Bug, fixed: Team Members weren’t getting notification emails when they were assigned cards

Our thanks to Tatjana and Steve from Ducks Unlimited in Canada, who helped us track down a bug that was stopping notification emails being sent properly when a Team Member is assigned a card on a Task Board or Scrum Board.

(Board Admins were getting these emails when people’s assignments changed, but not the Team Members themselves.)

We fixed this with our latest release.

When you add an existing Google or Box file, we copy it into your Kerika folders

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:

File picker
File picker

Clicking on the File Picker button brings up the File Picker dialog:

Using the Box file picker
Using the Box file picker

And this is the “copying…” message that’s shown.

Copying message
Copying message

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.

Here’s what the folders in your Box account look like (you can learn more by reading about how Kerika integrates with Box):

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.

Leaving chat, and then returning

When you are writing a chat message, on a card or canvas on any Kerika Task Board, Scrum Board or Whiteboard, what happens if you need to leave that message in the middle and go look at something else in Kerika?

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 :-)

Amazon burped a little on the weekend

We use a number of Amazon Web Services, including one called Simple Queue Service which Kerika uses to handle communications between our main project database server and a separate server that handles the Search function.

  • As with all search engines, Kerika’s Solr engine does a full indexing of the database only once: when the database is rebuilt for any reason (which happens very rarely), and after that it does incremental indexing which means that it only looks at changes made to individual boards, cards, and canvases.
  • Using a queue helps us manage the load of traffic going to the search engine server: in the unlikely event that a lot of people make a lot of updates to their Kerika boards at the same time, Solr won’t get overwhelmed with a sudden burst of new indexing.
  • There are lots of ways to implement queues in software — in fact, studying queuing theory is a standard course in all computer science programs — and at this point most apps, like Kerika, prefer not re-invent that particular wheel: instead, it is more cost-effective to use some standard queuing facility that’s available as part of the underlying platform.

AWS works very well in our opinion — it has very high reliability across most of its services — but like all software, it isn’t entirely infallible.

Over the weekend we observed a small handful of errors in our services logs where it looked like SQS had a temporary problem.

We cross-checked this time period with other activity on Kerika, and determined that about 7 Kerika boards may have been affected: not in terms of any data loss or corruption on the board itself, but in terms of some changes not being updated in the search index.

Now, 7 boards is a tiny portion of the entire Kerika project database, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands of boards, but we are glad to have spotted the potential for trouble and have re-indexed the data on these particular boards.

If we did our job well, no one will notice.

From Projects to Boards: a clarification

We used to refer to “Projects” and “Boards” somewhat interchangeably on our website, our blog and in the Kerika app itself.

There was no special reason for this: in our mind, a Project was clearly a Board, and vice-versa, and it never occurred to us that this might prove a source of confusion to anyone.

Well, we were wrong about that.

In the real world, people are very cautious about “starting a new project”, because this might involve getting formal administrative approval, budget allocation, staff changes, etc.

In other words, in the real world a “project” is a big deal.

But, in Kerika, starting a new Task Board, Scrum Board or Whiteboard is not a big deal — and that is very much by design.

Unlike so many other collaboration tools that make it difficult for you to create as many boards as you like, Kerika was always designed to make it very easy for you to redesign your work as needed: start new boards, move cards or canvases from one board to another (using Cut, Copy and Paste), and to move ideas and content from one context to another.

Many of our competitors don’t offer this kind of flexibility: either the software makes it hard, or their billing model actively discourages you from creating multiple boards.

That will never be the case with Kerika: we will always support flexibility in how you organize and manage your boards.

Still, our interchangeable use of “projects” and “boards” was definitely causing some confusion, which we have fixed with our latest release by using the term “Board” consistently and avoiding use of the term “Project”.

So, if you were a Project Leader previously, you are now a Board Admin on that board. Your rights and privileges remain the same, it’s just your title that changed.

Board Admin
Board Admin

When you start a new board, what used to be called “New Project” is now labeled “New Board” to make it clear what you are doing:

New Board dialog
New Board dialog


We hope this makes for better usability: let us know what you think.

Vimeo makes for better embedding (than YouTube)

We post our tutorial videos on both YouTube and Vimeo, and get far more traffic on YouTube than we do on Vimeo.

But, as we go through a review/refresh of our website, we are switching over to Vimeo for embedding these tutorials, because Vimeo provides a cleaner look that seems to be less intrusive within our own design.

Here’s the same video, embedded from YouTube (on top) and Vimeo (on bottom):

The YouTube video has a weird grey shadow on the top part of the thumbnail, like it was deliberately trying to provide a retro, cathode-ray-tube (CRT) look.

(We are not fans of CRTs; don’t own vinyl any more…)

The same video on Vimeo has a cleaner framing:


How you can tell if your Project Team has changed

If you are the only Project Leader on a Task Board, Scrum Board or Whiteboard, you will know when someone joins a board — after all, you would have approved their invitation in the first place.

But, if there are several Project Leaders for a board, it might be one of the others who added somebody to your board, and they might not have discussed this with you…

So, Kerika makes sure you know whenever the project team on any board has changed in any way:

  • If someone has joined,
  • If someone’s role has changed,
  • If someone has left.

(After all, someone could have left the team on their own, without telling you!)

Whenever there is a change in the project team, the Board Settings button on the top-right of the board will appear in orange.

Board Settings is highlighted
Board Settings is highlighted

Click on the Board Settings button, and you will see the Team tab is highlighted: this is Kerika’s way of drawing your attention to this particular tab within the Board Settings display.

Team tab is highlighted
Team tab is highlighted

When you go over to the Team tab, you will see that the new person’s name is highlighted in orange, for a few seconds. It’s a discrete yet very effective notification from Kerika, drawing your attention to the presence of someone new on the team.

Changed roles are highlighted
Changed roles are highlighted

The same kind of notification is used when someone’s role on the team is changed, e.g. from Team Member to Visitor.

Kerika also tries to let you know when someone has left the team, by highlighting the Project Settings button in orange, and the Team tab within the Project Settings in orange as well.

Smart notifications, from Kerika — the only work management system that’s designed specially for distributed Lean and Agile teams :-)

Google doesn’t seem to like client-side compilation of less.css

Less is a CSS pre-processor: it extends  CSS by adding variables, mixins, functions and many other techniques that allow easier maintenance of your browser stylesheets.

You can compile Less either on the client side, or on the server.¬† We thought it didn’t matter; but it turns out that Google search engine crawler doesn’t like the client-side compilation:

less.css compilation
less.css compilation


If you are using Less on your website, you might want to also avoid client-side compilation so that Google doesn’t barf on it…