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Lots of "Done" development branches. How to clean up the clutter?

Oct 11, 2012 at 4:22 PM

I'm having difficulty finding any guidance on this topic.

We have several development branches that are "Done". They have served their purpose and will not accept new changes or be integrated anymore. Now what? I need their history, but I'd like to shove them into another folder to get them out of the way.

Do you recommend moving these branches to a "archive" folder to get them out of the way? Is there a better solution?


Oct 11, 2012 at 6:09 PM

You could move them to reduce "clutter" in your Source Code Explorer, but existing branch visualizations, branch/merge relationships, change history, etc will not change.


Bill Heys, ALM Ranger

Oct 11, 2012 at 6:46 PM
Edited Oct 11, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Thank you for the quick reply!

I have ultimately decided to delete the branches. Here is how I got there. See what you think.

My goal:

  • Remove the "clutter" of multiple development branches in a safe manner
  • Keep version history

I found more information and did some of my own testing on our test TFS instance and found these three possibilities:

  • Cloaking the branch
    • Pros - Hides the unneeded branches and keeps history
    • Cons - Specific to a workspace. Every developer would have to do this themselves.
  • Move branch to an "archive" folder
    • Pros - Clears up the clutter for everyone
    • Cons
      • Not easily reversed (just in case)
      • Creates a complicated changeset (a line for each file and folder)
      • Comes with its own trickiness if you ever have to merge to it (best discussion here Renaming branches in TFS 2010)
  • Delete the branch
    • Pros
      • very easy
      • easily reversed
      • creates a simple changeset (one line in it)
    • Cons
      • The word "Delete" is scary
      • Any others?

What do you think?

If I find out more I'll try to post. Here are some more links discussing the topic, but not a lot of extra information there:

What's the best way to deal with dead branches in TFS?

What about "closing" a dev branch - response from Bill! ;-)

Orphaned Branches in TFS

Oct 11, 2012 at 7:04 PM

I forgot to mention two other benefits to deleting a branch (as Bill alluded to above):

  • Branch no longer shows up as a merge option in the "Merge Wizard" window
  • Branch does not show up in Branch Hierarchy

I found that even though the deleted branch does not show up in the Branch Hierarchy diagram, if you track a changeset that originated in a delete branch, that branch will display while tracking the changeset.

Nov 7, 2012 at 10:30 PM

Bebo, are you still happy with your decision after a few weeks have passed? I'm considering deleting some of our old dev branches as well...

Nov 8, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Yes! The delete was clean and easy and did exactly what I expected and needed. It might have been obvious to others, but I'm timid when doing things in TFS that I'm not sure about. I've got a lot of people who would scream if I got it wrong. ;-)

Nov 8, 2012 at 11:03 PM
If you create a sandbox project based on the real source tree, you can
try out version control ideas with low risk.

Sent from my iPhone
Nov 9, 2012 at 1:55 PM

That's right! That is basically what I do. We have a separate test instance of TFS that we try these sorts of things. That is how I was able to give as much detail as I did.

Nov 16, 2012 at 6:12 AM


That's always good advice! While I could do that and see for myself how it would work, it's hard to judge how my coworkers (who are less experienced with TFS) might see it. So I was curious if Bebo had had any negative feedback from others.