Experience from Facilitation
It was an interesting experience in spite of my misgivings that something might go wrong. I set the testing challenge with a simple web-based application called Corkboard. The weekend testers were a great bunch of participants ready for weekend testing challenge. I had little trouble facilitating the session. In a word it was GOOD.
I had done some preparation such as gathering information about the application from the vendor, prepared notes for the introduction, mission and my expectations from the session. I made a list of questions that I was planning to ask them in the debrief session. The experience report for this session is available here.
Corkboard is a web-based application that allows you to collaborate through the use of note pads and a chat viewer in real time. You share the same URL amongst your team to exchange ideas, whether it is to discuss routine project work or results or sprint stand up. We tested the application by logging 10 users simultaneously through various browsers with great success although the application is not limited to 10 users. Corkboard can be used to communicate with remote team members for brainstorming, storyboarding or simply exchanging results from your investigations. The real plus is that you can paste screen shots from your bug reports and mindmap on to the notes. Additionally you can use chat viewer to communicate other ideas that do not go on the notes. The Corkboard is limited to what it can do for you but consensus from the session was that it is a good collaborative tool to liaison with remote teams. See the recommendation below.
|Corkboard with Chat Viewer and Note|
The main features of the product are:
- Ability to add unlimited notes and images to a single Corkboard
- Real time synchronisation between the notes
- Chat viewer for exchanging instant messages between the users
- The user names are colour coded so individuals be identified easily
- Built-in mini-map slider to navigate to notes that are off the screen
- Clip and drag notes for organising
- Built-in Spell checker
- Corkboard url is archived automatically for future use
Mission was described to test the product and make recommendations to the customer whether it is a good tool for collaboration so that a decision can be made whether to buy the license. The testers were advised that it is not part of their mission to report bugs but it would be a bonus. Any bugs that are found will be reported to the vendor to fix. It was also stated that that the customer is not interested in knowing about ‘nice to have features’ but would welcome any suggestions which would be passed to the vendor as requirements for future releases. The browser and OS compatibility is as important as the features.
I expected participants to complete some of the session charters listed below. I observed them during the session by logging on to their URL as they were testing and guided them to test the features that I wanted them to go over. It was an interesting experience playing with notes and images that they pasted and moving them around the Corkboard while they were busy testing. I have added Mindmap of the charters that I created below .
|Corkboard Charter/Sessions - A Mindmap|
Browser compatibility-Firefox, Chrome, Safari, IE6 -8
OS Compatibility – Linux, Windows XP and Windows 7
- Create a new note
- Typing on the notes: single user, multiple user, typing and moving notes simultaneously, insert large text
- Clip and drag notes
- Paste image on a note
- Resize notes
- Open chat window and change name
- Send messages: simple message, large messages
- Checking status: Joining and leaving the chat
- Find note with mini-map
- Click to navigate to a note
- Get updates: Submit Email and Not Now (Cancel request)
A question was raised in the debrief session about Corkboard limitation if too many users are sharing the same Corkboard. We were a small team and limited time to go over all the features but it would be interesting to explore this option within a large team. Each team member can write and share his results in real time including screen shots. As more and more notes are added to the Corkboard, they start to go off the screen and not easy to identify. Therefore, notes and images have to be organised so they are visible to everyone especially when editing same notes instantaneously. You can manually type numbers on notes for quick identification.
Moving the note out of way by one user while other is still typing on it results in losing the text which we found very confusing at times.
- No Printing of Corkboard
- No Saving/printing individual notes
- No Saving of chat
- No VOIP
- No Font changes allowed
- Limited text message allowed in chat viewer
- No colour coding of text identifying users typing the notes
- No Indexing of notes for saving/printing purposes
- No zoom in/out features available through within mini-map
- Not able to move the chat viewer around the page
These are some of the issues identified during the testing:
- A note appears when Corkboard is accidently clicked while trying to clip a note to drag it around
- Registration to get updates is confusing. The users were expecting a confirmation message that the submission is successful
- Chat window distinguished users by colour coding their names but absence of similar facility for notes made it difficult to tell who is typing when sharing notes
- Same names are allowed to be used by different users that cause confusion. It would be nice that an error message is displayed showing the name is taken.
- It is hard to clip a note to bring it to the front unless you know where to hook it.
- If two notes overlap exactly then it is hard to find and separate them. If notes can be indexed then this problem will go away
Apart from small issues with the browser, no real issues were reported with the current release of the application.The submitted reports by the weekend testers are available through links provided at the end of experience report.
I received positive feedback about Corkboard from our testers, they liked what they saw but with some reservations due to its limitations. They recommended it to be a good collaborative tool that can be of great help to communicate with remote team members. They liked the status on the chat viewer about who is joining or leaving the chat.
I enjoyed facilitating the session and weekend testers practiced their testing skills and submitted bugs/issues report that is available from weekend testing website. The verdict is that all-in-all Corkboard is a good starter for collaborating with distributed teams to discuss issues and project progress.
Since we tested the Corkboard more features have been added to the application. You can now give view-only access to your Corkboard. You can also embed the view-only link on your website along with twitter and linkedin. The latest from the vendor is that support for mobile devices will be added soon.