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Scrum Overview Diagram

February 27, 2012 6 comments

It is challenging to find a good, high-level summary of Scrum that you can share with your team.  One that visually describes the core concepts of the methodology in a way that anybody can understand. After having produced the new Scrum in 10 Minutes video, we decided to take a stab at this using the visuals from the video. What do you think?

Download the Scrum Overview Diagram PDF

We are releasing this Scrum Overview Diagram under the Creative Commons 3.0 license so you can share it or put it on your own blog.

Categories: Development, Team, Tools Tags: , ,

New Scrum in Under 10 Minutes Video

February 23, 2012 1 comment
Shane

Shane the Videographer

Late last year, I felt it was about time to update the now 3-year old “Scrum in Under 10 Minutes” video. The video has been immensely popular having been viewed over 600,000 times. In that time I have received a tremendous amount of great feedback for improvements to the video. I had a few ideas of my own too, so I wanted to see if we could redo the video and still keep it under 10 minutes.

For nearly a year I’ve also had the pleasure of working with Shane, Axosoft’s resident videographer. Shane is an amazing artist and he helped make the new scrum video visually unbelievable. We’ve been working on the new version of the video for nearly 3 months (actually mostly Shane has been working on it and I just keep bugging him), and it’s finally ready for its debut.

Here it is:

Intro to Scrum Video

OnTime 11.1: Subitems, GitHub and Drag-and-Drop

November 7, 2011 35 comments

Today, we are announcing the release of OnTime 11.1. Even though this is a .1 release, it contains some of the most important and useful enhancements that we’ve ever added to OnTime. The top new features are:

Subitems

The best way to discuss the new Subitems feature in OnTime 11.1 is using an example. And what better example than showing you what the “Subitems” feature itself looked like in the OnTime instance our own dev team uses:


(screenshot of the new Subitems feature in OnTime as used by the OnTime team)

In the screenshot above, you can see the “Subitems” parent feature.  Below it, indented and marked using a subitem icon, there are 7 subitems listed. These are the subitems that the OnTime team added after they had the ability to add subitems in OnTime. What’s great about subitems is that it lets you easily break down larger features into a number of smaller items, each with its own status, workflow, assignee and work remaining. The parent item consolidates the data, showing the total amount of work done and remaining.

Subitems make managing large features much, much simpler. You can track them as individual units by collapsing all the subitems, or you can expose all the details and still have roll-up information. Once you start using this feature, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. Our own teams now heavily rely on Subitems as part of the day-to-day development of OnTime. Even our marketing team uses subitems heavily breaking down larger tasks (such as “Update axosoft.com web site for OnTime 11.1 launch”) into a number of smaller items assigned to different team members.

GitHub Integration

Over the past couple of years, as distributed version control systems (DVCS) such as Git have gained popularity, one particular “Git-in-the-cloud” provider has emerged as the leader: GitHub. When you use GitHub, you immediately realize why: they’ve done an amazing job of simplifying Git. They’re now hosting millions of repositories. Git is the new standard for DVCS systems and GitHub is the new standard of hosting Git in the cloud.

But one area that isn’t a GitHub core strength, is tracking defects and features for software development teams or managing their products from inception to completion. Fortunately, the GitHub folks were smart enough to build integration hooks, which means Axosoft can provide you with seamless integration between GitHub and OnTime.

To set up the integration, you start by going to the OnTime System Options in the GitHub Integration section. There, you will see a screen that looks like this:

Once you enable the GitHub integration, the OnTime APIs that allow for GitHub and OnTime to talk to each other will start to work. The API key, which should be kept secure, will be needed for the API calls. This API key will need to be provided to GitHub in GitHub’s service hooks section (where you’ll need to find the OnTime service hook):

Once the setup has been done, all of your GitHub users will be able to relate code commits to specific items in the OnTime system using a special syntax in the comments of the commit. The special syntax is in the following form:

[otX: # wl:# TIMEUNIT]

 Where “ot” refers to OnTime and “X” is one of:

– d for Defect
– f for Feature
– i for Incident
– t for Task

and # refers to the item number.

Then the optional “wl” tells the system to add a work log entry where # refers to the amount of time and the word “TIMEUNIT” is replaced with whatever time unit you happen to use (hours, days, story points, etc.).

An example of a commit comment would look like:

 This GitHub commit would communicate with OnTime and connect this change set to Defect #98 in the OnTime system. So inside of OnTime, the above commit will show up in the new GitHub tab:

From there, users can see the associated files and open them directly from the OnTime system.

Furthermore, with a single GitHub commit, users can connect a change set to multiple OnTime items, create work log entries on those items (so that OnTime can track the amount of work done and remaining) and even move the items automatically to another workflow step.

We think GitHub users are going to love the new OnTime/GitHub integration. We’ve also built in a system to import your existing GitHub issues as a one-time importer into the OnTime system.

If you’re a startup company using GitHub and don’t yet have an OnTime account, this might be a great time to start using OnTime for your bug tracking and project management needs. We’ve made the OnTime Express product FREE for 1 year for new startups with 10 or fewer employees. Learn more about this here: Free OnTime for Startups.

Drag-and-Drop

You might be thinking, “Really? Drag-and-drop is your big new feature?” Well, yeah! First, it’s rare to see drag-and-drop in web-based applications. But even if you’re used to some drag-and-drop capabilities, what you get in OnTime 11.1 is nothing like you’ve ever seen in a web-based application.

Drag-and-drop is now a core functionality of OnTime’s grid and Organization sections. You can drag-and-drop one or more items on the grid to create parent/child relationships…or to move items to a different project…or to plan out releases and sprints…or to assign items to team members. It’s incredibly powerful, extremely efficient and most of all: a HUGE time saver.

The only way to demonstrate the new power of the drag-and-drop feature is to do so using a video. Take a look at this:

Large Project Tree Performance Improvements

For some of our customers who have been using OnTime for a number of years, the projects (and subprojects) that they have in the OnTime system have exceeded the thousands. If you are one of those customers, you may have also been frustrated with the amount of time that the project tree took to load. For example, if you had 5,000 projects, OnTime might take 10 or more seconds to load the project tree.

Not anymore.

Previously, even if only 20 projects were visible, all 5,000 were being rendered by the system. In OnTime 11.1 we’ve changed the behavior so that only the projects that are visible on the projects tree are the ones that render. As such, loading the project tree is now a sub-second activity that you’ll rarely if ever notice. It just works…and damn fast!

Where is Subitems in OnTime for Windows?

The short answer is: it’s not supported.

Here is a slightly longer answer: While users can add subitems in OnTime for Web, those subitems will show up like any other parent item in OnTime for Windows. They will be shown without any information about the parent/child relationship.

There is no way to sugar coat this, so here it goes: I seriously doubt we will continue to make OnTime for Windows for more than another year. In fact, even a year might be optimistic. You see, we had to make a decision about the future of OnTime and with limited resources, it was slowing us down to continue to make the same enhancements to two different products. So as I was reminded of a quote from Steve Jobs (and Wayne Gretzky), we decided to go where the puck is going, not where the puck has been. Web applications are our future. I believe all desktop applications’ days are numbered. We decided to focus the vast majority of our development efforts on the future. Our goal for OnTime for Windows is to make sure we don’t break it…at least for a while.

If you are an OnTime Windows user, I want to urge you to take a look at OnTime 11.1 for the web. It is absolutely amazing! It’s faster than OnTime for Windows. Yes, it’s faster! It’s better in virtually every way and it doesn’t require an installation on every single user’s machine. Try it and see what you’re missing. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Just to be clear, you can still install OnTime locally and use the web version or run the web version in our hosted environment, which we call OnTime Now.

Here is a walkthrough video of the new OnTime 11.1 features that will show you how powerful the new OnTime 11.1 is especially now that it supports drag-and-drop:

So there you have it. OnTime 11.1 is out. We hope you love it as much as we do.

Categories: Development, Team, Tools Tags: , , ,

Axosoft is Hiring! (10 Open Positions)

August 23, 2011 3 comments


On the heels of the OnTime 11 release last month, which has been exceptionally received in the marketplace, Axosoft (and our sister company Transfer Big Files) is getting much more aggressive about expanding its team. In fact, we have 10 open positions!

Last year, we purchased and built a custom 12,000 sq ft office space. We designed it ourselves, and we think we’ve created one of the best work environments in Arizona for software developers to thrive. Axosoft’s offices were featured in an Arizona@Work article highlighting our efforts to create a unique and productive work environment.

We’ve also made a short video giving you a glimpse of the Axosoft environment:

We’re having a lot of fun building world-class software and trying to make a dent in the universe!  If you want to do the same, check out our openings and see if you think you’re a right fit for our team:

View and Apply for Axosoft Jobs

NO RECRUITERS PLEASE!

Categories: Business, Team Tags: ,

OnTime 11 is Now Free for Software Startups

July 20, 2011 2 comments

With the launch of OnTime 11, we made one quiet announcement that’s worth its own blog entry:

OnTime 11 is Now Free for Software Startups

Startups must meet the following requirements:

  • Less than 2 years old
  • 10 or Fewer Employees

The free OnTime system is hosted in the enterprise-ready hosted environment that is available from 9 different data centers around the globe. You can get started in 30 seconds from here:

Free Bug Tracking and Agile/Scrum Software

Video of OnTime 11 Launch Event

This past Tuesday, July 12th, Axosoft launched a major new version of OnTime. Although this was the 11th major release of OnTime, this one is different. It’s different because we had a different mindset when we started working on it. Instead of asking “what new features do we want in OnTime 11” as we normally did when we started work on a new version, we were asking a different question: “How can we make a project management tool that’s enjoyable to use, is simple to learn, is fast and allows a software engineer to stay focused on what’s important?”

It became very obvious that enjoyable products have two main common traits: They are brilliantly simple without compromising features and they are exceptionally fast. That’s how one would describe Google’s Search engine or GMail or iPhone or Facebook or Twitter or virtually every other product that we love.

Simple and Fast. That became the catch phrase. “We need to make it faster” was a common theme throughout the development of OnTime 11. “We need to make the feature discoverable” was another. We became a little obsessed. We compared OnTime performance to GMail. We implemented keyboard shortcuts to make things even faster. We kept working on it with the goal of making OnTime the fastest project management tool for software development teams.

I think we’ve done it. This Tuesday, we launched OnTime:


Watch the OnTime 11 Launch on YouTube

We also worked on pricing. We decided to make 2 major pricing announcements:

I can’t but help think that we’re on the verge of a major shift at Axosoft. We’ve raised the bar of expectation of ourselves and I’m very excited to see where things will lead.

A Tour of OnTime V11 Beta

May 31, 2011 34 comments

It’s finally here! The OnTime V11 Beta is now live. If you’re in a hurry, go here to signup now:

Try OnTime V11 Beta Now
(Hosted New Accounts Only – others see timeline below)

If you’re not in a hurry, I think you might like the information in this article:

Top 12 Things You’ll Love About OnTime V11

OnTime V11 is an amazing upgrade. We focused 100% on the web user experience. There is so much new that it’s hard to know where to start. So I’m going to focus on the top 12 new things that I think you’re going to absolutely love about OnTime V11…

#1: A Brilliant and Simple Main Page

You don’t have to sacrifice power to get simplicity. Products such as the iPhone proved that with a disruptive new UI and so much new power in a smartphone that never existed before. Could that be done for a complex bug tracking and project management system? For the past year, we’ve been working on that challenge and this is the result.

Screenshots don’t do it justice, but lets try anyway:

There are a ton of new features here, but some users want nothing more than a spreadsheet-like list of the items they want to work on. No problem. Hide the unwanted sections and now the UI looks like this:

While in this mode, taking the mouse pointer over the hidden section hotspots will cause the sections to re-appear.

#2: Keyboard Shortcuts

If you are a software developer, the last thing you want to do is to spend a bunch of time in the project management software. At Axosoft, as much as we are proud of the work we’ve done to make OnTime great, we recognize that the time a developer spends in OnTime is essentially “project overhead.” So our goal is always to reduce the amount of time it takes to perform common tasks. That’s where keyboard shortcuts come in.

We modeled the keyboard shortcuts of OnTime after the keyboard shortcuts of Gmail. So if you are a Gmail user, you’ll feel right at home. Just hit the [Enter] key to view an item. J and K to move back and forth. U to go back up to the grid. C to create a new item. Shift-C to create a new item in a new window.

Hit the ? key to see the shortcut keys:

Once you get used to the keyboard shortcuts, you’ll never go back!

#3: Light-Speed Detailed View

Wanna view the details of an item? Hit the [Enter] key and before the [Enter] key bounces back, OnTime will be showing you the details of the highlighted item. It is incredibly fast. Trust me, you’ll be surprised at how fast it is. Here is what the new view item looks like:

Just as important as how fast the new Detailed View of an item loads is how fast it will go away and put you back at the main grid. Hit U and you’re back up to the main grid, exactly how you left it.

Another great thing to try while in the detailed view mode is to hit the J and K keys to go to next and previous. Again, each new item will open faster than the keys can bounce back.

#4: Auto Save Details

Ever spend 15 minutes writing up the details on how to reproduce a bug and then your browser crashes? Maybe you have to leave, so you close your laptop lid and two hours later, your session has timed out and you’ve lost all your details. Well, no more!

The new Auto Save feature which is inside the new HTML editor of OnTime V11 is saving your work to a local cache as you type. In the event of a crash, loss of connection or time out, no worries. Just bring back the browser and go back to the item you were editing and click the HTML control’s new “Reload AutoSave” button and voila! Your work is safe and sound:

#5: ScratchPad

The new ScratchPad feature in OnTime is like NotePad, except better in the following ways:

  • Automatically saves your notes as you write them
  • Allows you to create an unlimited number of notes
  • Automatically names them based on date/time, but allows you to rename the note easily
  • It’s a rich HTML editor which allows you to format your notes
And just like NotePad, your notes are private to you:

One great feature of the ScratchPad is that you can open it in its own window. You can even close the main OnTime window and have your ScratchPad always running.

#6: Item Details

The new accordion style for item details allows you to have multiple detailed sections open at the same time. As you select an item, all the details you care about are shown to you in one place. If you like the details at the bottom of the page in tabs (like in V10), you can do that too. Use the new “Throw Down” button to move the side accordion sections to the bottom of the screen. You can have some details at the bottom in tabs while other details are on the side accordions like this:

You can also hide all the sections you don’t use to reduce the clutter.

#7: Drag-and-Drop Attachments

Drag-and-Drop in a browser-based app! That is, unless you are using Internet Explorer. Don’t get me started on Internet Explorer, but for whatever reason, Microsoft doesn’t want to play along with the rest of the browser world. As a result their market share has taken a hammering. It’s gotten so bad that I don’t know very many developers that use IE as their main browser.

Anyway, if you want this cool new drag-and-drop feature, it will work in Google Chrome, FireFox and Safari, but not in IE:

The attachments section also shows you thumbnail previews of the attached files:

#8: Quick Filters

OnTime is all about filters. You can quickly filter the items in the grid by any Project, Release, User or Customer simply by clicking on them in the left accordions:

In the above screenshot, the main grid is filtered by the selected project, release and user. Even more importantly, we’ve added quick filters to all the list, date and user fields in the main grid:

Click on a quick filter button and you can immediately choose how to filter by that column.

#9: A Smart Burndown Chart

The burndown chart in OnTime shows the amount of work remaining for a given sprint or release by day and it looks like this:

In OnTime V11, the Burndown chart is super smart. For example, as you move from release to release, on the left sidebar, it will automatically update the burndown chart to reflect the currently selected release.

Sometimes, work on a given sprint or release might be done before or even after the official start and end dates. In such scenarios, the new burndown chart in OnTime will automatically adjust the start and end dates of the chart so that the work that is outside the start/end dates  of a sprint can still be seen on the chart.

You can also hover over a bar in the chart to get values and trending information. It’s the fastest and best burndown chart we’ve ever had.

#10: All Items Tab

The new “All Items” tab lets users see Defects, Features and Incidents in a single place. The benefit of such a tab is to be able to see all the work that’s assigned to you. You can even group the work by the type of item it is:

You might ask “why have the individual Defects, Features or Help Desk tabs at all if I can view them all from the All Items tab?” The answer is that based on a user’s role or current activity, they might only be interested in a particular type of item. People in Support rarely venture out of the Help Desk items. Likewise, testers might be focused on the Defects in the system.

#11: Open in New Window Button

As you add, edit or view items in OnTime, you can easily throw them into their own dedicated window:

I love this feature because it allows me to continue working in the main grid while allowing me to add, edit and view a bunch of other items at the same time.

#12: Current Settings

So you have your view Grouped, it’s filtered by 2 different fields, it’s sorted and you did a search. How do you know what the current settings of what the grid is showing? Simple, just look at the new “Current Settings” bar. It gives you all that information at a glance:

What’s great about this new bar is that it lets you quickly remove and adjust these settings directly from the settings bar. Try it. You’ll love it!

The OnTime V11 Beta Timeline

We have been using the OnTime V11 Beta here at Axosoft for more than a month. While it has some minor beta-related issues, it’s a very stable and becomes more stable every day (the beauty of a hosted solution). The beta is ready for production use. However, we didn’t want to take any chances, so the rollout of OnTime V11 Beta will be like this:

  • Right Now – As for right now, OnTime V11 Beta is available for new Hosted (OnTime Now) accounts. Initially limiting the beta to new accounts will help us ensure we iron out final issues before upgrading existing customer databases.
  • June 13th – We’ll make the beta available to all customers, both hosted and installed:
    • Existing hosted (OnTime Now) customers will have the option to switch back-and-forth between V10 and V11. Each user will be able to use the new V11 or the old V10 interface during the beta.
    • OnTime V11 download files for  installed customers will also become available on this date.
  • July 12th – Final Release of OnTime V11 for both installed and hosted customers.

For customers who upgrade to OnTime Web V11, to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible, each user has the ability to switch to the V11 interface at a time of their own choosing.

What About OnTime for Windows?

Let me start by saying that I have been a big fan of OnTime for Windows. I also recognize that we have a lot of OnTime Windows users. Historically, most of us at Axosoft have also preferred the OnTime Windows user experience to the OnTime Web user experience. All of that changes with OnTime V11.

While we fully intend to continue the support and development of OnTime Windows, we also recognize that the future of business applications is the Web. We had to make sure that the user experience of OnTime Web was as good or better than the OnTime Windows product. It had to be as fast or faster. It had to be as easy or easier. It had to become so good that users would prefer OnTime Web over OnTime Windows.

With V11, all of those goals have been accomplished! If you like OnTime Windows, you’re going to love the V11 Web interface. Plus, web-based apps have the added benefit of being able to access the system from anywhere and not having to install a new version of the product on each and every user’s machine. If you go with the OnTime Now Hosted solution, you are also always on the latest version of the software.

Go Hosted With OnTime Now – It’s Better!

Since OnTime V2.0 was released in 2003, Axosoft customers have had the choice of going with installed or hosted. With 8 years of hosting experience under our belt, we’ve learned a thing or two about building a fantastic hosted environment for OnTime. Specifically we’re proud of the following accomplishments:

  • We are in 9 data centers around the world! As part of our effort to provide maximum performance and uptime, OnTime is hosted out of 9 different data centers around the globe. We have data center locations all over the US plus Canada, the UK and Australia. During the signup process, users are able to choose the data center that has the highest performance to their location. The signup form will automatically choose the data center that is closest to the user’s location based on IP address.
  • We have never  lost customer data! We have been hosting OnTime for hundreds of customers for 8 years now and we have never lost a single bit of customer data. Even though backups are also made on a nightly basis, we have never even had to restore customer data from backups either (although we periodically test this to make sure we’re on top of it in case we ever need to).
  • Availability and Uptime have been exceptional! OnTime Now customers rarely experience downtime outside of maintenance hours. Over the past 8 years, the outages could be counted on the fingers of your hands and have rarely lasted more than a couple of hours.

The best part about going hosted is that you don’t have to worry about anything. Super fast redundant hardware setup, check. RAID redundancy for storage, check. SQL Server Installed and Tuned, check. Nightly backups, check. Active monitoring to ensure uptime, check. Lower cost of software, check. Lower IT costs, check.

Switch From Installed to Hosted – It’s Easy!

If you are currently an OnTime installed customer, regardless of which version you are on, switching to OnTime V11 in our hosted environment is a breeze. All you would need to do is backup your database and send it to our sales team (you’ll use the Axosoft drop box from Transfer Big Files). You’ll be up and running in one of our 9 data centers with all your current data and settings intact, usually the same day!

If you have maintenance, there are usually some incentives for switching from installed to hosted. Contact the Axosoft sales team for details.

Watch the Video

The following video highlights some of the features above and some others that didn’t make my top 12 list. It’s a great overview:


Watch the V11 Beta Video on YouTube

Try it Now

Ready to try OnTime V11 Beta? Signup for a Free 30-day, 10 User account now:


Try OnTime V11 Beta Now

And be sure to let us know what you think. You can discuss the product in the OnTime V11 Beta Forums.

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