Friday, September 19, 2008

Scrum Tools

Pen, sticky notes, task board, burndown chart.

Yes, we have those, and no, they're not an optimal tool set. Over the past year, I have assembled a set of tools that the team and I have found useful for Scrum. Many of them may be obvious, but the list I have here is a compilation of what we have liked enough to keep after a year and would happily reccommend to others.
  • MediaWiki
    • Documentation in a wiki may not be the most organized presentation of information, but it is the easiest to create. My experience with documentation is that the greatest barrier to documentation is to have it at all. Our wiki has lowered the barriers for creating documentation, and the ability to search through it mitigates most hassles. It is much easier to search a wiki for a long forgotten quirk to our software, than it is to interview a team of developers that has not seen that part of the code base for months.
  • Danube Scrumworks Basic
    • Excel is nice, but it isn't always the easiest thing to use for maintaining a living document. Scrumworks improves data entry for stories, generates burndown charts, allows us to link stories directly to the wiki, and provides a permanent record that lends itself well to nightly backups. The most common use we have of the permanent record is to look for old estimates of old stories. While the latest Pro version would be nice, the free basic edition has been enough for our needs. I suspect that if pressed, we would revert to excel rather than pay for Pro.
  • Henrik Kniberg's Card Generator
    • Henrik Kniberg's blog is a little access report that converts spreadsheets into index cards. I use a custom version that accepts the export of a Scrumworks database.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Replacing Google Page Creator

While making some small updates to one of my Google Page Creator sites, I discovered that they are phasing out the service. I was sad to hear this, as most of the web sites I have a need to create are usually a handful of pages or less, or is just a small repository for some images. I don't know whether Google is going to start cracking down on this, but it's pretty trivial to create a Google App Engine application that does nothing but serve up static content. An additional benefit of this is that I can make the default URL map to a useful page, instead of having to link to an index page.