Over the past decade, the most important question for developers has been whether to embrace agile development. This philosophy encourages developers to be flexible in order to deliver exactly what the user requires.
It all started when developers became frustrated with managers who insisted on rigid plans that had fixed roles and rigid schedules. This forced programmers into very tight boxes. Programmers wanted to be able to use their creative and spontaneous ways of working together.
Although some developers were hesitant to let developers organize their workflows, others saw the benefits. More than 25% of all development and offshore QA teams used agile methods within the past year, according to studies.
Tools of the trade
Flexibility and organization are key elements to agile development success. The best way to achieve this is to implement a number of useful tools to help manage the project and track progress. These tools don’t place strict roles and schedules on developers, but they make it easier for them to manage their projects and reach their goals.
Many software products are available to help developers and managers create code that addresses their priorities. These tools can be used to track various forms of development, such as projects that are centrally managed. However, they are flexible enough for agile development. Others were designed to support agile development and allow programmer autonomy.
These tools help the project team to identify requirements and break them down into smaller tasks. It tracks programmers working together on the parts. The process can be broken up into shorter cycles that eventually lead to the final result. There are two types of cycles: code sprints and planning sessions. The team can adjust and focus by keeping the cycle short and including lots of developer feedback during the planning.
All agile tools have a common feature: a visual dashboard that shows how the team is doing and what they are working towards. Some tools integrate with code repositories or continuous Integration tools to automatically graph the evolution of new code. Are the latest codes passing their tests? Are there any new features? All of these questions can be answered via a dashboard that is visible to everyone. The team will be better able stay on track if they can visually follow each other’s progress.
Communication is another important aspect of this process. Communication is key. Good agile tools facilitate planning and discussion. Developers can concentrate on the specific features, tasks or bugs by creating separate threads. The project can move at the right pace if the discussions are divided.
These are the top tools used by foundation teams to deliver code on schedule or ahead of schedule.
Source control tools
Git is essential, but not just for agile teams. It provides the flexibility teams need to move forward. It makes it easier for developers to follow their own paths and merge their code later. There is no central repository. Git is well-supported and many teams use its hosting services to organize their code. Many other tools on this list draw inspiration from Git, and use the repository updates to track and verify progress. Mercurial and Subversion are other top source control tools.
Continuous Integration Tools
Continuous Integration Tools, like Git, aren’t designed to support agile development. However, it is difficult to imagine managing a large agile team with no help from them. These tools add an extra layer of processing to code when it is committed. This helps ensure that everyone is working together smoothly. There are hundreds of plugins available for tasks like creating documentation and compiling statistics. They are responsible for running unit tests to ensure that the software works correctly after new code has been added to the stack. This list includes many tools that use post-commit testing results to assess how fast the code meets its goals.
Many continuous integration tools are compatible with agile management systems. Hudson, Jenkins and Travis CI are some of the most well-known tools. Strider, Integrity, and Travis CI are also good options.
Tools for team management
The Agile Manager from HP is designed to help teams plan and execute working code using the agile model. The managers collect the user stories during the initial stages of the cycle and determine how teams will tackle them. These stories set the stage for sprints and deployment.
Each code sprint, scrum masters record the progress of developers and users on issues and user stories. The entire team can see how they are collaborating on the release by seeing the charts and failures from the build.
This tool pulls data directly from major tools like Git, Git, bamboo and Eclipse. Agile Manager will push stories, tasks and other information directly to these tools in order to complete the cycle. This allows developers to keep track of their projects from their preferred IDE.
ActiveCollab organizes software shops to deliver code and track their time. The core of the system is a set of tasks that can all be assigned and tracked, from conception to completion. The system-wide calendar allows the team to understand and follow each other’s roles. The system monitors the time spent on each task so that the team can assess how accurate their estimates.
A collaborative writing tool is also available in the system, so that everyone can collaborate on documentation. This essential function sets the groundwork for more agile collaboration later.
You can either host the tool locally or use it through a cloud-based service.
The JIRA Agile tool provides an additional layer of project management and interactivity with all major Atlassian tools. A Confluence tool is used to create a project task list. The Kanban board allows developers to track them and update it as they go. Kanban boards are the focal point of everyone’s attention when it comes to planning how to tackle the code.
Atlassian tools are well-integrated to the Agile tool. The dashboard updates when code is committed to Stash, Bitbucket or Atlassian’s Git host products. Continuous integration is offered by Bamboo (see number 3 above). It builds and tests code, before reporting on the relative success or failure to the main JIRA Page. HipChat indexes discussions to the tasks.
The Agile Bench tool, a hosted platform, emphasizes tracking each individual’s work. The release schedule starts with a backlog of user stories, enhancements, and other tasks. The team must assign tasks to assess the business impact as well as the cost of development. Each task should be assigned in points. This dashboard keeps track of both these values, so members can see who is most overloaded and which are the most important.
It is compatible with standard Git hosting websites like GitHub and Bitbucket (see number 5 above). This allows it to commit code with tasks. You can also integrate your project information with any other system using the open API.
Pivotal Tracker, one of many tools created by Pivotal Labs to support agile development, is only one. A page lists all tasks, which are often described as stories. This is the core of the project. The tool allows team members to rank the complexity of the tasks with points. It also tracks how many tasks have been completed each day. Whiteboard is used to facilitate team-wide discussions. Project Monitor displays the status of each build. Sprout, a configuration tool, is also included in the constellation.
Telerik is well-known for its many frameworks that allow you to create apps for the mobile market. Telerik has incorporated much of their experience in creating code into TeamPulse which they use to track and manage projects. The main screen shows a page with tasks to be completed. It also tracks the progress of the team. You can configure the menus and get a variety of reports that show how the project is progressing towards completion. It can also be used with Telerik’s other tools to build and test code.
A tool that can be customized to manage multiple teams and multiple projects is essential for large enterprises who embrace agile development. VersionOne helps to coordinate all development groups within an enterprise. It provides a platform for communication that allows everyone to plan and maintain documentation.
Kanban boards are used to track ideas and stories throughout the process, until they become working code. It tracks sprints and organizes retrospective analysis to allow the team to start again.
The openAgile API allows you to integrate Version One and other packages.
Planbox provides four levels of organizational power that allow multiple teams to work together towards a common goal. Initiatives are at the top, the most complex and broadest level. These include projects that are built from items which, in turn are filled with tasks. Planbox tracks team progress and generates reports for all stakeholders as the team completes the tasks. You can also allow customers to voice their opinions before the code is finalized. Everyone can compare how long it took to complete an item by using the time tracking feature.
This tool can be integrated with Github (see number 6 above) for code storage, Zendesk to track customer satisfaction, UVOICE for bug tracking and many other services.
LeanKit is designed to mimic the whiteboards in conference rooms where most projects start. All team members can post notes or cards on the board that reflect their tasks, user stories, and bugs. The board updates much faster than any other whiteboard as the team completes them. Software allows multiple teams to collaborate in separate areas while still coordinating their interactions.
Axosoft’s tool keeps track of the project in three ways. The Release Planner provides a tabular view that shows the various tasks, bugs and user stories. Drag and drop different entries to assign them, and then mark them as completed. The burndown charts graphically show how fast the team is convergent on its goal. To keep everyone on track, the projected ship date is prominently displayed. Kanban-style planning can also be done using the card view. Each card represents one task.
The customer portal is a useful tool that allows customers to participate in the development process. Customers can request features, give feedback on designs or test new code.