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

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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.

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