Tag Archives: Tools

Codekvast soon available as a Heroku add-on

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Codekvast is a tool for detecting Truly Dead Code in your Java application.

Truly Dead Code is code that is in production, but has not been used for a significant time.

Codekvast has been lurking in the spare-time realm for too long. Now the project has eventually been granted some full-time development effort, with the initial goal of being made available as a Heroku Add-on.

The alpha test period is just about to start. For this to happen we need YOU!

Read more about how to become a Heroko add-on alpha tester here.

TL;DR Participant must be a Heroku-app written in Java/Gradle, request invite by mailing codekvast-support@hit.se.


Agile Topics card deck

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The other week I got the idea to create simple conversation cards. Each card represents an agile practice, a conversation topic or an abstract theory. Now I’ve drawn 96 cards. I simply couldn’t stop 🙂


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My Spotify tools

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Last week i quit my assignment at Spotify. I was there to help and act as a stand-in for Joakim Sundén while he was on paternity leave. He’s now back in the saddle as Agile Coach in the More Than Music Tribe.  I had the pleasure to work closely with the Agile Coach Christian Vikström on Spotify and together we have been coaching the Browse, Growth and Customer Support squads. A was also a member of the tribe management team, and together we did some new interesting stuff.
Facilitating from the Back of the Room
It’s has been fascinating and fantastic to work with such dedicated people and a product that has such a traction. Spotify is also really trying to build an awesome and agile organization and culture that can win and sustain in the long run. What is there to do at such a fantastic company? That’s a reasonable question. A lot I discovered. Spotify is shock full of super smart people, but many of them has not worked there for long, many of them has not worked long at all, teams have been newly formed and are under constant change. Simply put: even Spotify needs a lot of basic agile coaching.

When I now look back at what we did during these last 8 month I see a lot of tools and experiences that I think others also can find useful. During the next couple of month I will share them through this blog. Hope you will find them useful. Here’s the planned list:

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Why I prefer ToDo over Trello for agile teams

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The Gist

  • ToDo has a flow. It knows about cycle times and about being DONE. Trello does not.
  • ToDo has Planning Poker Estimates. Trello does not have any estimates.
  • ToDo has automatic burn up charts. Trello does not.
  • ToDo has swim lanes which groups cards by your dimensions. Trello does not.
  • ToDo has Work-In-Progress limits. Trello does not.
  • ToDo has upgrade possibilities to the full tool set of Projectplace. Trello has a bunch of plugins from different vendors of various quality.
Swimlanes on a ToDo board

Swimlanes on a ToDo board

Already convinced? Sign up for ToDo by Projectplace! Want to know more? Read on.

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Customizing the Google Spreadsheet Story Card Generator

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At my current project we use a Google spreadsheet to manage our backlogs. This works really well for storing and sharing the backlog, but it’s not very good for visualizing it. So we print out the stories on cards by copying and pasting each row into a document table cell and reformatting, adding extra labels, and manually inserting priority. Well, that’s what we did the first couple of times, until I found David Vujic’s fantastic Index Card Generator for Google spreadsheets (http://davidvujic.blogspot.se/2011/06/visa-vad-du-gor-eller-dude-wheres-my.html).

Except, we have multiple backlogs in one sheet, our column names aren’t the same, and we use a different layout for the cards. Here’s how we customized David’s script! read more »

Hur man kan hantera Continuous Delivery med MongoDB

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MongoDB är en schemalös, dokumentorienterad databas som har fått stor popularitet i den agila världen bland annat därför att man inte behöver underhålla något databasschema.

MongoDBs schemalöshet gör att många leds att tro att Continuous Delivery blir en promenad i parken, eftersom det ju inte behövs några datamigreringar när man driftsätter en ny version av koden!

Rent teoretiskt är detta sant, men är ett sluttande plan in i Land of Crappy Code™ !

För att slippa onödig komplexitet i form av varierande utseende på lagrade domänobjekt beroende på deras ålder, rekommenderar jag att man utför regelrätta datamigreringar även när man använder MongoDB!

Jag rekommenderar även att datamigreringen är en del av applikationen — till skillnad från skript som skall köras vid sidan av innan applikationsstart — helt enkelt för att eliminera risken för misstag.

Jag har i mitt sidoprojekt Varmfront.nu utvecklat en kompakt liten lösning som i MongoDB implementerar det som Flyway gör för SQL.

Mönstret bygger på Spring Data for MongoDB och Spring JavaConfig, och migreringarna är skrivna i Java. That’s right folks, no XML here 😀

Läs vidare, så får du se hur man kan göra!

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MIKE – The Daily Meeting Microphone

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This is MIKE, The Daily Meeting Microphone.
MIKE is a concept. An idea.  Captured on a poster.

If you like it; Click the image below (or click here to download the powerpoint). Print it on A3 format. Put it on the wall next to your team wall or in the office corridor. Done 🙂

If you would build it, I’d buy 50 pieces of it 🙂

Web Whiteboard – the simplest way to write and draw together online

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OK, nothing beats face to face. But suppose you’re not in the same location – because you’re on the phone or a skype call – and you still want to write and draw together. Or you’re on a distributed team and want a simple shared workspace, just like you would if you were in the same room.

Try webwhiteboard.com, a simple and fast way to draw and write together! Just like on a real whiteboard, you can write text, move stickynotes around, and draw simple doodles and diagrams. No setup time at all, nothing to install, no passwords to remember – just one click and you have an online whiteboard, ready to share.

This is a beta version, it has some rough edges but it is being improved on a daily basis. Give it a try, and spread the word if you like it! I don’t plan to do any marketing other than you telling your friends and spreading the link 🙂

If you want voice and video with that, click below to start a Google Hangout with an embedded web whiteboard:
Start a Hangout

Clamp The Code

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This a picture of me used on our front web page. If you don’t see it there, try reloading.

What’s the matter with me on the picture?  What am I trying to say?

Per Code Clamping

Per Code Clamping

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Kanban kick-start example

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Here is a detailed example of a fairly typical 2-tier Kanban board, for teams that know the basics of Kanban and are taking their first steps towards implementing it in practice.


It is sort of like a code example, or a condensed Kanban patterns repository. Print it out and use it as a source of ideas & inspiration as you evolve your own board.

Kanban example

If you know Scrum but are new to Kanban you might want to read Kanban vs Scrum first.

A3 Problem Solving template and example

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For those of you interested in Lean problem solving techniques, Tom Poppendieck and I have created an A3 problem solving example and template. Feel free to use as you please.

A3 problem solving

Scrum Checklist – version 2.0

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Check out Scrum Checklist version 2.0!

Scrum checklist

Is your team cross-functional enough?

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Cross-functional team doesn’t mean everybody has to know everything – this seems to be a common misinterpretation though. Cross-functional just means that the team as a whole has all skills needed to build the product, and that each team member is willing to do more than just their own thing.

Are you unsure if your team is cross-functional enough for the product they are building, or are you sensing a lack of teamwork? Here’s a useful workshop technique (with a  slight teambuilding effect as well):

Get the team together and bring the product backlog. Ask the team “what are the main skill areas needed to build this product?” and list the skill areas on a whiteboard or flip chart. Then give each person a pen and ask them to rate themselves within each skill area.

  • Star = I’m good at this, or this is my main skill area.
  • Dot = I know a bit of this, enough to contribute. Or I can learn and am willing to do so.
  • Empty = I can’t or won’t do this at all.

Cross functional team
This usually triggers valuable discussions and insights such as:

  • Joe: “Looks like we don’t have as much of a specialist problem as we thought!”
  • Lisa: “Yeah, I didn’t even know Jenny could code Java!”
  • Jenny: “Well, I’m not too good at it but I have some personal hobby projects and I really would like to learn more! I’m sure I can contribute as long as I don’t have to do the hard parts.”
  • Joe: “I thought I would be a real bottleneck as DB expert, but now I see that Lisa could help me with some DB stuff!”
  • Lisa: “Yeah. Java is my main skill but it seems I’m the only person other than you that could do DB stuff, so I should probably spend more time helping you with DB work instead of just coding Java.”
  • Joe: “DB knowledge is still a potential weak spot for us as a team though, so I’ll talk to the product owner and look ahead in the product backlog a bit. If we see DB intensive stuff coming up it may be worth getting another DB-skilled person on the team, or at least giving us access to a contractor for a sprint or two.”
  • Erik: “I really hate testing, really suck at it, and am not interested in learning more about it. So I’m really happy to see that the rest of you guys are willing to test, now I don’t feel as bad focusing on my other skill areas instead.”

It may even trigger the insight that this team is incorrectly staffed for the product being built. That’s extremely useful to find out early!

A good rule of thumb is that each column should have at least one star and one dot (or two stars). That means we have at least one guy who is good at that job, and at least one additional person who can help out when needed. And the team won’t be completely helpless if the star person gets sick or hit by a bus.

I like this exercise because:

  • It’s quick & easy.
  • It triggers valuable discussions.
  • It helps visualize the team’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • It encourages teamwork (“how can we help each other succeed”)
  • It counteracts pidgeon-holing (attitudes such as “I’m the Java guy and you’re the DB guy, so the DB stuff is your job!”).
  • It helps people get to know each other better.
  • It takes into account the fact that people can (and often like to) broaden their skills.

Agile tools

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Here’s a great list of agile tools on Mike Cohn’s User Stories site! Primarily for product backlog and user story management.

Only problem is that there are way too few reviews so far. Are you using an agile tool? Go submit a review now and spread the link to your friends! Let’s help build this thing :o)

Great initiative Mike!

Top 3 Tools your Scrum team can’t live without

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Here are top three tools for any Scrum project

1. Google Spreadsheets   Your backlog, anywhere & anytime. A perfect lean alternative to your Scrum board on the wall. Anywhere & anytime.
2. Confluence Wiki   Atlassian Confluence, wiki as simple as it gets. Any user can get going in this user friendly tool.
3. Trillian chat   Hooks up with MSN, ICQ and Yahoo. Hold live discussions going across sites. Just waiting for that Skype plugin..

Scrum checklist

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NOTE – this checklist is deprecated. The latest version is here.

Here’s a first draft of a simple checklist for those of you that are doing Scrum (or believe so…).

The main target group for this checklist are teams that are relatively new to Scrum and likely to get many things wrong.

Each item is tagged by priority. I consider the priority 1 items to be pretty fundamental, I’d hesitate to even call it Scrum if a company hasn’t implemented all those items (or at least has good reasons not to).

When helping companies implement Scrum I normally start by ensuring that all priority 1 items on the checklist are implemented (or intentionally skipped) before even considering priority 2 and priority 3.

Note that these aren’t rules. They are guidelines. A team of 2 people might decide to skip the daily Scrum, since they are pair programming all day anyway and might not need a seperate meeting to synchronize. Fine. Then they have intentionally skipped a Scrum practice but ensured that the underlying purpose of the scrum practice has been fulfillied in another way. That is what counts!

If you are doing Scrum it might be interesting to have the team go through this list at a retrospective. As a discussion tool, not an evaluation tool.

Any feedback is welcome. I plan to update this list.

Index card generator – version 2!

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Many people use a spreadsheet to house their Scrum Product Backlog. That works quite fine. However, during sprint planning meetings it is usually much more effective to use physical index cards. See my book Scrum and XP from the Trenches for the reasoning behind this.

Here’s a simple tool that generates printable index cards in A5 format directly from your Excel-based product backlog. Thanks Stefan Nijenhuis for making this available!

There is nothing to install. This is simply an Excel document containing a product backlog and a “generate index cards” button.

For more info, see the readme inside the document.

This version requires only Microsoft Excel. The previous version required both Excel and Access.

Update (2008-01-04)

Here’s another excel-based index card generator from Claudio Gambetti. Contains a few extra features such as tracks (a.k.a. themes) and components, as mentioned in my book. You choose your flavor. Thanks for contributing this Claudio!

Update (2011-06-23)

Here’s another version from Nathalie Beauguerlange. He says:

“I have made a little modification on it, because the cards were a bit too large for our scrum board, so I’ve resized the template and changed the cards number per page, allowing me to print 4 cards per A4 format page, so that we can use less paper.”

Update (2011-06-28)

Here’s a Google Docs version of this tool (and instruction video), for those who use Google Spreadsheets to house their backlog. I usually prefer Google Spreadsheets over Excel, since it is multiuser and in the cloud. And requires no installation. And no payment :o)

Thanks David Vujic for making this available.

Agile toolkit

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An agile coach should never leave home without his Agile Toolkit!

Mine is much sloppier. The pretty one above belongs to my co-coach David Barnholdt.

Index card generator

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Many people use a spreadsheet to house their Scrum Product Backlog. That works quite fine. However, during sprint planning meetings it is usually much more effective to use physical index cards. See my book Scrum and XP from the Trenches for the reasoning behind this.

The latest version of the index card generator is available here.

The previous version is no longer available here. I can’t see any point of using that version any more, since it requires both Access and Excel. The latest version requires only Excel.