Tag Archives: New Version

A new feature or version of Kerika.

A reminder: you don’t have to pay for Visitors

The rollout of our new billing system seems to have been smooth — so far, fingers crossed! — and with this you now get better controls over who is part of your Account Team:

Manage Users
Manage Users

Please note that you don’t get charged for Visitors: if someone is only a Visitor on your boards — i.e. is not a Team Member or Board Admin on any board you own — you don’t need to pay for this person.

It doesn’t matter how many boards this person “visits”.

Visitors do show up on your Manage My Team list in the Manage Users tab, so you are reminded that they have access to some, possibly all, of your boards, and you can remove a Visitor entirely from your Account in the same way that you might remove a Team Member or Board Admin.

 

So long, Internet Explorer 11

We cannot continue to support Internet Explorer 11 any more, for the simple reason that Microsoft itself doesn’t want to support IE 11 any more.

All of Microsoft’s browser focus is on their Edge browser, which means that as newer HTML5 features and standards get adopted by the browsers, these are going to show up in Edge, not IE 11.

And since Kerika is a pure Web app, one that requires you to download no software of any kind, including browser add-ons and plug-ins, we really need to make use of the latest HTML5 goodies that the browser vendors provide.

These goodies are going to be available only on Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge, and that’s where Kerika is gong to work best.

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.

Making it easier to know when Kerika has a new version

The Kerika team works in 2-week Sprints, but not every Sprint results in a feature being deployed to production: sometimes we have to wait for enough pieces to be built before we can release an entire feature.

(Bug fixes always get deployed at the end of each Sprint, and we we aim to have zero known bugs at all times.)

If you left Kerika running overnight in your browser while we rolled out a new version, it’s important to make sure your browser updates itself to get the latest software from our server.

To make this easier, we are introducing a notification inside the app that will let you know that you need to reload/refresh Kerika to make sure you are working with the latest version. This notification appears only when we have a new version deployed, and we can detect (or suspect) that your browser is running outdated code.

This is what the notification looks like:

New version notification
New version notification

Some minor bug fixes

We did an update yesterday that included a bunch of minor bug fixes and usability tweaks. (It also included a ton of behind-the-scenes improvements to our architecture and product development processes, but if we did our job well you shouldn’t see any of that change…)

  1. When the Kerika server is being updated (to a newer version), your browser will no longer keep trying to reconnect while this is underway.

    We have some code in place to help fix broken network connections: if your browser can detect that it’s connection to the Kerika server is broken for any reason (usually a network error), the browser will automatically attempt to reconnect.

    This doesn’t make sense if the server is down for planned maintenance.
  2. If you are working in multiple accounts and you decide to switch between them, we offer your choices in a more logical way: all the account owners you are connected to are listed alphabetically, and then each account owned is listed alphabetically.

    Our previous display was kind of random making it hard to scroll through a long list of accounts. This affected only a very small number of users who were working on many different accounts, but still…
  3. Now that we are encouraging our customers to converge around service accounts, we are trying to make sure these service accounts don’t get too crowded from the perspective of any single user.

    We have always had the ability to “favorite” some boards (and templates) so you can have your own personal, curated list of boards that you care about — and so you can ignore the rest — but now we have made it easier for Board Admins to move their boards to the trash or archive (or to restore them later) so they can help keep the commonly-shared service account in a more useful and relevant state for all the users within that account.
  4. A really small thing, but we decided to change the Sort by Status feature on our Task Boards and Scrum Boards so that On Hold cards appear at the bottom of the column, below all the others.
  5. Bug fix: if you changed the name of a board using the Board Settings dialog (assuming you are one of the Board Admins), the new name is now reflected immediately in the breadcrumbs.
  6. If someone who is currently a Team Member on your Task Board or Scrum Board is made a Visitor, he/she will not be removed from the current card assignments.  This makes it easier to change your mind if you decide you want that person to be a Team Member after all: just change this person’s role in the Board Team dialog, back to Team Member, and all the old card assignments will be there.

 

A simpler menu for cards and columns on your Task Boards and Scrum Boards

We used to have separate button, and associated menus, for actions related to cards and for actions related to columns:

Separate card and column actions
Separate card and column actions

This reflected the history of the Kerika product: we first designed and built the card actions, and much later added the column actions.

In retrospect, however, we concluded that separating these into two separate menus was not a good idea: it was confusing for our users to remember which menu supported which action. (Even the Kerika team, which uses Kerika for everything that the company does, was having trouble remembering the differences between the two buttons and menus.)

We have fixed that usability problem with our latest release: a single button is shown, and the popup menu that appears includes both card actions and column actions:

Combined Card and Column Actions Menu
Combined Card and Column Actions Menu

Clicking on the Sort and Move actions brings up all the sorting and moving options you have; the Sort menu now has a much richer set of actions:

Sort options
Sort options

We have also done some small tweaks to the sorting action: Sort by Status now puts the On Hold cards at the bottom of the column, below all the ones flagged as Normal.

Using Service Accounts to manage all your Kerika Users

For some segments of our users, e.g. college students using Kerika for their course projects, it makes sense to treat each user as an independent entity, since the relationships between these students will vary from class to class, from semester to semester.

These collaboration networks are very dynamic, and it’s impossible to predict whether a team that got together to work on a three-month class project will stick together after that project is over, or work as the same group of people on the next class project.

In business environments (companies, nonprofits and government agencies), however, the teams are more stable: people don’t change jobs every few months.  But, turnover can still be a problem: if Joe leaves your company, how can you be sure that all the boards and documents that Joe had created are not lost along when Joe is gone?

The simple solution to this is to use service accounts to own all the boards that are being used by a community of users, like a department or even the entire company (if the company is small enough).

A service account looks like any other Kerika account — it is associated with it’s own email, e.g. kerika@example.com — but it isn’t actually a real person: the email will have been set up by the organization’s IT staff or management, and the password is typically shared between a small handful of supervisory people.

Unlike real people, service accounts will always stick around: they won’t retire, resign, or get run over by a bus…

This means the organization has continuity and security with respect to it’s Kerika boards and documents: because the project assets are owned by kerika@example.com, rather than joe@example.com, it doesn’t matter whether Joe is still working at the company or not.

We encourage all our professional users — people working in companies, nonprofits and governments — to set up service accounts as a best practice, and we can help you: just email us at info@kerika.com and we will do all the account consolidation for you:

  • All the boards owned by the people in your organization will be transferred to the ownership of the service account instead.
  • Everything about each board is preserved as part of the transfer: all the cards, canvases, due dates, etc. remain the same after the transfer; it’s just that the boards are no longer owned by joe@example.com and susan@example.com, but instead are now owned by kerika@example.com
  • You can decide who to consolidate within the service account: typically it is everyone in the organization, but if you have different departments or cost centers, it will make sense to have more than one service account — one for each department or cost center.
  • After the consolidation, individual users within your organization will no longer have separate accounts: their Kerika identity, preferences, history, etc. are all preserved, but instead of working in several different accounts, they will all be working in a single service account, that’s under the control of your organization.
  • All this can be done by us, overnight: the next day your users can come into work and login as they did before, and have access to all the boards they had the previous day. All the boards will look the same, and your users can pick exactly where they left off.

When users have been consolidated within a service account, any new boards that they create will automatically be owned by that service account, rather than by the individual users.  This ensures that all current and all future project assets are owned by the service account, i.e. by the company, rather than by individual users.

It’s still possible for individual users to have privacy within the service account: for sensitive work (e.g. personnel matters) they can adjust the privacy of individual boards to be “share with board team only”.  When the privacy is set to board team only, the board will be visible only to the people who are specifically added by the Board Admins to the board’s team.

The Account Owner, i.e. the service account, will always have access to every board within that account, regardless of the board’s privacy settings. This is consistent with how other organizational assets are currently managed: if you have a work email, for example, you expect to have privacy from your coworkers, but you know that the company’s IT department will always have access to your email if they need it — and your email doesn’t really belong to you, but to your employer.