Monday, October 11, 2010

Some JIRA / GreenHopper Love

This will be another brief, non-technical, un-informative post to rant..but in a positive way! I actually will post something informative and useful one day ;-)

A team member and I have been using JIRA and recently started using the GreenHopper plug-in. The plug-in advertises that it is "agile" focused. I have always been extremely satisfied with Atlassian products, but this is something special. They really have done a great job in usability with GreenHopper.
  • The "boards" present a nice, intuitive, usable visualization of a part of the project.
  • Every aspect of the "boards" visualization (color coding, progress bars, in-place editing) reinforces with high affordance the functionality of that view.
  • The tools gets out of the way as much as possible in terms of navigation and functionality. Its intuitive. I find that I spend 95% of my time just on the Task board. I never need to leave.
  • Using the "boards" is fun!

For example, from the "task" board, I can open bugs, assign them to other people, begin progress, etc. This is my "specialized" view that I, a developer, use to see my tasks and at-a-glance get a view of the whole sprint.

Here are some noteworthy features of this visualization:
  • There are three columns for this sprint: To Do, In Progress, Done. You just drag a card between the columns to start progress or resolve as done. Just as you would with a card on a cork board (intuitive metaphor).
  • You can switch projects and sprints/versions by clicking the down arrows next in the headers
  • You can add bugs, features, etc. for this sprint just by clicking the button for that issue (right under the filter icon).
  • You can add comments to the issue simply or bring up a light box with the entire JIRA issue (see below).
  • There is a nice progress bar that shows the overall progress for the entire sprint.

When a new sprint comes around you can check out the "planning" board, where you can drag and drop cards to different releases or sprints. Also, there is a "chart" board which summarizes various charts (burndown rate, etc.), and a "released" board which provides metrics on completed sprints and releases.

This is just a little bit of why I like GreenHopper. I have just been so pleased with it that I wanted to share. I have used bugzilla, plain JIRA, and Team Foundation in the past. Team Foundation I know has much of the same (if not more) reporting than GreenHopper, but I never saw a visualization for me, the developer, that was as useful (defined by power/weight ratio) as what GreenHopper provides in the Planning Boards. Its the subtle simplicity and usability that I think makes GreenHopper so great-- not just sheer functionality.

If anyone actually reads this I would be interested to hear others' opinions about tools-- in particular other "killer features" like GreenHoppers planning boards.