(Bonus) Agile development tools – Trello

Trello – A basic task board




Introducing Trello

A while back I wrote the series; “Agile development methodologies within the game industry“. That series was all about the development methodologies themselves, but I never really showed you any tools that could help you. Because of this, I decided to make this bonus post, explaining Trello; one of the tools I use constantly.

If you read any of the other posts I made within the old series (Agile development methodologies within the game industry), you should know what a user story is by now. If you do not know what this is, it might be a good idea to go back and read some of the agile development posts.

Note: if you haven’t read any of the other posts concerning agile development, you might not understand a big part of this post. I suggests you go back and read the other posts to fully understand this one.

Trello is a SCRUMboard / KanBan board

During the planning phase, the development phase, and even the testing phase, it’s important to visualize the progress of the project. This is what we refer to as a board. Within SCRUM we tend to call in a SCRUM board, and this helps us visualize the project.

If we take SCRUM as an example, you might have 4 lanes (a lane is just a more “SCRUM’ish/KanBan’ish” word of a column); Backlog; the lane containing all user stories that needs to be implemented during this sprint/iteration, In Progress; the tasks currently in progress by someone within the team, To Test; tasks ready to be tested, and Done; tasks that have been developed, and passed the testing phase.

Planning a board like this is very simple, but to keep this visible for everybody in the team could be difficult. Imagine you have 2 programmers in the UK, 3 testers in Germany, and a single tester in Poland. How would you make the board visible for every one in the team? The answer is simple; you could either build something for yourself (Google Docs, etc.) or you could use Trello; the online task board.

First Trello board and the Trello interface

Trello is a very strong, and very simple system to use. It runs online, and you connect to it through your browser. Do the following to make your first board:

1. Navigate to http://www.trello.com

You should see something like this:

trello frontpage

2. Press the button in the top right corner “Sign Up” and create your user (this is completely free, so nothing to worry about)

Once everything has been made (you might need to activate your account from an email?), you should be redirected to your “My Boards” page. This page should be empty for you, and should look something like this (mine is not empty):

Trello Boards

This page is where all of your boards can be found.

3. Press the grey box that says “Create new board…

4. Give the board a name. This could be the name of your project. I’ll call mine “The best game ever

5. Before you press “Create“, make sure to define whether this board should be private, team, or public.

Note: We’ll talk more about teams later. For now, choose either public or private.

6. Press “Create.

Welcome to your first Trello board. If you followed my steps so far, you should be presented to something like this:

Trello board

This is the interface of your board. Now, there is a lot of things that you can do here and I won’t explain all of them. On the right you have the “Menu“. Within the menu you can change the background color of your board, you can add color labels to your tasks, you can even apply stickers to your tasks.

Lanes (Lists)

From here, we need to define what lanes we want in our board. As you can see on the image above, we’re given the option to “Add a list…. A list is what I call a lane. You can name this one Backlog and press the green button that says “Save“. From here, you can add as many lanes as you want. I’ll make those I mentioned earlier; Backlog, In Progress, To Test, and Done. You have now made the lanes for you board. next step, is to make the tasks.

Tasks (Cards)

In the bottom of every lane, you can see the text “Add a card…”. A card is the same thing as a user story, or a task. Press this text to create a new card, and name is anything you want. For the sake of testing, I’ll make a card in my backlog lane, called; “Design game map“. Press Enter to create the task.

Once the card has been created, you can click on it, to go into the card details. This should look something like this:

Task details

If you click the grey text that says “Edit the description…“, you can add or edit the description of the card. Furthermore, you have a commenting section within the tasks. Imagine that a task doesn’t pass the test, it would be nice to know why it didn’t pass, where in the code, what was the scenario, and much more.

On the right side of the card details window, you have all sorts of actions to use. I will not go into details with these, instead I think you should play around with these yourself to see what they can actually do.

Adding members to access your private board

If you choose to make the board private, your team members cannot see this unless you have Trello that they are allowed. Make sure that every team member has an account on Trello, otherwise they will not be able to access your board.

1. On the main board interface (inside a board, where you can see all lanes, tasks, etc.), in the menu pane on the right side of the screen, press the “Add Members…” button.

2. You now have the following options:

a. Add members by their email (the email the used to sign up with) or

b. Sent them a special link

If you choose to sent them an email, they will be added to your board, and they should receive an email with a link that they can use to navigate to your Trello board.

Creating teams and adding team to a board

Imagine the following:

You have two teams; Programmers and Graphic Designers. You do not want the graphic designers to enter the programmers board, and vice versa. This is where teams come in handy.

To create a team, follow these simple steps:

1. Navigate to the front page by pressing the Trello logo in the very top middle of the screen.

2. Press the grey text that says “Create a new team…

3. Give them team a name. optional; give the team a description.

Example: Name: “Graphic Designers”, Description: “Graphic designers of the game; Best game Ever”

You should now see a screen like this one:

Trello team

4. Press the pane “Members” and add the members you’d like.

5. Press the pane “Boards” and add a board for this team

Noteyou need to create the team BEFORE you can add the team to a board. Boards specific for this team is only made from the team details interface. the board we made in the very beginning of this post, cannot have a team assigned to it.

6. To delete this team, go into the “Settings” pane, and in the very bottom press the grey text: “Delete this team?“.

That’s basic Trello for you

Congratulations. You can now begin to use Trello. It’s now up to you to explore the various actions of Trello and they can really add some strength to your management. If you want to really explore Trello and its strengths, visit these actions:

  1. Power-Ups -> Calendar: Adding a deadline to the tasks
  2. Labels -> Adding even further management to your board (colors and categories)
  3. Filter Cards -> Only show relevant cards (sort by label, due date, members, etc.)

I hope that some of you might consider using Trello, as it is an extremely strong tool to use when doing agile development. If you have any questions, or wish to know more in terms of Trello, please do not hesitate to write a comment below. I will make sure to answer as fast as possible.

Last but not least, here’s a full Trello board in use. Please enjoy!

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Until next time!


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