19 June 2007

A Quick eScrum Review

As many of you have probably noticed, Microsoft has released a new product called eScrum.  This product adds a scrum-based process template to your Team Foundation Server along with related functionality (e.g. product management, backlog items, tasks, sprint management, and reports) allowing you to manage various parts of the agile software development process.

eScrum is a Web-based, end-to-end project management tool for Scrum built on the Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server platform. It provides multiple ways to interact with your Scrum project: eScrum Web-based UI, Team Explorer, and Excel or Project, via Team Foundation Office Integration. In addition, it provides a single place for all Scrum artifacts such as product backlog, sprint backlog, task management, retrospective, and reports with built-in context sensitive help.

I installed eScrum this morning and gave it a short run-through.  Here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • Three words - "Complete the MSI"!  Although the eScrum product is downloaded as an MSI package, there are still quite a few manual steps that you have to complete before you're able to use the new template.  This includes downloading and/or installing the .NET Framework 2.0 (no biggy here), ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions 1.0, AJAX Control Toolkit, and the Anti Cross-Site Scripting Library 1.5.  You must also manually install the SharePoint templates as well as upload the process template to TFS.  These are tasks that would be better off automated.  There are also some file-based permissions that need to be configured - this would be better off automated as well.
  • You have to manually edit an XML file to include your eScrum Team Projects within the eScrum portal.  Shouldn't the portal be able to deduce which Team Projects were created with the eScrum process template?  If so, then this should happen automatically.
  • There are two "read me" documents that you must go through in order to setup & configure eScrum.  If the MSI is not going to automate the various tasks for you,then please combine these into a single document.
  • An "administration" screen would be welcomed - if you could add projects and group members from within the web site, it would keep you from having to switch back and forth between Internet Explorer and Team Explorer.
  • Minor issue - if I leave the product owner off when I attempt to save a new product, it tells me that the "Assigned to" field is empty.  I'm not sure if this can be changed or not, and it's really not all that important - just something I noticed.

Some tips:

  • Follow the "read me" documents step-by-step.  If you do this then you shouldn't have too many problems getting setup.
  • When you download the Anti Cross-Site Scripting Library, be sure you download version 1.5.
  • Be sure to follow the instructions for redirecting the AJAX Control Toolkit version to the version downloaded unless you happen to have version 1.0.10301.0 laying around.  eScrum was compiled against a version older than what is currently available for download so, unless you have access to the old version, you'll need to map the versions within the configuration file.
  • Make sure you edit the two XML files (as noted in the "read me" file) that configure which TFS server/port you're using as well as the name of the TFS eScrum-based Team Project(s) you've created and want to have access to via the web portal.
  • Once you've created the eScrum Team Project(s), you'll need to configure the Team Project security and add members to the "Contributors" group in order for them to show up in the portal as project members.
  • Once you install eScrum, help is available via the link on the web site.

All in all, I like what I see at first glance.  My favorite part of it all is the simplicity of the UI.  It seems that you have exactly what you need but nothing else.  We haven't had a chance to use it in practice yet so I'll be presenting it to my team over the next few days to see if there is any interest in trying it out (along with/instead of what we're currently using).


Other References:


Dave A-W said...

Any experiences installing and/or comments on compatibility with TFS 2008?

Unknown said...

I have not personally installed eScrum on TFS 2008 as of yet although I have seen posts stating it should work just fine. However, I haven't tried it out so I can't verify that.

Anonymous said...

I started using Escrum on some small projects. Now we are about to start using it on some very large projects.

Currently having some product creation issues I'm trying to see if it's related to the ANTI XSS script

Anonymous said...

Check it out. Updated eScrum MSI install package (1.1) is now available supporting Win2008, Vista and TFS 2008. http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=55A4BDE6-10A7-4C41-9938-F388C1ED15E9&displaylang=en

More to come :)

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