Showing Due Dates in local times

Many of our users work in globally dispersed teams; our own team is spread out between Seattle and India.

With multiple timezones, particularly when they are widely spaced apart, commitments like “I will get this done today” become a little tricky to understand.

If someone in India says “I will get this done today”, is that India time or Seattle time? Well, that depends upon where you are, when you log into Kerika.

Kerika automatically factors in differences in timezones when showing due dates: someone who commits to getting something done “today” in India is actually committing to get it done by 11:30AM Pacific Standard Time, now that the US is in Daylight Savings Mode.

So, the due date is shown in a way that’s relevant to the user’s local time: our Seattle folks see an Indian’s commitment like this

Local time due date
Local time due date

These timezone differences automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time: there’s nothing you need to do to see when a commitment is actually due.

Except, perhaps, notice that the item is now overdue, as indicated in red in the example above…

Finding the next unread update in a long column

When working with a crowded Task Board or Scrum Board, you want to be sure that you haven’t missed any updates on cards that are out of view: for example, updates that are out of the scroll area because a particular column of cards is very crowded.

Kerika makes sure you don’t miss anything, and it does this will a handy little button in the form of a downward pointing caret that appears at the top of every column where there is at least one card that needs your attention:

Finding all the changed items in a long column
Finding all the changed items in a long column

Clicking on this button will help you quickly find the next updated card in the column, and then the next, and so on.

The color of this caret (button) depends upon what sort of updates are present in a column:

  • If the column contains any overdue cards, the button is red, to alert you to the overdue problem. (We figured this is the most important information we could show you, particularly if the overdue card is out of sight.)
  • If the column contains any new cards, the button is blue. Unless, of course, the column also contains overdue cards, in which case the overdue condition is considered more critical than the fact that you have new cards, and so we show the red button.
  • If the column simply contains updated cards, and nothing that is new or overdue, the button shows in orange.

Regardless of the color, the button works the same way: clicking on it will help you find the next card of interest within that column, and then the next, and so on. The column will automatically scroll as necessary to show you updates that would normally be out of sight.

And when you have caught up on all the updates, the button goes away automatically. Neat, huh?

Getting titles of Google Docs you attach to cards and chat

When you reference a URL in a Task Board or Scrum Board’s cards or chat, Kerika fetches the title for that page and shows that instead of the URL.

This makes the URL references a lot easier for people to understand, because a “naked URL” would be difficult to comprehend.

But this wasn’t working great for Google Docs URLs: we were showing the same generic title from Google each time. Here’s an example of the problem:

Google Docs URL
Google Docs URL

Simply showing the URL reference in it’s “naked” form as would make it pretty incomprehensible, but showing the generic Google Docs page title wasn’t a huge improvement either because the page title is the same for all Google Docs URLs:

Generic Google Docs titles
Generic Google Docs titles

What we need to do is get the actual Google Doc title, which would make for a useful reference because it would be (presumably) unique and meaningful in the context.


Bug, fixed: Exporting from a Kerika+Box board now shows user names correctly

We found a weird bug related to the export feature for Task Boards and Scrum Boards that affected users of Kerika+Box, and it has to do with the way Box keeps track of user names that’s different from the way Google keeps track of user names.

Both Box and Google ask for your first name and last name when you sign up, but their content APIs — the programming interfaces that Kerika uses — differ in the way they provide these names to Kerika.

Google gives us the first name and last name separately, e.g. it would tell us a user’s first name is “Arun” and his last name is “Kumar”.

Box, however, gives us both names together, as “Arun Kumar”, and this presents a problem because we can’t always figure out what the last name is.

And, by the way, given the wide range of cultures represented by our users, it’s far from easy to guess which part of a name is the “last name”.

For example, consider Latin American name like “Maria Beatrice Fernandez Rosario”.  Here, the last name is probably “Fernandez Rosario”, but we can’t be sure.

The bug showed up when people did exports, by appending “null” to the name — basically this meant Kerika didn’t know what the last name of the user was, and simply tagged it as “null” (which is computer-speak for “I have no idea”).

We have fixed this.

Bug, fixed: a scenario where you could have ended up with duplicate tags

We found a scenario where your Scrum Board could end up with duplicate tags. Let’s say you had a Shared Backlog which had some tags, and you also had a Scrum Board Template that had some similar tags.

If you created a new Scrum Board using that Backlog and that Template, you could have ended up with some duplicate tags, which is not at all helpful.

We have fixed this.

Windows tablet experience improved

As with Android tablets, we have been doing a bunch of testing and bug fixing related to using Kerika on Windows tablets and touch devices generally (i.e. the many combinationss of touch and keyboard that make up the Windows computer ecosystem)

And, as with iPads and Android tablets, you don’t need to install a special app in order to run Kerika: you can just use the Internet Explorer browser (or any other browser you have installed) to access Kerika, and use your finger to move stuff around just as you would with a mouse.

There were some problems with the touch interface that we have fixed; the overall experience should be a lot better than it was before!

Dealing with new top-level domains

The growing number of new top-level domains (in addition to the old familiar .com, .org, etc.) that are available is finally starting to have an impact upon us…

While we haven’t seen a lot of use of these new domains yet, a few useful websites are starting to pop-up, e.g. using the .guide top-level domain, and this has required us to abandon an old feature of Kerika that is not going to work any more.

We used to have some validation code that checked that people were entering URLs correctly, e.g when they wanted to add a Web link to a card or to a canvas.

This validation is pretty much impossible to do in the old form, because of the rapid proliferation of new top-level domains, so we are dropping that validation feature which was kind of nice to have…

Removing the “Embed as IFRAME” feature for canvases

For a very long time we had a feature which was kind of cool (although we don’t know how many people actually used it!) — you could embed another website on a Kerika canvas, using a technique known as IFRAME.

IFRAMEs were common a few years ago, but have steadily dropped out of favor as browsers have increasingly become more secure.

By running another website inside your own, you can be vulnerable to various cross-scripting errors if you cannot fully trust that third-party website you have embedded.  And, at the same time, people who run websites have become less keen on having their sites embedded into other sites — a practice known as “clickjacking”.

(You can read more about this on Mozilla’s website, if you are interested in the technical details.)

Since it became impossible for us to provide a consistently good experience across all modern browsers, particularly as the number of websites that allow themselves to be IFRAMEd dropped drastically, we decided to drop this feature.  If you were using this feature in the past, you will find your old IFRAME is now just a simple bookmark…