Come mingle with me

It has been a long time since I've worked on the ecto/Windows code in any serious manner. Sure, I've fixed a few bugs here and there as well as updating various libraries that ecto uses, but the last time a major feature was added to the code was at least 6 months ago, if not longer. That doesn't mean I have not given any thoughts to the development of ecto during that time. I had many ideas on and off on either new features or how I would code it now if I were to start from scratch.

Well, last week I officially started jolting down some of these ideas and tasks. I've tried recording my ideas down 'properly' and used it as project planning before but had never found a tool that worked well. I've tried the basic (text files) to complicate (bug tracking application like Mantis). This time I thought I would try Mingle, an Agile project planning tool developed by (yes, my employer) ThoughtWorks. *

So far, my experience is pretty positive. I've recorded my ideas on new features, improvements, and tasks down in Mingle. Each of these is stored as a 'story card' and Mingle allows me to tag it, set properties (which I can define my own), and add description. It is the description part that proves to be powerful to me. Mingle allows a kind of wiki style markup in the description so I can add URLs, format the text, or even link to another story card inside the description. This means I can record links that are relevant to the story (e.g. product page for new feature, API documentation for references, etc.) right there so I don't have to look for them in my bookmarks or google it every time I need them.

I can also record bugs or issues in Mingle and reference them back to ecto's support forum so I won't lose track of the bug as it gets push down the message board. It is not a full blown bug tracking application such as Trac or Bugzilla but I don't need those features anyway as I am working on my own.

The iteration planning aspect of Mingle is of less relevance to me since I won't be forcing myself into a strict weekly or bi-weekly schedule, likewise with the very nice and powerful graphing and reporting features of Mingle.

We'll see how well Mingle will hold up as a repository of ideas and knowledge when I slowly move into the actual coding phase.

* I've started using Mingle during their beta testing phase before I joined ThoughtWorks. But having the inside track on what's coming in the next few versions certainly helps me decide on trying it out!

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