Build Log 001

A Post in The Burndown Journey.
Follow along as we build a new project management tool in the open.

Tony Dewan
Tony Dewan - April 6, 2022

Last week I realized our content has been heavily focused on the philosophies behind Burndown, and light on the specifics of what we're building and how. While the philosophies that motivate our product decisions are perhaps more important than anything else, I thought I'd try a new format focused more on the nuts and bolts. This is the Build Log.

What We've Done So Far

Since the beginning of the project, our primary goal has been to get a working prototype in our teammates hands ASAP. Expected Behavior runs 2 other products, and we've been suffering for lack of a Big Picture tool to manage everything with a 6 person team.

This week we did our first internal demo for the rest of the EB team! To get there, we:

  1. Sketched what our first internal version would do
  2. Selected a no-ops hosting platform and got deploys up and running
  3. Did some exploratory branding and design work
  4. Spun up a new Rails 7 application
    1. A nerdy detail: we're giving the Hotwire tools a real go for the first time. We'll let you know how it goes.
  5. Developed a data model to represent the fundamental ideas:
    1. Teams have many projects that can be important, urgent, both, or neither
    2. Projects have many deliverables that must include time estimates
    3. Team members can track time against deliverables
  6. Developed the first version of special, proprietary, still-buggy algorithm to automatically schedule projects
  7. Built the first version of the Burndown graph, the main visualization that helps you understand, at a glance, the state of all your projects. See a little sneak peek below.
  8. Used our exploratory design work to implement a basic UI for internal testing

Here's a sneak peek for you. This is an early version of the Burndown graph with some test projects. Here you can see a really big, urgent project that pushes the team over it's max hours. This imaginary team is set up to have a really bad week. 😭

A screenshot of the Burndown graph showing several projects

What's Up Next

Our main goal is still to get the rest of the EB team using Burndown. We've got a short list of todos that block that, including:

  1. Integration with our detail system of choice, Basecamp
  2. Manual ordering of non-important, non-urgent projects
  3. More robust management of time tracking

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Follow along as we build Burndown. We’ll talk about design, development, and our project management philosophy.