Agile Development with Plone


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At Jazkarta, our Plone projects typically consist of a mix of custom functionality and theming. The client's budget is usually fixed and their requirements are imperfectly defined at the start of the project. This cries out for an agile, iterative approach, however our development environment is not what most agile experts would recommend. No one is co-located - our clients are remote and our developers are distributed, and they are not working full time on a single project.

Sally Kleinfeldt describes Jazkarta's approach to managing a Plone website development project in an agile fashion, with a part time, distributed team. Topics include roles, scheduling, estimation, and project management tools.

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Agile Development with Plone

  1. 1. Agile Development with Plone Sally Kleinfeldt Plone Symposium East 2011
  2. 2. The Accidental PM• I am not an expert!• No PM or Agile training• The developer with domain knowledge• But small business == many hats• So now I manage projects• Use this session to share
  3. 3. Our Plone Projects• Medium to large websites• Custom functionality• Custom theme• Fixed budget• Vague or changing requirements• ==> Agile!
  4. 4. Our Environment• Distributed • Everyone (client, each developers, me) in separate locations• Not full time • Developers typically 10 to 20 hours/week on a project• ==> Not Agile!
  5. 5. Challenge• How to adopt agile techniques to manage fixed price, flexible scope projects with a distributed, part time team?
  6. 6. Our Solution• Focus on: • Communication • Collaboration • Stories • Estimates• Work in progress!
  7. 7. Roles• Project owner• Developer• Designer• PM
  8. 8. Roles: Project Owner• Single point of contact• Domain expert• Decision maker• Available for meetings
  9. 9. Roles: Developer• Technical expert• Open minded• Honest
  10. 10. Roles: Designer• Part of development team• Needs feedback on design implications
  11. 11. Roles: Project Manager• Facilitate communication• Record decisions• Understand both client and developer worlds• Translate client requests into developer language• Knowledge of Plone key!
  12. 12. Scheduling the Project• Fixed budget, fixed number of hours• Divide between • Planning - varies with uncertainty • Deployment - varies with complexity • Development iterations
  13. 13. Scheduling:Development Iterations • How many depends on: • Total development hours • Size of team • Go-live date
  14. 14. Scheduling:Development Iterations • One or two week iterations ideal • 5-10 hours PM • 15-30 hours devlopers • Important to hold to those hours • Schedule evaluation weeks between iterations!
  15. 15. Planning• Discovery• Story development• Technical architecture
  16. 16. Planning: Discovery• Varies depending on size of project and what client has done• Minimum: 5-10 hours gathering materials and discussions with project owner• Could be many hours of meetings, analysis, and a formal report
  17. 17. Planning: Story Development• PM and project owner write stories• PM guides stories to fit Plone functionality• There will be content editor stories and site user stories
  18. 18. Planning: Planning Poker• Developers, project owner and PM• We use modified Fibbonacci - 0, .5, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100• Trust developers to be independent• Time consuming, but planning poker discussions make developers understand requirements and clients understand development trade offs
  19. 19. Planning:Technical Architecture• A few hours of high level technical planning after planning poker• Developers and PM• How to do theming, what add-ons are necessary, approach to custom development, etc.
  20. 20. Development Iterations• Client chooses stories, guided by PM• Iteration planning meeting • Task breakdown and estimation • Story/task assignments• Daily standup meetings • Yesterday, today, blockers
  21. 21. Tools• “Real” agile relies on co-located teams, index cards, white boards• We need tools that substitute for these things
  22. 22. Tools: Communication• Skype• IRC• Chat• Google Calendar
  23. 23. Tools: Agile Development• Many contenders • Jira, Rally,VersionOne, ...• We’ve tried a few
  24. 24. Tools: Agile Development• Trac and plugins• Pivotal Tracker• Scrumdo• Google Docs
  25. 25. Trac• We use ClueMapper, with its easy Trac/ Subversion integration • Project staff access management • Project documentation, including ReST formatted Readme files in svn • Support tickets after development
  26. 26. Trac• There are numerous Agile plugins - Agilo, Itteco, ScrumBurndown, etc.• Mostly clunky, too many pieces• We do not use Trac for development iterations - stories and tasks
  27. 27. Pivotal Tracker• Commercial hosted SaaS solution• User friendly, nice feature set• BUT built for full time agile teams with back to back, same size iterations• Does not match our process
  28. 28. ScrumDo• Commercial hosted SaaS solution• User friendly, nice feature set• More flexible iteration scheduling and story assignments• Better task breakdown and assignment• Written in Python!
  29. 29. Dilemma• Clients need a tool like ScrumDo that provides overview of stories and easy drag and drop prioritization and iteration planning• But for developers it doesn’t have the flexibility and see-everything-at-once feeling of a whiteboard
  30. 30. Google Docs To The Rescue• We use a Google Doc for each iteration• Easily record stories, tasks, estimates, assignments, and actuals• Everyone can see it and see each other editing it during meetings• It’s the closest thing to a white board and index cards
  31. 31. Design• Perennial question: how to integrate UX/UI design into this process• Plone is not a blank slate, some designs are easy to implement and some not• Clients often bring designers to a project, and they don’t know Plone
  32. 32. Design• Try to include designers in the dev team• Have developers review preliminary wireframes and graphic designs before client sees them• Have designers work on wireframes for a story at the same time as developers
  33. 33. Design• Have developers mock up functionality first using available add-ons and use that as basis for wireframe• Create a sample Plone Page using all WYSIWYG editor features and make sure designer styles them all• Make sure designer will be available for theming questions for entire project!
  34. 34. Questions, Discussion?