Best practice for shared Axure projects

While it is important to develop tool-agnostic practices, in reality we are always empowered and limited by our choice of tools. Although this post references Axure specific functionality it also includes general aspects, the first and most important of which is communications.
Regular and productive communications are the important contributer for successful team work, yet it is easier to say than practice. This is especially true with virtual teams of individuals who work remotely from their homes and on-site teams spread across several geographical locations. But all to often people who are only a few years apart fail to exchange meaningful information.
As much as possible it is important to allocate time for staff development to ensure that all team members posses a level of proficiency that would not only make them productive, but also avoid loss of work due to errors caused by an unknowledgeable team member messing up the shared file. As we know, such calamities tend to happen just before a major deadline.

  1. Team members should understand how to work with shared projects. All should be comfortable with the various options under the 'Share' menu and the difference between options such as 'Get all changes..." and "Get Changes...", for example.
  2. New team members should have an on-boarding deep dive session with a knowledgeable team member to cover the structure of the sites. In large, intense projects new members are often thrown in to the cold waters of a shared project file to sink or swim because the team is at the height of some crunch. disoriented and under pressure to get up to speed asap, the incoming member can be easily lost in the intricacies and work-arounds.
  3. All team member should participate in a weekly status meeting that covers the structure of the sitemap, variables (since those are global and limited) and other important changes. Use web sharing to view the file, make sure that members understands the composition structure of their colleagues.
  4. Despite looming is important to be careful and pay attention before checking in and out. A few seconds of concentration can save hours of lost work.
  5. Team members should avoid unsafe check outs -- checking out pages that are already checked out by another team member - this is critical.
  6. Before you begin work on a page, make sure to 'Get ALL changes from shared directory' - this will insure you have the latest copy.
  7. Update your file frequently by getting all changes.
  8. When done editing a page or master you checked out, check it in so that it will be available for other team members.
  9. Check out only what's needed for your design work, check in as soon as done and check out the next chunk you are going to work on: Avoid hogging files you are not working on but still checked out.
  10. If possible, structure the sitemap and masters in sections such that team members can work on chunks of the file in parallel. Agree on unique page and master IDs and a naming convention to help team members access the right files and communicate.
  11. Make sure to back up the shared file.

Note: Sections of this entry was first published on Axure's discussion board, but I had requests to post it here.

Disclaimer: I am not an employee of Axure nor am I compensated by the company in any way, shape or form. Rather, I have a vested interest in its continued development as an avid user of the application on a daily-basis. (Disclaimer text by 'dingle', a frequent contributer to the Axure discussion Board)