AgilePlanner: A Card-Based Planning Tool for Co-located & Distributed Agile Teams
Involved Researchers: Xin Wang, Yaser Ghanam, Frank Maurer (PI)
The goal of the AgilePlanner project is to investigate innovative approaches for supporting distributed agile teams in project planning.
Planning with paper index cards (without software tool support) requires little getting used to from its participants and the informal collaboration during planning meetings using index cards as physical representations of requirements is quick and intense. With a table surface and a stack of paper index cards, planning can go a long way. Unfortunately, this approach only works for colocated teams that are able to get together in the same room for the planning meeting.
Existing software tools for agile planning allow storing, searching and organizing task descriptions electronically. Progress tracking and reporting in distributed teams is improved by providing task information in a digital format. However, using existing tools during planning meetings seems to be cumbersome and slowing down the planning process. Planning with existing tools requires learning and tolerating intrusive tool operations during the planning session. Usually, only one meeting participant is in control of mouse and keyboard - reducing engagement opportunities from other participants.
To overcome some of these issues, we are developing AgilePlanner - a tool that integrates groupware technology and digital tabletops to support distributed agile planning. AgilePlanner allows each user to create new stories and organize them on the digital table.
AgilePlanner consists of three major components. The AgilePlanner server acts as a central hub. It stores the current project plan and propagates changes to all currently connected clients. Changes include updates to the project information, iterations & users stories as well as mouse movements (telepointers) and text edits. As a result, all connected clients display the same project plan and update it in real time.
AgilePlanner clients are available as a standalone system or as Eclipse plugins. They provide a shared planning workspace to their local users. Their content is synchronized with all other clients.
AgilePlanner supports agile teams as they collaborate in a distributed environment during their planning meetings. Combined with an audio link (e.g. a Skype conference call or a traditional speakerphone), our tool supports interactions similar to those found in collocated agile planning environments.
AgilePlanner supports planning in both vertical displays and horizontal tabletop workspaces by allowing participants to use interaction techniques such as moving and piling of story cards. Planning with our horizontal display software can be conducted very similar to paper index cards. Index cards are replaced by their electronic equivalents. They can be moved around with the user's finger. As a result, we expect that our tool supports agile planning naturally without getting in the way of thoughts or conversations when planning participants engage with each other.
The installation and user manual describe how to install AgilePlanner.
The AgilePlanner software is provided under the ASE Open Source License.
Please contact Frank Maurer for more information.
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