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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.

Live Demo of OnTime V11 (a Preview)

April 22, 2011 33 comments

I promised that after the local Scott Guthrie event, I would provide a sneak peek at the OnTime V11 UI and get a chance to preview the disruptive performance improvements we’ve made. Here it is:

Watch the video on YouTube

What do you think? (leave a comment)

Categories: Development, Tools Tags:

Getting Excited About OnTime V11

April 14, 2011 5 comments

We are still several months from the release of OnTime V11, but the development progress is coming along incredibly nicely. You see, V11 is a major upgrade for us. We decided to put the brakes on adding new features. OnTime V10 is already the most feature-packed product in the industry. It’s also a leading tool in terms of ease of use and usability. But we want to be the tool that every software developer enjoys using every single day. While OnTime is on the short list of the top software project management tools, it’s safe to say that none of the tools in our industry are particularly enjoyed by software engineers who use them.

That’s because software engineers know what’s possible and they are rarely satisfied with any product. There are some exceptions. One such tool is GMail. GMail, by far the most popular email client used by software engineers, is a tool that even software engineers rave about. GMail is brilliantly simple, yet feature-packed and unbelievably fast. In fact, until GMail debuted, most software engineers thought that the performance results seen in GMail was virtually impossible from a web-based application.

When we started the development of OnTime V11, we challenged ourselves to “deliver the user experience of GMail in OnTime V11.”

To do that, we have to nail a lot of different things perfectly. It’s a big challenge. In some respects, it’s even tougher than GMail itself because GMail deals with managing the incoming mail of a single user. Emails have very limited number of fields (to/from/cc/bcc/subject/body). Emails are nearly always organized by date and they are all read-only. In an email application, there’s never hundreds of other users making changes, adding custom fields, creating filters and editing the very same items that you happen to be looking at. Email, by comparison, is a walk in the park.

Taking all the complexities of a multi-user project management software into consideration, delivering a GMail-like user experience seemed impossible.  It’s a far more complex task. We are talking about querying on dozens of fields, including custom fields, sorting the results and possibly grouping it by yet another field all the while grabbing the currently selected item’s attachments, related items and other pertinent information to be displayed in a beautifully simple user interface. Some thought “it can’t be done.” I may have been one of them.

It wasn’t going to be easy. That was for sure. I knew that if we wanted our tool to be enjoyed by millions of developers worldwide, we had to try everything we could. So we did.

We started with a complete re-write of the main OnTime Web Home Page. That’s the screen where the vast majority of OnTime users spend 99% of their time when working in OnTime. Since we were re-writing the page from scratch, we also redesigned the UI with the User Experience on top of mind. This new home page has been the focus of our development efforts for nearly a year and I’m happy to say that our results so far have exceeded our most optimistic goals.

Here are some words that I would use to describe the new OnTime V11 Home Page:

Blazingly Fast. Intuitive. Blazingly Fast. Beautiful. Blazingly Fast.

Did I mention it’s fast?

I can’t wait to show you some screenshots and videos of what we have built, but that will have to wait until next week when I will give a sneak preview of OnTime V11 to the crowd coming to the free Arizona Scott Guthrie event on April 22nd. If you are in Arizona and can make this event, I highly recommend it. ScottGu does an amazing job every year and as usual, I will be taking the stage for about 10 minutes to do a short talk on a couple of different topics. One of my topics will be the preview of OnTime V11.

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