Introducing Unrefined

by FPSD — 2023-04-16


Project name: Unrefined

Project URL:

Project sources:

What is this about

Unrefined aims to help remote software engineering teams to run ticket refinement and estimation sessions.

Refinement sessions are usually attended by:

Unrefined mainly targets EMs who coordinate the refinement and estimation sessions, and Engineers who are in charge to break down the ticket in its actionable parts and give an estimation of the effort needed to implement them.


I've started Unrefined essentially to scratch my own itch. At work we tried different approaches and all of them never worked properly. Only one was really cool, a Zoom bot developed by one of my colleagues, but at some point we left Zoom and I missed it a lot. After that we used to cast our estimations in the chat of the video conferencing tool we switched to. And that had few problems:

Wh I liked about the bot:

Development process

Initial work

Based on the features provided by the bot, I have started thinking about how to structure a web app or an api to manage these sessions, the number of features started growing without even thinking at the core logic: provide a way to express estimations and give out a result (either an estimation or a suggestion to discuss more).

At this point I've decided to scratch all of the unneeded features and started to implement the core logic, without even thinking about how people will interact with it.

I have opted for Clojure because I like its interactive, iterative development flow, being able to shape the program while it is running, getting a taste of how the API would be used while using it. There are many more reason to choose Clojure for your projects but this is not the right place to talk about that.

During a lazy Sunday I have quickly sketched out the core, which can be seen at this commit.
(Yeah, the commits are almost always a mess…but I'll get disciplined later)

At that point I was so excited by its simplicity that I wanted to provide a way to actually use it!

Making it usable

Having built the foundations it was time to think about how people would use it.


This is the flow that I came up with:

This flow stayed the same since the beginning and it worked quite well, at least for our needs at work.

One feature that came after the first draft is the estimation cheatsheet.

Estimation cheatsheet

Our estimation cheatsheet is a guideline that helps everyone to stay in the same page when expressing the estimation and improve coherence, but this does not mean that estimations are always equal because someone may include effort not considered by others like test, migrations and so on.

How the estimation looks like? I proposes a breakdown of activities, for example:

…and some more entries, but you get the point.

Adding the cheatsheet to the estimation page helped a lot to have more predictable and coherent estimations. This is helpful for the product team too because, by looking at past tickets they my have a better idea of the effort required by a new feature.

Moving forward

Unrefined is now actively used at my workplace and I am proud of the outcome and I think it could be implemented in other organizations. But before that I want to generalize the estimation cheatsheet and provide a way to create a custom one.

Another feature I have in progress is the browser extension to help EMs to run estimation session. The extension is almost there but it needs some more testing.

Next steps [0/3]

1 TODO improve the cheatsheet management

2 TODO finish the browser extension, test it and port it to more browsers

3 TODO try to get feedback from other organizations or engineering teams

Feedback please

In case you want to share some feedback please come over to the project repo, it is open to everyone!