eXtreme Planning Software

10 02 2005

So, we are looking for a decent web application to manage our XP-like software development planning activities. We could, in theory, use scraps of papes or whiteboards. The problem is that we don't have enough walls here to hang whiteboards, only windows. And scrap of papers are not well accepted by our ISO 9000 certification team ;).

We used XPlanner for a while, but its development seems to be stuck. XPlanner is nice, since it is Open Source, Java and uses Hibernate, so we could hack it a bit to make it go forward. The problem is that it still uses Hibernate 1, while we are using version 2 for all our developments and version 3 is already in beta. Plus, it uses JSP (yick!) for the presentation.

There are other products out there, both Open Source and commercial. You can find lists here and here. Take care that most of the links on those pages are probably outdated.

From a cursory examination, commercial products are either cheap and too simple, or complex and pricey … or simple and pricey, not to mention the ones whose vendors don't even put a price on the website — I won't even go near the latter.

As for Open Source ones, well, you can't beat the price, but PHP, Perl or even nice languages like Python have to be ruled out, since we cannot afford to spend time learning a completely different language and programming environment. The point is, I would want to modify any product in order to add test results, integrate with JIRA and so on, and for this I need a familiar environment.

This probably means that we will have to build something from scratch. After all, the XP planning methodology is not exactly rocket science. The domain model is made up of projects, iterations, stories, tasks and developers. “Business” logic is straightforward. You just need a few forms and a handful of reports and you're set.

We discussed this option and it was obvious that we could do a nice Cocoon webapp, with Forms and Flowscript, with a bit of Spring and Hibernate thrown in for fun. That's the stuff we do day in day out, so I foresee no difficulty in doing that. I suggested that we release it as Open Source, which for once could show the management that doing Open Source work does not only mean installing Linux and Apache ;).

Another option that intrigues me, after having worked in Confluence for a few days, is doing a Confluence extension. As you can see, I'm really starting to dig Confluence.

Do you have any opinions? If you do, please leave a comment.

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One response

15 12 2005
Peter Merel

I’ve been using trac for this for a couple weeks. I ticket BusinessStory(s) with estimates of 3 weeks or less and get the business to assign ’em roughly to quarters. Then the quarters break down to months and weeks, all of these kept as milestones. We ticket UserStories per week and use the time-tracking hack to aggregate estimates to communicate same to upper management, etc.

I like trac a great deal – integrates analysis artifacts (in wiki) with design artifacts (wiki markup in code names and blocks made accessible by trac’s tight integration with subversion) with tasking artifacts (more WML in the tickets and backlinks everywhere courtesy of more cute trac macros). This cuts through a lot of translation layers across the board.

It does miss some calendar-oriented and graphical reporting though. And it still needs to be integrated with a fit/selenium functional testing f/work. But that’ll come. For now, it’s a cool tool.

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