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Pivotal Tracker Tips and Tricks from SF.TUG

On April 29, 2009 Pivotal Labs hosted the inaugural San Francisco Pivotal Tracker User’s Group. It was a great success! As an avid Pivotal Tracker user (and sometimes developer) for over 3 years I am very interested in making Tracker a better product and teaching others how to use Tracker to improve their organization.

Here are a few thoughts I took away from the meeting, and a few tips and tricks.

I Created a Project… Now What?

Once someone has created their first Project in Tracker, we don’t give you much guidance on what to do next. People need help getting past the “blank page problem:” faced with an empty project, it’s daunting to get started. Did you know you can create a demo project that’s filled with example Stories?

First, Login and click Create a Project

Next, click create a demo project

Create a Demo Project

Check out the results!

What are These Different Things?

What is the Difference between a Story, Bug, Chore, and Release? When should I use one versus the other? Good questions! To get started, check out the Stories section of the FAQ.

Why Can’t I Move All My Stuff into the Current Panel?

This is one of our top questions. The answer is this: Tracker doesn’t think you can get it done. Or, more specifically, history has shown that your team completes the number of points per iteration indicated by your Velocity. If history shows that you get 7 points done per iteration, Tracker will move the top 7 points worth of stories into the Current panel. Again, more details are available the Velocity and Iterations section of the FAQ.

That’s Confusing!

This might help: to minimize this confusion, you can stack your Current panel on top of your Backlog (future) panel, giving you one big list. Choose View => Include Current in Backlog

What’s in a Name?

At Pivotal, which is a large consulting practice first and a developer of Pivotal Tracker second, we have always refer to the tool as “Tracker.” But, at the user’s group we continually heard people refer to it as “Pivotal.” Interesting!

That’s it for now, but look for more Tracker (or Pivotal) tips and tricks in the future!


  • Good article. Some feature suggestions for the bottom of your cool box :)

    1. The first time you log in into pivot tracker and create a project, you should add a short sentence to the:

    “To get started, use the Add Story button or type ‘a’ to create a story. A story describes a concrete feature, usually written from the perspective of a user (e.g. ‘User can add item to shopping cart’). New stories will appear in the Icebox.
    More on getting started…” window to the effect if you would like a sample project template click here….

    2. Even after reading your blog it took me 5 steps to find the demo project tab. You could add a sentence or two that makes it very clear how to find it.

    3. As the first person on my team to use pivot tracker, I would have liked to be able to send with my project invitation a short email explaining what this tool is (a short blurb or link to an intro video would help) as well as the ability to add a short note explaining what the current project is about.

    Again, three icebox features that would facilitate adoption. Congratulations on your sign up process, direct language, information on site, videos, evangelizing effort. I was particularly impressed by how lean and logical the sign up was.

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