Digital Story Cards

Have you used digital alternatives to physical StoryCards? If so, please describe your experiences.
I am currently working on an XP project which uses an Access database to track the stories. We have the database hooked to a web front end that the customers and all the developers can see. They can post questions & get answers right there (our customers are not on our site all the time, but are always available, via phone, email, and the web site).

I like being able to sort & group the user stories easily in the database, and have the reports of what we're doing this iteration, etc. show up on the web site. Disseminating tracking information is much easier this way.

To solve the problem of needing physical cards to deal with during planning sessions, we just print them out. Voila, instant cards - shufflable, tearable, very visceral, very legible. We scribble on them, update them, do all that human stuff ... and then one of the trackers (TrackerRole) goes and updates the database.

Yes, there's a bit more overhead in keeping the database current, but with the number of people we have on the team (8 developers plus testers, leadership, coach, tracker, customers ...) we can't risk having physical cards floating around and getting lost. Also, everyone has access to the most current version of the story (with the questions & answers that constitute the drilling down process) on the web site. - Lonna

I'm implementing some XP practices for some hobby development with several folks scattered across the U.S. We use a Wiki to store our story cards and engineering tasks. One page contains StoryCards, each separated by a line, while another page contains EngineeringTasks. Each "card" or task is numbered, and each task ends with a reference to the StoryCard it's based on. Example StoryCard:

(1) When a user first accesses the site, they can see what's been changed on the site recently.

Example EngineeringTask:

[5] Add a section to the homepage listing the top 5 mostly recently modified pages on the site. (based on card #1)

It works well for us, but there are definite disadvantages to this system. One can't sort through the cards, for one. There's also a certain focus that comes from having your task card sitting, alone, in front of you on the desk. That's lost when you view your task as one in a large list. There are similar issues with assigning tasks to different developers.

-- BrentNewhall

Another advantage to using a wiki: Business players in the PlanningGame can easily update or create and insert new cards, at any time, and from a distance. -- PerisBrodsky

I've started using IterateByDiamondSky. I like the ability to visualize the plan, I like the graphing, and I really like that it largely keeps the simplicity of the card metaphor.

-- Jtf

JimShore talks about DigitalStoryCards in his ChangeYourOrganizationDiaryPartOne: "I've never liked them, to be honest. My answer to "IsAnythingBetterThanPaper?" is "Almost never!" Obviously I'm biased. But my rational answer is that I want to avoid technologies that give people an excuse not to sit together. I'll keep them in mind for the future." -- BerndEckenfels?


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