Tag Archives: Agile

Nexus Overview

Episode 74

First guest author has arrived! Today’s episode is written by Kate Terlecka and will be an introduction to The Nexus Framework, a tool for Scrum scaling. Have fun!


What’s the most fashionable word in current agile world?


Yep. If you don’t scale you’re a lame 1999 oldtimer, not worthy of attention. Only Scrum? But you’re supposed to have BIG Scrum!

There is a reason why creators of two largest Scrum scaling frameworks refused to describe and name them for years. Only when SAFe started being marketed aggressively, they’ve had a change of heart. Bas Vodde and Craig Larman decided to name what they have been teaching for years LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) and Ken Schwaber decided to finally formalize and name Nexus. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 15, 2017 in Agile


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The First Artifact

Entry 9, Day 16

     “The product backlog is an ordered list of everything that might be needed in the product and is the single source of requirements for any changes to be made to the product.”

– Scrum Guide

Being recently in the tools department, let’s continue the topic and look for something to manage The Product Backlog.  But wait, what’s that?

As I’ve said, I’m not going to do full fledged Scrum here, because there is no point in that. However I will keep some of Scrum elements. For example, Scrum defines so called Artifacts. There is the Product Backlog, there is a Sprint Backlog and there is an Increment. I’ll keep the Product Backlog. I will probably not need Sprint Backlog. And we will see about Increments later.

So, the Product Backlog (or simply the Backlog from now henceforth) is where the idea of the product is kept. The idea might be more or less clearly and precisely defined, usually the higher the priority, the better the definition. The Backlog is composed of Items. Single Item might be a requirement, feature, enhancement, bugfix or anything that is going to change the product. Changes may be indirect and be without immediate value, say “Setup Tomcat” is actually an internal task, but it is required to proceed for me.

My needs are simple. I need a tool where I can add items in at least three categories – to do, ongoing and done. I need to be able to easily change priority (distance from top of the list), move between categories (say it’s ongoing / done) and edit Items. The tool should be cloud based (fancy term recently), free and publicly accessible.

In my work, we have mostly used Excel with quite advanced scripting (hi Kamil ;)) to help with moving, changing and calculating stuff. Sometimes we would just take a pin board and stick notes to it (It is common with Sprint Backlog, but not really with Product Backlog). Or simply there was no public Backlog whatsoever (well…).

But Excel has drawbacks. First, it is a desktop tool, and I want to share stuff in the blink of an eye. So, I could go for Google Spreadsheets, but still manipulating Items would require some effort. Let’s look for something more dedicated then. Quick research convinced me that there is an overwhelming number of tools to choose from. You can check out Wikipedia’s comparison of project management tools, You can then narrow the criteria to Agile tools. I’ve taken a look here and there. I’ve decided to give some of them a try.

So first, there is Jira. It was used by some teams around me. But apparently, it is not free, and is too big for my needs. We need simplicity. Out.

Someone mentioned when I was sniffing around. Unfortunately, while it’s simple, it’s also more of a calendar tool, not really good for me. Out.

Then, there are quite a few tools (I’ve checked iceScrum), that are open source, but there is no free hosting. Either you download and host by yourself or you pay. I want it quick, I want it now, I want it free. And I don’t have a hosting department operational yet. Out.

There are also promising tools closed source, but they are paid (e.g. Agilo for Scrum). Well, out.

There was one tool that was free and looked nice. The AgileFant.  I’ve played with it a bit, but it turns out to be too cumbersome for me. There were some UI glitches and manipulating items was not that simple as I wanted. Still it might be a valid option for fully Scrum team.

And finally there was Trello. Few friends actually recommended me this and it turns out to be perfect for my needs. It’s simple, intuitive, adorable and it is flying free above the clouds. As a welcome, you get three boards: to do, doing and done. You can quickly add Items, move vertically and horizontally, edit, add categories and make the board public. I’m not going to give you full review, that’s not what I’m here for. But you may want to check article here. The Wired had an article about coolest 7 startups you haven’t heard of, and Trello was one of them.

So, I have a lingering Product Backlog. You may check it out here. The link will be always available from the BookSentry, the main project page.

Huh, that was a long one. In the next episode, I’m going to talk about the environment. Namely the Server and the Database.

p.s. I’m using Wikipedia links a lot. It’s not because I’m a noob. My intent is to give you some quick and neutral overview of the subject at hand. You can get easily to subject’s home page (if it has any) from Wikipedia page for further, official details.


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Posted by on August 17, 2014 in Agile, BookSentry


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Tools of the Trade

Entry 8, Day 14

Over ten years ago I have written my home page in PHP. Nothing really big, but it had a user system, administration, news, comments, file downloads, image gallery with some search/paging options, rating etc. I think there was around 100 – 200kB of code. I did this almost entirely in Windows notepad, only at the end switching to some kind of editor with html syntax highlighting. But things can be done easier.

First, you need an integrated development environment. I will use Eclipse Luna, released not even two months ago. I’m using Eclipse for over five years and still learning new stuff on a weekly basis. Alternatives are: InteliJ, NetBeans or something else.

When dealing with web application, there are several useful tools on the browser side. First, the browser itself and it’s integrated development tools, at you disposal when dealing with html, css and client side scripting problems. My favourite is Firefox. When browser tools are not enough, I recommend Firebug, excellent for debugging JavaScript if you are in a pitiful situation that you need to do that (you shouldn’t if you use GWT, but…). In order to work with GWT efficiently, you need DevMode, it will compile your Java code to JavaScipt on the fly and allow to see changes almost instantly, Yo will need a plugin for Eclipse and a plugin for your browser to accomplish this. Unfortunately since Firefox 27, support for DevMode has ended (wtf dudes?), so either stay at 26 or try some workaround.

Compiling, putting into jars, bundling etc. – Maven is your friend here. If you are old school, get back to Ant.

When you write something and it works, or even before it does, you are in need of some version control system. As of my information, Git recently took over SVN in terms of popularity. Also, I’ve worked long enough under SVN, so lets try something different. Git it is.

Having a build automation and version control, you can put them together in continuous integration tool. It will take the code each time someone does commit and each night, build stuff and scream at you if you blew something. Jenkins is probably the best choice here. You may know it’s older version, Hudson, which killed itself after being taken over by Oracle.

There are plenty of additions to CI, most of them also available as IDE plugins.

Most notably, test automations frameworks. Unit tests for low level stuff (go JUnit with Mockito) and web/GUI tests for high level/integration (Selenium being a popular choice).

It is good to have some kind of static code analysis. Teach it a set of rules, and it will guard your code from deteriorating at low level and perhaps find some bugs for you, that might have slipped through runtime test suite. Check out FindBugs. For higher level of analysis I recommend SonarQube (known simply as Sonar in the old days). It will also give you a bunch of numbers about your codebase, if you like numbers. I like numbers.

There are plenty other useful stuff for your CI, e.g. some dashboard view, excellent to de displayed somewhere high on the wall, to tell others that your build is never broken. Or to tell you that it actually is now and it would be nice to fix it. You may also want to hear this.

Besides development, you want to keep track of what is to be done, ongoing and done. So basically a product and a sprint backlog. Until now I’ve used mostly simple Excel and physical pin board, I need to do some research here and get back to it.

Also there are systems for issues tracking (fancy term for bugs), which may be used instead of, or with backlogs to help you control your chaos. (Hi Kate ;))



Posted by on August 15, 2014 in BookSentry, Technology



Dramatis Personae

Entry 3, Day 4

Before an application is created, we need people to do that. People assume different roles, and I’ll try to define them today.

I thought, I will be using SCRUM framework, but actually by definition you can’t have SCRUM if you have only one person (unless we are talking split personality or other mental disorder). As you may know, Scrum Master and Product owner cant be the same person because of conflict of interests. However lets forget about that for a moment and take a look:

Client – The guy with money, needs and usually little to no idea how exactly to fulfill those needs with proper software. He wants stuff done quickly, cheaply and with high quality and finds it hard to understand that he has to pick one of those three. Usually does nor understand technology and people creating it.

Product Owner – This is the guy that is patient enough to talk to Client without cutting himself. He is able to find out what actually Client needs, what is most important for him and translates this into prioritized User Stories. Then he comes to the Dev Team and tries to explain what needs to be done to make Client happy.

Dev Team – Bunch of guys who talk strangely, gather in circle and sacrifice coffee to summon and control software. At least that’s how it looks like from the Client point of view. Dev Team has all the skills, resources and pizza required to create an Increment – working piece of software that can be thrown at production servers and will not cause a disaster. Or at least not a big one, small to medium seems to be tolerated on most circumstances.

Scrum Master – Invisible ninja who makes sure the other three do not kill each other. Basically knows the Scrum Grimoire by heart and guards the entire process not to go bananas. Should also has a healthy amount of common sense and transfer some of it to relevant party if needed.

So, I am going to be the Client, the Product Owner, the Dev Team and the Scrum Master in one person.

Besides talking (writing) a lot I’ve done a bit of investigation in hosting department. Nothing special.




Posted by on August 5, 2014 in Agile, BookSentry


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