Kanban Board Features 05 Dec 2013
We’re currently running a beta program with a few select companies to help refine our new Kanban project features. I’m writing this post today to tell you about some of the things you’ll be able to look forward to when these are released to everyone.
With the introduction of Kanban projects, ScrumDo is using the term “Card” instead of “Story”. A card is a representation of a unit of work. In Kanban projects, you can set up custom card types under your project admin options. Some common types include:
- User Stories
Cells are where you place cards. They have a header with a label, and a body to place cards.
Your cell can have limits places on it, such as the number of cards, or the amount of points allowed. These limits are displayed in the header of the cell. These are often called WIP Limits, which stands for Work In Progress Limits.
One of the features we’re really proud of is that cells can be configured to have several card styles. When cards are dropped into a cell, the card automatically picks up the style. This lets you use really compact styles for things like your input queue that might have a lot of cards, or a more expanded style for cells representing work being done so you can see all the details.
Here is an example of the 5 different types of styles we’ll have at launch. They all have 2 cards in them which are identical across all the styles.
You can create 1-unit high cells that will have no body. These are useful to apply a header across multiple cells. When you create a header, you can associate it with one or more cells to apply WIP limits to.
Workflows are used to define the steps of work a unit of work must go through. ScrumDo uses Workflows to define the reports that can be run against your project.
A workflow is made up of a series of workflow steps.
Each step is associated with one or more cells on your board.
Since more than once cell can be associated with a step, and not all cells need to be accounted for, this gives you the ability to filter and summarize your reports. For instance, you might set up a workflow for each class of service on your board, and a separate workflow that cuts across them all for an overall summary view.
Looking at Kanban 19 Nov 2013
Today, Agile and Scrum are mainstream, and here at ScrumDo we’ve built a business out of providing one of the leading Scrum tools on the market since 2010.
In the last couple of years, Kanban has been rapidly growing in the agile software development community. If you’ve been hearing about Kanban, you might have a lot of questions – What is Kanban? How does it compare to Scrum? Is it one or the other? Can you have both? If so, how? Here at ScrumDo, we want to help you figure out answers to those questions and this blog post is the first step.
Let’s look at a brief description of Scrum, first.
Scrum, simplistically described, encourages a divide and conquer approach.
Scrum prescribes dividing:
- Into smaller teams to help improve collaboration.
- Work to be done into epics and stories that can be independently tested to add incremental value.
- Time into iterations to manage scope creep and planning.
Scrum encourages feedback loops in retrospectives.
In teams that have buy in from leadership, business, and IT Scrum continues to prove to be successful in companies across the globe. Our commitment to providing a great Scrum tool will continue.
And a look at Kanban
Kanban is more pragmatic and less prescriptive than Scrum. It’s a lean change management method for organizations. It encourages a systems-view of work, process, and teams. Kanban encourages a service oriented way of thinking and promotes sustainable change.
The core practices of Kanban are:
- Visualize your workflow
- Limit work-in-progress
- Manage and optimize flow
- Make process policies explicit
- Implement feedback mechanisms
- Improve collaboratively, evolve experimentally (using models & the scientific method)
Kanban principles can be applied to the Scrum Process to pragmatically evolve it.
Kanban Projects in ScrumDo
For the past couple months, we’ve been working on adding the ability to create a Kanban focused projects within ScrumDo. Some of the big changes include:
- Moving from an iteration based system to a continuous flow
- Ability to completely customize your workflow, and have more than one in a project
- Completely configurable visual board
- Brand new ways to report on the work done
- Support for several types of policies including WIP, points based WIP and story/card age
It’s not quite ready for general consumption yet, but if you’re interested in helping us define the app by using it on one of your projects, please fill out this form and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
Here are a couple screenshots to give you an idea of what we’re working on.
This one is of an example board. It shows off some of the new features like being able to place cells anywhere, some WIP limit displays, and the ability to track multiple workflows.
This screenshot shows two of the reports that we’ll be releasing with initially, a lead time histogram, and a cumulative flow diagram. The really exciting thing about both of these are all of the ways you can slice & dice your data via the report options to see exactly what you want to. We’ll have some blog posts dedicated to just that in the future.
As part of all of this, we’re also working on some big improvements to some areas that will affect both Scrum and Kanban based projects on ScrumDo. Things like live-updates of the boards, and better high level planning tools. Watch for those in upcoming months.
Scrumban/Kanban Accredited training classes
To help organizations decide if, and how, to adopt Kanban principles and techniques, we’ve partnered with Code Genesys to offer classes to organizations interested in formal training. Stay tuned here, or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add you to our list for more info.
Story List Enhancements 07 Oct 2013
Two of my favorite updates from our October 5th update are focused on making the story list easier to use. The first, is the ability to view the list in three different sizes. Shown above is the smallest size, reducing stories down to a line or two of text. Using this view, it’s really easy to quickly rank your stories by dragging them up or down.
Also shown above, is the new multi-select option. Using this, you can select several stories, and then apply an action against them all such as:
- Assign the stories to a person
- Move them to another iteration
- Move them to another project
- Set the statuses
- Bulk delete
Big Scrumdo Release 05 Oct 2013
Today, we released a big update to ScrumDo. Over the next week or so, we’ll be posting blog entries explaining some of the bigger changes, but here’s the full list for now:
- Nearly every page has had some comsmetic improvements.
- You can now select from multiple sizes of stories on the iteration story list to see more or less at once.
- You can now select multiple stories at once on the iteration story list page and manipulate them.
- Ability to move stories between projects within an organization from the iteration story list page.
- Removed the hover on usernames to see detail, replaced with a click, significantly improved page rendering time.
- Clicking an Epic abbreviation in a story now shows the full epic summary as well as parent epics.
- Ability to convert a story into an epic via the edit-story window.
- Singificantly prettier and more complete invoices
- Users will no longer receive email alerts for actions that they themselves take.
- If you mention a person with an @username note in a story or comment, that person will receive an email.
- You can now sort releases via drag & drop.
- Releases past their end date are archived in a “past releases” list.
- Basecamp users can now enable/disable status updates to/from todo lists
- Basecamp users now have a link directly to their Basecamp project
- When exporting a project or iteration, you no longer leave the page.
- Fixed bug when sorting stories on the epics page.
- Fixed bug when sorting stories on the iteration planning page.
- You are now allowed to use a dash in your username.
- Many IE8 specific bugs have been fixed.
- You can now leave a comment in the edit-story window describing the change you made.
- The scrum master can now filter the list story during planning poker
- When playing planning poker, you can now view the history of votes in that session by scrolling up.
- The default chart type is now stacked.
- When selecting a chart type, your preference is now saved.
- For new projects, the default tasks statuses are now todo, doing, done.
- When printing out epics, the stories are no longer out of order.
- You can now see the epic name on the project export.
- On the scrum board, you can now download and upload attachments.
- The story edit window now sizes (both bigger and smaller) depending on your window size.
- Task updates are now correctly in the news feed.
- The quicklinks are now available on the scrum board screen.
- Quicklinks have been redesigned to be more user friendly and not cover up on-screen elements.
- There is now feature-parity on story listings from the iteration page and scrum board.
- Several updates to the developer API to be more complete. - https://github.com/ScrumDoLLC/ScrumDoAPIV2
Scrumdo Velocity 21 Sep 2013
Over the upcoming months, you’ll be seeing improvements, bug fixes, and new features coming a lot faster than you are used to. We recently beefed up our development staff nearly trippling our capacity to get things done.
There has never been a better time to send in your feedback about what you’d like to see improved in ScrumDo!
Developer API improvements 05 May 2013
Interested in writing some code to make ScrumDo do something it can’t? Maybe you need to pull some statistics in a certain way or integrate with an internal tool. We have an API that you can use to do exactly that. Read about it here.
There is also an interactive browser that lets you see all of the available calls, and execute them right there on the spot to see how they work.
If you make something, we’d REALLY like to hear about it. Feel free to drop us an email.
Updated Scrum Board 13 Apr 2013
Check out the new scrum board including split columns, configurable swimlanes, WIP counts, filtering, and the ability to create stories on the page. Also, custom statuses on tasks now available. We’ll have some tutorials available soon.
New Search Options 03 Nov 2012
Today, we released a new search syntax you can use to find your stories. You can use this in the search box at the top of every page, or in the filter field from an iteration. Click the “Search Options” link on search pages to bring up a dialog to help you build your search.
Here are some quick examples to get you started:
“#10” - Search for story #10
“star wars” - All stories that contains the text “star wars”
“assigned: mhughes” - All stories that are assigned to mhughes
“tag: bug” - All stories that are tagged with the bug tag
“assigned: mhughes, assigned: bob, tag: bug, star wars” - All stories that are assigned to either mhughes or bob and have the bug tag, and contain the text “star wars”
Type text into the box to search for it anywhere within the story or the comments of that story.
Example: “my search”
You can find a story by it’s number by including the hash (#) symbol. Search for multiple story numbers by separating them with commas.
You can find stories assigned to someone by typing “assigned: ” and their username.
Example: “assigned: mhughes”
Find stories of a particular status by typeing “status: ” the the status.
Example: “status: done”
Find stories in an epic number with “epic: ” and the number.
Example: “epic: 5”
You can search for stories either created or modified before or after a date.
Example: “createdafter: 2012-10-01”\ Finds all stories created after October, 1st, 2012
Example: “createdbefore: 2012-10-01”\ Finds all stories created before October, 1st, 2012
Example: “updatedafter: 2012-10-01”\ Example: “after: 2012-10-01”\ Both of these finds all stories last updated after October, 1st, 2012
Example: “updatedbefore: 2012-10-01”\ Example: “before: 2012-10-01”\ Both of these finds all stories last updated before October, 1st, 2012
For date format, you can use yyyy-mm-dd or mm/dd/yyyy\ Example: “after: 10/1/2012”
Search for stories in a specific category with the category (or cat) keyword.
Example: “category: bug”\ Example: “cat: bug”
Search for stories with a specific tag with the tag keyword.
Example: “tag: release_1”
You can separate criteria with commas to search for more than one. Internally, we do an “or” within the same criteria and an “and” between different criteria.
Example: “assigned: mhughes, status: done”\ Searches for stories assigned to mhughes that are also done.
Example: “assigned: mhughes, assigned: jdoe”\ Searches for stories assigned to mhughes or jdoe
Example: “assigned: mhughes, assigned: jdoe, status: done”\ Searches for stories assigned to either mhughes or jdoe and that are also done.
Example: “assigned: mhughes, assigned: jdoe, star wars”\ Searches for stories assigned to either mhughes or jdoe and are marked done and contain the text ‘star wars’
After performing a search, you can bookmark the URL of the results page, or email it to colleagues to repeat that search at a later date.
Downtime Post Mortem 22 Oct 2012
Today, Amazon Web Services went down for several hours, taking ScrumDo down for part of that. It was a major outage that took down a significant part of the internet including giants like Reddit, Minecraft, and Foursquare. Unfortunately, for some of that time we were at the mercy of Amazon and unable to fix anything because the very tools we use in this sort of situation were also down. We apologize for the inconvenience and will be working hard in the upcoming months to come up with solutions to avoid this sort of thing.
For the technically inclined, here’s what happened…
Around 1:45PM EST, ScrumDo became unavailable. We were notified and immediately began diagnosing the situation. It turns out that the load balancer (ELB) we were using was unable to contact any of our application servers. This is odd, since we host both our app servers and our DB servers in multiple Amazon availability zones to avoid exactly this sort of situation.
Our first plan of attack is to launch additional app servers. While those were starting up, we began investigating the root cause of the failures. It turned out to be a problem with the load balancer itself. We could directly access ScrumDo using arcane internal DNS names without issue. At this point, it would have been a simple matter to point our DNS for www.scrumdo.com directly at one of those app servers and be up and running.
Unfortunately, both the control panel and the command line API tools for changing DNS were not working.
At this point, we remembered that our beta site doesn’t use a load balancer. We tried that, and it was working fine, so we tweeted, and made an announcement on our facebook page letting our users know. A few people successfully started using that.
Shortly after that, we were able to get the DNS for www.scrumdo.com switched over to one of our single app servers (luckily, we had spun up an oversized one earlier). This was about an hour in, but suddenly the site was accessible to some people, and after DNS changes propagated accessible to everyone.
All was fine for a few minutes, until too many people started using it. It turns out that Amazon was also having a problem with performance on their storage solution (EBS). Performance was fine for a couple users, but once a few hundred people all started hitting it at once, our search server was overwhelmed, and it caused requests to be timed out, making the site unavailable to most people again.
It took us a few minutes to figure out what was going wrong at that point. Once we did, we disabled our search server, once again restoring access for most people. At this point, ScrumDo was working, minus search.
In total, about an hour and a half of downtime. We’re really frustrated by this and want to do better in the future.
We’d like to thank all of our users for being patient through this.
Charts That Tell A Story 17 Aug 2012
We recently added two new chart styles to iterations in ScrumDo. Let’s take a minute to look at three charts from the same iteration to see why you might want different views of the data.
The first chart that we added was a burndown chart. The main benefit to a burndown is that it’s the simplest chart you can use to see progress through a sprint. It answers the single question of “How much work is left.” Looking at this chart, I’d tell a story something like this
//We started our iteration, and after a couple days added a couple stories. Then, towards the end of the iteration a lot of work came together to finish off most of the work.//
ScrumDo has had burn up charts since we launched. While slightly harder to read than burndown charts, they give the additional benefit of seeing how the total amount of work has changed over an iteration. This chart tells this story:
//We started our iteration, and after a couple days added a couple stories. Then, towards the end of the iteration we finished a lot of work and decided to add a little bit more. We nearely completed all of the work by the end. //
The stacked charts are the hardest to read, but give the most complete picture of what went on in an iteration. It lets you see how stories moved through their various statuses on their way to being complete. On this particular team, an engineer will mark a story as “Reviewing” when it’s implemented, and a QA engineer will mark it done.
//We started our iteration, and after a couple days added a couple stories. The engineers made steady progress and ran out of work in the last few days, so we pulled some more stories in. The QA team had a slow start, but made great progress through the end of the iteration. One story got blocked, and we were unable to resolve that by the end of the sprint. //