a work item assignment change. This was triggering emails while the bulk copy action creating new work items in the simulation team project. It would have been nice to show these account level setting inherited to the team project level in the notification settings page of the team project. But it is what it is and if you are ever planning as an account admin to do bulk copy of work items and don’t want to create panic in your end users, by sending them hundreds of emails on work item assignments, turn this alert off before you do bulk copy, a lesson I learnt the hard way.image

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