Axosoft’s flagship product, OnTime (which is a software project management tool: bug tracking, feature management, team wiki and helpdesk), is constantly being improved. It’s been less than six months since its last major release, and we’ve already made tremendous improvements that will surely please even its most demanding user (usually, me).
In this article, I’m excited to share some of my favorite new features.
New Management Console
Over it’s 8 major releases (and countless minor releases), OnTime has flourished into an unbelievably powerful product. It keeps tracking and managing more as it matures. It keeps acquiring more of the “nice touches” software development teams appreciate. If there is a cost to all of this, it’s the fact that the complexity of the product has increased, a bit, too.
To help address this problem, we created a visual map of managing the OnTime system. Take a look:
The new Management Console allows most management functions to be accessed from a single location.
“Hey, the Tools > Manage menu was a single location, too!” you say?
Sure, but what’s great about this console is that it provides:
- visual grouping of management categories, clustering related management features together (for example managing users and security roles are closely related);
- visual workflow cues for which order to perform management tasks (for example, you probably want to work on custom fields before designing a field template);
- detailed tool-tips that explain exactly what each management item is for.
The Management Console also trivializes another task: it effortlessly communicates what you can do with OnTime. With just a 10-second glance users can see that it’s possible to create custom fields, field templates, get email notifications or setup POP email accounts that will be automatically checked with OnTime.
With the new Management Console, I’m betting 90% of existing users will learn something new about OnTime, and 100% of new users will appreciate this feature for the instant crash course in functionality and for providing such a great place to get started.
New Color-Coded Items
Ever wish you could quickly see high priority, open items, items in a particular workflow step or items that are assigned to you without having to sort, filter or re-group your list? Well, now you can! OnTime V8.1 adds item color-coding so that items in various statuses, priorities, severities or workflow steps will naturally jump out at you. Additionally, items assigned to you can appear bold, so you won’t miss them.
This is an incredibly powerful feature that is guaranteed to enhance productivity. Take a look at this screenshot:
In this case, you can see that high priority items are highlighted in yellow, critical items are red and items assigned to me (administrator in this case) are bold. Users can decide what, if anything, gets highlighted and which colors to use.
New Email Tab
If you use OnTime to manage your support incidents via email, you’re going to absolutely LOVE the new Email tab. The new email tab allows users who regularly respond to incoming emails to use an interface that is optimized for managing emails rather than incidents.
The result is a huge improvement to productivity for customer support reps.
Now support reps can respond to a email-related tickets from a central place designed to manage emails. Users can also search emails, group, filter and sort emails as one might expect from a email-focused work area.
Wiki Pages Through Customer Portal
The new Wiki page feature in OnTime V8.0 has been tremendously popular. We have seen teams use Wiki pages to collaborate on everything from the creation of standard procedures to team directories to useful web-links to descriptions of major components in their projects (and everything in between). But one type of wiki page that teams couldn’t create, until now, was a page that was visible (and even editable) by their customers.
So, in OnTime V8.1, you can determine whether or not wiki pages are visible and editable in your OnTime Customer Portal. This is a great way to collaborate with customers, share common documents: installation instructions, FAQs and more. You can even permit customers to create and modify documents through the new Wiki tab in the OnTime Customer Portal.
Move and Easily Close Main Tabs
While the ability to rename OnTime’s main tabs has been in the product for a long time, the visibility of the tabs was controlled only by security privileges. If you had access to a tab, you saw the tab no matter what. The order of the tabs was also carved in stone. So if you’re a support engineer who basically lives in the Incidents tab (the 4th tab), you couldn’t put that tab in the first position and you couldn’t get rid of the other tabs you don’t use.
All that has changed with OnTime V8.1. You can rename tabs (as before), remove them and add them on the fly and determine the order too! Even better is that the settings are saved on a per-user basis, so each user can determine their own tab order or whether or not they want the icon or text to be visible. We think this new enhancement adds a nice finishing touch to the customization of the main OnTime tabs.
Here are two screenshots to illustrate:
In the above screenshot, you can see the Incident tab being dragged to the first position and only 2 other tabs are visible (all other tabs have been turned off).
In the above screenshot, you can see 5 tabs turned on with only icons visible (the text has been turned off) and the default order of the tabs has been changed.
Big Notification & Alert Improvements
Alerts have been significantly improved with the following new features:
- Filter alerts can now provide users with notifications on their own assigned items only, versus all items that meet the filter criteria.
- Filter alerts can now remember the previous results each time the filter is triggered, and only notify a user if the results have changed since the last time it sent an alert notification.
- Alerts can be set to recur at a specific time on a daily or weekly basis. You can even set up a scheduled alert to only happen on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9am if that’s what you want.
Email notifications are getting an improvement too with the separation of edit notifications from item detail notifications. For example, it’s now possible to receive an email notification when an attachment is added or when a new SCM file is associated to an item or when a new email arrives about a particular item.
Big Performance Gains for OnTime Web
With each new release of OnTime, we have made it our mission to improve some area of performance, while still adding more functionality. With V8.1, the focus has been on Web performance improvements. Here are some of our accomplishments:
- Add/Edit Pages now load more than 30% faster in IE and more than 50% faster in FireFox
- Home page has received visual improvements, but still loads slightly faster than before
- Changing from Projects tab to Customers and Users tabs is now noticeably faster
- Switching main tabs (defects/features/incidents/etc.) is now noticeably faster
Support for Visual Studio 2008
We might not be able to keep up with Microsoft product names (Visual Studio, then Visual Studio.NET and back to Visual Studio again), but we keep up with their releases and OnTime V8.1’s Visual Studio[.NET] add-in now supports both VS.NET 2005 and VS 2008. In fact, it even supports Visual Fred 2008.
Lots of Nice Little Touches
There’s a lot more in V8.1. With all these new features, a .1 release is a little misleading. We should probably be calling it OnTime V8.5. Here are some minor improvements that you might find useful:
- Ability to send SMTP emails through SSL (that means Gmail works now!)
- Automatic update of actual time spent when work log entries are added
- Incoming Emails about an existing item can now trigger a workflow change (such as re-open a closed incident)
- Improvements to default security roles for new databases
- A new User Resources screen that allows new users to get the most from OnTime
- Improved item-lock management
- OnTime Express now has unlimited security roles
- Ability to search for customer and user email addresses when sending an email
- Added “Not Like” operator for filters
And of course, we’ve fixed numerous “unadvertised features” (aka bugs).
We think everyone is going to love OnTime V8.1. If you’re currently an OnTime V8.0 user, a V8.1 upgrade is a must-have and if you’re the user of on an older version of OnTime, what are you waiting for?!?! The productivity improvements offered by the new wiki pages and the slew of other improvements in V8.0 and V8.1 are definitely worth the 10-minute upgrade time, so get to it!
The Release Candidate for OnTime V8.1 is available now and the final release will be available in June:
OnTime V8.1 was released on June 11th:
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