HacknPlan has been built around agile project management concepts, although it doesn’t enforce a specific methodology. One of those common concepts is the kanban board, a visual way of representing the progress of work units through different stages of development. This is one of the best methods to visualize the status of a project and track the progress of your tasks.
Our kanban boards are a bit different from other common layouts out there. First of all, we provide different boards for different milestones or iterations, so it doesn’t make sense to have the backlog as a column (as other tools do); it has a special board (selectable from the milestone dropdown at the top right corner of the board section) where tasks are shown as a list. On the other hand, our boards have a fixed and simple column layout with four stages:
- Planned: The task is included in the current milestone, but not yet started.
- In progress: Someone is actively working on the task. We strongly recommend a user don’t have more than one assigned task in progress, to really reflect the current work being done.
- Testing: The task is being tested or reviewed. Depending on the outcome of this stage, the task may come back to In progress for further development or finally moved to Complete.
- Complete: The task has been successfully completed.
We plan, as many users requested, to make that layout customizable, allowing admins to modify and/or create new columns to set up a more complex workflow. However, we strongly recommend to keep it simple; creating many columns could make the board more difficult to maintain and less clear to visualize. That is the reason behind our initial decision of creating these four fixed stages, having a clear board viewable at a glance.
Another important feature is we subdivide every milestone board into different sub-boards by task category (also one including all of them). If you are, for instance, an artist, you can quickly select the Art board and forget about the rest, gaining clarity and getting a better overview of your work. The list of categories is displayed on a panel at the left of the kanban board (as icon and name or colored icons, depending on your subscription tier), and can be customized by clicking on the gear button at the bottom of the list.
Updating tasks on the board
You can perform a lot of operations over tasks from the kanban board. If you created a new milestone and put some tasks on it, they will be in the Planned column, ready to be started. As you work on them, you can move them to other stages by dragging and dropping them into the desired column (if you have the correct permissions).
If you want to edit a task, you can do so by clicking on the task card. This will open a task edition panel, keeping the current board column at the left side, for quick selection of other tasks. You can move through the different columns using the arrows on the column header. The task editor panel is split into two sides: the left one, fixed, that contains some action buttons and the main fields of the task definition; and the right one, which contains additional information for the tasks in different tabs that can be selected from the top icons.
The actions you can perform using the task editor buttons are (depending on your permissions):
- Assign the task to one or more users.
- Log work (opens up a dialog to enter an amount of time/effort that will be added to the current cost of the task, along with an optional message).
- Activate the time tracker for the task (premium only).
- Clone the task.
- Delete the task.
You can also edit most of the fields below by clicking on them.
The right panel of the task editor can display several sections, selectable from the icons at the top:
- Subtasks: You can define a checklist of steps to perform when working on the task, as a quick reminder of things to do, which also helps to measure the progress of the task.
- Dependencies: You can set tasks that are required to be completed for the current one to be started. This is a way of defining a relation of dependency between tasks, blocking them when they can’t be updated and showing it as a lock on the task card. You can also see a list of tasks that are waiting for the current one to be completed.
- Attachments: You can upload and attach files to the tasks by clicking on the plus button or by dropping them on the task panel, or adding from Google Drive if you are a premium user. Additionally, pictures can be set as the cover of the task card by clicking on the eye button below the thumbnail.
- Comments: You and your team can add formatted comments to the task to discuss its progress. Remember you can mention users using the @username markdown tag, which will notify them.
- Source code (premium only): This section shows a list of GitHub commits attached to the task, with links to view the commit details.
- Work logs: Displays a list of the users who logged work on the task, which can also be expanded to see a complete detail of the individual logs.
- Activity: Displays the historical activity of the task.
Besides the task editor, you also have the possibility of performing quick actions over the tasks from the context menu of the card (right click on the task card or left click on the gear icon of the card). Also, premium users will be able to perform these actions over several tasks at once (by selecting them using Ctrl + click or Command + click). The available actions are:
- Clone the task
- Send to the backlog
- Send to another milestone
- Change the design element
- Assign users
Other board features
The header of the kanban board sections provides you with some extra buttons and information. The left part of the header provides some features that apply to how you as a user visualize the boards (these options don’t affect other members of your team):
- Filters: The first button on the header allows you to set different filters for the board. If you are a premium user, you can store them and quickly activate them from the dropdown. Read more.
- Sorting: The tasks are automatically sorted by the order you manually set using drag and drop. However, you can also sort them by other fields for a better visualization in certain scenarios. Read more.
- Display options (premium only): You can tweak several options to decide which info is shown in the task card, how do you display progress, how do you visualize the category of the task, etc.
The right part of the header show options for the milestone of the board:
- Remaining time: When you are in a milestone board (not in the backlog) and you have a due date set, it displays the time remaining or, in case the deadline has passed, how much overdue you are.
- Finish milestone: There you have a button to finish the milestone (you can do it from the summary/milestone section too). If the board contains incomplete tasks, it will display a popup asking what to do with them: you can leave them in the milestone, send them to the backlog or to another milestone of your choice.
- Milestone selector: You can select the milestone you want to display on the board (or the backlog). Read more about milestones.