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I was wondering how people handle dependencies between cards in Trello.

If one of the cards needs to be Done before work can begin on another one, what do you do? These cards are big features, each having a checklist and different people working on them.

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Linking Cards would be a great way to set up conditional workflows ... This would mean that a card might be 'inactive' unless the previous mandatory action is done.. not an easy thing to implement I guess.. –  David Dec 1 '11 at 15:58
    
No, and given that Fog Creek's other product, FogBugz, does not offer these kinds of dependencies, not something that's likely to happen in the software. (Probably... That's not an official position.) –  Rich Armstrong Dec 7 '11 at 18:32
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5 Answers

Trello does not have an official way to handle dependencies. The best thing to do is to have a "Waiting" list where you keep all the cards that are waiting on some other piece of work. If this becomes unmanageable, it's probably a sign that the board needs to be split up.

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I've been wrestling with this too. The best solution I've found at this point is a checklist item to post a note on the dependent card. Manual process but it doesn't take that long and usually there is some communications that would help "passing the torch".

I've found by doing it this way it provides a prompt of what to do and and an automatic notification to the person assigned to the dependent card. No need to try and "train" anyone.

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Trello doesn't (currently) have a way to link items directly to each other.

The approach that works for me is to use a "waiting" -label on items that are stuck. This way they can maintain the context that their lists provide. And since items can have multiple labels it doesn't conflict with any existing labels either.

Of course, if your lists don't contain any context worth maintaining, a separate list for waiting items works well too.

For updating the state of the dependent card, I suggest Bob Snodgrass's answer of adding a checklist item for each prerequisite card, that says "Add note on dependent card X when complete". Or if you need further organization, you could even create a "Dependencies" -checklist on the dependent card with items for each prerequisite card. Then people completing the prerequisite card can just go mark their card as done.

The best feature of Trello is how it keeps all the features simple - so that's probably why there's no dependency, since it would make things more complicate. That said, I think a feature to link items (if kept simple and clear) would be a wonderful addition, as it is a basic element of keeping work organized.

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One option to address dependencies that I've started using is leveraging the convert task to card and card link functions. This expands on Ilari Kajaste's answer. For example:

  • Create the parent card
  • Create a task list on the parent card - these tasks will become the child cards
  • Convert the tasks to cards (Click on the task to enter edit mode, click "Convert to Card" link
  • A new card will be created (using the same title as the converted task), and in it's activity notes will be a link back to the parent card. I copy this link into the description or into a new checklist task for transparency - the original link may eventually be buried under later activity notes.
  • To tie child back to parent, click the "More" link at the bottom right hand corner of the child card and copy the shortcut link from the "Link to this Card" field
  • Navigate back to the parent card via the link in the activity notes (or closing the card and navigating manually) and add the child card link in the parent description, task list or other convenient place.

The owner of the parent card can check off the dependent tasks as they are completed. This is straight forward using the links added in the last point above. Alternatively, the owner of one of the child cards can have a final task to navigate back to the parent card and check off the initial task.

A nice feature of this process is that if these child cards are later moved to another board, the links persist. The product owner can create the relationships on a planning board, move cards willy nilly and still have easy access to and from those cards where ever they land. Even if the manual copying / pasting of links is not completed, there will always be at least this one artifact of the original parentage in the child card.

The downside is there is at least one manual step (copying child card link to parent card) to create a solid relationship, but overall is a good alternative to the more management heavy processes such as maintaining separate "waiting" lists and describing the dependent cards.

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Trello Card Dependencies Chrome Extension.

We wrote this to help solve the problem for us and then made it free.

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