Time for a project de-brief? Yawn, pass the pillow…. but not so fast.

One of the keys to my success at Catalyst Mobile was my drive to continuously improve on our processes. A key aspect to this is visibility to everything we do. Not Big Brother style, but using information radiators to monitor velocity and activity over our projects.

I came across a very cool tool over the weekend which just fits the bill. Its been around for a while but we just missed it. In the past we’ve been very keen to get some visibility on our source control activity. Enter the awesome Gource…..

Gource provides an animated tree displaying work on a projects directory tree over time. Its incredibly cool. And its incredibly informative. I tried it out on a number of our projects. Heres a sample of gource video from the Qusik application I built.

Qusik and Gource

Apart from just wanting to stare at the mesmerising visualisations all day and watch our icons zip about the screen, what practical use do we get from this?

  • We get to see who’s working on the project and their level of activity.
  • We see any lulls or bursts in the project activity. Definitely a warning sign when we see no activity over time.
  • We get to understand something about the structure of the project.
  • Structured well we could see effort switching contexts between sub projects.
  • It makes us feel cool when we see what we created. Nothing like some inspiration for the team.
  • Great to share with clients.

Gource works by inspecting the logs from git (and other repository tools), the source control tool we use for managing project source code. There is a rather lengthy install process using mac ports and the optional ffmpeg to create the videos with audio. but its definitely worth it. Nothing like having fun while we work :)

Thanks to Matthew Hutchinson for the installation instructions