Honestly, there’s nothing like another blog that provides a list of information that the author believes to be useful. Well, this list is extremely useful and it’s short — only five items. The following tools are free desktop applications that I’ve found to be extremely valuable working within an Agile team. These tools aid in collaboration, improve organization, and help make you more productive. Enough with the build up…
- Jing from TechSmith (http://www.techsmith.com/jing/). Jing allows you to easily capture and annotate screenshots that look professional. The screenshots are very high-quality, yet small in file size. You can easily select a region, the whole screen, or just a flexible area. On top of images, Jing can capture up to a five minute video with voiceover using your microphone. This is great for a quick tip on how to use an application or communicating how to recreate a bug to a remote team. Jing maintains a history of all captures and TechSmith also hosts an online site – www.screencast.com – where you can stream your videos.
- Evernote (http://www.evernote.com). I think everyone knows about Evernote and there really isn’t much more that needs to be said except that it is a great tool to capture and synchronize notes on different devices. Evernote has applications that can run on Mac, Windows, iPad, iPhone, Android, Win7 — you name it. On top of this, their web interface is extremely effective and they have an ability to OCR even my sloppy handwriting sent from my iPad.
- Freemind (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page). Mind mapping and brainstorming is not a lost art, and it is easily done with Freemind. Freemind allows you to easily capture discussions and organize them. Whether you are in the midst of a Release planning workshop or a Sprint Planning meeting, or laying out a wiki design — Freemind does it all. It has great portability to other mind mapping software packages, as well as the output can be pushed out in outline mode.
- iSpring Free (http://www.ispringfree.com/). iSpring Free is a PowerPoint to Flash converter. This means it will easily publish a presentation as a Flash movie on the internet or you companies intranet. This is invaluable for sharing information with remote teams as well as training new team members.
- Skype(http://www.skype.com). It goes without saying, face-to-face communications are preferred over email, IM, or even the phone. Skype does a great job at voice-over-IP calls and video calls. With their latest versions, it does group video calling and it allows for screen sharing (instead of video). It does all this free if the other callers are using Skype. This is invaluable if you have remote team members or telecommuting.
These five free tools are great for facilitating communications, gathering ideas, and organizing your work. I couldn’t do without these tools and once you start using them, I’m sure you’ll agree. What free tools do you use?