XPLive is a web based tool to manage agile projects, but it also available as an Eclipse plugin or as a Visual Studio 2005 add-in. XPLive aren’t based on Scrum only but tries to map practices from the most used agile approaches like Scrum, XP, Crystal, etc. As web tool you don’t need to install anything on your servers, only request a login with different service plans. There’s a 15 days trial period for you to evaluate the tool and see if it suits your needs.
You can start by creating your project, very simple, just define a name and a description and assign the people that going to work on the project, you don’t need to put everyone now, so you can assign new people when is more appropriate. After that XPLive enables the main features of the tool.Release, Iterations, Stories, etc.
To create your backlog, use the Stories option to add new stories to your backlog. To create a new story XPLive gives tons of information to fill, like, Business Value, Technical Risk, Requested By , etc. but if you don’t use these information you can leave it blank, besides that XPLive has some problems concerning two of the most important properties of a Story, estimation and priority, the story estimate are measured in hours, if you use story points or ideal days you can just ignore the label hours and work with the estimation unit that you like, in the priority side, XPLive gives you a range of values from 1 (high) to 10 (low) which will cause a lot of stories on your backlog to have the same priority, as we know, it’s not a good thing.
Iteration and Releases
With your backlog in place you can start planning your sprints, XPLive solves this on excellent way, you have a backlog box with your stories and your sprint box and just need to drag the desired stories to the sprint box, very good. If the planning is really well done, the same can not be said about the sprint task board. After you have created tasks for all your stories, you can see them on the task board, with the basic 3 columns, but to update the tasks status you can not drag and drop the tasks through the columns, you need enter on each task and edit the status property, and worst, the values available for the status property haven’t a direct match with the task board columns.
Another problem is that the tasks estimates are measure also in hours but the task hours and story hours are completely different things and not related at all, this could be a little confusing. The task hours are used on the iteration burndown chart and the story hour on the release burndown chart. This could be better resolve if they had called the story hours into something different , like maybe, ideal hours.
XPLive brings the basic features for a agile team, it’s a relative easy to use tool but it still have some problems to fix, but the main problem with this tool is the user experience, If you have a great amount of stories and tasks to manage, it will take you a long time to put them all on XPLive. It could be much better if they have used more things like drag-and-drop, quick-edits, better colors, this kind of solutions would create a much better user experience and will cause more people to enjoy the tool.