Going Agile: The Ultimate Scrum Google Doc Template

While trying to work out the best way to adopt Scrum in the Ubuntu Certification team, I didn’t want to commit to an expensive process tool. So we have end up developing overtime the ultimate Google Document SCRUM tool.

I didn’t want to spent too much time reviewing tools and shopping for better prices rather than working on embedding the process correctly in the team. We might eventually move to a hosted “funky” web 2.0 solution, but in the meantime, Google Docs is doing the job just fine.

I thought that it will be great to share our backlog template with everyone, so I have created a public template with some fake stories. Here is the breakdown on how it works: Read more of this post

Going Agile: Scrum in a fully distributed team

Working with a fully distributed team has made me appreciate the beauty of having face time with your team!  Hence, I took the opportunity at UDS to get more acquainted with my colleagues.

Scrum by DarkMatter

As a first part to introducing Scrum to the team, we defined the high level goals (or Epics) for the 6 month release cycle. Part of what I have been trying to figure out is how to use the tools we have at-hand to get started. For the 6 months sprint backlog, we finally settle on launchpad blueprints. We are basically using a planning project within Launchpad, that will have a milestone per sprint/release. By prioritizing and assigning blueprints against the milestone, we get the backlog view.

Back at Symbian, we started by setting up daily scrums and weekly iteration backlogs. However, once the machine had started we struggled to define long term goals. It is hard to get out from the 2 week mindset.

Hence, with HW certification team at Canonical, I decided to prioritise the longer term goals. This was made very easy by the regular cadence of Ubuntu releases. The next step was introducing daily scrums and a 2 week iteration cadence within the 6 months sprints.

Are you standing up at the other end of the line?

With a fully distributed team, introducing regular formalised communication seems on paper an easy win. However, the trick is in the implementation. How do you do it? We decided not to have IRC meetings, based on previous experience. Eventually,  people did not read the comments from others and waited until their name pinged in the IRC channel to post a pre-baked update.  Another option was to Mumble our way through it! Read more of this post

Mylyn – Why it is worth upgrading to Tasktop

I have been using Mylyn now for a while and it has been great to help keeping on top of large amounts of bugzilla entries. I’ve used it to manage the integration plan for the Symbian platform, which describes the expected contributions into the platform.

One of the benefits that Mylyn offers developers is the reduction on Context Switching. Context switching is not only costly for software programs, but also for humans working on concurrent tasks. Mylyn provides a great integration with the IDE that allows developers using Eclipse to substantially reduce the wasted time on switching between application and work tasks.

However, I am not a developer… so Mylyn did not really provide me with any improvements in this area. Hence, I decided to download the Tasktop 30-day-trial standalone version and see if I could have get some time-saving by exploring the additional features for “Task Context”.  Here are the results:

The first obvious advantage is that it doesn’t really load all the rest of Eclipse/Carbide functionality that I don’t use and that eats a substantial amount of my manager’s-spec laptop memory. Hence, the first improvement is better working speed!

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Integration Plan (part 1)

Recently I blogged about using Bugzilla to track features. I am happy to report that things are moving forward really well thanks to the community and Mylyn. We now have created the high-level delivery plan for Symbian^3 in Bugzilla, and completed the details for one of the key features: New Graphics Architecture (NGA – aka Screenplay).


As you can see from the picture, Mylyn makes it really simple for anyone to keep an eye on the plan.

BUG_ID 176 is the top level entry for NGA. In this post, I won’t go into the specific details of NGA, but explain the next step that we are taking in our planning: The Integration Plan.

Having all this data in Bugzilla allows us to build a good view of  the progress of a specific release. As we do not want to be monitoring every single submission, we have decided to follow the implementation of  “Key Features” (we are currently discussing the key features for Symbian^3)

The aim is to extract all the good information provided by the package owners and put into a format that facilitates the analysis of the health of the release. Taking a leaf from the Agile book, and introducing a 2-week regular heartbeat for our kits releases and tracking feature increments against it (for regular kit updates click here).

Also, any data beyond 6 months from “today” is displayed in quarters since we need to remain flexible and responsive to change (a “scaling agile” practice). Hence, it is understood that the detailed plan beyond 3 months will be fluid and beyond 6 months is only an indication of intent.

It is  probably worth noting at this point that the integration plan is based on voluntary contributions, and that we aim to increase the confidence in it by promoting frequent stage deliveries and asking the contributors to provide regular updates when changes occur.


The above table is a section of the full integration plan for Symbian^3

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Using Bugzilla to track features

One of the areas that we are currently working on is the use of Bugzilla to track and manage the integration of new features into Symbian Platform Releases. I have set-up a few examples of real features in Bugzilla for Symbian^3. Here is how we are proposing to use it:


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