Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Creating Burn Down Charts for Asana

This post will step through the process of using Just the Facts to subscribe to Asana task counts and graphing them in a burn down chart.

Begin by navigating to one of your Asana projects.  In the screens below, we will be working with the built-in "My Tasks" project, but the same approach applies to any project.

Viewing an Asana Project
Click the Just the Facts browser extension ( ) in the toolbar to activate it.  You will be taken to a new screen where you can choose the facts you want for this project.

Subscribe to Asana Facts
You will be prompted to provide permissions for Just the Facts to access your Asana information.  After providing this permission, your fact subscriptions will be created.

Asana Fact Subscriptions
There's one additional data point we'd like to include in our graph:  a trendline of progress that shows when we are likely to be completed.  We create a trendline like any other Combined Fact.  First, we'll select the base fact, which in this case is the "Remaining Tasks" count that we want to trend.  We'll then click the "Combine" (button:
Creating a Combined Fact
We'll choose the "Projection" radio button to indicate that we will project future values based on the present values.  We'll name this combined fact "Projected Remaining Tasks" then click "Save."

Creating a Projected Fact
Now we can choose the facts we want to chart and click the Chart () button:

Selecting Facts to Chart
This will display a line graph with the last week's values for all four selected facts:

Default Burndown Appearance

We can then click the "Save" button to give the chart a title and easily view it any time in the future:

New Chart Dialog

The chart will be created with default colors and behavior for each of its facts.  We can click the Edit () button to bring up a dialog to modify the chart details:

Edit Chart Dialog

In this case we will assign specific colors, stack the completed and remaining task counts one on top of the other, and display values for the remaining task count, giving us a final chart that looks like this:

Formatted Burndown Chart
Note that the trendline automatically extends to the future.  This allows us to use the date picker labeled "End Date" to go out in time another two weeks to see the projected completion date for the project:

Projected Burndown

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Creating Burn-Down Charts for Jira Projects

Just the Facts provides powerful charting tools that can combine multiple facts across both the same and different cloud services.  While project tracking tools like Jira's GreenHopper do provide built-in burn-down charts, you can also chart this data in Just the Facts for greater flexibility in how a sprint's progress is visualized, or to be able to track progress across multiple sprints or projects.

We'll begin by navigating to the GreenHopper Agile Board showing our project's current sprint.  As you can see, under the Plan tab we are shown a count of issues in the various states defined for our project, such as Not Started, In Progress, and Done (if your project is using story points, the total points are shown instead).

GreenHopper Planning Board
From this screen, we'll active the Just the Facts extension and subscribe to the counts of issues in each of the three states:

Subscribing to Jira Story Counts
Giving us a subscription to the following three facts:
Story Count Facts
There's one additional data point we'll want to chart: the total amount of work remaining.  While Jira doesn't provide us this number directly, we can track it by creating a Combined Fact.
We'll select the "In Progress" and "Not Started" facts and click on the Combine button ().  This will display the following dialog:
Creating the "Work Remaining" Fact
We'll name the new fact "Work Remaining" and click "Save."

To go ahead and create our chart, we can either proceed immediately or wait for one day so that we have two days worth of data to chart.  The screens below are taken based on two days of data, to make it clearer how the chart will look day-to-day.

We'll begin by selecting the four facts we are charting.  We can use the drop-down filter on the top left to view just the facts to chart - in this case, we'll select "GreenHopper" to view the burn down facts and "Combined" to view the calculated Work Remaining:
Drop Down Filter
giving us the following facts to select:
Filtered Facts
After selecting all four facts, we'll click the Chart icon (), resulting in a line chart with the most recent values for these four facts:
Charting the Facts
And now we'll click the "Save" button and name the chart so we can view it at any time:
Saving a Chart
After an additional day of data, here's what our chart looks like - we can already see that the "Not Started" story count is going down, while the "Done" story count is increasing:
Burndown Chart
By default, the chart shows the past week of data, but we can use the Start Date and End Date pickers to change the date range.

There's one more set of improvements to make to our chart; we'll want to format it so that the three individual states are shown stacked, giving us an at a glance visual impression of the relative size of each state.  While viewing the Burndown chart, click the "Edit" button () to bring up the edit dialog:
Edit Chart Dialog
We'll make the following adjustments on this dialog and the click "Save."
  1. Assign specific colors to each of the four states by clicking the "Color" dropdown.
  2. Drag the facts to re order them so that they stack in the correct order.
  3. Select "Stack" and "Fill" for the Not Started, In Progress, and Done facts.
  4. Select "Solid" for the Not Started fact so that it displays in solid red.
  5. Select "Values" for the "Work Remaining" fact so that we can see its value as it decreases over time.
Here is the final, formatted Burndown Chart for our Jira project:

Formatted Burndown Chart

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Alerting on Error Conditions

Just the Facts includes monitoring capabilities to help track when facts go out of bounds or otherwise need attention.  In fact, for our internal use, we're monitoring when unexpected errors happen in our Chrome extension.

Under normal operation, the extension reads data from the back-end to identify available facts on a web page.  However, if something goes wrong when reading the data, we want to log this as an exceptional event and generate an alert for that day.

Rather the designing and maintaining our own event tracking system, we are using StatHat for this purpose.  We'll set up our tracking by defining a new stat in StatHat called "Extension Failed", and add tracking code to our extension's JavaScript by using their HTTP-based API:

function handleError() {

       // invoke a tracking url
       showMessageDialog("Unexpected problem with the network.  Please try again later.");

Now that the stat has been created, we can navigate to its StatHat dashboard page and activate the Just the Facts extension:
Figure 1:  Subscribing to StatHat
We'll subscribe to the daily count for this stat, which is labeled "Total (1 day @ 15 minutes)".  We'll provide our StatHat Access Token on the following screen to complete the subscription.

Now that we have a fact subscription, we'll click on its settings to set up the monitoring.  First, on the Details tab we'll relabel the fact to "Extension Failed" and uncheck the "Include in Daily Email," since we only care about this fact when there is a problem.
Figure 2:  Relabeling Fact
Then on the Settings tab we'll click "Stay within" and "Maximum value" and enter "0".  This means we will be alerted whenever the fact value goes above 0. 
Figure 3:  Setting Maximum Value
The last thing to do is double-check our settings, using the gear icon ( ) in the upper right-hand corner.  We want to ensure that the "Email me when facts turn red" option is checked:

Now, every day that the extension failed, we will receive an email alerting us:
Figure 4:  Email Alert