Adventures in Ostrava

Thursday we jumped on a bus and drove 6 hours east of Prague to get to Ostrava. We are here to attend the Ostrava Rails Conference for the next two days. To those of you who dont know Rails it is a programming framework that is talked a lot about these days and it is one of our primary tools. So when we discovered that this event was on we decided to check it out.

The bus system here is amazing. We paid 1160czk for two return tickets on an air conditioned bus with leather seats, showing movies and Friends episodes and complimentary copy of the days newspaper or Maxim.

On our first venture in Ostrava we jumped on the tram to take it two stops and figured we could do that without buying a ticket. Bad idea. As soon as the tram started roling a ticket officer busted us and we had to pay a 400czk fine each – doh!

I contacted a couple of people on CouchSurfing to see if somebody had couches we could crash on and thats how we ended up meeting Petr. Or we havent actually met Petr yet. He wasnt home but he got Zeno – his flat mate and landlord – to let us in so that we could sleep on his floor.

Zeno is a photographer and cinomatographer and the flat were staying in is also his studio. The rest of the evening we spend with Zeno drinking whiskey – good times.

Agile planning tool on Rails

We have recently been working with Ruby on Rails and started Digital Planning Board a small pilot project to see what we could build with the Rails framework while building an application we could use for our project planning. We have been working with Ruby on Rails since we went to see David Black in Malmø and it has been a great experience so far and we will probably use it for a couple of our future projects.

The Digital Planning Board is basically an online edition of the analog originator that we used for planning at Menlo Innovations:

Analog planning board

The result became this online application:

The Digital Planning Board

The Digital Planning Board has a few rules it works by. It is for planning one week iterations using these basic rules:

  • Blocks represent a task
  • A lane represent a person or a team.
  • The size of a block displays the estimated time to complete the task.

The colors indicate the status of the card:

  • Not Started
  • In Progress
  • Complete
  • Blocked

Tasks can be moved around freely but adding a task to a lane will push the subsequent tasks further down the list.

Further development
Since this is just a side project I am not sure how much further we are going to develop it but based on some of the feedback we have received so far here is a couple of things we could implement:

  • Update board state real time so changes made by others show up on other collaborators views(without doing a browser refresh)
  • Current time indicator (some kind of way to show how far in the week we are now)
  • Hover on a task would show all the details
  • The equivalent of sticky notes could be added to show additional information and draw more attention
  • Faster editing of task details (right now you have to open a card and click edit)
  • Find a way to preserve the cards history. In real life you can cross out things or scribble additional info.

Read more about our planning board or feel free to try it out [update 27/06/07: Sorry the prototype is not live anymore] and please let us know if you have any feedback :)

Yesterday we spend the afternoon hanging out with Copenhagen Ruby Brigade at the office of Capteco for a hacker workshop. It was a nice laid back afternoon and the first time I met these guys but definitely not the last time I join the Brigade for some geeking.

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