How we use Trello at Mediasmiths

At Mediasmiths we use both Trello and JIRA for managing development and support tickets. JIRA has some advantages when it comes to creating formal structures, but for smaller projects, or when there are fewer dependencies to keep track of, we think Trello is a great little tool. And we love horizontal scrolling on Kanban boards! Are you listening, Atlassian?

Here are the very simple guidelines we use for managing tickets in Trello.

The Basics – Lists

To Do

Tickets first go into the To Do column with a brief description (and often screen recordings for bugs) and are assigned relevant labels, such as bug or feature. Priority of cards is based on their order in each list and tickets are always picked off the top of the list.

In Progress

When a ticket is selected for work‚ a team member is assigned and the card moved to the In Progress list.

Code Review

When work is ready for review, the card is moved to Code Review and assigned to a new team member. If the card fails review, it is moved back to In Progress and assigned back to the original developer.

QA in dev branch

A card that has passed review is then moved to QA in dev branch, and then tested by the reviewing team member on a local development environment. QA is performed on this branch to help protect against conflicts with other recent merges.

QA in test environment

Passing QA moves the card to QA in test environment. This involves deploying the code to a staging environment to provide more production realistic conditions for testing.

Release vX.X

If a card passes testing it is moved to a Release vX.X list, where X.X is the release version. The developments are now ready to be deployed to the customer’s production environment.

Ticket Numbers

Trello doesn’t have the concept of ticket numbers, but it does have card numbers which is essentially the same thing. You can switch on card numbers to be show on the board using a build in Power-Up, but we prefer to use this Chrome extension that shows them more prominently https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/trello-card-numbers

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Blockers And Dependencies

This is one area where JIRA has more functionality and stricter checks. While Trello allows you to create links between cards, you can’t easily label the links nor enforce any particular behaviour, so it can be hard to tell whether a ticket is just loosely related to what you are working on, or is a major blocker.

To get around this, we think that creating a Checklist on the card with the title ‘Blockers’ makes the most sense. You will not get notifications about the other ticket automatically, though, so how will you know when the blocker is fixed? You can Subscribe to the blocking ticket which will start sending you notifications, or you can simply get into the routine of checking your blocked tickets regularly.

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Tracking Github Pull Requests And Branches

In your card, you can select the Github button and attach branches or Pull Requests as needed. When a card is ready for Code Review we attach the Pull Request, which also then shows the Travis CI status (we use this for automating builds) in the Trello card.

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Our favourite shortcuts

Cmd/Ctrl-C
Copy a link to the card. Can be used to easily link to the card in other card comments or as a card attachment.

Q
Filter to only show cards assigned to me.

Spacebar
Assign/Unassign me to the card.

Our least favourite shortcut

C
Hit the C key while hovering over a card and the card is immediately archived without any request for confirmation. Just like that, the card disappears from the board. Even if you hit C by mistake. Seriously Trello, what were you thinking!?