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ZenAndXpTracking

To use this plugin, you have to care about your project progress status.

That is, you have to be willing to:

  • devote some initial time in the set up of you project and teams. It will take about 20, well spent, minutes;
  • formalise the iterations, stories and tasks that lie ahead, which is a good practice anyhow;
  • update regularly the status of each task, or more reasonably make your team aware of the need for each person to update the status of his/her own tasks.
What you gain, in turn, is a set of gauges that very quickly keep you updated on the overall and detail status of your project.

When compared to other project management products ... TODO

  • A very well known and natural methaphor of green is good and red is bad
  • Less focus on planning ( TODO check if it shows expected completion times for each actor), good focus on steering
  • Extremely simple and lean
And last but not least, it's FREE.

The typical organisation

The plugin makes some assumptions on the organisation that is to use the tool.

Projects

The plugin assumes you want to keep track of multiple projects in the same web.

You don't have to necessarily be managing multiple projects to use the tool, but the structure of the tool starts with a list of projects, to allow this eventuality.

Teams

These projects, in turn, will be divided among multiple teams, all cooperating to the same effort, to implement the same project.

These teams are nothing but a way to attributing activities for a project, especially when these activities all are going on at the same time. They are accessory to the tracking of a single project, and there is no need to use the same team definition from on one project to attribute activities of multiple projects (this is a rather polite way to say you shall not do it).

Iterations

Each team, in turn, will be involved in a serie of iterations, that is usually in Xp the basic period for detail planning. An iteration is a 1 to 4 weeks planning period, I associate them with development phases.

Web set up

First and foremost, install XpTrackerPlugin, and all the associated plugins (EditTablePlugin, TablePlugin) as per the installation manual.

To set up the plugin to track your projects, you must decide which web will be used for project tracking, and copy there all templates needed to automatically compose the base pages. When you unzip the plugin in your twiki directory, a new web is created, named Tracking: just copy all files named *Template.txt from data/Tracking to your web folder.

Then make sure the lock on pages is released immediately after topic change, to avoid incorrect behaviour of the EditTablePlugin when you try to modify a table of a topic that is left locked. Just copy

      * Set RELEASEEDITLOCKCHECKBOX = checked = "checked"
in the web WebPreferences.

Start with the first project

In our organisation, each project group is given a Web, and we add a topic called ProjectPlanning to each web.

We then modify WEBTOPICLIST in WebPreferences to look like this

      * Set WEBTOPICLIST = [[%HOMETOPIC%][Home]] %SEP% [[ProjectSpecs][Specification]] %SEP% [[ProjectPlanning][Planning]] %SEP% [[OpenDiscussion][Forum]] %SEP% ToDo %SEP% [[TechnicalReferences][References]] %SEP% &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; %SEP% [[WebChanges][Changes]] %SEP% [[WebIndex][Index]] %SEP% [[WebSearch][Search]] %SEP% Go <input type="text" name="topic" size="16" />

In this way, the planning page is always accessible from the top toolbar.

In ProjectPlanning we only put the first XpTrackerPlugin variable XPSHOWALLPROJECTS. This displays the list of open projects, and a form to add new projects. From here creation of pages is recursive, each page has an HTML form that uses a template to create child pages.

The project

The meaning you give to projects depends on your organisation.

Either a separate project, if the same project group is working on several projects, or the next major release.

Use the form to add a new project. The project name doesn't have to follow a particular naming convention, as long as it is meaniningful (it helps smile ) and it is a proper WikiName. Note the name down, as you will have to enter it manually in some pages down the line (as I understand it, due to Twiki design parameters are not passed over automatically any further than the first link)

To add the project simply preview and save the template. The information in the template contains most of the aggregate information needed to monitor the project from a high level. You can always add your own information on a later stage, or modify the template to suit your needs once you get aquainted with XpTrackerPlugin, but for now accept the defaults.

The tables in this page will appear empty, until you have defined the first story and started defining tasks in the story. This is by design, don't worry and keep setting things up.

The Team

The next step is to add one or more teams.

As for projects, simply use the form in the project page to add a new team, and as for projects the name doesn't have to follow a particular naming convention, as long as it is meaniningful and it is a proper WikiName. Again, simply preview and save the template, accepting the defaults for now.

As said earlier, a team is a way of looking at a part of a project, and a way of organising the reports. There is little need to add information in this page, at least at the beginning.

Keep going with the setup, you need to enter some more information before you see data popping up in those tables!

The Iterations

You create iterations from the form in the team page. Again the name doesn't have to follow a particular naming convention, as long as it is meaniningful and it is a proper WikiName. We end iteration names with Phase, like AnalisysPhase or PrototypePhase, because it helps us give a meaning to iterations, but then we are still poor X-programmers! wink

Iterations contain some more information, in the summary table, that you should start filling in. I am not sure which information is really mandatory, but you definitely should add here the project name (which you noted down earlier).

If you experience problems modifying the table, check that the page is not locked for editing.

The Stories

Time and effort information is inserted in the story page by way of tasks. You create stories from the form in the iteration page. This time the name has to follow a particular naming convention, namely it must be a useful and proper WikiName, ending with the word Story. This is a mandatory condition, as it is the only way the plugin is able to fetch and parse stories.

We actually associate stories to UML use cases, that is typically one single user problem or action, that results in a set of tasks on the development side.

Again, as in iterations, the page contain some more information, in the summary table, that you should start filling in. I am not sure which information is really mandatory, but you definitely should put here the development order, for an ordinate layout.

Tasks

TODO

How to get information

The iteration status page displays the stories and tasks currently allocated to that particular interation.

Stories are displayed in the order in which they are to be developed, with the original story estimate following the story name. The story is initially displayed with a green background, which changes to blue when complete and awaiting acceptance testing, and to white once the story has been successfully acceptance tested.

Tasks within a story are displayed in the order in which they are to be developed, initially with a pink background, which changes to white as each task is completed. Tasks are considered complete once their estimate until completion is 0 days.

What is measured

This is a list of tables that can be produced by the plugin. For each table, you will find the variable name to produce it together with the eventual parameters, a technical description of the information provided by the table, and where the variable is currently placed by the templates.

XPSHOWALLPROJECTS

  • Parameter : none
  • Default location : by itself in a startup page

The table created has no particular information: it simply lists the names of all defined projects, and it is used as root to start traversing the project structure.

Besides creating the table, the variable offers a form to insert new projects

XPSHOWALLTEAMS

  • Parameter : none
  • Default location : doesn't have a default position

Identical to XPSHOWALLPROJECTS, except that the table contains a team column. It is not present by default in any page. One could substitute XPSHOWALLPROJECTS with this variable in the main page.

Besides creating the table, the variable offers a form to insert new Projects.

XPSHOWALLITERATIONS

  • Parameter : none
  • Default location : doesn't have a default position

Composes a table with the name of all projects, teams and iterations, plus a summary for each iteration.

It is not in any default template and I honestly fail to see the use for it.

XPSHOWPROJECTTEAMS

  • Parameter : project name
  • Default location : Project page

The table is used as project root, and offers a bare list of team names only ofr the teams working in the project. It is particularly handy to call it from the project page, as the project name is also the topic name, and you can use the ZenAndXpTracking variable.

Besides creating the table, the variable creates a form to insert new teams

XPSHOWPROJECTITERATIONS

  • Parameter : project name
  • Default location : Project page

This variable creates a table containing summary information on all iterations for the project. The table doesn't merely display information from the Iteration details table, but actually composes summary data from all tasks that compose all stories for each iteration.

It is possibly the single most useful table, especially if you are interested in the bottom line of how many days it took to get at present state and how long it will take to completion, and it deserves the first position in the project page, as it calculates days estimated, spent and todo, and it diplays percentage progress, using both the percentage and a simple and clear red and green gauge. One final information is the overrun, in the form of a percentage between the sum of time spent and left to do, and the time that had been estimated.

Rows alternate a white and yellow background, but no information is attached to this colouring. No total is given for all iterations, but that would probably be too vague a figure, anyhow.

XPSHOWPROJECTCOMPLETIONBYSTORIES

  • Parameter : project name
  • Default location : Project page

Compose one table, listing per each Iteration summary stories information, such as the number of total stories, and how many are not started, in progress, completed and accepted. Finally it gives the bottom line of percentage of accepted stories, per Iteration, but with no red/green gauge! frown

Rows alternate a white and yellow background, but no information is attached to this colouring.

XPSHOWPROJECTCOMPLETIONBYTASKS

  • Parameter : project name
  • Default location : Project page

Compose a table, much similar in structure to the previous XPSHOWPROJECTCOMPLETIONBYSTORIES table, but giving per each Iteration summary information on the tasks status.

Rows alternate a white and yellow background, but no information is attached to this colouring.

XPSHOWPROJECTSTORIES

  • Parameter : project name
  • Default location : Project page

This variable actually composes two tables, listing all completed stories for the project, with their completion date, and all uncompleted stories.

Rows alternate a white and yellow background, but no information is attached to this colouring.

XPSHOWTEAMITERATIONS

  • Parameter : team name
  • Default location : Team page

It composes a page identical in structure and content to the one composed by XPSHOWPROJECTITERATIONS, but limited to the Iterations assigned to the team.

It gives the team manager the same information that XPSHOWPROJECTITERATIONS would give to the project manager, if the two roles are distinct as in the case of large projects.

Rows alternate a white and yellow background, but no information is attached to this colouring.

XPSHOWITERATIONTERSE

  • Parameter : iteration name
  • Default location : Iteration page

Composes a page similar in structure and content to the one composed by XPSHOWPROJECTITERATIONS. The difference, besides the fact that it is organised per story and it lists all stories composing the iteration, lies in the fact that this time row colours convey a specific information.

The story is initially displayed with a gray background, which changes to green when complete and awaiting acceptance testing, and to blue once the story has been successfully acceptance tested.

XPSHOWITERATION

  • Parameter : iteration name
  • Default location : Iteration page

Composes a table listing tasks grouped by stories. Tasks within a story are displayed in the order in which they are to be developed, initially with a gray background, which changes to green as tasks are in progress and white as each task is completed. Tasks are considered complete once their estimate until completion is 0 days. Stories summarise information on estimated, spent and remaining days, and have the same colouring as in XPSHOWITERATIONTERSE.

XPVELOCITIES

  • Parameter : iteration name
  • Default location : Iteration page

Compose a page summarising per each developer the days (called ideals ?) and tasks assigned, spent and remaining for the particular iteration. The bottom row in the table shows summary overall days and tasks.

XPDUMPITERATION

  • Parameter : iteration name
  • Default location : doesn't have a default position

Use this variable with sense, as it basically prints in one single (huge) page all information about all stories and their tasks for the iteration!

How to keep the information updated

The single developer should be in charge of each task, once the task has been defined in the planning stage.

To stick to XP, you should actually let the developer

  • take responsibility of the single task (auto assign the task),
  • estimate the time required,
  • update the progress accordingly.

You can decide, depending on your organisation, how much to let him/her do, but I assume you would at least leave each developer the progress update.

-- AndreaBacchetta - 05 Nov 2002 and on

I applaud efforts to create user-oriented docs. But... I propose to change name of this page. wink

Maybe it's just me, but I feel we might want to enhance naming conventions for Plugins web. IMHO aside PluginName for terse installation info, and PluginNameDev for discussion, we may want to have additional page like ...HowTo or ...Docs page for (some) plugins, like XpTrackerPlugin.

-- PeterMasiar - 06 Nov 2002

Peter, I see your point. I quite liked the present title big grin , but I understand this web might have its naming conventions. I just went ahead and started writing, I'll let you guys decide where to put the document, as long as you let me know.

-- AndreaBacchetta - 06 Nov 2002

Not sure if this is the right place to comment, but... some of the description above is inaccurate.

The Tracker actually does all the tracking updates. Sure, they sit with the developer and let me give them time remaining, but it is their job to track and update any tracking tools which are used (TWiki included). Developers should not be updating their figures themselves, it just burdens them with project management and it means the Tracker is now out of the loop. It is the Tracker's role to know how the iteration is progressing and why, and won't know this unless they are talking with the developers about tracking.

This is how XP works, and certainly the original version of the plugin was designed to track this way.

On a more positive not, it was great to see some documentation on this at last. It gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling reading all those function names again. smile

-- RichardBennett - 15 Jan 2003

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Topic revision: r10 - 2004-12-07 - AdamLounds
 
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