DDOS post-mortem 12 Jan 2015
Today, shortly after noon (EST) ScrumDo experienced some intermittent slowness and even a few short spouts of downtime for some users. As we began to investigate the problem, we immediately noticed thousands of bogus HTTP requests per second coming from Chinese based IP addresses.
Through a combination of spinning up additional app servers to handle the load, and some filtering rules we were able to get the site available for everyone within a few minutes, and working full-speed within an hour.
At the time, we thought we were being targeted in a DDOS attack, but after some more investigation it looks as though we were bystanders that got hit. Apparently, for the past several weeks there is a DNS cache poisoning attack going on in China that points the DNS entry for several highly popular sites to a random IP address. Our number came up, so to speak.
One of the filters we put in place was to require a valid HTTP_HOST header on all incoming requests. Most client libraries will do this for you automatically and you shouldn’t notice anything.
If you suddenly can’t access the API through one of your scripts, you’ll need to modify the script to send the appropriate header. We’re sorry for the short-notice.
Upcoming changes to epic tool 09 Dec 2014
As promised here is sneak peak at some of the improvements in our new planning tool.
A little background:
The epics tool has been one of the most used tools in ScrumDo. ScrumDo allows epics to be decomposed into multiple levels, and affords ScrumDo users unparalleled flexibility in investigating and analyzing their work.
Separately, we’ve had an iteration planning tool for moving stories from your backlog into your iterations. Earlier this year we released a two column mode in the epics tool which started to blur the differences between the two tools.
In the new design, we’re completely combining these two tools into a single unified interface where you can do all of your high level planning for a project.
Planning effectively in ScrumDo often involves a few distinct activities:
- We Identify objectives and encapsulate them as epics.
- We decompose epics into sub-epics until we identify achievable pieces of work known as stories.
- We investigate feasibility and prioritize stories.
- We schedule stories for execution into projects that have iterations or no iterations. (We released Scrumban type management of execution which involves no time boxes last year)
Like the current version, you can still decompose epics into stories, and then move the stories into iterations.
With the new UX you will have the flexibility to schedule stories directly onto the board! This can be especially useful if you have different swim-lanes for different teams.
Upcoming changes to story organization 18 Nov 2014
As we mentioned in the previous blog post, we’re working on some big UI/UX improvements. One area that we’re tackling is how stories are organized and categorized.
Right now we have categories and tags on Scrum based projects, and then we have categories, tags, and card types on ScrumBan based projects. It’s confusing to know when to use which of those three, and the naming of them is also misleading.
So, we’re narrowing down those three mechanisms to two.
Labels are pre-defined for your project and show up on your story as a colored bar on the top of the card. You can have as many labels as you like on each card.
This is your centrally-defined categorization mechanism and only a project admin can edit or create new labels.
Tags are defined ad-hoc whenever you type in a new one. They are displayed in the bottom footer of each card. You can have as many tags as you like on each card.
Like now, some labels are special and will be outlined in a color to bring attention to them. We’ll be sticking with our current Blocked/Urgent tags initially, but have plans to allow you to define your own color/tag mappings.
Practically, the big change here is that you can have more than one label per card, and we’re dropping the notion of an explicit “card type” field.
Generally, we imagine people will use labels in similar ways that they have used card types and categories in the past.
Tags will likely be used as they are today as a general-purpose labeling and categorization mechanism.
We will be doing some smart importing, so your current card types and categories will start showing up as labels. Your tags won’t be touched. So you won’t lose anything in your project.
Epics are sticking around and will become even more useful. All projects will be able to view your backlog on your board and organize it by an epic view. Likewise, the planning tool will have that support. Speaking of the planning tool, we’ll have some more information on that in a new blog post soon.
Early next year, we have some big plans that will involve epics and a portfolio planning module.
Scrumban Board Layout Improvements 14 Oct 2014
The first big change you’ll notice is that by default, your board will now resize vertically on it’s own. No more scrolling cells that make it hard to see everything at once. If you liked the scroll bars, there’s now an option on the edit board screen to switch back. Picking a compact list-view for cells that tend to have a lot of cards becomes a lot more important.
We’ve also revamped how dragging stories works to make it much more natural.
This includes things like selecting several stories by holding down shift and then dragging the group around and better hit-detection of cells so you can drop a card far below the others and still have it correctly register.
A full list of improvements follows:
- The lead time histogram can now be filtered by date.
- The CFD can now be filtered by date.
- Cells on the Kanban board now vertically resize by default instead of getting scroll bars.
Multiselect on the kanban board has been improved.
- Use shift or ctrl & click on cards to intiate multi select.
- Single click with no key on an unselected card to deselect all.
- Use the toolbar options to apply actions to groups of cards.
- You can now drag groups of cards around the board.
- Drag & Drop on the Kanban board has been improved.
- You can now drag cards to any spot within a cell to drop them in that cell.
- It is now easier to drag cards to the backlog.
- Dragging now works on iOS devices.
- Standard markdown image tags now work within the detail of a card. Example:
![Mascot](https://d11uy15xvlvge3.cloudfront.net/static/v95/scrumdo/images/org-picker-images/artwork.jpg)Note: If you use these image tags, we will no longer be able to auto-link URL's in the fields where they exist because the syntax gets ambiguous. In that case, you can still use markdown links.
- Several performance improvements related to live updates of your board have been implemented.
Crafting an Improved User Experience 10 Oct 2014
Over the past year, the ScrumDo team has worked to make ScrumDo more powerful, enhancing basic Scrum management by incorporating optional Kanban and Scrumban features. Our most recent efforts have been focused on enhancing user experience, making your interactions with the tool simpler and more intuitive. We anticipate rolling out the first of these changes before the end of the year, and are excited to begin sharing more details with you.
Cleaner Navigation & Design
Our new design is simplified, resulting in an improved organization of information and navigation paths. In short, we’re eliminating a lot of the annoyances many of our users identified in the course of using ScrumDo.
Frequent navigation links and a tabbed layout improve accessibility to key functions. Key information is summarized on each landing page. And core functions are immediately accessible.
As you can glean from the wireframes, although the views you’re used to seeing will change, it’s easier to find what you want and and overall interactions with the platform have been made even more intuitive.
Recognizing most team interactions revolve around a Scrum Task Board or Kanban Board, our new interface philosophy is more board-centric. One of the most significant changes is removing the distinction between Scrum and Scrumban projects. Currently, the Task Boards on Scrum projects are limited to a number of pre-designed formats. Under our new interface, project administrators will be able to design their boards any way they want (or start with pre-defined templates they can freely modify).
Eliminating the distinction between Scrum and Scrumban projects means all projects will now have access to expanded reporting features (so Scrum projects can now access and generate flow and lead time reports, for example).
Board design is also cleaner, and we’ve improved upon the manner in which information is visualized on the cards and within the board.
Improved Planning & Administration
Users will also see improved integration between the epic planning tool and their Scrum / Kanban boards, as well as a significantly enhanced team administration interface. For example, administrators will now be able to view users already assigned to their organization and assign them to projects – a huge improvement over the current interface.
At the end of the day, we’re focused on improving your experience without creating wholesale changes to the way you’re used to working. In the coming weeks, we’ll share more details on specific changes and invite you to try out the new interface as we release changes in beta.
Users that select Scrumban capabilities for their projects enable a range of new capabilities and features. Among these is the ability to define and calculate a variety of new metrics. Today we’ll chat a little bit about the significance of Lead Time.
First, there are different types of Lead Times a team or organization may wish to measure. ScrumDo users have the ability to define their systems and how they want to measure Lead Times based on their own needs.
Typically, system lead time is measured as the duration of time between when a customer request is made and the date it is actually delivered. In a Scrum context, you may choose to establish these as the date a user story is added to your Release or Iteration Backlog and the date a user story is deployed to production. There are a variety of factors that should be considered in defining and reporting on key metrics, and a good consultant / coach can walk you through these.
Visualizing your Lead Time distributions are extremely useful. They provide data on your median and average times (the values of which are typically quite different), they can expose patterns about the nature of work undertaken and help identify better ways of managing it.
Don’t confuse lead time with the amount of effort required to complete a user story! For example, a user story can have a lead time of 1 week but actual working time might only have been one day. Lead time distributions reflect system performance, and can be used to establish service level expectations, improve predictability, and when combined with insights gleaned from other system measurements, help us precisely target and prioritize improvement efforts.
New Edit Window 02 Aug 2014
We have released a change that significantly changes the edit and quick view windows.
This change combines all the information you need to see about a story into a single dialog in a simple and easy to read format.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the edit and quickview icons have been merged. If you have write access, you’ll only see the edit, and if you have read-only access you will only see the magnifying glass.
When you click that icon, you’ll get a nice read-only view of the story. Assuming you have edit access, you can click on any of the fields to enter an edit mode.
If your story has image attachments, you can click on the thumbnails to get a quick view of it without downloading the file.
If you hate hunting for that little edit icon, double clicking a story anywhere on the site should now bring up this new dialog.
There were a few other minor changes, here is a full list:
- A new consolidated view/edit dialog has replaced the old edit and quickview options. You'll now only see one of those options depending on your project access level.
- Clicking an image thumbnail for an attachment will now preview it in the browser.
- Now showing user avatars on stories in more places, such as the scrum board.
- Now, when clicking a permalink, you're brought to the correct page and the story is opened for you.
- @mentions now work properly in comments.
- When creating a report profile for a scrumban project, we now show the step on the cell while editing to make it easier to tell what you are doing.
- You can now shift-click to start a multi select operation on the story list and scrumban board pages.
- You can now double click a story to open the editor.
- We've renamed Continuous flow projects to Scrumban projects, and time boxed projects are now called scrum projects.
- New organization level project listing.
- Scrumban headers were slightly too tall, occasionally made things look really sloppy.
- Performance improvement on Scrumban boards with many cells.
- You no longer get email notifications for comments you post
- You can now see your username on the name page.
- Fixed two bugs with scrumban lead time chart when viewed in the "powers of two" mode.
- Fixed a few bugs where read-only users saw options they shouldn't have. (Those options were not functional and would result in access-denied messages.)
- When playing planning poker, the "Stories with X size" list is now in reverse chronological order so it's easier to see recent stories.
Zapier Beta 01 Aug 2014
Over the past week, we’ve spent some time integrating with Zapier so that you can make ScrumDo work with over 300 other services. Zapier allows you to create conduits between applications called Zaps. We’re currently in a beta to make this as useful as possible - beta invite link.
What can you do with it?
Here are some of the zaps I’ve been testing with:
This list is just scratching the surface of what’s possible using this platform. We’re looking for some people to try this out and let us know how we could improve it.
Since we’re not listed on the Zapier app directory yet, you’ll need to use this invite link.
Tasks on your Board 15 May 2014
Today, we’ve released a new way to view your Scrum/Kanban Board by seeing the tasks as well as the stories.
Time Boxed Projects
If you have a time boxed project, first select the gear icon on your scrum board to open the config window, and select the “Task Board” option.
After doing this, you will notice that your “Doing” column is a lot wider than it used to be.
Any story you move into that Doing column will have a full sub-table of all the tasks within it that you can drag into columns and visually track the progress. The columns that appear will be the task statuses you set up in your Project Admin page.
Continuous Flow Projects
First, go into the board editor by clicking the gear icon above the board. Then select a cell. On the left, you’ll be able to set some options for that cell. Use the Story Style dropdown and select the Tasks view.
Note: Make sure your cell is big enough to fit all of your task columns, or the layout gets very funky very quickly.
Why not sooner?
Since we released our original Scrum Board way back in 2011 we’ve had a small but steady stream of people asking to view their tasks on the board in addition to their stories. Due to some unfortunate early design decisions, that was hard for us to do and other priorities always kept us from developing it. A flash of insight hit us last month on a simpler way to implement this feature. That combined with a rather scathing rant from a customer last week (you know who you are!) kicked us in-gear to implement this.
We have some future plans to improve this feature, like making this option available in the custom configuration of scrum boards. But for now, we wanted to get this version released to all of our users. Let us know what you think by sending us an email email@example.com
Organization Dashboard Changes 24 Feb 2014
The organization dashboard, the page that you get immiediately after logging in (and picking your organization if you have more than one) has gotten a significant facelift over the weekend.
Our goals were:
- Provide more at-a-glance information across your projects
- Show you all the work currently assigned to you
- Provide a quicker way to navigate to where you want to be
- Provide more information for people who didn’t have work assigned to them
You will now see a list of projects like the following:
You will see a project if you either watch that project or you have a story or task assigned to you in a current iteration.
If no projects would be shown to you, we pick a few from your organization based on recent activity in those projects.
The stories assigned to you are on the right. If you don’t have any stories, we’ll show you the most recently modified stories instead.
You can access the story list or scrum board by clicking the icons in the upper right hand corner of the iteration. Clicking the globe icon above those will bring you to the project summary page.
You may also have noticed that the newsfeed is no longer on this page. You can find it on a new, dedicated, newsfeed option in your quicklinks for you organization. We felt that this feed, especially for really big organizations, was more noise than actionable information.
We would really like to hear any feedback you have on this. Please feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with any thoughts.