How Agile board makes my life easier

I’m going to show you how I personally use the Agile board in YouTrack to visualize, track and manage my own marketing activities.

How we do it at JetBrains

Every JetBrains product has a dedicated Product Marketing Manager (PMM), and for YouTrack, it’s yours truly. As part of the product team, I’m involved in the development process and I participate in daily stand-up meetings and discussions.

As a PMM, I use the YouTrack Agile board in two different ways. On the one hand, I refer to the development Agile board to stay aware of what’s going on with the product so I can write about new features and enhancements and prepare for new releases. On the other hand, I run my own marketing activities not directly related to the product development.

How my personal Agile board is organized

Product marketing tasks are a part of the Marketing project in our internal YouTrack instance. They are divided among the different products via subsystems, and my subsystem is called (take a guess) YouTrack Marketing. That’s what I use to filter my tasks on the Agile board.

So my general Agile board settings look like:

1. Project: Marketing

2. Query: Subsystem{YouTrack marketing}

3. Visibility: my board is visible to anyone who has access to the Marketing project.

Here’s what the Agile board settings look like:

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 15.52.31

My sprints normally last 3 months and I refer to them as seasons: Spring 2015, Summer 2015, Fall 2015 and Winter 2015. Some people call them quarters but seasons sounds much more romantic, doesn’t it?

On my Agile board I use these states: Submitted, To be discussed, In progress, Wait for Reply, and Fixed. States are completely customizable in YouTrack as you may know. Just keep in mind that when you add a new state to your board, it’s automatically added to the set of states for the whole project.

I use swimlanes to organize my tasks, identified by Feature and Campaign issue types. For example, ‘Release YouTrack 6.5′ is a big Campaign for me, so I use it as a swimlane and place all release-related tasks under that swimlane. Often I create Features and Campaigns just to organize the tasks inside them and to gather general results as well.

YouTrack Agile board

In my usual workflow, when I create a task for myself or someone else, it starts off as Submitted. Our marketing tasks are often discussed with the product team, the design team and/or the marketing leader. In this case, the task moves to the To be discussed state. If no discussion is required, the task goes directly to In Progress when me or other person starts to work on it.

When a task involves some communication with a customer or a third part outside the company, there may be some Wait for Reply. Finally, when completed, the task becomes Fixed. Done may be a more accurate term for marketing tasks, but we are a software development company so that’s that :)

I normally prioritize my Features and Campaigns from top to bottom. It’s all about milestones so I try to complete urgent tasks first. However, I normally work on several Features at a time.

How Agile board helps me track my tasks

My Agile board gives me great visualization. I see all my current and planned tasks in one place, along with their states. Not just the tasks I personally work on, but also those I’ve assigned to the design team, the web team, the research team, etc. to complete a large Feature or Campaign.

Second, my Agile board shows me my progress at a glance. The Progress bar shows, as a percentage of the total, how many tasks have been completed and how many are in progress. It is a ready indicator of how realistic my plans and estimations are. I also use the Progress bar when I want to add a new task to the board.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 14.06.24

 

 

The total number of tasks inside each column gives a good understanding of my current state as well. I don’t limit my WIP (Work in Progress), as it might involve multiple resources and even teams. Still, I try not to accumulate more than 5 tasks In Progress for me (meaning those that I’m working on personally). If more than 3 tasks accumulate inside the Wait for Reply column, that is a signal for me to ping their Assignees.

Although we are not currently using time tracking at JetBrains, it may be useful to estimate your tasks and track your progress. Maybe not in actual hours, but at least in some ‘units.’ YouTrack Agile board offers lots of support for time tracking. Let me know if you are interested and I’ll be sure to shed more light on this area of YouTrack for you.

Using Burndown and Cumulative Flow

I use Cumulative Flow more often than the Burndown chart, as it gives me two things: 1) an indication of whether my process converges in this sprint and 2) an additional view of how my tasks are currently distributed. For example, I have one week left until the end of this sprint. Most of my tasks are fixed, which is good. However, I still have 7 tasks Submitted that I won’t start working on in this sprint. So my plan is to finish the tasks that are In progress, To be discussed; ping Wait for Reply assignees; and move the 7 Submitted tasks to the next sprint.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 14.49.50

 

I use the Burndown chart from time to time to check how much my progress diverges from the ideal, just to motivate myself. I think using the Burndown is more valuable when you estimate your tasks and track real progress.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 14.48.58

 

From one season to another

I keep trying to complete all the tasks I plan inside one season. But honestly speaking, there’s always something left. A good result is if only 10% of my tasks are left incomplete on the board.

Normally, I create the next sprint in advance, for planning purposes. When the current sprint ends, I review the tasks left over. If any tasks related to a specific milestone have become obsolete, I mark them as such, and move the relevant ones to the next sprint. YouTrack nicely suggests this option automatically when you create a new sprint.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 14.38.14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

This is my personal experience with Agile boards in YouTrack. Should you adopt the same practice? I think you may want to, if any of the following situations apply to you:

  • You have plenty of tasks to work on and manage, i.e. you have your own responsibility zone; OR
  • You need to set and manage tasks for other people from different teams but you’re not their manager, i.e. you are just using shared human resources like a web team, design team, research team, etc; OR
  • You work on a personal project or are responsible for a part of a project with multiple iterations.

Your comments and feedback are very welcome here! I’ll be glad to provide more details if you’re interested.

If you’d like to try a personal Agile board and your company isn’t using YouTrack yet, consider getting your cloud-based YouTrack, which is free for 10 users.

 

 

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YouTrack 6.5 Roadmap: Polished and Integrated Like Never Before

The time has come to raise the curtain off our plans for the upcoming YouTrack 6.5! The release is planned for the end of Spring, and we are very excited to tell you what’s in store.

YouTrack 6.5 Feature List

Enhancements

  • GitHub integration improvements
  • TC integration
  • Redesigned Administration UI
  • Dashboard
  • Workflow
  • Mailbox integration
  • Bug-fix versions included in the license

Integration with Upsource

Upsource, JetBrains’ brand new repository browsing and code review tool, already provides basic integration with YouTrack. Discussions, code reviews and commit messages that contain references to specific issues are marked up with hyperlinks, enabling one-click navigation from Upsource to YouTrack. There is also a ‘Create issue’ button to create an issue in YouTrack based on a code review.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 19.33.01

Next, we’re going to develop specific integration stories with Upsource. In YouTrack 6.5, the integration will initially be available only in the Stand-alone version. You will be able to:

  • Extend a YouTrack issue to show comments to a revision or review that mentions the YouTrack issue in its name
  • Extend an issue to show the commits where the issue is mentioned
  • Apply YouTrack commands from a commit comment
  • Manually attach commits to an issue

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 19.46.11

Integration with Bitbucket and GitLab

Native Bitbucket and GitLab integration will let you:

  • Type any YouTrack command in the commit comment and have it applied to the mentioned issue. (All changes will be made with the committer’s account.)
  • Use commit hashes in YouTrack issues to provide direct links to Bitbucket/Gitlab commits.
  • Add VCS changes to a specific tab of VCS commits, and filter them with the search query has:{vcs changes}.

One-click Jira Import

Import your Jira projects with all their history, watchers lists, voters, custom fields, reporters, assignees, comments, attachments, and even work items. Simply provide YouTrack with the link to your Jira, your login and your password, and that’s it! YouTrack will create a group for your Jira assignees, and users for your Jira reporters. This brand new import will support Jira 5+. It will look something like this:

1. Import settings:

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 15.37.53

2. Original Jira issue:
Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 19.42.11

3. Issue imported in YouTrack:

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 19.44.50

New Rest API

We’re redesigning our REST API to make it more RESTful, flexible and usable for Javascript developers. It will allow you to create an alternative UI with ease, and even write your own web client.

Project Wizard

Project Wizard is designed to greatly simplify the process of creating your first project in YouTrack. Creating a project is now as simple as completing just three fields. YouTrack will automatically create a new ‘ProjectName-team’ group with the Developer role, so the only other thing you need to is add your team members.

Create project wizard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that’s not all. Welcome a brand new Project List, with project tiles showing the project name, description and project team. A project filter with query assistance is also included.

Project List

 

There is also a fast new way to edit projects, by adding a team member or group to the project team in one click.

Hub Integration

Hub is a brand new user management system from JetBrains, designed to serve as a single entry-point for all of JetBrains team tools including YouTrack, TeamCity and Upsource. Actually, YouTrack 6 comes with Hub embedded, so probably you are already familiar with the tool.

YouTrack 6.5 will introduce integration with an external Hub. After connecting YouTrack with Hub, you can enjoy single sign-on, take advantage of user and permission management in YouTrack and Upsource, and use Upsource integration. In the future, TeamCity will join in as well.

Enhancements

GitHub Integration

Changes from GitHub will no longer be added as comments to an issue. Now you’ll have a dedicated issue tab with VCS commits.

You can also filter a list of issues that have VCS changes with the search query has:{vcs changes}.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 19.50.26

Redesigned Administration UI

We’ve given lots of thought to the Administration parts of YouTrack, and we hope the new look & feel will enhance your experience with configuring and administering YouTrack projects. Included are new and improved ways to customize fields and workflows, tweak integrations, and more.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 15.27.53

Dashboard

Please give a warm welcome to the greatly enhanced Dashboard! Now you can resize your widgets, edit and drag them smoothly, and open a widget in full screen by double-clicking its header. Better query assistance, saved searches and tag filters are also available.

Dashboard 6.5

Workflow

YouTrack 6.5 will introduce a number of enhancements to custom workflows. These small but nice features will improve your experience with creating and using workflows, and solve some issues you might have faced previously:

  • JT-24970 – send notification on comment update
  • JT-29205 – more detailed workflow language reference
  • JT-28920 – run ScheduledRules and TimeEvents under specific Workflow user

Mailbox integration

Using YouTrack as a help desk? We have some sweet goodies for you in YouTrack 6.5:

  • JT-28141 – add ${reply-to} variable
  • JT-28744 – all user’s emails will be now associated with one user profile
  • JT-19981 - square brackets contents in an email title shouldn’t be discarded
  • JT-28625 - add “Disable Mailbox rule” option

TeamCity Integration

  • JT-7079 Support VCS branches in Teamcity integration
  • JT-6619 Map one youtrack project with several configurations in teamcity

We hope this list includes the features you’ve voted for.

We are eager to share the brand new features with you soon, by opening the EAP (Early Access Program) within the next month. Meanwhile, please do share your feedback and comments in the comments below.

Follow us @youtrack for more YouTrack news!

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Confluence Integration Is Here

If you’re using YouTrack and Confluence together, you might be interested in this little add-on that helps you integrate these two at some level.

The add-on brings two macros:

1. issue which simply inserts a link to any YouTrack issue, and this link reflects the issue state, so you can tell, for example, if the issue is resolved or not by just looking at a page. Here’s an example of its syntax:

{issue:id=DOC-3202}

And this is what it produces:

link to issue

 

Hovering mouse over this link gives a tooltip with even more details like assignee, number of votes, etc.This macro was inspired by our marketing team who are actively using Confluence pages to aggregate information about various tasks that are connected with YouTrack issues, so now they can just open a page and have a clear view of how things are going with this or that task at a glance.

2. report this one allows you to insert a report based on a YouTrack issue query to a Confluence page. For example, this creates a page that displays unresolved issues from the DOC project:

{report:project=DOC|query=#Unresolved}

report

 

Get the add-on now and start using YouTrack and Confluence together. We’ve just started developing the plugin, so if you have a feature request or other feedback, don’t hesitate to share it with us.

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YouTrack 6.0.12634 Is Out

A fresh spring YouTrack 6.0.12634 is here, please welcome! This minor update introduces a number of bug fixes, including a new issue  form performance. Check the full list of Release notes for the details.

yt_home_by_jetbrains_1200x628

Download YouTrack 6.0.12634 and enjoy the latest version today! if you’re using YouTrack InCloud, all servers are already upgraded to the latest version. Please keep updated with the Maintenance Calendar.

Keep tracking with pleasure!

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Welcome YouTrack 6.0.12619

We’re glad to introduce a fresh winter update for our fast-flying issue tracker and project management  ⎯ YouTrack 6.0.12619. This minor version brings a lot of important bug fixes. Please see the release notes for the full list of changes.

Download YouTrack 6.0.12619 and upgrade to the latest version today!

YouTrack InCloud instances upgrade is planned for Monday, February 23, according to our Maintenance Calendar.

Keep tracking with pleasure!

 

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YouTrack 6.0.12577 Is Available

Please welcome a fresh YouTrack 6.0.12577! This minor release introduces important bug fixes for a number of Reports, the Dashboard and a new user management. Please check the full list of release notes for more details.

Download YouTrack 6.0.12577 and upgrade to the latest version right now.

If you’re using YouTrack InCloud, please note that the upgrade is planned for this Saturday January 31 10.00 AM – 12.00 PM GMT, according to our Maintenance Calendar.

Keep tracking with pleasure!

 

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A Fresh YouTrack 6.0.12463 Is Here

Christmas is coming and we have also prepared a nice surprise for you!

Please welcome YouTrack 6.0.12463, a cool winter update for our hot issue tracking and project management tool! This bug fix brings a number of important updates for the new user management, reporting and Dashboard.  For more details, please check the full list of Release notes.

Please note that a new version of YouTrack Workflow Editor is also available. With the latest version, you can now disable all the workflow rules without accessing the admin UI.

Download YouTrack 6.0.12463 and enjoy all the latest changes! If you are using YouTrack InCloud, your instance has already been updated to the latest version today, according to our Maintenance Calendar.

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

 

 

 

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New Image Editor in YouTrack 6.0

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 12.49.03

In YouTrack, our goal is to make reporting bugs as easy as possible, and when it comes to software bugs, it often helps being able to post and annotate a screenshot of a problem as it is seen on the screen. To that end, prior to version 6, YouTrack came with a Java™ applet that allowed users to paste and manipulate the image in a special editor.

Unfortunately, due to the (relatively) recent problems with Java applet security, it’s become clear that usability of the applet started to suffer after all of Oracle’s security updates. After all, what good is an applet if you get to see a whole three (!) security confirmation screens before you get to manipulate your image?

So in YouTrack 6, we got rid of the applet in favor of a simpler, more natural interface. Now, to add an image to an issue or a comment, you can

  • Copy the image onto the clipboard and then simply paste it using CtrlV, OR
  • Use the Attach and Edit (CtrlAltV) to attach the image and begin editing it immediately, OR
  • Use the old Attach File functionality.

Both the Attach and Edit window as well as issue description and comment windows also support drag-and-drop, so you can simply drag an image over the edit area and it will be attached:

When you attach by pasting, the image data on the Clipboard gets turned into a PNG file with names such as image.png, image2.png and so on, making it easy to reference in the issue or comment. Thus, to display an image in the comment, simply write !image.png! and you’re set!

Now, to edit the image, you can move over the image and press the pencil icon:

This brings up the actual image editor. The horizontal bar on top presents several groups of items that allow editing:


  • On the left, we have Undo/Redo buttons as well as a link for clearing all the changes you’ve made.

  • Next up, we have the actual editing buttons, which include an ability to Move Image (just in case the image takes up more space than the browser window), Crop, Brush (this lets you draw on the image) and Highlight (which draws a highlighting rectangle).
    Standing a bit on the side is the Text tool that lets you add a comment to a particular element:

  • Finally, off on the very right we have the controls for giving the image a name, determining who can actually see the image, and saving the image when you’re done with the edits.

Hopefully we’ve made the image editing experience unobtrusive and intuitive. To see the image editor in action, try the new YouTrack 6 today and let us know what you think!

 

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Integrate YouTrack with TestLodge, An Online Test Management Tool

Integration between an issue tracker and a TMT (test management tool) can make a huge difference for your QA team. It allows them to create a bug from a failed test case; can automatically report an issue every time the test case fails; and much more.

YouTrack is already integrated with several TMTs including TestLink and TestRail. Today we’re happy to announce a brand new integration: with TestLodge, an online test management tool. Now you can automatically create a bug when a test case fails in TestLodge. The description, steps to reproduce, expected result and actual result are all submitted to YouTrack. Each failed test case is then linked directly to the created issue.

Take advantage of this integration with the latest YouTrack 6. Watch this short video to learn more:

If another test management tool that you use is not yet supported in YouTrack, please post a comment below to let us know.

Integrate YouTrack with your development environment and keep tracking with pleasure!

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The Power of Reporting and Analysis in YouTrack 6

In YouTrack 6, we introduced additional functionality for providing stakeholders with succinct, easy-to-digest information about the state of the project. This is subdivided into two areas: reports and the live dashboard.

Reports

In issue tracking systems, reports are used to provide interested parties with snapshots of the project’s state. A report may be as simple as a timeline graph that indicates a race to completion, or it might be a breakdown of time spent by user or by task, or something a bit more complicated.

Typical report users might include:

  • A developer who wishes to get accurate information about their progress in dealing with bugs and feature requests.
  • A project manager wishing to see the progress of a project or, e.g., its adherence to an SLA agreement.
  • A division lead, program manager or CEO wishing to get up-to-date information about the state of several/all projects currently being worked on.

YouTrack 6 introduces 17 different report types grouped into the following four categories:

Issue Distribution Reports

These show the distribution of issues by different criteria, starting from the most specific and going towards the most generic. One can see number of issues distributed by assignee or project or a field of your choosing; alternatively you can have a two-field distribution or a matrix report.

Here’s an example of an Issues per assignee report:

Incidentally, it is also possible to produce a pie chart instead of a bar graph:

And, if you just want the numeric data, you can simply produce a matrix report:

Finally, we have something called an ‘Advanced issues per project’ report. This report lets you fine-tune the selections and coloring of issue distributions displayed for a Project Portfolio. For example, suppose I want to display two bars, one showing the distribution of new issues by type (bugs vs. features) and another bar to indicate the distribution of resolved issues (fixed/duplicate/other). For a set of projects to do this, I can configure the query settings like so:

Now, I can define the color for each of the indicators, and, after I’m done, I get the following generated bars:

project Portfolio

Timeline Reports

These types of reports show the dynamics of changes of your project in time. This includes the familiar Burndown and Cumulative flow diagrams (albeit unconstrained by the scope of a particular agile board) as well as indicators of how you are coping with SLA/quality of service requirements.

Here’s a look at the report generated for purposes of managing an SLA:

In the image above, the top diagram shows the moving average of the number of days an issue remains in an unresolved state. It’s also possible to add additional indicators (e.g., minimum or maximum) by clicking the circles above the chart. The bottom chart shows the number of issues that have been resolved on a particular day.

Time Management Reports

The time report (there is only one type of report in this category) shows how time is spent by different project members. It is possible to group the time spent either per user or per issue, and it’s also possible to take into account the work item types, if they were specified when work was logged:

State Transition Reports

These reports show how your projects’ issues transition from one state to another. This can be useful, for example, for determining how well your QA processes work: after all, if too many issues transition from Verified to Reopened state, it could be an indicator that they are not being addressed properly.

Here’s precisely this type of report, showing the distribution of reopened issues aggregated by priority:

It’s important to note that reports can be made either shared or private, and you can specify which group of users gets to see them. And as far as report updates go, the following rules hold:

  • Reports that incorporate a timeline have a setting for how often they are recalculated.
  • Issue distribution reports get recalculated once every 10 minutes.

Please note that just because a report has been recalculated doesn’t mean you’ll get an automatic visual update if you leave a page open. To see the updated values of your report, you need to either open it or reload it if you’ve got it open already. Only then, provided that the recalculation time has elapsed, will you see the updated values. You can always get the most recent data by recalculating the report manually, clicking on the recalculate icon.

Dashboard

Put simply, the dashboard provides at-a-glance visibility of what’s going on in your project or, indeed, several projects at once. The dashboard consists of widgets — rectangular blocks that you can drag around and drop into place as you wish. A dashboard is a per user construct, meaning it is individually configured by each team member.

At the moment, the dashboard can contain three types of elements:

  • Notes — this is a way for the user to add a set of notes to their dashboard. Markdown syntax is supported.
  • Issues — this lets the user show the results of an issue search. The list contains the issue’s ID, summary (both hyperlinks that open the full issue screen) as well as a visual indicator of the issue’s priority:
  • Report – perhaps the most exciting part of all, this type of widget contains the image generated from a preexisting report. Just like the report itself, the images support user interaction: for example, hovering the mouse over a bar chart will show the actual values:

The rules for recalculating the data on the dashboard are similar to those for reports. Reports and issue lists are refreshed once every 10 minutes (apart from timeline reports, which have a setting). Reloading the page refreshes the display (provided the underlying data has been recalculated), but if you want the widget to recalculate right now, simply press its Recalculate button.

Conclusion

With reporting and dashboard functionality, YouTrack has moved one step closer to enabling project oversight to happen in a fluid, transparent manner. If you haven’t started using YouTrack already, check out the YouTrack product page — we have both hosted and on-premise solution, and provide a free license for small teams. Enjoy!

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