In a previous post, I talked about the Kanban 1.0 process template made by the ALM Rangers. It gives you some basic information, and it also describes how to install the process template and how to create a new Team Project based on this process template. In this post, I will talk a little bit more in detail about how this process template works. Let’s see how it looks like under the hood.
Work Item Types
Let’s start with the work item types you have when using the Kanban process template. The process template provides the following Work Item Types:
- Card: This is the unit of work that is tracked through your software development process. A Card represents value demand or failure demand on your team. You can specify a type of Card. By default the following Card types are provided, although you can customize the card types by changing the Kanban Card Types global list:
- Work Task: This represents demand on your team for work that has value for your customer (value demand).
- Team Task: This represents demand on your team for work that has intangible value. Typically these includes work such as setting test environments, re-factoring some code etc.
- Problem: This represents demand on your team to rectify a problem (failure demand).
- Process Step: This Work Item Type is used to define information about the steps in your process. In particular this is where the WIP limits are defined for each step of your process.
- Blocker: Used to represent a problem that is blocking the progress of a Card. The Card work item has a tab where blockers can be listed.
- Bug: Used to track bugs.
- Shared Step: Used to define a reusable set of test steps.
- Test Case: Defines a test case.
One thing which is really important when using Kanban is the easiness of changing your process. Your process will change over time! One of the requirements of the Kanban Process Template is that it has to be possible to easily change the steps of your process. Let’s take a look at the following image:
In general, you have 3 big states (in blue). A planned (backlog), In Progress and Complete (closed) state. The planned and complete states are the start and end states, and they have no queue associated with them. When you create a new ‘card’ work item, the starting state will always be the backlog. When the card moves to ‘In Progress’, you will have the option to select in which working state it’s in. And those states are customizable.
When you create a new Team Project based on the Kanban Process template, you have 4 ‘working states’. Analyze, Implement, Test and Review. Those states are defined by the ‘Process Step‘ work item. So by default, there are 4 process step work items. To manage the order of the steps in the flow (from left to right), you can use the ‘order‘ field from the work item type. The lower the number, the more left on the flow. By default, analyze is 10, implement is 20, test is 30,… On each process step work item, it’s also possible to provide the Work In Progress (WIP) limit. This number will be used for visualization on the Kanban Board. You can also provide some exit criteria (also known as -the definition of done-). For example:
Global List Synchronizer
When you add a process step to your Team Project, it has to become available to your cards. Meaning that it has to be possible to select the correct state on the card work item. The list of possible states that can be used on a card are stored in a global list on TFS. To synchronize this list whenever you change or add a process step, there is a background process called the Global List Synchronizer, who will synchronize the list of process steps used in the Card Work Item Type with the current list of Process Steps. As you add, change or remove Process Step work items, the list of valid process steps in the Card work items changes accordingly. It modifies the Card work item type definition so that each Team Project uses its own Global List to provide the list of process steps. In fact, you get something like this:
The Global List Synchronizer is something that has to be installed. Installation is really simple, just download the bits from CodePlex. Open the downloaded item, and unzip the file ‘Global List Updater Source Code.zip‘. Open the correct (TFS 2010 or TFS 2012) GlobalListUpdater solution (with either Visual Studio 2010 or 2012). Change the build configuration to ‘Release’ and build the application. In the output folder, you should now see the following files:
Next step is to install it on your Team Foundation Server. The installation process is quite simple.
- Log in to the Application Tier server.
- For Team Foundation Sever 2010: Copy the compiled assemblies (including the .config file) to <System Drive>:\Program Files\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010\Application Tier\Web Services\bin\Plugins.
- For Team Foundation Server 2012: Copy the compiled assemblies (including the .config file) to <System Drive>:\Program Files\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 11.0\Application Tier\Web Services\bin\Plugins.
- If you have multiple Application Tiers, repeat step 1-3 for each of them.
After you copied the files to the plugin folder, TFS will detect this and will restart the application tier. This way, the plugin will be hooked to TFS and will be able to interact with TFS events (like work item changes). You can see this in the event log:
To test if the plugin is doing its work, open a process step work item (using Visual Studio, or the Web Access) and change the title of the item. Save the work item. Now create a new ‘card’ work item, save it in the ‘backlog state’, change it to ‘In Progress’ and see if you can select the modified process step. In my case, I changed the process step ‘ Implement’ to ‘Implement(test)’. You also can look at the event log on the TFS server, and you will see all output of the plugin listed there:
Ok great, so now you have an overview of how the process template is constructed, which work item types you have and how the Global List Synchronizer works. In a next post, I will show you a little bit more about how you can use the process template, how you can use the work item queries and how you can use reporting to view all information about your Kanban process.
Thanks for reading!