Map Area

The central area contains your story map and a number of options in the header. This is where you can map user stories to user activities and prioritise stories, as well as assign slices to iterations and columns to top-level work items.

The map area consists of three separate areas:

  • The header, which displays the name of your map and contains a toolbar.
  • The story map itself. This is where you can position your cards in the map, assign slices to iterations and assign user activities to work items.

Story Map

The central area is mostly taken up by your story map.

Structure of a Story Map

A story map places user stories represented by card in a matrix. The X axis represents the user’s journey through the system over time, starting on the left and moving the the right. Each of the stations on the user’s journey are represented by user activities, which are displayed at the top of the map. The Y axis represents the priority, with stories higher up the map having a higher priority. Stories can be assigned to vertical slices, which represent iterations.

Story map

In SpecMap, user activities can be linked to work items in Azure DevOps/TFS, and slices can be linked to iteration paths. User stories are depicted using work items.

User Activities

User activities are displayed at the top of the story map in the individual columns. Each user activity can be linked to a work item, see Adding User Activities. The following information is displayed for user activities:
User activity

  1. Click on the small arrow to collapse or expand the column.
  2. Name of the user activity (e.g. “Search for books”).
  3. If the user activity is linked to a work item, the link icon is displayed along with the ID and name of the work item. If the user activity is not linked to a work item, no information is displayed.

If you mouse over an activity, the menu icon (…) is displayed.

The following options are available:

  • Open: Opens the user activity. This performs the same action as clicking on the name of the user activity.
  • Add user activity left: Add a new user activity to the left.
  • Merge right: Merges the user activity column with the one on the right. This option is only available if there is another column to the right of the current one.
  • Delete: Deletes the user activity.


Slices allow you to group user stories vertically. You can assign a slice to an iteration path. The following information is displayed for slices:


  1. Click on the small arrow to collapse or expand the slice/row.
  2. The name of the slice (e.g. “27 Jan - 15 Feb”)
  3. If the slice is linked to an iteration path.
  4. Information on the user stories in the slice. The first number is the number of user stories in the slice, the second number represents the total effort entered for these stories.

Linking Slices to Iterations

Slices can be linked to an iteration path. This will automatically assign work items mapped to that slice to the linked iteration path.

A linked iteration path is shown with the link icon (see (3)) along with the name of the iteration path. If the slice is not linked to an iteration path, no information is displayed.

Slices linked to an iteration that miss cards assigned to that iteration show a warning indicator (exclamation mark). Click on this indicator to display a list of the missing work items in the Backlog Explorer. You can then quickly add the missing items to your map where they belong.

Finding work items missing in the linked slice


User stories are represented by cards on the story map. Each user story is represented by a work item. The following information is displayed for user stories:


  1. Name and ID of the work item.
  2. The tags defined for the work item.
  3. The status of the work item.
  4. The estimated effort.


Cards in SpecMap represent user stories. Information on the associated work item is displayed on the card. This includes the icon defined for the work item type, any tags you have defined, the user assigned to the work item, the state and the estimated effort.

Card Styling

Cards on the map inherit their styling from the styles you have defined for work items in Azure DevOps/TFS.

Note: In Azure DevOps, styles are defined at the team level. Make sure that the team you have selected in SpecMap is the team you defined the style settings for in Azure DevOps!

Styling in SpecMap depends on the styling defined for the Product backlog. So make sure you have configured the styling for your product backlog items (Stories (for Agile), Issues (for Basic), Backlog items (for Scrum), or Requirements (for CMMI)) and for the correct team (the one selected in the Backlog Explorer in SpecMap). If the styling has been defined for the product backlog items and for the selected team, the cards are displayed with the matching style in SpecMap.

To access these settings:

  1. Open a Kanban board (Boards) in your project in Azure DevOps/TFS.
  2. Select the correct team if you are using Azure DevOps.
  3. Select the correct backlog level (Stories (for Agile), Issues (for Basic), Backlog items (for Scrum), or Requirements (for CMMI)), because styles in SpecMap are always taken from the configuration of the Product backlog.
    Backlog items
  4. Click on the Settings icon (top right).
  5. Click on Styles in the list on the left.
  6. Define style settings for your cards.
  7. The styles are now applied to cards in SpecMap: