Agile Planning: Digital TableTop
Planning meetings are an essential group activity in software teams, especially agile teams. They involve software developers, customers and other stakeholders. They are often held before the beginning of a new iteration. Agile planning meetings can be either co-located (stakeholders in the same physical space), or distributed. With the ever increasing of distributed agile development, it seems to be much more challenging to communicate spatially separated agile teams. Distributed planning meetings might deteriorate the cohesiveness of the meeting flow, as well as the comprehension of what needs to be done. Understanding the intricacies of distributed settings, here we discuss the capability of APDT that enables distributed agile planning meetings. Usually, remote stakeholders find it hard to communication in a spatially separated environment. Therefore, some PC based project planning tools were employed to help distributed communication. There are some obvious shortcomings. First, it is hard to keep all ends of communication synchronized. Second, there is no mechanism to encourage remote communication – in some cases remote communication might even be discouraged because of how unnatural meeting interactions become. APDT attempts to overcome these shortcomings and provide mitigation for the challenges surrounding distributed planning meetings.
The new capabilities of APDT were designed to support activities of distributed project planning, and migrate natural behaviours from traditional settings to computer-based environments. APDT utilizes interaction features of digital tabletop to enhance group collaborations and bridge communication gaps among distributed teams. Figure 1 shows a live meeting between two groups located in two different physical spaces. APDT allows for multimodal interaction with the digital tabletops. It implements: 1) finger touch or mouse events 2) gesture recognition, 3) handwriting recognition, and 4) voice command recognition. To support distributed collaborations, telepointers (remote mouse pointers) are used so that the finger movement of the participant at one location could be broadcasted to every other location in the meeting scenario. Story card operations, such as creating/deleting cards are also supported. APDT can be connected with other agile planning platforms. A gateway to other team applications is developed so that the XML formatted data of project meeting from APDT is easily shared by other applications. At present, APDT can communicate with IBM Jazz and Rally . We have deployed APDT on SMART Board and SMART Table. SMART Board has a 183cm x 122cm screen, employing DViT technology to support at most 2 concurrent touches. SMART Table has 55.9cm x 41.9 cm active screen area, utilizing TFIR technology to support about 40 simultaneous touches. Although we still have some issues to tackle in our solution, our initial evaluation of the distributed aspect of APDT, in controlled settings, yielded positive results. We intend to extend the study to observe real settings, and report the outcomes in the near future.
The APDT software is provided under the ASE Open Source License.
For More information visit the ASE Wiki.
- Michael Chen