Huboard, Github Issues ala Kanban, Implemented…

Recently I discovered Huboard. Thanks to those that helped me find it! Huboard is really simple and helps keep that kanban visibility when everyone can’t be in the same environment all the time. I setup a board for one of the pending OSS Projects that will be coming live. These are the steps I took. 1. Go to http://www.huboard.comand login with your Github identifiy. This will use your existing github account and you’ll then have access to all your projects to setup and use as you see fit with Huboard.

Allow Github to Provide Identify Access
Allow Github to Provide Identify Access

2. Huboard will now list all of your projects you have github.

Huboard Repository List (Click for full size image)
Huboard Repository List (Click for full size image)

3. Get your list items all labeled appropriately. (All explained below image)

Issues listed with appropriate Labels (Click for full size image)
Issues listed with appropriate Labels (Click for full size image)

The key to Huboard is the simple tagging. Each issue in the project will display as an open issue on the repository/project list in Huboard, however to get them to show up on the kanban there is a special label pattern to use. Simply add a number, dash, and the title of the issue for it to be listed in the kanban. Then apply the label(s) to the issue. For example, in the screenshot above you can see that item #3, which has a titled of “#3 – Initiate Project & Setup” also has a label of “2 – Ready”. This label will list the item in the column “Ready” on the kanban board. The same goes for each of the items that are listed as backlog. The kanban board in Huboard uses the number to order the columns by the labels and the following title as the column header. The respective kanban board for the issue listing above looks like this.

Huboard kanban (Click for full size image)
Huboard kanban (Click for full size image)

For now I’ve primarily been just adding the issues and maintaining them via the Github web interface. However the items can be moved via commit messages. Here are some examples;

  • push GH-#
  • pushed GH-#
  • move GH-#
  • moves GH-#

With that you get maximum Github Awesome + Kanban Communication.

Oh Snap, Got That Kanban w/ Github Integration!!

A recent issue came up on the team yesterday. We needed to increase the visibility of what we’re working on without dragging ourselves into more one on one or team communication. As anyone that has spent more than 5 minutes with a team knows, meetings kill productivity and morale, so the idea to get a kanban board going was brought up.

That raised the second issue of a remotely distributed team. We can’t have a real kanban board and the literal presence that it provides by being physical. The next best thing though is to have a virtual kanban board that integrates well into our workflow. With integration we get to look at it regularly and work around it to communicate where and what we’re working on without it becoming a major interruption.

That left the need for a kanban board with github integration. I thought to myself, “this exists right?” I checked the ole’ Internet tubes and sure enough someone had posed the question on StackOverflow! The question read, “What’s the best kanban tool to use with github?” Unfortunately there wasn’t a whole lot of answers or information following that up. However, the one answer that did exist provided an interesting solution.

Hubbard

The simple one page site is located here: http://huboard.com/ and on Github here: https://github.com/rauhryan/huboard. This describes the product a bit, and Ryan Rauh(@rauhryan) has a blog entry on Los Techies titled “Huboard – Github issues made Awesome“. You can also follow Huboard on Twitter @Huboard.

(Screenshots courtesy of Ryan’s Blog Entry, click any of them to go to his blog entry)

Huboard
Huboard
Huboard #2
Huboard #2

Where I’m At…

At this point I’m just checking it out, forking the code, and seeing how it works. This tool looks very promising however and fits into the workflow in an extremely seamless way!

Kanban Tools Review

The first two sessions on Sunday were Collaboration and why it is so hard and the following, which was a perfect following session was on Kanban.  While in that second session two online Saas Style Tools were mentioned; AgileZen and Leankit.  I decided right then and there that I would throw together some first impressions and setup some sample projects.  I did this by setting up an account and creating the projects.

Agile Zen

Account Creation

Setting up the initial account required an e-mail verification, which is understandable.  Within a few seconds it was mailed out and I was logged in.

Setting Up the Kanban Board

The initial setup of the board was pretty easy.  I maybe clicked around an extra few times, but overall everything I needed to use the tool was immediately available.  The representation of everything was very similar to what one expects in a real Kanban Board too.  This is a HUGE plus, especially if a team is smart and places this tool in a centrally viewable area to allow for visibility.

Each of the board items is just like a post it, being blue, grey, green, pink, or one of another few colors.  Dragging them onto each swim lane on the board was flawless, making changes through the work super easy and intuitive.

The other thing I really liked about AgileZen is that the Kanban Board had the swim lanes setup immediately.  One can change them, but when you know you immediately need a Ready Lane, Working Lane, and a Complete Lane it is nice to just have them right in front of you in the interface.  In addition, the Backlog is simply a little tab on the left hand side.  This is perfect for the Backlog Queue.  Out of the way, with the focus on the primary items.

Once  I got the items onto the board I was easily able to get back to the actual work at hand versus playing around with the tool.  The fact that it was so easy to use, fast and easy UX, and overall a great layout put me back to work on things I needed to do versus sitting a playing with the tool.  That, in the end is the key to using these tools.

LeanKit Kanban

Account Creation

Setting up the account got me straight into the online tool.  This I thought was pretty cool.

Setting Up the Kanban Board

Setting up the Kanban Board within Leankit was a bit of trouble.  There were multiple UX issues in regard to process and intuitiveness.  The Leankit basically forces one to design the whole board first, making no assumptions about how the board should look.  The swim lanes in my humble opinion should be setup immediately without any manipulation with the most common lanes;  ready, working, and complete.

The other UX hiccup that I had a problem with is that as soon as I managed to get the swim lanes into place, I wanted to remove the redundant Backlog Lane.  The Backlog Lane, or Backlog Bucket should be somewhere that I accidentally added as a lane.  Then on top of that I screwed up and added an item inside the lane, which then prevented me from deleting the lane.  I had to go back out of the lane manipulation, remove the item, and then remove the excess lane.

Summary

Leankit wasn’t a bad interface, it just wasn’t as good as AgileZen.  The AgileZen interface was just better UX design overall.  AgileZen also presents a much better user interface graphical design all together.  It is much closer to what the Kanban Board would look like if it were a physical Kanban Board.  Since one of the HUGE reasons for Kanban is to increase visibility, the fact the design is similar to what a real Kanban Board is actually a pretty big deal.

This is an image (click for larger) that shows the two Kanban Boards side by side.  The one on the left is AgileZen and the right is Leankit.