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OnTime 11.2: Undo, Quick Add, Tutorials and More

December 17, 2011 12 comments

It’s been less than 45 days since I wrote about the great new features in OnTime 11.1, and we already have another substantial release with lots of new features. I want to highlight some of my favorites.

Confirmation and Undo

With the new drag-and-drop functionality that was introduced in 11.1, we made it a lot simpler to make changes to a large number of items at the same time. For example, just select a bunch of items, drag them to a team member, project or release and instantly those items are reassigned. Drag one item(s) onto another item, and you’ve just created a subitem with a parent / child relationship. It’s a wonderful time-saving feature, unless of course you drop the items you’re dragging onto the wrong parent item, team member, project or release.

In 11.2, the new confirmation system will inform you of what you just did and when possible, it will give you the option to undo it for 30 seconds:

Ooops! You just reassigned 9 items to Joe instead of John? No problem. Undo.

Ooops! You didn’t mean to drop 4 items onto another item, making them into subitems? No problem. Undo.

It’s great knowing it’s there, even if you never use it.

Quick Add

Sometimes, when you want to add several features (or user stories) into OnTime at once, all you want to do is add the title of each item successively — getting all of the features out of your head and into OnTime. You can later assign them to the appropriate team member and provide additional details.

Quick Add is your new best friend:

When you use the keyboard shortcut [C] to add a new item, the new Quick Add form immediately opens up giving you the ability to quickly add the title, hit [ENTER] and be on your way. But for those times when you want the full add form to open, no sweat! Just hit [TAB] and the full add form will open. What makes the Quick Add form really great is that all of the default values from your field template are preserved, even for fields that you can’t see. So if your field templates defines new items to be assigned to the {CURRENT USER} by default, they will be automatically assigned to the user who is creating the new item. Additionally, the Quick Add form will even show required fields. It’s another amazing time saving feature that I no longer can live without.

We realize that this could be a love-it or hate-it feature, so users can optionally turn off the quick add of new items from User Options. I wasn’t crazy about having the ability to turn it off because it’s such a wonderful time saver, especially when combined with field template default values and required fields. But, of course, not everyone uses OnTime the same way I do.  I still encourage everyone to give it a try for at least a few days.

Internally, we like Quick Add so much that it is inspiring us to improve and speed up other process, like adding Releases and Team Members (Users).

This is how Quick Add looks when adding Releases:

And this is the quick add screen for adding team members:

The new Quick Add form for Team Members has also reworked how new users are added. Now, new users will receive an email with a link for login and on their first login, they’ll be asked to set their own password. You no longer need to choose a password for new users.

A New Tutorial System

You’ve added your new team members to the OnTime system, but now what? Each time you add a new user, they need a little introduction to how things work. So we built a new Tutorial System that does just that.

When new users logs in, OnTime will give them a quick introductory lesson so they know how to get around. It should allow your new users to get the most out of the system.

There are also new tutorials for brand new databases to show new OnTime administrators how things work. Building the new tutorial system was the hard part. Now that we have it, we’ll be improving it and adding more tutorials in future releases.

Improved Appearance

You’ll find a lot of areas in OnTime that have been improved with a slightly refreshed look. The new view form is much more sleek as are the new add/edit forms:

The attachments section has been revamped:

So has the comments section:

Even the dialog buttons have changed for the better:

And now you can use [Ctrl][Shift] S to save your changes in the add/edit windows without having to pickup your hands from the keyboard.

Using Agile/Scrum Terminology

When you create a new OnTime database, the first time you log in, you will be given the choice of using Traditional or Agile/Scrum terminology.

This dialog simplifies the setup for scrum and agile teams. For example, rather than referring to items as Features, it will refer to them as User Stories. The flexibility to do this has always been in the OnTime system, but it wasn’t always easy to figure out. The new terminology setup simplifies the setup process and you can always customize it further through Tools -> System Options.

Note: If you are currently evaluating OnTime, you can reset your database in order to access the “Choose Terminology” option and the new Administrator Tutorial. Resetting the database will also delete all existing data from the system. You can reset your database from the Tools Menu -> Other -> Reset Data.

Lots of Minor Improvements Too

There are a lot of other improvements. Little things like the ability to type “8h” in a time field to represent “8 Hours” as opposed to having to type “8[space]h”. Or the new keyboard shortcuts [Z], [/] and [Ctrl][Shfit]+S to Undo, Search or Save and Close without moving your hands off the keyboard. Or the ability to quickly collapse all subitems and only view the parent items using the Parent indicator triangle in the header of the grid.

What’s Coming in 2012?

It’s rare for us to talk about what we plan to do in future releases of OnTime, but with our re-write of the OnTime Web in V11, there were a few things that were left out. So I thought it might be appropriate to candidly talk about some of the things that we hope to improve in 2012:

  • Improvements to Administrative Features – The OnTime Web V11 re-write didn’t include all the administrative UIs. In other words, we’ve got some left over ‘look and feel’ issues to address —  things like managing security, workflows, field templates, etc. In 2012, we hope to gradually re-write and re-think each of these management areas to make them easier to use, consistent with our current UI standards, and we want them to deliver an unprecedented user experience.
  • OnTime Customer Portal – we are long overdue for a major rewrite of the Customer Portal. While the current customer portal provides a nice feature set, the user experience is not even remotely close to Axosoft’s new standards.
  • Visual Studio Integration – We’ve had OnTime as an add-in for Visual Studio since 2004, and this component can also benefit from an overhaul. I think our OnTime Windows client users who also use Visual Studio will be pleased with what we are going to do in this area.
  • Updated APIs – We have an awesome API set under the hood in OnTime and we hope to expose that for other developers before the end of 2012.
  • Dashboards & Charts – You’re going to get more charting than you ever thought you wanted.

There are a lot of other great things planned for 2012, but this should give you an idea of the functional areas that are high on our list. Just because it’s not in the above list doesn’t mean we’re not working on it. As you can see in the 11.2 release, we are now pumping out a ton of new functionality which includes both major and minor improvements.

Axosoft at the Agile 2011 Conference

August 22, 2011 1 comment

Earlier this month we spent a few days in Utah at the Agile 2011 conference as “Gold Sponsors” of the event. It was a very fun show. We met a lot of great people and gave demos of the new user experience of OnTime 11. We also gave away quite a bit of swag, including these popular Tego Audio Portable Speakers.

Here is a quick video compilation of the highlights:


Watch Axosoft’s Agile Conference Video on YouTube

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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