Dev Diary 23 – Milestones, please

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Hi hacknplanners!

Welcome to the last update of the year! This iteration has been focused on milestones, changing how they work internally to allow calculating better metrics and build more features based on them. We have done a lot of work under the hood that you can’t see yet but will be very relevant for features coming in January, like the Burndown chart report, and some other reporting and data-related improvements. We also added a small feature many of you have been requesting for so long: we now support assigning a user to a task on creation.

Also, don’t forget our recent announcements: HacknPlan Studio at 50% until the end of the year for new pre-orders, full release in March and two new tiers: Personal Plus and Academy.

Let’s take a look at the details:

Features and improvements

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New field in task creation dialog

User assignment on task creation: 

We are often asked about why we didn’t add assignment of users to tasks on creation right from the beginning. And the answer is simple: this is not how agile self-managed teams are supposed to work. We built HacknPlan under a heavy influence of agile methodologies, mainly Scrum and Kanban, yet not applying any of them explicitly and, usually, are users who pick what they want to work on next at that very moment, not before. User assignation means “I’m working on that right now” in that context, instead of “I have to do that at some point”. So we built the system according to that workflow.

However, that’s not how many people in the game industry work. Why? Sometimes because they are not following agile, or just partially, or maybe they are assigning work to contractors… There is no correct or wrong way to do this as long as it works and the team feels comfortable with it. In that scenario, is frequent the producer creates and assigns tasks to team members directly, understanding assignation as “I have to work on this”, and after we noticed that and seeing that it’s an important impediment on the workflow of many of you, we decided to add this feature for all users.

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The new start date field in milestones

Milestone start date:

If you open the dialog to create or modify a milestone, you will see a new field called Start date. This date is supposed to establish when the team starts working on the tasks planned for the milestone; however, it’s not only an informative date as the Due date is.

When the Start date is set, the scope of the milestone is restricted to the period between that point and when it’s finished. What does this mean? It means the estimation values shown on the metric reports, both the number of tasks and the cost, are fixed to the ones at the Start date. This is very useful because, before this update, if you modified the estimation scope of the milestone (adding or removing tasks, modifying the estimated costs of tasks in the middle of the milestone…) that would modify the estimations shown in the metrics. This does not have much sense since the original estimations were the ones really relevant, the ones you want to compare with the final outcome of the milestone. Now, the estimated number of tasks and the estimated cost of a milestone shown in the metrics are the ones at the moment of starting the milestone, no matter what you did afterward. If no Start date is set, the behavior will remain as it has been so far.

Important: This feature is not backward compatible, so setting the Start date of a milestone to a date older than today won’t work (scope variations were not registered back then).

Besides the metrics, this feature is also the foundation for many other features that will come for HacknPlan Studio very soon, like the Burndown chart and the representation of milestones in a calendar.

Project logo (Studio):

HacknPlan Studio users can now upload a picture as the logo for their projects, that will be shown on the project list in the Organization page and on the Project page header. If you prefer having several small projects instead of a big one, this will help you identify them easily.promo196

Other improvements:

  • We have added a new milestone picker to the board and metrics pages, which allows you to select finished milestones too and makes it easier to iterate through.
  • We have added two new pie charts to our category distribution metrics. They now differentiate between estimations and current status, so you can compare the distribution of what you planned with what you finally did, both for the number of tasks and the cost.
  • The layout of the metrics pages has also changed, we have added more information and split the different charts horizontally to maximize the used space.
  • We have added some visual improvements, restructured some elements like milestone cards, added a sweet animation to search and notification tabs and redesigned many of the buttons.
  • We have done some important internal changes on how the attachment files are stored. This was the first step of a big change that is coming soon: we will create a central project file manager that will make files reusable and easier to manage.

Bug fixes

  • We fixed a bug on dates which was affecting Firefox and Edge/IE browsers, making the dates look incorrect due to wrong timezone assignment.
  • There was an error when trying to change the password.
  • Non-admin users were not able to open the context menu of a task card right after its creation, they had to refresh the page to make it work.
  • There was a problem trying to change the case of category and subcategory names.

What’s next?

January is gonna be a really interesting month. We have been doing a lot of backend work that is not yet visible but that is the base for many features that will arrive very soon for Studio early-access, like the first reports (Burndown, Gantt), multi-selection and bulk operations, enhanced filters…; and also for all users, like the centralised file manager, game model improvements, mentions and references in the markdown editor, better support for mobile…

As you probably now, we plan to finally release version 1.0 of HacknPlan, both Personal and Studio, in March 2017. We are very excited about these 3 months ahead, and we hope you appreciate all the hard work we are putting into this. And don’t forget, we do listen to your feedback, so keep it coming!

Ah, one last thing! The 50% discount for new pre-orders of HacknPlan Studio ends along with 2016, so if you are not sure what to buy your teammates for Christmas yet, you have a good option here ^^.

Happy planning!

Chris Estevez

HacknPlan Founder

This entry has 5 replies

  1. Edson Correa says:

    Nice update. But it`s blocking task creation if not assigned to someone. I should be able to create the task without assign it. It`s possible to fix it, please?

    • Ups, stupid mistake, sorry. It’s working now 🙂

      • Edson Correa says:

        Thank you very much! 😀 Very nice platform!

  2. Konrad says:

    Great news! Please let us know something more about aditional tiers announced earlier?
    PS: What do you think about it – let us to add attachments from our own google drive as a kind of links or something but organized better than just normal urls which We use in comments?

    • We will give more info about the new tiers in January. About Google Drive integration, yes, we plan to do that. Our intention is to improve the attachments system and allow attaching files from external sources like Google Drive, Dropbox… and allow attachment in other places like game model elements.

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