Our thanks to Larry Smith from EduTone who initially alerted us to a bug in the process of signing up as a Kerika user: the confirmation email sent by Kerika wasn’t working well, particularly if the user used any browser other than Chrome.
For example, clicking on the confirmation email and having Kerika open that link using Firefox or Chrome produced this kind of behavior:
The problem was related to a recent decision we made to use Polymer for parts of our website.
It turns out that Chrome had a different sequence for loading the Polymer components than other browsers.
In Chrome the sequence is
While in browsers like Firefox the sequence is
Our build.min.js file needed components that were loaded only when element.vulcanized.html was loaded, which meant that the sequence in which these files were loaded by the browser was important, and different browsers were loading these files in different sequences.
We fixed this bug: Polymer has a method to ensure that all imports are ready before the page is rendered.
This has been part of the learning process for us as we adopt Polymer more for our website redesign (which is underway, and should be unveiled by Christmas), and also consider using Polymer to rebuild the Kerika app itself!
(Board Admins have the option of getting all chat, on all cards on the board that they manage, pushed to them as emails, if they want to really be in the loop with every conversation that is going on in the board.)
When chat gets pushed to you as email, it shows up looking just like regular email, and you can reply to it wherever you are dealing with your email: your desktop, laptop or mobile device.
When you click on the “Reply” button in your email client, Kerika automatically changes the address for that reply to be the URL that points to the specific card (or canvas) that’s being referenced in the chat.
Here’s an example of chat email:
And what clicking on the Reply button does:
In the above example, although the chat email came from Cheryl, the reply is being sent to a special address:
This email is received by a server that listens only to chat replies. When a chat reply is received by the server, it checks to see who the reply came from.
Since only Team Members and Board Admins are allowed to participate in the chat on a particular board, the Kerika chat server tries to make sure the email is coming from someone who is authorized to comment on that particular card or canvas.
(This helps reduce the possibility of spam email appearing inside your Kerika conversations.)
The problem we found is that some email clients, e.g. the native Mac Mail client, handled the “From:” and “Sender:” fields differently from other email clients like Gmail.
In the case of Gmail, Google places fills in both the From and Sender fields, but in the case of Mac Mail, only the From field is filled in.
For now, a temporary fix is to have the server look for both the From and Sender fields, but longer-term, as part of a server re-architecture that we are planning, this problem will get solved differently that further reduces the possibility of spam.
We occasionally email all of our users, when we have released something significant in terms of functionality or usability improvements.
On average, we probably send these emails 2-3 times a year, although we release software updates much more often.
Not every software update is announced in a mass email, although all the improvements and changes are always noted on this blog: unless the changes were big enough to require some additional explanation, we prefer to let users discover the new features on our own.
What we have noticed with the last couple of announcements is that the timing of the email makes a very big difference in terms of how many people actually open and read the emails.
Here are the last two emails we sent:
The “Release 62” announcement was actually far more significant, in our opinion, than the more recent “Release 66” version, at least in terms of UI changes and new features.
But, the Release 62 announcement went out mid-day on a Monday, and it was largely ignored as a result: only 9.7% of people opened that email.
The Release 66 announcement, on the other hand, went out on a Saturday afternoon, and had nearly double the open rate.
We think the simple explanation is that there was less competition for our emails on Saturday afternoon: fewer emails from colleagues and fewer crises to attend to.
We had long suspected this to be the case, but never had such clear proof that timing is everything when you send email
This conference is all about Lean and Agile in the public sector: thousands of folks from state, county and local (city) government agencies will be attending, and as usual Kerika will also have a display booth on the 5th floor of the Tacoma Convention Center.
Arun’s topic this year is “Can You See It Now? Visualizing your Lean and Agile Workflows”.
We look forward to seeing our Washington users at the conference; please do stop by our booth or sign up for Arun’s talk!
The exceptions shown in the Kerika server logs were clearly pointing to problems on Google’s end:
What was a little frustrating for us — and our beloved users — was that Google itself didn’t seem to be acknowledging any problems until fairly late in the day:
By this time — almost noon, Pacific Time — dozens of Kerika users had been affected. We tried to let folks know via Twitter that there was a problem, and continued to monitor the situation through the day:
.@Google‘s authentication service for login to @Kerika is throwing a bunch of errors right now, affecting a range of our users. Apologies.
Google eventually acknowledged the problem as it became clear that it was widespread.
By mid-afternoon, the issue was largely cleared up, at least as far as Kerika was concerned, although it is possible that other apps, which also use Google for authentication or Google Drive for storage, were affected for much longer.
Once again, our apologies for everyone who was affected.
We are currently seeing a bunch of errors from Google with respect to their authentication service — which lets you login to your Kerika+Google account using your Google ID, and they seem to be affecting a wide range of users.
Here’s a sample of what we are seeing:
This error normally shows up when a user is logging in with a Google for Work ID, e.g. Google Apps for Business or Google Apps for Education.
What’s surprising today is that we have seen at least 1 user with a regular Gmail address have this same problem, which is theoretically impossible.
Right now there’s not much we can do but wait this out. The problem seems to be small enough that Google is not even reporting it on their Google Apps Status Dashboard.
If you use the “file picker” that’s built into Kerika to add an existing Google Drive or Box file to a card, canvas or board — for a Task Board, Scrum Board or Whiteboard — you will see a message that says the file is being copied.
This is the file picker:
Clicking on the File Picker button brings up the File Picker dialog:
And this is the “copying…” message that’s shown.
So, what’s happening?
Well, Kerika stores all your Kerika-related files in a set of special folders within your Google Drive or Box account, if you are using Kerika+Google or Kerika+Box, and these are organized neatly into folders corresponding to each of your boards.
It’s a similar structure if you are using Kerika with Google:
Keeping all the Kerika files together in a set of related folders makes things cleaner for you: when you look at your Google Drive or Box Account, you know exactly what’s being used by Kerika, and what’s other stuff.
And this is why we make a copy of your existing Google Drive or Box file when you use the File Picker: it enables us to put a copy into your Kerika-specific folders, where it is easier to share with the rest of your project team.
For example, suppose you are in the middle of writing a chat message, but in order to complete it, you need to go off and look at another card’s details, or maybe a file attached somewhere else on the board?
You can leave aside a chat in mid-stream, go somewhere else in Kerika, return to the chat, and pick up where you left off!
That’s because Kerika uses your browser’s local cache storage to keep your unsent message: it means your changes aren’t lost while you go look at something else in Kerika.
This is a handy usability fix we have always had in Kerika, but it may be one that folks didn’t realize existed…
Well, now you know
Kerika is work management for distributed Lean and Agile teams