you-Я-here (or “Where Node Target Process Has Gone Before”) – Part 1

One of the things I’ve been meaning to take a look at for a while is Node.js. I’ve always had an interest in JavaScript, and both loved and hated it in years past. It would seem only natural that a super-fast, server-side flavor of the language based on Google’s JavaScript runtime might be interesting as well.

To do that, I need a self-assigned project. To make that project more real-world, inspiring, something about which I could be passionate, or what have you, I searched around for a bit to find a Node.js project that seemed like something that might actually be used (or at least have the potential to be used) by real people. To prevent the related blog posts from taking a year, I also searched around for something small enough that I could crank out in a few nights of work at home.

The Idea

After mentioning it to @ryoe_ok, he had a great idea to enhance our agile iteration demo experience for remote attendees. The basic premise was something like this: At our company, we currently use GoToMeeting for agile iteration demos. The product owner and other stakeholders, scrum master, and development team all attend the demos. Sometimes, however, the current feature being demonstrated isn’t as clear as it could be. In order to help with that, I could create a web page. People attending the demo would open the web page in addition to GoToMeeting. The page would simply list the user story currently being demonstrated, and the name of the developer currently demonstrating it. After the demo of that story is finished, the story (and perhaps the name and picture of the demonstrator) would change in real-time, making it very clear for anyone viewing the page exactly what is going on at the moment. He called it “You are here.”

The asynchronous nature of Node.js and its support for web sockets seemed a great fit for the idea. Shortly after finishing the discussion with @ryoe_ok, I promptly stole borrowed his idea, and then elaborated on it a bit. First (just for fun), I thought about the name. I changed it to the more hipster-esque “you-Я-here”. Second, I actually thought of something useful. We are currently using Target Process to help us do agile project management in our semi-distributed team. It has a pretty extensive API for querying user stories, bugs, and other objects. If I could somehow use Node.js to communicate with that API, no one would need to type in the user stories that needed to be demoed. The web page could just figure that out based upon the current date. Just think of all those poor keystrokes we could save!

The UX

Now that the general idea is in place, we need to take a few minutes to flesh out some semblance of a design for the user experience. As far as wireframe tools go, my first choice would probably be Balsamiq, but since it costs around $80 at the time of this writing, and I’m too cheap to buy it  I’m under austerity policies that prevent me from buying it  I’m trying to be frugal, I’ll use Lumzy instead, which is free forever (as far as you know). Here is what I have as a first-pass…

First draft of user interface design

That probably won’t win any design awards, but it shows the general idea for now. We can come back later and make things better if we need. Perhaps, for example, some visual cue could be given such as a fade in/fade out when the data changes.

Next Steps

Now that we know what we want to do, we need to install Node.js and setup the development environment. We’ll be looking at that in the next post.

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2 thoughts on “you-Я-here (or “Where Node Target Process Has Gone Before”) – Part 1

  1. […] time, we looked at the idea of having an agile iteration demo helper written in Node.js. In this post, we’ll be looking at how to setup the Node.js environment, and get ready to […]

  2. […] I decided to put the the you-R-here application on github. Since I normally work in Windows, I setup a quick development environment […]

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