Thursday, 8 March 2007

Project Dune Projections

We are planning a new release of Project Dune to be released this week or the next, which will include a number of new features:
  • Remember Me feature across all current and future modules, which also serves as Single Sign On as long as your servers are in the same domain
  • Updated styling SCRUM project management
  • Indexed search functionality for users, customers and issues (using Lucene)
  • Users can subscribe to the changes of an issue
  • An asynchronous mail queue
  • Migration utility from Bugzilla or Mantis to Project Dune
  • Remember Me can use different cookies. So you can use it from different computers using the same login.
  • A couple of bug fixes.
Our projections for the future of Project Dune include, first, a timesheet. Internally we have to get unit tests developed and working, which is a significant amount of work. A refactoring effort will take place to separate code between server handling layer and business logic, so that we can re-use code better.

In terms of new features, we are planning a document management module. The document management module will help document writers in following a document workflow. Since Word or OpenOffice documents only contain a big blob of text + formatting, but no semantic separation of the meaning of text, it is difficult to automate things there. The document management module changes that. It will focus on fragmenting a document into re-usable parts and make them shareable with other documents.

A better example is that of a requirement, which can be considered a fragment. A rich text edit control allows the entry of the requirement. The requirement fragment refers to an issue in Dune. Any change that occurs after an issue has closed can be flagged with the developers that worked on that issue to verify the impact of the change in the requirement, for example. This helps the author with the fact that he does not have to chase up on people after he has made changes (or developers have to be advised *some things* were changed and need to pull in the changes themselves).

The timesheet module is just a basic timesheet in the beginning, but I am sure it will grow into something really special. A helper in booking your time against issues and the start of the day. The scenario for the timesheet will analyze when a user logs in the application, which will mark the start of the day. Navigations can be tracked by the timesheet system, so that the timesheet can make a suggestion of a possible timesheet, which will contain items that the user definitely worked on. This could be either a source code commit (which the system will become aware of), document edits (later on), issue changes and evaluations / navigation, journal edits, etc... So... the system will help to allocate a user's time in a day and hopefully automate the spreadsheet for them.

I plan later on to include a module for producing and managing estimates. This is where the real power comes into play. Through the estimate, it is possible to improve a company's performance and push it closer to the edges (reduce the risk zone) by analyzing for each project whether the buffer was used up and try to come to a helpful analysis to figure out risk-points for the company that have a large impact on product development. The idea is to collect figures of:
  • The initial ballpark estimate
  • The detailed estimates when more details are available
  • The estimates on individual tasks
  • Real consumption of effort and resources
And then produce reports that compare all of them together. The reason is to come to a finer idea about the capabilities of a company, the impact of risk analysis and the buffers that are required with uncertainty and more of this difficult project management stuff. All to come in ... well.. :) a couple of years :) or depending on people's willingness to help out.

After the next landmark release, I am looking forward to these new challenges and really get this project going in the community and world market. Hang on to your hats, it's gonna be a wild and interesting ride!

Gerard

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