OpenCraft - NLnet listaflow (October 2022)

Also see this related forum post.

Project name (max. 100 characters): Listaflow
Website/wiki:, opencraft / dev / Listaflow · GitLab

Abstract: Can you explain the whole project and its expected outcome(s).

Listaflow is an open source checklist workflow tool for distributed teams. Born out of the need to work remotely across the world and plan development sprints without real-time meetings, Listaflow allows teams to keep track of all tasks they need to complete on a recurring basis.

Listaflow can also be used for ‘check-ins’, determining what went well during a sprint, what went poorly, and how team members felt during the sprint. Listaflow’s reporting and reminder functions help team members not lose track of their tasks and also see how well adherence to process is kept over time.

The goal of Listaflow is to better enable distributed teams to avoid meetings and focus on their development efforts. It is additionally useful for teams with flatter structures, such as open source projects, as they may not have dedicated managers handling process overhead.

The Listaflow project aims to build Listaflow as an application, and provide all the tools needed to deploy it in one’s own organization, including Kubernetes Helm charts and a standard development configuration using docker-compose. It has already built the initial development environment and charts, and is now focused on making the features a first-class tool.

Have you been involved with projects or organisations relevant to this project before? And if so, can you tell us a bit about your contributions?

OpenCraft is a world-class team that focuses on Open Source software development. Incorporated in Germany with team members all over the globe, we are building Listaflow to respond to our own needs as an all-remote, open source team. We are the largest contributors other than edX themselves to the Open edX platform and are recognized at the Open edX conference every year for our efforts, where we lead several workshops and talks.

Our team is currently using the product in development to help the Open edX Core Committers (Open edX Core Committers Program – Open edX) complete their sprint checkins. Many of our team members are core contributors for Open edX, so it is a tool presently helping both our team and the larger Open edX development community accomplish our goals of distributed team planning.

Explain what the requested budget will be used for? Does the project have other funding sources, both past and present?

The budget will be used to ensure a consistent level of development over the next few months, helping us get to a ‘version 1.0’ with all the essentials– checklist authoring, team/subteam/account management, and tags to dynamically construct checklists, so that they change based on a user’s role in an organization.

Currently, Listaflow has some funding from the profit we receive from other contracts. However this budget is quite limited and development is slow. This grant would allow us to knock out several large items on the roadmap (such as checklist authoring, account and team management, and other essentials), helping us get to release faster, and getting this tool in the hands of more teams who can use it to build more open source software.

Compare your own project with existing or historical efforts.

Perhaps the closest analogs to our project are Process Street and was a one-stop shop team confluence system with checkins. It closed down, unable to find a good market fit, and the code was never released. Process Street more nearly does what we want, but has no API and is also closed source. We needed a solution which:

  1. Was able to be run even if the host company discontinued operation.
  2. Was open source so we could modify and improve it.
  3. Had an API so we could build automations around it.

We believe these attributes are important for teams working in a manner like ours– mostly flat, distributed, all remote. Until now, no such solution has existed for this type of problem.

What are significant technical challenges you expect to solve during the project, if any?

One significant technical challenge is going to be the creation of plugins. Since the frontend is written in React/TS, and the backend is written in Python, with the frontend only contacting the backend through API calls, there is not an obvious solution for installing new types of tasks in Listaflow.

Building a consistent plugin system that can smoothly incorporate new functionality, both front and backend, and be easily pulled into a build system for deployment by a client team, presents a significant challenge, though it is one we are confident can be solved.

Describe the ecosystem of the project, and how you will engage with relevant actors and promote the outcomes?

The Listaflow ecosystem immediately piggybacks off the Open edX ecosystem, especially with the edX/2U team and The Center for Reimagining Learning (tCRIL), as these teams are moving to all-remote. The Open edX ecosystem consists of many different companies and universities worldwide who are invested in the platform, all of which have a need to collaborate, and all of which have the potential to adopt Listaflow as their checklist automation tool.

As mentioned previously, the Core Committers team, and the Marketing Workgroup for Open edX already use Listaflow, and our aim is to continue to onboard more and more teams within the community, and expand outward from there, tapping into the needs of remote teams worldwide.