It’s been a month since the last update of HacknPlan, instead of the usual 2-3 weeks cycle. The reason? Two wonderful weeks of vacations I enjoyed in the sunny Almeria, south of Spain (place where I come from, by the way). I’m sure you will forgive me :-). As a compensation, I come with a really interesting set of new features and improvements.
Before I start with the new features, there is an important thing to mention. As you probably know already, we recently migrated the service from a small server provider to Microsoft Azure. The provider we worked with initially was good to have the application up and running at a low cost, but it doesn’t meet the requirements we now have in terms of performance, stability, availability and scalability. With the new servers, we haven’t only improved the performance and stability of the service, but have plenty of room for growing and providing a good experience to our current and future users. As many of you are programmers, I get many questions about the tech stack of HacknPlan, so I plan to write a post about it sometime soon.
Let’s take a look at the new stuff!
Features and improvements
- Filtering and sorting for boards: With this feature, you will really start to notice the big advantages of all the categorization mechanisms HacknPlan provides. Now you can filter and sort the tasks in the boards, displaying only what you really want to see at any moment. You can easily filter the tasks assigned to you or sort them by importance level to see what should be picked first. This is very powerful as it adds clarity and simplifies your organization. The fields you can filter and sort by are (more will come in the future):
- Importance level.
- Game model element.
- Sort by:
- Manual (default, sorted manually by using drag and drop).
- Title (alphabetical ascending).
- Importance level (from higher to lower).
- Game model element.
- Popup for updating total cost: It’s quite common to update the total cost of a task once it’s finished, so you can take advantage of the future analysis of your estimated vs real costs. Before this update, you had to go to the task detail to introduce this value every time you completed something. Now, that operation is simplified by displaying a popup asking for the total cost value when you move a task to Completed column.
- Extra confirmation for deletion: The deletion of most entities in HacknPlan is destructive and can’t be recovered. Even though we provide a confirmation popup, it’s possible that you delete something by accident without really reading the message. For this reason, we added an extra security step to the confirmation popup that requires you type the word delete to enable the confirmation. We understand this may be a bit annoying if you have to delete many things together (which shouldn’t be too frequent I think…), so we want to hear from you about this. If you think this is too much, we will provide a configuration option to disable it (although I believe is worth it).
- Login using email account: A widely requested feature. You can finally log in the system using your email account in addition to the username.
- Remember last used values: In order to simplify the planning sessions, when you create or update many tasks and other elements consecutively, we provided a small but useful feature: we remember the last value you introduced, so it will be used as default for the next operation. We made this improvement only for a few fields for now, but we will add more very soon. The ones that are remembered now are:
- Category & Sub-category on task creation.
- Element type on Game model element creation.
- Improvement on board loading times: The tasks are the main entity of the system, they contain a lot of information and have a relation with almost everything else. That’s the reason why the loading of the boards can be slower and slower as the number of contained tasks grow. If you use a milestone as backlog (as I do) or like very granular tasks, you probably are experiencing this issue already. In order to improve these loading times, we have implemented a cache system in the server that keeps the board in memory while you (or someone in your team) are working on it, making the loading 20x faster. You can still have a slow response the first time you access a board (when the cache is warmed up), but the following navigation and loading times will be a lot faster.
- More project notifications: We added more project notifications. You will be now notified when someone enters or leaves the project, as well as when a project you are part of is permanently deleted. These notifications, as the ones already working, will appear in the HacknPlan UI. Email notifications are in progress.
- Thanks to the report of some Australian users, we found that the localization of some of the dates in the system were not working correctly. Thanks guys!
- We found and fixed some rendering issues in Firefox for Windows related to buttons.
- We also fixed another bug regarding tasks not going to the bottom of the list after being added to it.
- Although it’s not a proper bug, we were not notifying properly when you can’t create a task because you don’t have writing permissions over any category in the project. The category and subcategory dropdowns were empty but there was no further info, so many users reported this as a bug (the default access configuration of new users is read only). Now we added a proper explanation when this happens.
We will keep iterating over many features, like the game model and the notifications, and some interesting new functionalities will be added, like the backlog, task search, public sharing and more. If you want to get frequent and interesting updates about the development, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.