Dev Diary 17 – Smoothing the learning curve

by | Sep 4, 2016 | Dev Diary | 5 comments

Hi hacknplanners,
This is certainly one of the most special updates of HacknPlan so far. Today I won’t talk about any new features, nor visual improvements, nor relevant bug fixes. Today, we release an update that is focused on learning.

Up to this moment, no documentation nor guide has been delivered, except maybe those small tooltips giving some context to panels and buttons. From day one we tried to spend less on writing formal documentation which most of you won’t read, and spend more on thinking and iterating on the design of the application to make it as much self-explanatory and intuitive as possible. Although we believe it’s currently easy to pick up, it’s true that sometimes is unclear how the tool is supposed to be used. This ambiguity is somehow intentional, as we don’t want to be excessively rigid and allow you to use the tool if you already come with your own flavor of project management; however, it makes some of the features difficult to understand at a glance, specially the game design model. So, how can we teach you how to use the tool without writing a tutorial or a guide? The best way we came up with is HacknPlan RPG, our brand new demo project.

HacknPlan RGP is a demo project that you can install, create tasks on it, milestones, edit things, even invite people. And then you can delete it and re-install it fresh again. It will contain a small project setup (which we will be enriching from time to time) that will show you how the game design model tool can be used to generate a GDD-like organization of the tasks, how a milestone is filled up with some tasks following a vertical approach, how task dependencies are set… New users will be able to get a quick grasp of how a working project looks like and will give them a clear idea about how to approach the setup of their game.

Although this demo project will help to smooth the learning curve, we are also writing a user guide for those who like the tutorial approach. It will be added to our site very soon.

We also used this iteration to do a full review of the code and pay some of the technical debt we acquired during the first year of life of the project (yes, our birthday is near!), that will be very beneficial to make the project grow in a healthy way.

We fixed a few bugs too, check them out:

Bug fixes

  • The due date selection dialog was opened more than once sometimes.
  • You could drop categories into the subcategories list and vice-versa from the project administration page, which lead to duplicated entries on the UI.
  • Some visual fixes in search panel, closed milestone cards.
  • The milestone due date reminder on the board was not displayed correctly if the milestone name was long enough.

What’s next?

Our next update will be focused on the Markdown-based text editor and some usability features and improvements.

Happy planning!


  1. Michael

    Cool, the demo project looks helpful and I’m looking forward to the markdown text editor.

  2. Yaroslav

    Thank you! After that demo project I understand how to properly add images to tasks.

    p.s. Can you use common Disqus comment system?

    • Chris Estevez

      You mean here or in the application?

      • Yaroslav

        I mean here in your blog. It is little bit strange that I need to fill or confirm my name and contacts for each new comment. Moreover, Disqus has unified notification system. I can get alert about answering on my question here even if I’m on any other site with Disqus.

        • Chris Estevez

          Ah ok, I understand. We’ll review it.


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