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Storyboard: Story Tags

https://storyboard.openstack.org/#!/story/98

StoryBoard needs to support tagging to allow for free-form classification of stories by its users. It will also allow to port current tag-driven workflows from Launchpad to StoryBoard, facilitating the transition.

Problem description

Definition

In information systems, a tag is a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information. This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching.

It also lets teams implement basic team-specific workflows, where the presence or absence of a tag is used to derive state (rather than endlessly overloading the data model with team-specific fields).

Historical usage

In OpenStack, Launchpad bug tags are currently used to: - classify the affected submodule or domain of expertise (“xen”) - identify bugs that could be fixed by new contributors (“low-hanging-fruit”) - trigger notifications for subset of bugs (“security”) - define sets of bugs used as part of the release process (“juno-rc-potential”)

Convergence in the use of standard tags is encouraged in Launchpad by the ability to define “official tags” that the UI suggests in type-ahead.

See the current “official tags” used by OpenStack at: https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/BugTags

Launchpad tags can be specified in search forms and subscription rules. This lets users easily designate and retrieve subset of bugs in a reusable way.

Note that Launchpad blueprints notoriously do NOT support tags: this is seen as a major feature gap (along with lack of comment, search...) supporting the move to a new tool.

Proposed change

We propose to let users associate tags to StoryBoard stories. Tags should be supported as a search parameter (to retrieve stories associated with a given tag). Users should be able to subscribe to tags (and get notified when tagged stories are modified).

Tags should only contain lowercase alphanumeric characters, plus dash (-) and underscore (_) characters. To encourage convergence, uppercase characters should be automatically converted to lowercase on input. Their length is limited to 30 characters.

In order to enable various use cases for tags, we propose three types of tags:

Free-form tags

Free-form tags are keywords that can be freely set (and unset) by any authenticated user of StoryBoard. They may use any name they want, as long as it respects the abovementioned syntax rules.

System tags

System tags are predefined keywords that we want to recommend usage of.

It is a feature needed to increase convergence in tag usage, and reduce tag consolidation manual tasks. As an example, take a system tag called “documentation”, that would be used to signal a potential documentation impact. The tag input field could use type-ahead to strongly suggest the correct keyword when you start typing “doc..”, hopefully reducing variants like “doc”, “docs”, “documentations”, etc.

System tags should come with a description of their intended usage, which should be accessible as part of the StoryBoard interface.

System tags can be freely set (and unset) by any authenticated user of StoryBoard. They shall be defined by superusers using a specific admin UI.

Protected tags

Protected tags are keywords that would be reserved for use by a specific group. Members of the protected tag owner group should be the only ones to be able to set or unset the tag. For example, the release managers team could use a protected “juno-ffe” tag to track that a Juno feature freeze exception was granted to the corresponding story, and easily build lists of open feature freeze exceptions.

Since tags are applied at story-level, any project-specific protected tag should be project-specific itself. For example if Nova drivers want to track that the spec for a given story has been approved, they could use a “nova-approved” protected tag to that effect. Since the owner groups are distinct, an equivalent tag for Cinder drivers would have to be distinct (and for example be called “cinder-approved”).

Protected tags should come with a description of their intended usage and owner group, and you should be able to access that information as part of the StoryBoard interface. Protected tags shall be defined by superusers using a specific admin UI.

NB: Protected tags are a new feature: they are not needed for Launchpad feature parity. However, they are a convenient way to implement a number of workflows in StoryBoard that would otherwise need to be hardcoded. Given the very dynamic nature of OpenStack development, it’s easier to give users concepts that they can build experimental workflows with than to require code changes or configuration changes to let them implement them.

Alternatives

The “tag” concept could be extended to other citizens of StoryBoard, like tasks or projects.

I think allowing tags to be applied to tasks would confuse the UI a lot and result in non-intuitive behavior (do new tasks inherit other tasks tags ?). The experience from Launchpad usage (where the tag is applied to the bug rather than on the task) shows that tags apply to most tasks anyway, and humans can read that information in a smart way. The value of this additional granularity in information is limited, while the cost in extra data entry and UI overcrowding is high.

Project tags could make sense to designate informal groups of projects. However we already implement projectgroups, which should ideally be cheap to create and therefore cover that use case.

Implementation

Implementation details should be left to the person that would do the implementation work. What follows is just a suggestion.

Each type of tag should be quickly identifiable. The proposed implementation would represent them with different background colors:

  • Free-form tags would be represented with a neutral background (grey color)
  • System tags would be represented with a cold color (blue/green color)
  • Protected tags would be represented with a hot color (red/yellow color)

Assignee(s)

Primary Assignee:
TBD

Work Items

  • Create an API to define system tags and protected tags
  • Create an API to associate tags to stories
  • Add tag data in story details API responses
  • Teach the storyboard-webclient to use those new APIs

Repositories

No new repositories.

Servers

No new servers.

DNS Entries

No new DNS entries.

Documentation

TBD

Security

Free-form and system tags may be set and unset by any authenticated user. They may therefore be used for spamming (set), or info destruction (unset). However this is not different from any other potentially more lucrative fields (like title or description). The benefit of letting anyone authenticated edit data in a task/bug tracker generally outweighs those drawbacks, which are not specific to tags.

Testing

TBD

Dependencies

Protected tags will need “StoryBoard Teams API and management spec” to be approved and implemented first (specs/storyboard_teams.rst).