Dev Diary 29 – Summer planning

by | Jun 24, 2017 | Blog, Dev Diary | 11 comments


Hi hacknplanners!

We welcome the summer with a little but interesting update. The main improvement coming today is the new syntax for writing and reading time-based costs, something you have been asking for some time which definitely improves the time management and avoid possible mistakes. We also added a comment section to the GDM, fixed several bugs and introduced many other interesting improvements.

By the way, we launched our first Summer Sale, 50% off on yearly subscriptions and updatesSUMMER SALE!

Let’s take a look at the new stuff!

Features and improvements

Time cost syntax

Before this update, the cost values when the metric was time-based (hours or days) were just a decimal number. This meant when you wanted to input one hour and a half, you had to write 1.5. This way of defining cost values was coming from the very beginnings of HacknPlan when we had a very simplistic approach to costs, which were working exactly the same regardless of the cost metric used (days, hours or points). However, as the tool evolved and we started to introduce metrics, work logs, a time tracker, charts… this became a bit confusing. With this update, we introduce a more human-readable and smart way of defining costs for day and hour metrics, including the concept of “hours per day” to make day-based costs more meaningful. Examples:

  • Defining one hour and a half (hour metric) goes from “1.5” to “1h 30m”.
  • Defining two days and a half (day metric) goes from “2.5” to “2d 4h” with an 8 hours per day configuration.
  • Defining three hours (day metric) goes from “0.125” to “3h”.
  • Defining 10 minutes (hour metric) goes from “0.16” to “10m”.

As you can see, the costs are more clear and readable now.

Another important aspect of this improvement is that you can now switch between day and hour cost metrics while keeping the same absolute time. Before, if you switched, 1,5 hours became 1,5 days, as we didn’t really have a way of translating the values. Now, with the implementation of the “hours per day” concept, we can translate between metrics while keeping the same absolute time, so 9h become 1d 1h with an 8 hours per day config.

Editable work logs:

This feature has been requested by many of you too. Together with the new cost system, the work logs are now editable by the project admins, including editing the logged cost or removing them. This way the administrators will be able to fix incorrect logs without having to use negative values which add noise to the lists.

Game Design Model comments:

Many of you requested a way to discuss the design of your game, so we added a comments section to the design element panel. Your designers and the rest of the team can talk and keep the conversation linked to the specific mechanic, character or whatever else you defined as part of your design documentation, which gives an extra source of information and context to the element. Like the task comments, they support Markdown and user, attachment and task references.

movetoMove tasks to top or bottom (Studio & Personal Plus):

A little but extremely useful feature for cases like reorganizing a milestone board or the backlog. Premium users can now send tasks to the top or the bottom of the list on the kanban board by using the context menu (right click).

Other improvements:

  • We added buttons for expanding and collapsing all the design elements on the GDM section.
  • Added a special case to the filters, which allows you to filter tasks which are not assigned to anybody.
  • We included the starting date of the milestones everywhere (before only the due date was shown in most places).
  • Improved the performance of the activity logs.

Bug fixes

  • Some people experienced issues in the backlog when coming from Studio back to Personal (after the trial for instance), caused by some inconsistent custom stages.
  • The previous update added a bug to the milestone dropdown on the kanban board, causing only open milestones to be listed.
  • The project templating was not working when the option of copying users was not selected.
  • Some issues with the scope of the burndown charts and overestimated tasks have been fixed.
  • When deleting a milestone from the dedicated Milestone section of HacknPlan Studio, the button didn’t show a spinner nor any other visual feedback about the process.
  • The progress bar of the game design elements was not being updated after adding a new task to the element.
  • In some scenarios, the attachment list of a task or design element was not being updated after deleting one item.

What’s next?

This update hasn’t been very big because we started working on two important features which will be our priority this summer (and will take some time to deliver): the first version of our Public API and the rewriting of our drag and drop system to improve usability and performance. Besides those two big updates, we will keep working on usability, performance and some features Scrum practitioners will love: User Stories (which can have tasks as children and be assigned to the boards) and Sprints (as children of Milestones).

Happy planning!


  1. Anh Le

    Honestly, I don’t think we need User Story in hacknplan because the game design element should be the Users Story (think about the meaning of an User Story: a feature). There will be duplicated work for the member: create GDM element and User Story.
    Sprints as children of milestones are awesome!

    • Chris Estevez

      That was our initial thought, but many people still miss a user story item they can assign to the board, prioritize on the backlog… Anyway, it will be optional so you can choose if you want to create stories or use the design elements for that.

      • Anh Le Giang

        That would be great. Thank you Chris.

  2. Michael Chang

    “8 hours per day configuration.”
    Does this mean we can change the configuration? I would like it to be 24h per day as I work more than 8 hours. The log will incorrectly report 1d after I spent more than 8hr.

    • Chris Estevez

      Yes, you can change it from your project basic settings, the same place where you can change the cost metric. Go to your project Summary section (or Project if you are in Studio) and click the “Edit” button under the project name.

  3. Matt McCullough

    I would personally love to see user stories. For example, I am creating a world map as a large portion of the project (in terms of designing and ironing it out). I’d love to separate this theme into tasks like “map this region” -> “map this town” etc. for planning. Is there any kind of hierarchy currently in place?

    • Chris Estevez

      Hi Matt, our Game Design Model tool is meant for that; it is a tree structure of concepts you can attach tasks to in order to create the organization you want. You can add documentation to them too, so you have a centralized source of planning information. Take a look at what it offers:

  4. JermFireLabs

    When you get the API done…
    Will it be open for devs to integrate it into game engines?
    For example: Unity. Somebody figured a way to use Trello api to connect to Unity. (of course he’s gonna charge fee for it)
    Now (if you bought that), it allows you to manage trello cards within the Unity editor. Unreal engine has similar system supported by trello themselves(they brushed off Unity 🙁 dangit )

    It would be awesome, if we could play around with the api, and Unity to create something similar but better.

    Imagine, you have your hacknplan game plan synced.
    Be able to create a new C# script, then within unity, assign that script’s name to a HacknPlan task card and mark it as “in progress”. As you go through coding, you can use editor to mark task as testing, then completed.
    Be able to tag and assign scripts, models, etc to task categories and subcategories. (admob scripts could be assigned to custom>Monetization>admob.)

    Me personally, if I could make HacknPlan sync to Unity editor like that, I would release it for free on Asset Store and Gumroad. That would be a major time saver and big potential for you to blow Trello out of the water lol.

    • Chris Estevez

      Hey! Yes, the main purpose of the release of our public API is building such custom integrations so developers can take their workflows to another level. What you suggest will be perfectly doable. There are plenty of possibilities there, and we really hope the community starts to build great utilities and integrations that are shared and benefit everyone. The tools will be there for sure!

  5. JermFireLabs

    Ignore UE4 having Trello support, was thinking of something else lol.
    So yeah, the number of devs using HacknPlan would rise significantly with an api like that.


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