Over the last few lessons, you learned how teams use SCRUM to manage software projects, but you probably still don't have a good idea how you would implement it yourself. That's okay because in this lesson we'll change that. You will learn how to set up your own projects the Agile way using a tool called Pivotal Tracker.
You'll see Pivotal Tracker a fair bit over the coming mini-courses and during the VCS intensive program -- we'll use it to give you assignments and to coordinate work during our SCRUM-based process. We do this both because it's really helpful for guiding you through your work and also because it gives you good exposure to the kinds of tools and processes you'll use on the job.
Even if you're not planning to use the SCRUM process for anything, working with user stories to break your project into bite-sized user-focused pieces can be an incredibly valuable experience. Tracker will help you manage those stories.
Pivotal Tracker is a free web-based project management program that was created by the consulting firm Pivotal Labs. It's certainly not the only project management tool out there (Atlassian's Jira is also quite popular), but it gets major points for simplicity and ease-of-use. We also appreciate that it's free for public-facing projects. :)
Essentially, Tracker stores your backlog of stories and then automatically allocates them to your current and future iterations/sprints based on your velocity. It lets you enter each story and its acceptance criteria, attach mockups and keep track of comments on it via email.
Naturally, the folks over at Pivotal Labs are really the right people to walk you through their product. Go to their Getting Started site and watch the videos on the "Video Demos" section.
Once you've watched the videos, read through the Getting Started site itself to clarify the concepts. The videos move pretty quick, so you may benefit from watching again.
We'll quickly walk you through what your workflow might look like on a new project if it seemed too fast in the Pivotal videos.
If you remember from the lesson on SCRUM, the Product Owner is the team member or client who acts on behalf of the users—so you can ask questions of this person when you need clarification—and the person who ultimately accepts or rejects your stories. If you're a developer on a team (or sometimes as a freelancer), you'll probably have someone to report to who assumes this role. If you're an entrepreneur... well, that's another hat for you to wear.
It may seem confusing how you would actually put an Agile story into the tracker. Where do the components of the story go?
Here's an example story from an open-source project:
Let's review how the SCRUM-like Agile process works with Tracker:
The Agile workflow we've just covered in the context of using Pivotal Tracker should seem awfully familiar if you saw the SimpleBlogger Demo from the first mini-course, where we walked through how a sample web development project might look. In it, we discussed how our overall approach follows these steps:
At this point, you should be able to see how you would manage that high-level workflow using Pivotal Tracker. The coding part comes later. During the last mini-course and as you go through the main VCS program, you'll become intimately familiar with tackling and coding up stories (we're honing in on it!). But now you can at least approach that step with a full appreciation of each story's context in the larger project flow.