Tools for Teams

Last year, Jordi Cabot and I interviewed the creators of several web-based software project management portals to find out whose needs they were trying to meet and how. Getting the results published academically has turned out to be harder and slower than we expected; since we’re both moving on to other things, we thought we’d put our findings out on the web in the hopes that others would find them useful. The abstract of our paper is below; you can find the whole thing online at, and Jordi has a post about its conclusions up on his blog. We’d welcome your comments.

Tools for Teams: A Survey of Web-Based Software Project Portals

Web-based project portals are at the heart of modern software development, but have been studied much less than individual-oriented desktop tools like integrated development environments. In July to September 2008, we compared several popular portals and interviewed their developers in order to find out what needs they were intended to satisfy, how their feature sets had been chosen, and how they were likely both to evolve and to shape the evolution of distributed software development. Our key findings are that (1) most portals are strongly biased toward agile methods (and in fact may primarily exist in order to support agile development in geographically distributed teams), (2) the teams building these portals do not use agile methodologies themselves, but instead rely on informal collections of best practices, (3) as elsewhere, there is a clear trend toward hosted services, and (4) none of the portals studied provided any kind of support for modeling or user experience design, and only one directly supported test management.