Kanbo: A Sortable Task Grid

Today is the traditional date for announcing improbable projects and absurd collaborations, so here’s mine. Kanbo is a task board based vaguely on the boards used in agle-development approaches like Scrum and Kanban (and variations with names like Scrum-ban, Lean, Agile, and what-have-you).

To illustrate the concept, here’s what Kanbo looks like today:

The cards represent tasks; the columns tell us how far we’ve got with them. Ideally the grid is a real notice board, with actual cards (or sticky notes). When you complete a task you get to march over to the board, pluck the card out of the ‘in progress’ column and add it to the ‘completed’ column. Daily stand-up meetings can be held around the board.

What if a real board is not practicable? If some team members do not always work in the same site, say? The Kanbo vision is to be as good an electronic substitute for a real board as can be achieved with a web app. For example, you drag stories out of columns and drop them in to new ones to move them on. I plan to add automatic updating so collaborators in different offices can see each other‘s changes to a shared board immediately.

The other way my grid tries to be realistic is that you can also drag tasks about to change the order they are displayed in. Some flavours of agile development, require this: the backlog is a queue of tasks, not list a list. Making cards remember what order you left them in comes naturally with a real board but is surprisingly tricky to get right with a web app. I plan to write another article about the way I approached this: my method is probably not novel, but it was new to me.

For now Kanbo is merely a proof of concept: it will need a lot of features added to be useful on real projects. I am doing this as an occasional weekend project, so progress will be upredictable. Who knows, I might get as far as implementing interoperability with your favourite issue tracker and charge for hosting and make a mint!