The state of modern office software is depressing.

I want to have something tailored for tracking the roadmap for my squad: current priorities, release dates, etc. Ideally I’d like to organise this all in some form of structured way, so that I can slice the data in different ways: producing summaries, overviews, kanban boards, etc. Because this is company data, it should live on my work laptop or on work’s systems: the cloud’s a non-starter here. It could also be great to share this with other teammates.

What are my options here? I could use Jira, but that is a shared space and very rigid in how it want’s you to define the task. That’s good for writing out the work that is ready for others to pick-up but annoying for anything higher-level than that. I could use Confluence, but Confluence is not geared towards anything resembling semi-structured data. Everything is so manual, and there’s no great way to separate data from presentation. You’re left with just adding pages with tables everywhere. It’s barbaric.

The only alternatives are all the office software that’s installed: Pages, Numbers, etc. Numbers might work: at least you’re storing data in a table. But it’s difficult to use the data in any domain other than searching and sorting (well, I guess pivot tables might help with summarising data). It’ll be difficult to present this data in any other forms, other than graphs. And sharing it with others would be nice.

What would be nice is to use some of these low-code development tools like ToolJet, or flexible databases like NocoDB or BaseRow. They can be centrally managed, configured to talk with other tools that the company is using like Jira, and available to anyone to build these small utilities or databases that you come across in your roles. Which means: no asking for IT to create these little apps.

I guess in the old days this would be the type of things that you’d get a skunks work team to build. That’s pretty heavy handed for anything that I’m thinking of. Something that can be quick to build out, say in like an afternoon or so, and that can be improved over time if others find it useful, or otherwise junked if it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

But part of me doesn’t see this happening anytime soon. And if I’m being realistic, that’s understandable. I’m probably the only person who wants this. Ah well. I guess one can dream.