One of the recurring religious debates in the agile community is paper cards vs. issue-tracking. One of our very own developers, Charles Miller, is a big fan of using paper cards for planning, although he is quick to note that the Confluence team uses cards in addition to JIRA, not in favour of.
And I’ll agree with him: there is a certain immediacy to seeing cards on a wall that helps my visual-learning, spatially-oriented brain more quickly understand the scope of the work in front of me. There is a certain satisfaction that comes in completing a task and moving the card to the “done” pile.
But there are downsides. There is duplication of data: you have to print the cards from your JIRA issues, or worse yet, make them by hand. Sometimes important notes end up on the cards that should have been recorded on the issue, and may be lost forever when the card gets trashed. And if you’re working on a distributed team, then any remote developers are completely out of luck. (I feel this problem acutely, as the cards I’d most like to see are roughly 7,408 miles away.)
So, what to do? Well, fortunately, one of our partners has stepped in with a great solution. Take a look at GreenHopper. It’s a full implementation of the Agile planning wall in a JIRA plugin. They just released version 1.2.1 with a host of hot new features.

If you haven’t seen this yet, you owe it to yourself to take a look. It could change the way you use JIRA… forever. (Just pretend I said that in my best movie-trailer-guy voice.)
How does it work? Find out after the jump.


Well, basically, it represents all of your JIRA issues as an index card. As recommended by various methodologies, different types of issues are different colors. Each card displays the Summary and the other information crucial to planning, like estimates and time-remaining. It hides all of the other information: full description, comments, etc., but they’re all just a click away. You can drag and re-order the tasks. You can edit them on the fly, to add comments or log work.

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The Planning Board helps you schedule many issues over an entire release cycle. GreenHopper also offers a Task Board to show you the work-queue for a version or component. And there is a Chart Board which will show you the burn-down chart for a release.

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There’s a ton of information on the plugin homepage. Download the software and give it a try. And as always, let us know what you think.

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