This article could be reduced to only one sentence:
Because it exactly matches our vision of sophisticated simplicity.
But since Trello deserves a whole article, I’ll try to dig deeper.
The motivation behind Trello is to replace well-known stickers. You can see them everywhere – on a computer display, refrigerator, mirror and so on. When you explore Trello a little bit more, you have to admit this vision was fulfilled very precisely.
Cards are sorted in columns, each one has a description, comments, labels, and assigned persons – this could be the complete description of Trello. But all of this is very precisely done and works exactly as it should. For example, if you try to copy some image to the system clipboard, go to the card detail and press CTRL+V and the image will be automatically placed as a card attachment.
Did you start writing a card description and forgot to save it? Never mind, Trello will keep it as a concept and you can finalize and save it later. Trello is full of these nice little things.
How to use Trello for software development
Software development as we do it is divided into many iterations, where every iteration contains a list of activities to be done. These are the columns we create for every iteration in all our projects (this one is marked as v1.3):
- v1.3 TODO – tasks to be solved.
- v1.3 TEST – card should be solved, waiting for confirmation by a tester.
- v1.3 AUTHORIZATION – verified by the tester, waiting for authorization from the original author of the card.
- v1.3 DONE – card solved, everybody happy.
- v1.4 TODO – plans for next iteration …
That’s all. Everyone could see the overview of the whole project in one single place.
In mobile app development, every function has to be developed for all supported platforms. Usually twice (for Android and iOS), but you could add the web interface and Windows Phone app and make every single feature four times. Moreover, every card has to be touched by a graphic designer and eventually also by a backend developer. So at least 6 people work on every feature before you can enjoy it on your phone.
You cannot assign particular workers at the strategic planning phase, because every activity could be covered by more workers on the project (for example two iOS developers) and you usually don’t know who will handle the card at the time it is created. This is why we have a label for every activity. Most common color coding in our projects is:
- Green – Android development
- Yellow – iOS development
- Orange – server development
- Purple – graphic design
By applying filters you can see for example everything related to iOS. We use the following workflow for all cards to keep it all in order:
- Assign workers to cards on the start of every iteration.
- Everyone filters out their cards and processes them.
- As soon as the card is solved, the worker removes himself from the card and mentions in comments that he is done. The card stays marked by a colour label (platform).
- When the last worker is done, he moves the card to TEST column.
- Tester goes through TEST column and moves cards without issues to AUTHORIZATION column. Cards with some issues are assigned to a responsible worker and moved back to TODO column.
- As the last step card owners go through AUTHORIZATION column and move correctly solved cards to DONE. Cards with issues are again moved to TODO column.
Speed it up with keyboard shortcuts
Working with Trello can be incredibly fast with keyboard shortcuts. The best way is to read the complete list of Trello shortcuts, here are some of our favorites:
- B – switch project (Board)
- E – edit card description (Edit)
- F – filter cards (Filter)
- L – edit card labels (Label)
- M – edit workers assigned to card (Members)
- Q – filter cards I’m assigned to
To be honest, Trello has its issues, too, just like any other software product. The biggest one from my point of view is the chaotic search. By default it searches in all of your projects, so results are really hard to work with.
Another drawback is a mobile app without offline mode support. We also have to point out the need to be subscribed to a card or mentioned directly in a comment to be notified about it.
Nevertheless, we use Trello every day for almost every project we manage. What software do you use to tackle many tasks in your project? If you have a better alternative, let us know in the comment section below.