About 8 months ago, we were putting together a small library and lounge area in the Axosoft offices. We encountered a Costco deal that we couldn’t pass up: a super thin 60″ LCD HDTV for just $1,499 (I think the same TV is just $1,200 today). We placed it in a location that is highly trafficked, so we thought we would get a ton of use out of the nice, big-screen.
Boy, were we wrong.
For the last 8 months, that TV has been displaying a black screen 99% of the time! Every time I would pass by, I would try to come up with ways to make it really, really useful.
Then, a few months ago, we were in an OnTime feature planning meeting, and we started working on a feature that we thought would be a big hit with our customers — but it would also inadvertently fix our TV problem! I went up to the whiteboard and used my incredible drawing skills to sketch this:
I have to say that the team was never able to match the quality and polish of my beautiful whiteboard drawing, but their implementation of the new Dashboard feature in OnTime isn’t too shabby:
In fact, the team insisted on building a dashboard that was by far, the best dashboard on the planet for dev teams. They made the dashboard gadget-based and these gadgets have configuration options that go above and beyond anything I had even remotely hoped to achieve in our first iteration. They also created gadgets for all kinds of cool stuff, including a Twitter gadget that can stream any search term on the social network:
The really impressive part of the new Dashboard feature is the designer. And the best way for me to show you the designer is by demonstrating it as I did in this video (in front of a live audience of about 500 devs):
The new OnTime dashboard is truly a game changer. It’s an unbelievably useful tool to see where things stand, to spot anomalies, to remind everyone of ship dates — and all of it’s right there at-a-glance.
New Drag and Drop Field Template Designer
Another new feature that I am super excited about is the new Drag-and-Drop Field Template Designer. Now when you Add or Edit new items, if you have administrative privileges to edit field templates, you’ll get a new button on the top right:
Clicking the button will immediately allow you to edit the underlying field template, which looks like this:
The new field template designer makes it unbelievably easy to create and rearrange New Item forms, so you’ll collect exactly the data that you care about. You can also set default values for each field, and you can tell the system which fields are required. Required fields also show up when using Quick-add, which is done by using the keyboard shortcut “c” to create new items.
Powerful Workflow Updates
There is a lot of new power under the hood of the new workflow manager too. First, we’ve recreated the workflow manager from scratch, making it a lot easier to work with. Here’s its facelift:
But the most exciting new workflow feature is the ability to now either Block or Auto Advance Parent items (items that have sub-items) when certain criteria are met:
That means you can now do things like:
- Automatically advance a parent item when all of its subitems are moved to a certain workflow step
- Do not allow a parent item to move to a certain workflow step unless all of its subitems have been moved into a specified step (for example, disallow a parent item being moved to “Complete” until all subitems have been moved to “Complete” first.)
This is the biggest power boost we’ve given to workflows in years, and they were already extremely powerful to begin with. I’m so pleased that we were able to accomplish this while making the user interface easier to use than ever before.
There are a ton of other improvements too:
- A new menu system that is click-based rather than hover-based (no more annoying menus that pop up when you don’t want them to)
- A new toolbar system with crisper buttons. Some buttons now have a default behavior and other options.
- A new filter-status bar which provides additional indicators for project, release, user and customer filters and the ability to quickly eliminate those filters with 1 click.
- Under the hood improvements that include lots and lots of performance improvements that make the application snappier throughout
- Bug Fixes too. There are a number of bugs that were also fixed in this release.
So what do you think? Watch this video to see it all in action and then tell us how we did.
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