Generate index cards, wiki pages and pdf files from your product backlog spreadsheet – Part 1

Agile, Media wiki, Project management

Henrik Kniberg  has an excellent  Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for tracking Agile/SCRUM product backlogs.

On Windows platforms, there’s even a button to generate  printable story index cards from the backlog items.

However as a Mac (MS office for Mac) user and Linux (OpenOffice/LibreOffice) user I found that the macros simply didn’t work for me, even after a bit of hacking.  OpenOffice’s VBA implementation has some interesting incompatibilities with the Microsoft equivalent – and Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, have removed the VBA support from MS Excel for Mac  – and so are pushing me firmly towards an OSS solution.

I also faced an additional challenge: As well as index cards, I also the need to generate a readable PDF version of the document (using data read from the spreadsheet) and the ability to generate a mediawiki page (again using data read from the spreadsheet).

I want a solution that will work both on Linux (ubuntu) and Mac OSX  (though the solution I came up with probably ought to work on Windows too).

                /---> index cards
Spreadsheet --->
                \---> mediawiki page
                   \---> PDF document

To achieve the desired functionality and portability, I elected to use my favourite scripting language, python and the  excellent xlrd module for reading Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

I wasn’t that attached to having a one-click solution from within the spreadsheet itself – and instead decided to consider writing a set of tools that simply read the data from the master copy in the spreadsheet and transform that into the desired forms.

The first step is to extract data pertaining to the backlog from the spreadsheet.

Subsequently, we will see how this data can then be automatically  transformed into a mediawiki page, a pdf file and  printable story cards.


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