It’s been a while! As you know, we have been pretty busy working on the major release we announced back in February. The list of features and improvements we are working on was made taking into account all the suggestions and ideas we’ve been hearing from you, both directly and indirectly, and I got to say we are very happy with the changes we are making, we truly believe this update is gonna make a real difference and hope you love it as well.
However, and before we take a look at the details of the current progress, we have some bad news. Despite all our efforts, we are going to fail to deliver during Q2 as we promised when we announced the update 4 months ago. This is unfortunate and we are as disappointed with ourselves as you are, but many internal and external factors made the development take more than expected and we don’t want to rush the release given how critical and breaking some of the changes are. First and foremost, we need to guarantee you guys are not going to be affected by an unstable or buggy update, that everything is properly tested, that documentation is clear enough so you are not lost on the many changes, and the transition is smooth. We want to ensure quality, and even though we have many of the features in a close-to-shippable state, we decided to keep polishing them even though that means not meeting our original deadline.
That said, we know many of you have been waiting for some of the features for so long. We would like to give you something as soon as possible and, to do that, we will take a different approach to the update, splitting it in two:
- First of all, we are releasing the most breaking changes, those who modify how some of the current features work. This includes things like the modular features and tools, general UI/UX improvements, the new milestone/board system, tags and user stories. These changes are in an advanced state of development, but they are very critical because affect core functionality of the tool you’re used to, and also because will require some adaptation. Releasing this group of features is our only goal now, so you can start enjoying them as soon as possible, hopefully not very long after Q2 is over.
- After that first release, we will work on a second one, which will include those features that are more like additions and not modifications of the existing features you know, so the impact of their release is not as critical. We are talking about features like the WYSIWYG editor, the Public API, advanced search and other enhancements of metrics, organization management, etc.
After the bad news, let me show you some progress. The UI is experiencing many changes, and we have rebuilt some parts of it to enhance the UX and productivity:
The new project menu will improve the navigation through the project sections, making it more direct and intuitive. Instead of having to load a section and then move through tabs and dropdowns, everything will be accessible by using the collapsible left menu, including loading a specific board, an administration panel, metrics, creating items, etc. We also reorganized some sections, like the Backlog that now has a direct access there, a Dashboard section that will provide different overviews of the project, etc.
The task editor is one of the parts of the application that changed the most. One of the big complaints of many users is that our task system can be complex, with a lot of optional fields that are often empty. Instead of displaying everything all the time, our new approach is a simplified panel you can add elements to, so what you don’t use or need is not displayed at all. This makes everything simpler and clearer. Also, to improve readability and discoverability, we replaced the right column of the classic task editor with a vertical scrollable approach, which makes everything more intuitive and discoverable. You can quickly scroll to the different sections using the left menu. The task creation panel will follow a similar approach (still under development).
You’ve been requesting this for so long, and here it is. You will be able to define custom tags, with optional icon and color, which will be displayed on the task card and editor panel. This will help you spot tasks by random criteria easily, filter the board by them, and so on. Also, the current subcategory and platform fields have been removed and replaced by the tag system, since the purpose of those fields is exactly the same but in a more limited way (your existing assigned subcategories and platforms will be automatically converted).
This is a very important feature for us. We understand there are many team sizes and management styles in the game development industry, and what is too complex for some can be too simple for others. That’s why we decided to make almost every relevant feature in HacknPlan optional, allowing you to decide what you need and what you don’t (along with some templates to make it easier to configure at the beginning). What you don’t need is completely hidden from the UI, being categories, dates, milestones, costs, metrics… or even the full game design document or the kanban board. Then you can go from a very simple kanban board to a fully featured project management solution and, very important, being able to add or remove features to your project anytime, as you need them.
These are some of the most relevant changes that are close to being released soon, plus others like the new milestone/board system or the user stories (under development at the moment), and tons of small enhancements everywhere. We’ll keep you updated with more details of the development and a specific release date as soon as we are ready.