A New Way to Track

My fickleness with issue trackers is almost on the same level as task managers. The first one I used, and stuck with for some time, was the now venerable MantisBT. Then, as I mentioned recently, I started writing and using my own. However, when I was no longer able to dedicate time to its development I switched to Lighthouse, and a companion Mac application Lighthouse Keeper. This served me well for over a year, but during the re-assessment of some work for a client, I found it somewhat lacking in flexibility: notably my need to assign points to issues in order to incorporate some agile techniques into the planning and execution of my workload. And so I began looking at other solutions and chanced upon YouTrack InCloud, which not only gave me custom fields (and thus my points value), but also a very rich search syntax.

Over the past couple of years I’ve kept a keen eye on issue trackers that are actually dedicated to agile techniques, because I believe this is the way forward for our industry: requirements and circumstances change more frequently than they used to (because the world is becoming more indecisive and impatient), and customers’ expectations of developers reflects this, as must the business and development processes we use.

With this new branch of my career, I’m taking a conscious decision not to leave behind all I have learned before, which makes it necessary for me to find something that helps me specify and track the work in front of me. YouTrack would serve me well, but it’s only now growing into a tool that supports agile management. From what I’ve seen so far it might meet my needs, but I consider it prudent to look elsewhere.

I’m therefore giving sprint.ly a trial. This, and a number of other trackers (Scrummage, ScrumDo and Brix) were considered, but I chose sprint.ly because it:

  • allows work to be classified as a Story, Task, Defect or Test
  • deliberately constrains work status to Backlog, In progress, Completed and Accepted
  • includes a Kanban board for progressing work
  • supports “sub-items” which allows a Story to be decomposed into further work (Tasks, Defects or Tests)
  • allows for comments and files to be attached to work (including sub-items, which themselves can be a Task, Defect or Test)
  • supports saved filters (searches)
  • allocates unique numbers to each piece of work
  • integrates with Bitbucket (It also supports the ubiquitous GitHub)
  • looks great:

Sample story from sprint.ly

One interesting aspect of sprint.ly is that it eschews both velocity measurement (the rate at which business value is delivered), and a points system, preferring instead to use the more nebulous terms “small”, “medium”, “large” and “extra large”. I find this particularly attractive because I currently have little more than a gut feeling of how long work will take. As sprint.ly, succinctly puts it, care of Niels Bohr:

Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.