Home > Uncategorized > The Right Administrator Permissions in TFS, WSS, and RS

The Right Administrator Permissions in TFS, WSS, and RS

I tend to forget the right permissions to set for TFS 2008 and its various components. And not all the various permissions are readily searchable on the net. So this quick blog entry is just a reminder for myself.

Create Projects in TFS

To create a project in TFS you need the relevant TFS permission ‘Create new projects’ which is defined at the server level. By default, the ‘[SERVER] Team Foundation Administrators’ group has this permission, but being a member of this group is just not enough. When you create a new team project, TFS also creates a new site in Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS), and a new folder in Reporting Services (RS). So it only makes sense that the user should have permissions to be able to perform both those operations as well.

Reporting Services is pretty easy. With your admin account that installed TFS (TFSSetup perhaps?) go to your Reporting Services web folder, typically it is something like this: http://tfsrtm08/Reports. You will be able to see the sub folders for each of your projects, but we need to set permissions at this root level. Click on the ‘Properties’ tab and click ‘New Role Assignment’. Specify your user account (or AD group) and tick all the boxes. Finally click OK and you are done. RS permissions are inherited so the user will get access to all sub folders, now and in the future.

WSS is a bit more interesting. Adding a user to the root site and giving them ‘Full Control’ in fact does nothing. It is not like RS where the permissions are inherited. Full Control on the root site means ONLY the root site, not sub sites, and not the ability to create new sub sites. What you need is the ‘Site Collection Administrators’ permission for the root site instead. Find it by going ‘Site Actions –> Site Settings –> Site Collection Administrators’. Add your user here and they will be able to create sub sites. However it is worth noting that this does not entitle your user to full control over all sites that are created: it will only give them full access to the ones that THEY create. If someone else creates one, this user will NOT have access. We’ll deal with this below.

Full Admin Privileges

One of the things I find is that TFS management (including permissions) falls to the hands of the infrastructure team. And infrastructure guys like to manage permissions through Active Directory. They like to have a ‘TFS Admins’ group in AD and for anyone to have full access, they want to be able to just add them to that group and not have to think about it any further. It makes sense somewhat because this is how a lot of their user maintenance occurs in their day-to-day jobs.

As mentioned earlier, just because you have Site Collection Administrator privileges does not mean you have full control over all sub sites. If you create a new site, you will be given admin access to that site. But if someone else creates one, then you will NOT have access. Site Collection Admin only lets you create sites, nothing more. So normally you have to add users to a site after it is created. But sometimes there is a lead developer or sys admin who should have full access over all WSS sites, regardless of who created them. This permission is a little harder to find.

To fix this, you need to access WSS Central Administration, which is typically something like http://tfsrtm08:17012/. You will need to do this with your TFSSetup account (or equivalent) since it will be the only account out of the box that has WSS Central Admin privileges. Go to: ‘Application Management –> Policy for Web Application’ and click ‘Add Users’. On the first screen, ensure Zones is set to ‘All Zones’ and click Next. Then under ‘Choose Users’ add your user account to the box and click the little ‘tick’ icon below to ‘check names’. Check the box for ‘Full Control’ and click ‘Finish’.

This gives your user full access over the whole application, which means all future sub sites that may get created.


I’m not really sure what best practice is, but from my experience it is often best that only the TFSSetup account has master access to everything. Creating a new team project is not something that should happen every day. It represents something big, a new era of development. Its something that will have a lifecycle, iterations, management and buy-in from stakeholders inside and outside your development team. It makes sense that there should be one person responsible for the project and relevant RS and WSS site. This should be the person who gives out additional privileges for developers and managers to those additional components.

Still, the customer is always right. =)

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  1. Unknown
    May 15, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Hi,Great blog with interesting informations. I can use it t solve my problem.ThanxM.http://www.vanjobb.hu/

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