Category Archives: Technology

Posts related to technology in general.

Squashing even the tiniest bugs is important

squashed bug
squashed bug

What have we been up to lately, you ask?

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.

So, we have been cleaning up even minor server exceptions, and obscure Javascript warnings from the browser console, so we have a completely clean slate.

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.

Best to squash all bugs, no matter how small.

We have improved our internal systems for managing users and accounts

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.

The 6AM Task Summary Email is back

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:

Daily Task Reminder Preference
Daily Task Reminder Preference

“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:

6AM Task Summary Options
6AM Task Summary Options

A typical task summary, where tasks are grouped by date, would look like this:

Example of 6AM Task Summary
Example of 6AM Task Summary

The board names and card names are also links that you can use to open the relevant work item.

Enjoy, again.

 

 

An improved way of moving boards from one Account to another

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 kerika@example.org, 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:

Board Actions Menu
Board Actions Menu

This will bring up a small menu of actions that are available to us as the board’s current owner:

Board Actions
Board Actions

(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:

Move Board dialog
Move Board dialog

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:

Checking if new owner is a Kerika user
Checking if new owner is a Kerika user

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.

Tripped up by an unkept Promise

As you know, Kerika is a Web Application: everything runs inside a browser, without the need for any plug-ins or add-ons.

We achieve all this with a ton of JavaScript code (and a sprinkle of SVG, for our Whiteboards.)

One, significant, disadvantage of JavaScript is that it is “single threaded”: two bits of script cannot run at the same time; they have to run one after another.

So while Kerika is running inside a browser on your laptop, our JavaScript has to share a thread with lots of other stuff that’s going on, such as painting, updating styles, and handling user actions.  All of this has the potential to slow down Kerika, while the JavaScript code waits for something else to finish.

To get around this, we used JavaScript’s Promise function: this let Kerika’s code get going with its normal business while waiting for other browser functions to finish.  What we didn’t expect, however, was that the Promise function isn’t supported by Internet Explorer 11. (Although it is supported in Microsoft’s Edge browser.)

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.