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Scrum and AJAX

In writing up a longer post about continuing the Enterprise Agile conversation, I recalled an idea I had during an AJAX component company (eBusiness Applications) briefing a few days ago: the Scrum backlog is a perfect application of a web bases spreadsheet.


A backlog, in Scrum, is just a list of things (coding and otherwise) left to do on a project, ranked with rough estimates of how much time is left for each. The reasons to keep a backlog are: (1.) knowing what to do, (2.) knowing what order to do things in, (3.) knowing how much time is left. It’s from the 3rd that you get the most valuable artifact that Scrum (and other Agile implementations) have to offer: the burn down chart. (I’m gettin’ so excited thinking about it that I’ve got to stop myself before I twist this post into more Agile talk ;>)

Whole companies have been built around creating a web application out of that spreadsheet. Those companies, of course, layer a much more on top of the spreadsheet. Nonetheless, 80% of the Agile teams out there could (if they took the lean knife to their process) function with just the spreadsheet…or even a well maintained sheet of butcher paper. (See, what’d I tell you about getting all excited?)

The AJAX Scrum Backlog

Companies like JotSpot and eBusiness Applications have AJAX spreadsheets that would be perfect for implementing the Scrum backlog. One of the major benefits of moving applications like word processors and spreadsheets online is adding easier to use collaborative features, like tracking revision diffs and who edited what. More importantly, it’s multiuser out of the box: you don’t have to email around or file share .doc or .xls files, you just go to a URL.

So, I’m hoping we’ll see one of the AJAX spreadsheeters take that on: it’d be a great freebie to give away in a bottom up marketing campaign. Developers and dev managers would use the backlog spreadsheet, and those two are the ones who would buy the AJAX components and AJAX services.

Disclaimer: while eBusiness Applications isn’t a client, they did have some kind words for us after a briefing we had with them last week.

Categories: Agile, Collaborative, Ideas, The New Thing.

Comment Feed

5 Responses

  1. Uhm, whoops, I screwed up that link. The word "Treemap" should be before that really long link, and that should've been the link itself.

    DannoMarch 8, 2006 @ 9:19 am
  2. Hrm, I guess you’re right, but things like word processors and spreadsheets use components that seem to be terribly boring applications for the underlying technology.

    What I mean is that compared to developing a custom widget for a platform like Java or .NET, you could create some kind of weird, wonderful never before seen widget that works in the background with AJAX and you’d never have to worry about who could use it or having to keep it updated with the platform’s technology. But most of the toolkits I see out are for emulating things that already exist in those spaces. And it seems like more and more of the same old stuff is coming out.

    Just as an example, I would kill a man to see a AJAX widget or component with some nice transition animations for things like data drill-down. I don’t even know what I’d do with it, but I would definitley commit murder to see that (I’d build it myself, but lack of time and skill with JavaScript)

    My perspective is probablly skewed though because I’m used to using new interfaces. Cest la vie.

    DannoMarch 8, 2006 @ 3:15 pm
  3. You must be reading our minds Cote;) We have a true spreadsheet component in the pipeline stay posted on our EBA Labs site. But the online Web2.0 type app is coming too. Scrum seems like a great use case, we use Trac internally and that would be really cool to have the 2 integrated. Revision diffs, linking, collab, rss updates and other wiki-goodness will be included. Thanks for the tip on this particular use case!

  4. As part of our dogfood, we use Service Desk Express (AKA Magic) to maintain our backlog which works quite nicely. I’ll have to post some examples on my blog. Sadly the app is not currently available as service. But if your company already has a copy of Magic – then its pretty easy to implement a nice backlog system.

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