Defining enumerations

An enumeration is work item attribute type that describes a list of values. For example, in the Scrum process, the Priority and Severity attributes are enumerations. You can use enumerations to define new attributes, and you can add and modify values for existing attributes.

About this task

Enumerations consist of a set of literals in a specific order. These values, called "literals," serve as the available values when the enumeration is displayed in the work item editor. You must designate one literal as the default literal, which is set by default when a user creates a work item.

You can use the same enumeration in multiple custom attributes. For example, an enumeration named priority has these literals: Unassigned, Low, Medium, and High. The default literal is set to Unassigned. The Defect work item type has an associated attribute named Priority that uses this enumeration. When a user creates a Defect work item, the Priority field is displayed with Unassigned selected by default.


To define an enumeration using the Eclipse client:

  1. Open the Enumerations page:
    1. In the Team Artifacts view of the Work Items perspective, right-click the project area and select Open.
    2. Click the Process Configuration tab.
    3. Expand Project Configuration > Configuration Data > Work Items, then click Enumerations.
  2. Select the enumeration that you want to edit, or click Add in the Choose the Enumeration to edit field to define a new enumeration. After the enumeration is selected, in the Enumeration section, click Add to add a literal to the enumeration.
    Note: When you define a new enumeration, you can store it in the process specification or the database. If you store the enumeration in the database, you can add new values to the enumeration directly from the work item editor, even if you do not have permissions to modify the process specification. You still require permissions to add new values.
  3. In the Add Literal window, enter a name for the value. Select an icon from the list or click Add Icons and navigate to a graphics file to use as the icon for that literal. Click OK.
    Important: When you paste text, the encoding must be UTF-8. You are not able to paste text with these encodings:
    • Little Endian UTF-16, which is marked with a Byte Order Marker (BOM)
    • UTF-16 no BOM
    • UTF-16 Big Endian BOM
    • UTF-32
  4. To adjust the order in which the values are displayed in the work item editor, click Move Up and Move Down.
  5. After you have created one or more literals, in the Default literal field, select one literal to be the default.
  6. To make an enumeration attribute a required field, define an Unassigned literal and select this literal in the Unassigned Literal field.
  7. When you finish adding and editing enumeration literals, click Save to save your changes.