How to configure the Sunset Graph

A brief history

The Sunset Graph is a tool used to measure and forecast progress in an Agile project. It was designed by several Agile coaches here at Pyxis. The implementation of this graphic within Urban Turtle is based on some assumptions made on your Team Foundation Server project.



Technical Requirements

The current version of the Sunset Graph is designed to work out of the box with the Visual Studio Scrum process template. You can adapt your process template to support the Sunset Graph in its current form if you change your project to meet the following requirements.

Fields used

The Sunset Graph is based on two fields: the business value and the effort. These fields can be configured within the configuration mapping file used by your project. There are defined under the statistics section of the file:

    <WorkRemaining Field="Microsoft.VSTS.Scheduling.RemainingWork" />
    <StoryPoints Field="Microsoft.VSTS.Scheduling.Effort" />
    <BusinessValue Field="Microsoft.VSTS.Common.BusinessValue" />

Business Value

The Business Value is used to split product backlog items into three different level of importance according to the following rule:

      • Mandatory: Business Value 8 and higher
      • Important: Business Value between 4 and 7, inclusively.
      • Optional: Business Value 3 and lower


In the Sunset Graph, the importance of product backlog items corresponds to the level of darkness of the color used in each column. In other words, the darkest orange and blue parts both correspond to mandatory product backlog items. 

Effort (Story Points)

The sum of the effort field corresponds to each orange and blue column. The sum is grouped by importance (determined by the business value). The sum is calculated based on the work items that were assigned to the iteration at the end of the sprint.


The Sunset Graph takes into account the work items found under the iteration selected in the widget editor. This also includes all iterations found under the selected iteration. 


The Graphic Itself

The Sunset Graph is made up of several parts, each contributing to help you better understand where your development efforts are heading and see if your initial scope will be met in the time intended.



This corresponds to the root iteration. The work items that were assigned to the root iteration or any iteration under it are used in calculations.


This corresponds to the root area. The work items that were assigned to the root area or any area under it are used in calculations.




The X axis correspond to the sprints planned for your project. An iteration is considered a sprint when it is under the selected root iteration for the graph and there are no iterations under it. The iteration must also have proper start and end dates configured.

The Y axis correspond to the sum of effort (or story points) for the work items found within each sprint.


There are two types of columns found in the Sunset Graph: orange and blue columns, each split into three different tones of the color to account for the business value or importance, as explained above. For any given sprint (found at the bottom of the graphic), the work items that were assigned to any iteration under the root iteration at the end of the sprint (using the end date of the iteration) are used to calculate the sum of the effort field.


The orange columns represent the total, or planned effort for all work items


The blue columns represent the total completed effort. In Urban Turtle, work items are considered completed, or done, when their state matches the state configured for the last column of the sprint backlog, usually known as the done column. By default, for the Product Backlog Item work item type in the Visual Studio Scrum process template, this corresponds to the Done state.


The lines visible in the Sunset Graph are known as trend lines, or trends. They correspond to the forecast of work item completion rate for each of the sprints. The velocity of the team is calculated based on the average of effort delivered during past sprints and a coefficient is applied to account for the team becoming more proficient at delivering working software over the length of the project.

Green Line

This is an optimistic trend. A higher coefficient is used to perform the calculation.

Purple Line

This is a pessimistic trend. A lower coefficient is used to the perform  the calculation.

It is expected that the actual sum of effort completed by the team will be found within the two trend lines.

Note:  In the Sunset Graph, only work items that have a business value (or more precisely, that have their business value field defined) will be taken into account in the calculation of the trend in contrast with the velocity chart, where all work items that have an effort field defined and are in the Done state will be taken into account for the calculation of the velocity.


Getting the most out of the Sunset Graph

For the Sunset Graph to be truly useful to your team, your product backlog should be ready for several upcoming sprints. This means that product backlog items should be given effort and business value and split across several sprints ahead of time, based on an estimated velocity.

Read our blog about the Sunset Graph


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