Dev Diary 38


Hi hacknplanners,

Are you a Scrum practitioner and lover? Then you will be happy. Damn, you’ll probably be happy even if you don’t use Scrum; this feature is very useful for so many reasons… User Stories are here!! Many of you have been requesting this directly or indirectly. We’ve had plenty of feedback requesting the possibility of extending the functionality of sub-tasks, like supporting user assignation, individual estimated costs… For some of you, a task with a simple checklist is more than enough, but those who want to have more granularity and plan things to the little detail often missed these features as a way to create small detailed tasks without having to deal with many many cards on the boards. Before this release, the only way of grouping those tasks under a high-level feature concept was the GDM, which of course is still useful, but the problem was you couldn’t manage those tasks as one when working on boards or the backlog. Now, we put user stories in between the design element and the tasks, adding an optional new layer of grouping between the design concepts and the detailed tasks.

We also added some other small improvements and fixed a few of bugs. Let’s take a look at the details!

User stories

First of all, let’s introduce a new concept that you’ll see everywhere on the HacknPlan UI from now on: the work item, or just item for short. Due to the addition of a new type of element similar to tasks that can coexist at the same level, we needed to introduce a concept that refers to both tasks and user stories in a generic way. A work item represents a unit of work that can be added to boards, the backlog and other lists, that can be of two types, task or user story, with some special features each. When we refer to work items on the UI or documentation, we are talking about tasks and user stories indistinctly.

Note: Due to this naming change, some file and field names of the data export feature have changed, so if you are processing those files in any way, you should update your scripts.

A User story in HacknPlan is very similar to a task and contains mostly the same fields and information than a task does. The main differences are:

  • Unlike tasks, user stories can’t be assigned to a category; instead, they are automatically assigned to a special category called ‘User story’ that allows you to filter and get metrics about stories in a unified way. The reason for this is user stories refer to features from a high-level point of view, they don’t go deep on the details of the implementation, they define what should be the outcome and what’s the value for the player.
  • User stories can’t have sub-tasks; instead, they can contain regular tasks as child items. The tasks within a user story are not displayed on the kanban board, but still they have their own stage, assigned users, costs… as a list of items inside the user story. You can establish estimations, log work… both at user story or task level, and they will be aggregated to provide total metrics.

This feature opens up many new possibilities when it comes to splitting your work in smaller chunks and distributing it among your team. It also simplifies boards, backlog, metrics… by hiding the internal details of user stories while keeping all the functionality of tasks available inside.

You can create a user story from the same places you can create a task (left menu, board, GDM…), and also using the keyboard shortcut “U” from anywhere in your project. There also are some other actions at your disposal that can help you managing stories:

  • You can convert an existing task to a user story (existing sub-tasks will be converted to full tasks) and also convert a user story to a task (story tasks will be converted to subtasks, preserving their completion status). This is available at the actions dropdown on the work item editor (ellipsis button on the top-right corner).
  • You can add an existing task to a user story, by clicking on Send to -> User story on the editor.

Other improvements

  • You can move a task or user story to the next or previous stage from the context menu (right click or click on the ellipsis icon on the card).
  • We added two new filter fields: Creation date and Creator (user).
  • In the automatic work log dialog launched on work item completion, you can now set a value of 0. Also, if the item you are completing has an estimation set but no work has been logged, the value is prefilled to match the estimation. This is so convenient for users who log all the work at the end, or the ones that use points as the cost metric.
  • Admins can now reactivate inactive workspace and project users with just a single click.
  • We added a search input to filter the icons on selection (for categories and tags).
  • Users with “Update only” permissions can now set the picture displayed on the card, so they can show the progress with screenshots.
  • Improved the functionality of typeahead dropdowns.
  • Other small UI/UX improvements.

Bug fixes

  • Sometimes, design elements with several levels of children couldn’t be deleted.
  • In some HacknPlan Studio projects, user avatars were not properly displayed.
  • Saving descriptions on fullscreen could cause the application to go unresponsive.
  • The burndown chart caused an annoying flickering on some resolutions and browsers.
  • The closing date of items was not properly exported to CSV.


I hope you enjoy this new update! It’s been a while since the last one, and the main reason is we have been working on these features and the Public API at the same time, but we wanted to release the user stories before the API to make sure the first version already included them. We’ll keep working hard on the API to release it as soon as possible, we can’t wait to see what you guys can build with it. Also, there are many new features coming to HacknPlan Studio for multi-project management, and of course we keep listening to your feedback and bug reports to keep the tool in good shape in between releases, keep that coming 🙂

Happy planning!

Chris Estevez

HacknPlan Founder

This entry has 17 replies

  1. Natalie says:

    Thank you so much for user stories!

  2. Jordi Bisbal Llongueras says:

    Good !
    Big improvement !!!

  3. Mewita says:

    Hello, I try to add log work to the tasks of my story but it does not let me do it

  4. mewita says:

    the tasks of a story log hours but not points

    • Thanks for the heads up, it was a bug and it is now fixed.

  5. mewita says:

    it works!, thanks a lot <3!

  6. Max Zamarripa says:

    This is actually super cool and helpful thanks a lot!!

  7. Petri Nordlund says:

    What I’d like to do is to create a user story, add tasks to it and display the tasks on the Kanban board. This is the model we’d use. Now we’d need to use Tags to match tasks to user stories, which is clumsy.

    • Jelle Dekkers says:

      I’d love this too. Right now the user stories are obfuscating the board overview which kinda defeats the purpose. Being able to fold out the user stories and see the tasks in the correct categories would be perfect.

      • Thanks for your feedback. The point is many people want exactly that, reducing the complexity of the boards by adding another layer of organization, working with cards at a higher level, simplifying the management. But we totally understand your point, we are thinking on another mode for the board that displays the user stories as lanes with the kanban columns inside, similar to our “Group by design element” premium option. This way the user can choose the ideal view for their needs.

        • This would be great ! At the moment I can’t really use the feature for the team

  8. Skjolnir says:

    This sounds awesome. Please make this available in Personal Plus at least 😉 Thanks for your work!

    • It’s already available for all tiers 🙂

  9. Sylpheed says:

    It would be better if the User Story has its own Kanban view. It made it more difficult to manage the tasks under it.

  10. Eduardo Moldon says:

    Hi Chris. When I create a User Story and estimate a cost for it (let’s say 5 points) and I subdivide it in tasks (let’s say a task of 3 points and another one of 2 points) The card on the board displays a total cost for the User Story of 10. I’d like to see the “real” estimation (5) in there. Is this customizable? Or perhaps I’m sing the “divide the user story into several tasks” feature completely wrong?

    • Hey Eduardo,

      Just don’t add the cost to the user story itself, only to the tasks inside, the total of the story will be automatically calculated. The user story allows you to set estimations to it directly (for example, if you don’t divide into tasks or you don’t want to estimate them individually), but the total estimation automatically adds the estimations from the tasks too. So, just remove the estimation you gave to the user story and only set it for the tasks.

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