Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Help Us Help You!

One of our goals for 2010 is to grow the English-speaking GeneXus community, particularly the USA community. A few days after our last event in Chicago, we were talking about how nice it was, that in a way, the events feel like a family reunion. It is always good to get together with familiar faces, see what everybody is doing and have a chance to catch up. In one hand the 'family feeling' is a great thing, but on the other hand it also means that our community is small. And if we view our community as a family, I cannot avoid thinking that a family that gets together/keeps in touch only once a year is not a very strong one. So we want to change that.

One of the opor-threats (opportunities and threats) mentioned by Nicolas Jodal in the USA event was that it’s in our nature to be connected with others. Even if it is in our nature, maybe it is not - or it has not been - one of our strengths to know how to promote the connections between the members of our community. But we want to and we know we must do it, and this blog is just one attempt at achieving our goal. We want to create spaces to communicate with the community and share ideas, what we are thinking, what we are doing, where we are going, lessons learned, keep in touch, etc.

The blog is probably not enough, but it is a start. We've been posting for a while, rotating the writers and each of us writes about what they think might be interesting but one question is always in our minds is….. what do *you* think is interesting?

So maybe we should ask you :)

Internally we debate about which community tools and sites we should promote, and if we should build on top of the current GeneXus community - which has a big portion of its content in Spanish - or if we should somehow have an environment that is English only. We debate about this because the Spanish community is very big, and many of them (including Artech of course) produce most of its content in English already, but it is still mixed with Spanish and we think that is a problem for you. So we ask, is it really? Would you prefer to have an English only community even if smaller?

We also debate about the platforms/community tools we should use... Here is a current list of GeneXus communication groups:

: There's a GeneXus Community group and a GeneXus USA (only in English) group but its does not have a lot of activity right now

facebook: There's a GeneXus group - with about 507 fans where the GeneXus news is posted. Most of the activity is related with the events.

tweeter: You can follow http://twitter.com/GeneXus though it is also mostly the GeneXus news repeated again

blogs: There are no blogs that we know of about GeneXus, or GeneXus related, in the English community. There are many interesting ones but in Spanish

forums or user groups: Except the GeneXus forums run by Artech we are not aware of any other forum/user group that has a lot of activity. There was a proposal from some of the community members to start using stackoverflow but there's no activity there right now.

So which one should we focus on? All of them? When you need to reach out to the GeneXus community or support sites what do you use? What would you like to use? What kind of things do you look for?

Whenever we think about how to grow our community we have a lot of ideas but more questions. We like the fact that we feel like a family, because that should make building something together easier. But communities are not nurtured by one member only. So we've been debating what is the best approach and what is the best direction for us in order to increase the community ties.

Maybe we are making a typical mistake, getting stuck in the technology discussion without getting to the essence of the matter, the best technology is defined by the one that satisfies the need best... "Increasing the community ties" is the ultimate need or goal but that is too general... I think we have to start with the requirements. We need to understand your needs. We need you to help us help you. Ok, I just wanted to use that sentence because I like it ;) In this case is not exactly "help you" because we are part of the community so it should be "help us" but then it was not the same ;).

So we want to invite you to participate and help us do this together.

Monday, January 4, 2010

XPM News

During the 2009 GeneXus USA User Event in Chicago, we introduced our Software Project Management Tool called XPM, since then most of you have not heard more about it or do not know what we are working on at this time, so the purpose of this post is to update you with all the new features we have accomplished so far and which features are soon to be completed.

Regarding XPM web, we have been working on fixing bugs so the system is more stable, also we have been enhancing the usability of the system. The main feature we are working on right now is the dashboard (It will be shown in a future post once we have it done), we are redoing it in a collaborative effort with the GeneXus Consulting based in Artech. We have heard many of the needs of customers regarding Dashboards and based on that we are building a Dashboard that will accomplish those needs. XPM will be released in March but we will be doing a beta testing phase with some customers late January.

Now I would like to talk about the Add-Ins and other clients XPM will offer:

GeneXus Add-In
This Add-in was created so the GeneXus developers does not have to login to the XPM in order to know which Work Items have been assigned to him, read the descriptions , specifications regarding the Work Item, etc.

A GeneXus developer can read the detail of the assigned Work Item by clicking on the title column of the WI selected, soon you will be able to also see the complete specification so I will keep you posted

Also the developer can take/release a Work Item (Once he takes it, the timer start to tick and when you release it or complete it, the timer stops). The thumbs up icon will move the Work Item to the next workflow status set for that project, the thumbs down icon will send the Work Item to “Specification” status and also the developer can asks questions, doubts etc to the Front End (Project Manager).

Once the GeneXus Developer has released or complete a Work Item, a popup will appear so he can report hours in an easy way as shown in the picture. (The hours and minutes spent in that WI will be taken from the timer, also the roles, services and tasks will be loaded as from the defaults set in the XPM).

The feature to complete is to connect to GeneXus server to log all the objects changed by working on a particular Work Item , we are working on this so keep checking this blog for updates.

Microsoft Word Add-In
This Add-In was created so the Front End or Business Analyst can write specifications for a particular Work Item. The Front End will only see the Work Items in status “To Specify” and assigned to him/her, basically he/she will be able to perform many of the features shown in the GeneXus Add-In such as Take/Release and complete a WI, report hours, etc.

The features we are working on are being able to save the word document (Specification) in the XPM database and also to load specific templates to write a specification for different types of Work Item. Keep checking the blog for updates.

Microsoft Project Add-In
This Add-In was created so the Project Managers can keep a transparent relationship between Microsoft Project and the XPM so he/she will be able to perform tasks such as: Creating Project, Version, tasks (Work Items), participants from Microsoft Project to XPM.

Also the Project Manager will be able to update the EVM (Earn Value) from Microsoft Project to XPM so the Dashboard indicators can show the most updated data.

Now we are working on matching the hours reported by the developers in XPM to the assigned hours for that Work Item in the Microsoft Project.

Microsoft Outlook Add-In
The features such as creating a Work Item from an email of a customer, etc have not been implemented yet but you will hear about them in the next posts.

Note: The important thing to mention is that there is a single login for all the XPM Add-Ins, meaning that once you login in any of the Add-Ins you do not have to login again when you use a different Add-In

iPhone Client
We want that XPM be available for Project Managers, Developers, etc wherever they are and that is why we are implementing some features of XPM to be available in the iPhone. The following pictures show the Work Item Tracking where you are able to see the Work Item assigned to you and also the details about them. You can also search Work Items. In the next post you will see more about what it is coming in the iPhone for the XPM.