Working with tickets

Once you have created a project, and possibly adjusted settings in the admin interface, it is time to start creating a backlog.

Depending on what type of project you have created and/or which modules are enabled for the project, you can either create a user story with the + button on top of any column in the Kanban module (enabled by default for kanban projects), or using the Add a new user story button on the right side of the Backlog module (for scrum projects). In both cases, a second button which opens the bulk insert interface is directly to the right.

Both are modules accessible from the left sidebar, and you will also land on one of these pages immediately after creating your project.

You can either add user stories one by one, or in bulk.

Adding an individual user story

Clicking the + or Add a new user story opens the New User Story dialog.

new user story
Figure 1. The New User Story dialog

You can adjust the available fields - tags, status, and points - in the admin interface.

The following metadata can be set during ticket creation:

  • Ticket title is the only mandatory field.

  • Description is not mandatory, but should always be used to describe the user story in detail.

  • Tags allow you to filter issues in various views. You can set any tags you want, not just ones that are predefined in the admin interface; however, it is best to predefine a set of tags and stick only to them instead of always using custom ones. Predefined tags will be offered to you as you start typing into the Enter tag field.

  • The drop-down menu in the top right allows you to set the user story to a specific status right when creating it, instead of moving it manually if the story is already in progress.

  • Clicking any of the roles in the right hand pane (UX, Design, Front, Back) allows you to set estimates for how much work the story will require of each role.

  • The four icons to the right allow you to:

    • Set the due date: This will send notifications to anyone assigned to the issue)

    • Team requirements: Used for requirements that come from the team (as opposed to external parties), and do not necessarily have direct impact on anyone outside the team. Used for example if completing the user story will require a new VM, hardware, or something else from the team.

    • Client requirements: This denotes requirements that came late in the project and were not known upfront. Useful from a learning perspective.

    • Block: Stops this item from progressing due to a dependency. Note that the dependency is only denoted in text, you cannot, for example, link an issue as a dependency, so you have to state why the item is blocked. Make sure to manually reference a ticket in the reason.

Once you create the ticket, it appears both in the backlog and on the Kanban board, depending on which modules your project has enabled. Click the ticket name to view details.

The details page allows you to split the ticket into subtasks. Subtasks should represent all the necessary actions required to get the story to Done status. Like the user story itself, subtasks move through a set of states (customizable in the admin interface), typically from New to In Progress to Testing to Done. All teams should work on a subtask level; when all subtasks of a user story are done, the story changes its status to Done as well.

Clicking a subtask name in the list on the user story details page opens another details page for the subtask. It works exactly the same way as the user story details page, only without the ability to add subtasks (since you are already looking at a subtask).

You can Watch a user story or a subtask using the details page - or add another project member to the list of watchers to bring the story or subtask to their attention. Watching an item means you will receive notifications when anyone makes changes to it.

Another useful feature is voting. On the details page of every user story and subtask, you can click the up arrow button to the left of the story or subtask name to vote for it. This indicates that a particular item in the backlog is important to you, and as long as voting is used with caution (i.e. people don’t vote for everything), it is a useful tool for prioritization. If you want to remove your vote, click the button again.

Adding user stories in bulk

You can add user stories in bulk in both the Backlog and Kanban screens by clicking the bulk insert button next to the + button that lets you add a single user story.

bulk insert button
Figure 2. The bulk insert button highlighted next to Add a new user story

The bulk insert dialog does not allow you to set any metadata such as status or assignee at issue creation. The only thing you can do is enter a set of user story titles. Stories are separated by newlines; each line will become a new user story with the contents of the line as the name.

bulk insert
Figure 3. Creating three issues at once using the bulk insert dialog

When you click Save, all specified issues will be created and will appear in your backlog and/or on your kanban board. All bulk-inserted issues are created with a set of default metadata which you can change in the admin interface in ProjectDefault values.

After creating a set of new user stories, go into each one and provide the usual non-default metadata - at the very least a description.

Working with epics

Epics are collections of user stories. When a user story is too complex to really be tracked as just a single entity, you can break it down into multiple user stories (and in turn break those down into tasks), and add them into a single epic in order to track them in the Epics screen.

The Epics module is not enabled by default on neither Scrum nor Kanban boards. Go to the Modules screen in the admin interface to enable it.

When the module is enabled, click the Epics icon in the left sidebar, and add your first epic using the + Add Epic button in the top right corner.

new epic
Figure 4. The New Epic dialog

The creation process is similar to creating an individual user story: provide a descriptive name, status, tags, and description, and click Create Epic. After that, you will return to the Epics screen, and see your new epic in the list. At this point the epic is empty, and you must add user stories to it.

To do so, click the name of the epic in the list (the name exactly). Then, click the + button next to the Related user stories heading,

Then, either add one or more new user stories in the New user story tab (click the "list" button to add new user stories in bulk), or pick an existing user story. Note that you can only add one existing user story to an epic at once. Click Save to add your user stories and return to the epic details page, where you can either continue adding more user stories (or tags or attachments), or return to the list of epics.

Back in the list of epics, clicking any row with an epic that has at least one user story associated with it will expand it and show all those user stories.

epic view
Figure 5. The Epics view

The list also displays a progress bar for each epic as well as each individual user story when expanded, allowing you to track them at a glance. The progress bar displays the percentage of tickets associated with the epic which are in the Done state.

If a user story contains any subtasks, they must have their status individually set to Done in order to show up as done in the progress bar. Setting only the user story itself to Done does not count. At the same time, if the user story is not set to Done but all of its subtasks are, the Epics view still counts it as completely done.

Project members with sufficient permissions can vote on each epic using the arrows on the left side of each epic entry. Click the arrow again to remove your vote.

You can rearrange the order in which epics are displayed by dragging and dropping them in the Epics screen. You can not use the list of epics to rearrange the order of individual user stories in each epic; to do so, open the epic’s details page and rearrange the Related user stories list.

Finally, you can customize the Epics view using the sliders under the View options drop down menu in the top right corner.

epic view customization
Figure 6. Customizing the Epics view

Finished epics (those which have the Done status set) are normally displayed in the list with a strikethrough; you can remove them using the View Options menu. To completely delete an epic, open its page by clicking its name, and click the red recycle bin icon in the right sidebar.

Issues

Issues are where things like technical debt, bugs, requests for enhancements and documentation tasks should be logged.

You can access issues using the left sidebar. Open a new issue by clicking the New issue button on the right side of the Issues screen.

new issue
Figure 7. The New Issue dialog

The issue creation process is identical to the user story creation process. You can create a single issue or use bulk insert to create many at once. Items available in the drop-down menus such as Type, Severity, and Priority can be customized in the admin interface. Tags work the same way they do in user stories.

Sprints

Sprints are an integral part of Scrum. A sprint basically means "we set out to achieve X in Y time frame", where X is a set of user stories that belong to a sprint, and Y is the length of the sprint.

You can create a sprint in the right sidebar in the Backlog screen.

new sprint
Figure 8. The New Sprint dialog

Once you have created a sprint, it will show up in the right sidebar on the Backlog screen. There you can track progress of multiple sprints at once, or click any sprint to view its details.

To add issues and user stories to a sprint, drag and drop items from the Backlog pane to the indicated area in the sprint sidebar.

Tracking multiple sprints at the same time allows multiple teams to work on one backlog. Note that any single item (issue, user story) can only be a part of one sprint.

The sprint details page, accessed by clicking a sprint name in the right sidebar, gives you a detailed view of the sprint’s progress.

sprint details
Figure 9. Sprint details

The dark bar on the top of the page shows sprint statistics:

  • Percentage of the sprint goal currently achieved

  • Number of open and closed tasks

  • Total points consumed

  • Predictive burndown chart

You can view the burndown chart by clicking the four vertical lines on the right side of the sprint statistics bar. The chart allows you to see whether you are on or off track for your goals for the sprint, and can help when communicating with other teams. It also lets you know whether you can bring in more work into the sprint.

sprint stats
Figure 10. Sprint statistics and burndown chart

If your sprint contains user stories and issues, they are visible on the details page. You can click the + button next to each user story name to create subtasks one at a time, or the multi-add button to add them in bulk. As each subtask progresses, you can move it between columns indicating their status by dragging and dropping them. When all subtasks are completed, the points assigned to the Story are completed. In other words, instead of moving the entire user story, you move its subtasks, and once they are all done, the user story they belong to is also done.

Below user stories you can create and control "storyless" tasks - things that need to be done but do not belong to a larger user story. Again, you can add these one by one using the + button, or in bulk. The + button allows you to either directly open a new issue, or add an existing issue to the sprint. This allows you to mix user stories (towards new development), tasks (things that need to be done), and also issues (bugs, documentation, etc.).

To remove a user story from a sprint, go back to the Backlog page, and drag it from the sprint sidebar to the backlog.