Fixing bugs. Lots and lots of bugs, all minor but we don’t like to have any known bugs at any time.
We recently implemented some new error reporting services so that we can trap server and browser exceptions more efficiently.
This threw up a bunch of errors that we hadn’t been aware of before. Obviously these were minor, since no one had observed any ill effects before, but it’s long been a point of pride for the Kerika team that no known bug gets away alive.
One advantage of having a clean slate is that it makes any new errors immediately more visible. If you get used to ignoring some exceptions/warnings because you know they are not important, your team eventually gets desensitized to the presence of these errors and warnings, and bigger, more important issues start to get ignored as well.
This isn’t something that you will see, as a customer, but we have spent several months improving our internal systems for managing users, accounts, payments and invoices.
We used to do things in a very ad hoc way before, as we concentrated all our efforts on improving the Kerika app, but we realized earlier this year that we had reached the limits of ad hoc approaches and needed a lot more automation to handle growth.
Everything, pretty much, is now automated: our admin staff can quickly look up any any user or account, see which payments have been made (online or offline), and manage changes to accounts.
We used to have a feature that let you get a task summary email from Kerika everyday at 6AM that summarized all the things that you were responsible for that are overdue, due this week or due next week.
When we introduced the Views feature, we thought perhaps this 6AM email was not needed any more, so we took it out of the user interface for a few months — although people who had previously been using this feature continued to get their daily emails.
It seems like we underestimated the usefulness of this feature: new users started asking for something just like it, so we have brought the feature back. (And thanks for helping us understand we had screwed up in taking it away.)
You can access this feature from your Preferences page:
“Responsible for” includes not just the items that were assigned to you, but also items on boards where you are a Board Admin (and, presumably, have some responsibility for.)
This email can show your tasks organized in two different ways, and, if you like, you can get both sent to you every day:
A typical task summary, where tasks are grouped by date, would look like this:
The board names and card names are also links that you can use to open the relevant work item.
With the new billing system that we will be rolling out next week, Kerika will also be adding a slew of account management features that will make it much easier to purchase subscriptions, manage teams and handle your payments.
The Manage Account screen has a new layout, with three tabs on the left: Account Summary, Manage Users, and Billing History.
This page has several sections, starting with your Account Name at the top. When you create an Account, you can give it any name that you like, and on this page you can change it if needed. Changes to the Account Name are shown instantly to everyone who is viewing boards owned by your Account.
Next is a section that lets you manage your Kerika subscriptions. You can see which plan you are currently on — Individual, Nonprofit or Professional — and switch to a different plan if needed.
People on a paid Professional Plan can manage the number of subscriptions they currently have (you need enough to cover your current Account Team, which consists of everyone who is currently a Board Admin or Team Member on the boards owned by your Account.)
Managing your Professional Plan is easy: you can increase the number of subscriptions you have, or decrease them.
All subscriptions have the same end-date: this makes annual reviews and renewals easy for Account Owners. You can also decide whether you want to turn on, or off automatic renewals of your subscriptions.
In the example shown above, the user is increasing the number of subscriptions from 20 to 25. The system reminds the user that he needs at least 20, for the size of his current Account Team.
With our new billing system, it’s easy to make purchases online, or request that an invoice be sent to you.
Online purchases are handled by Stripe, so Kerika never sees your credit card information.
If your Account currently has a credit balance, because you had reduced the number of subscriptions, this is reflected in your purchase: by default a credit balance is applied to future purchases, but you can also request a check be mailed to you if you don’t plan to use your credit balance.
If you are located in Washington State (in the USA) we may be required to charge you Washington State Sales Tax. You can specify whether this applies to you by updating your BillingInformation:
Your Billing Information contains just your address and phone number; we never ask for, or store, your credit card or bank information.
One useful new feature we have added is the concept of Billing Contacts:
Billing Contacts can be any set of people who need to get copies of all your Kerika transactions, e.g. your manager or Purchasing Department. Every purchase will generate a PDF for the transaction which will be automatically emailed to all the Billing Contacts for the Account.
Billing Contacts can include people from outside your organization, e.g. if you use a bookkeeping service from another company. Billing Contacts only get copies of your receipts and invoices; they don’t have access to your boards, and are not considered part of your Account Team.
The Manage Users page has been enhanced as well: you can see at a glance who is currently part of your Account Team, and now it is possible to invite someone to join the Account as a whole: previously people could be invited to join only a specific board.
For each member of your Account Team, Kerika will list the date when they joined your Account, the date of their last login, and the total number of boards where they are currently a Board Admin or Team Member.
This makes it easy to see at a glance how active someone is, if you are wondering whether to continue paying for their subscriptions.
(Note: in some cases the “Joined Team” information may not be available if it was months or years in the past; we didn’t start tracking this information until we started building the new billing system.)
Selecting a member of your Account Team offers additional actions:
Clicking on the View button gives you a more detailed view of particular member of your Account Team:
One new feature is you can see the IP address last used by the team member: this can be helpful in security reviews.
With the Manage User button, you can also remove someone from your Account Team altogether, demote their role to Visitor (across all boards owned by that account).
Going forward, all transactions — including online and offline payments — will be tracked automatically by the new billing system.
We will start keeping a history of your transactions going forward (we won’t have all the old transactions; sorry) and they can be accessed through the Billing History page:
If you have an overdue invoice — and we sincerely hope you don’t! — you can pay it online, or request it to be resent to the billing contacts for the Account:
The new billing system took a lot of work, over many months, but it was long overdue: our old billing process was largely manual, and somewhat error-prone.
Unlike some of our competitors, we understand that even though Kerika is software-as-a-service (SaaS), not everyone is set up to make online purchases. That’s why we have made it equally easy for people to receive invoices and make payments offline, e.g. by bank check or funds transfer, and have these transactions show up inside their Kerika account with the same flexibility as online purchases.
All of this should go live at the beginning of next week!
As part of our next release, which will include a new billing system, we will make it easier for you to move boards that you own to another account.
This can help in several scenarios:
If someone is leaving a team, it’s good practice to have their boards transferred to someone who will remain, so that ownership of project assets — the boards and all the content in the boards, including documents — remains with the team.
More importantly, it is good practice to stay away from having individuals own boards, and instead use service accounts to be the single Account Owner in your organization.
A service account is an omnibus account, typically set up with an email address like email@example.com, that isn’t associated with a single individual. A service account will never quit, never get fired, or take a vacation because a service account is not a real person — it is simply an account/ID used to be the permanent, omnipresent, owner of project assets so that team turnover doesn’t disrupt anyone.
If you own a board, you can move it to another account, i.e. effective change its ownership, by selecting the board on your Account’s Home, and clicking on the Board Actions button which appears on the top-right corner of the board card:
This will bring up a small menu of actions that are available to us as the board’s current owner:
(Note: this menu can also be accessed using the right mouse button.)
When you select the Move to another Account action from this menu, we will present you with this new dialog box:
A list of “known collaborators” is presented to you by Kerika to make it easy to select a coworker with a single mouse click, but you can also move the board to someone else, who isn’t part of your current Kerika collaboration network.
If you type in an email address, Kerika will immediately check to see whether this email address is that of a known Kerika user, before letting you proceed further:
We think these improvements will make it easier for our users to manage their organizations boards, and move towards consolidated ownership for easier asset management.
As you know, Kerika is a Web Application: everything runs inside a browser, without the need for any plug-ins or add-ons.
This caused problems for all of our Internet Explorer 11 users — people using Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Edge were unaffected. We finally figured out what the underlying problem was, and did a workaround using a polyfill, which is a way to provide new functionality in older browsers that don’t support it natively.
The Box Platform has some limitations that you may bump into:
Certain characters are not allowed in file names, e.g. “/”. We noticed people were running into this problem, most probably because they were hitting the wrong keys inadvertently when renaming files.
Kerika is going to take of this silently from now on: if you try to rename a file using a character like “/” that Box can’t handle, Kerika will silently ignore that character in your renaming action.
File names can’t be more than 260 bytes. For people using English and similar languages, this generally means a file name cannot be more than 260 characters (with each character requiring one byte of storage). But for most Asian languages, e.g. Thai or Japanese, one character may require two bytes of storage, because the size of the alphabet is much larger than the Roman alphabet used by English.
This means that in some languages, file names may have to be much shorter, depending upon how many bytes are needed for storing each character, which in turn depends upon the size of their alphabets.
Some folks from Thailand were running into this problem: Kerika will start detecting this better, and provide more useful error messages
Kerika offers a great deal of control over how each board is shared:
A board can be made public to everyone. This makes sense for open-source projects and many nonprofit and advocacy groups, where the goal is to get maximum visibility and publicity rather than to hide the details of what the project is about.
Making a board public means that anyone who has the URL of the board can view it, even people who are not Kerika users. Note: we are talking about viewing the board; viewing doesn’t mean anyone who isn’t part of the board team can make changes.
If a board is viewable by the public, it can be found by anyone using Kerika’s search function.
A board can be viewable by everyone who is part of the account team. This is the default setting, and it makes a lot of sense for most organizations: you want your coworkers to be aware of what your team is doing, unless the project is particularly sensitive.
As people get added to individual boards, they are also automatically added to the account team. When someone is removed from every board owned by an account, they are automatically removed from the account team as well.
As with public boards, described above, we are talking only about viewing, not changing: only people who are Board Admins or Team Members on a particular board’s team can make any changes to that board. (And, of course, the Account Owner who owns the board.)
If you use Kerika’s search function, you can find boards that are being shared with the account team, provided you are part of that particular account team.
A board can be kept private. This means that only the people who are listed on the board’s team — as a Board Admin, Team Member or Visitor — can view the board. (And, of course, the Account Owner who owns the board.)
This is appropriate for any sensitive projects, e.g. stuff related to personnel matters or confidential contracts.
Private boards can’t be found by Kerika’s search function either, and it doesn’t matter if you know the URL for the board: only the specific people listed on the board team can see anything related to that board.
For each board owned by an account, the Account Owner or Board Admins can manage the board’s team: decide who is part of the team, and what sort of role (Board Admin, Team Member, or Visitor) each person has.
Board Admins and Team Members can make changes to all the items on the board, including any documents attached to the board.
Visitors have read-only access to the board and all its documents.
A person’s role can be changed at any time by the Board Admin or Account Owner: the effect is immediate, and extends to all the documents associated with the board as well regardless of whether you are using Google or Box for your file storage, or whether you are storing your files with Kerika.
A board’s team and current privacy settings can be viewed by clicking on the Team button that appears on the top-right of the Kerika app, when viewing a board:
Clicking on this button brings up the Board Team dialog:
Each person who is part of the Board Team is listed in this dialog, in alphabetical order along with their role.
At the bottom of the dialog is the board’s current privacy setting: in the example shown above, the board is being shared with everyone who is part of this user’s account team. (We have obscured the URL in the screenshot for security reasons.)
If you are a Board Admin or the Account Owner, you can change the privacy of the board using the Change Privacy link that’s shown on the bottom of the dialog:
So, every board can have it’s own privacy settings: private, shared with account team, or public.
When you are viewing the boards in an account, Kerika shows clearly what the privacy setting is for each board:
If you are part of someone’s account, you will be able to create new boards in that account: you will automatically be a Board Admin on those new boards, but the owner will always be the account you are working in.
You can set your privacy preferences for each account; this will determine whether new boards you create are automatically shared with your coworkers or not:
All your preferences can be set at https://kerika.com/preferences. The default setting is Share with Account Team, which works well for most people, most of the time.