Planning module – 3 views

April 21, 2009

The planning module for activeCollab has 3 views. You can access them using a tabbed button bar at top right, next to the logo.

1. Outline View

Outline View

Outline View

The outline view is a tree like view of your entire project plan. It’s editable and you can add items simply by pressing enter. You can also use Tab / Shift Tab to promote / demote items and their children.

The outline view also shows assignees, estimates, start date and due date. You can add multiple assignees and use initials for names. Estimates are tracked in hours, but you can enter them in hours or easy to read short cut format – like “1m 2w 2d 4h”. Start and due dates are smart too! Just enter date (e.g. 22) and it will complete it. We have also tried to parse a few other common date formats! Date display format can be customized from backend.

You can turn off any of these 4 columns using the view options menu at top right.

2. Card View

Card View

Card View

The Card view is designed to work on details of your project plan. It shows all Tickets in your project and you can easily filter on them. Spend time on each card and define the ticket details. Cards are color coded by categories to help identify them easily.

You can update ticket’s visibility, priority, category, name, description, tags, estimate, start and due dates, tags, workflow status and assignees from the card view.

Batch update is available in both Outline view and Card view. We have even included an option to add / subtract time from start / due dates. You no longer need to change all dates manually!

3. Gantt View

Gantt View

Gantt View

You asked for it and we have it! Gantt view is the much awaited timeline view of your project plan. It’s a “read-only” view. You can’t edit it, but it still shows a nice graph of your project. Completed items are marked, and we also show progress on items if you log hours on them.

You can expand / collapse items, zoom in / out and review your plan.

There are many other features in Planning module! We will write about them soon!

What features would you like to have in the next release of Reports module for activeCollab?

April 2, 2009

What would you like to see in the next release of Reports module for activeCollab? We have got a few items on our list, but would like to build something that you would like!

Here’s the list:

What do you think will be most important? What features would you like?

Please post your comments on our Get Satisfaction page and let us know what you think. Feel free to add share any other ideas too!

What are Zombies in PlannerX?

March 30, 2009


PlannerX allows rearranging / reordering items. Either using Tab / Shift / Indent / Unindent or via Drag & Drop. Everything works just perfect when you are creating a new plan. But when you worked with items in an existing plan, things started to break. Reordering to-do lists and to-do items was not much of a problem, since Basecamp APIs support that. But if you reordered milestones, that won’t stick since Basecamp always sorts them by due date again. Yet, the biggest issue is promoting or demoting an existing item.


When you convert a milestone into a to-do list or to-do item, we can create a new item for it. But what should we do with the milestone? We could just delete the milestone. But what if that milestone had comments? And attachments with those comments? If we deleted the milestone, comments would be deleted as well. And that would be bad.

Enter Zombies!

Zombies are defunct items (milestones or to-do items) that are still there in the system only because they have some comment. Their original item was moved around in a planning session with PlannerX. And since there are no Basecamp API to attach comments with another item, we had to keep old items hanging in with their comments. We mark them as [zombie], complete them and also add a new comment explaining their zombie status.

Can I remove zombies?

If you no longer need the comments / attachments associated with a zombie item, you can delete it. Deleting normal / zombie to-do items with time entries on them does not delete time entries though.

Is there no better way?

We thought a lot before coming to this solution. If you have a better solution, do let us know. We are all ready to improve.

I don’t like the word [zombie]!

We thought a lot about this too. We considered defunct, archived, removed, zombie and a few others. But felt zombie was the closest to our situation. Have another suggestion? Feel free to comment!

I still have problems.

We tested our code with many test cases. It should work well in most cases – though it may take slightly longer to save since we have to check for comments on almost every item. If you face any other issues, do report them with as many details as possible. We will try and fix them at the earliest!

What next?

Keep planning with PlannerX and let us know your feedback! Thank you!

Delay in Planning module

March 30, 2009

We’ve been spending long hours over PlannerX last few days. As more people started using it, we discovered some limitations. So all time went in fixing those issues and making a smoother user experience. There is one big thing that’s still pending – changing position of existing items in the plan. This worked earlier, with some limitations. But now we uncovered a lot more limitations of Basecamp APIs and have to rework the entire logic. We are nearing a solution, but it’s taking longer than expected.

All this has resulted in delays on the Planning module for activeCollab. We wanted to launch it last week. But have been tied up.

I think all the enhancements we are making to PlannerX, will also make Planning module stronger, so am focusing on PlannerX for now.

Planning module will come soon! Wanted to let you know we are working on it!

PlannerX – user feedback coming in, solving bugs

March 26, 2009

As more people signup for PlannerX, our customer feedback has also started coming in. We have discovered some limitations of the system and are working on them. Here are some of the problems that are on top of my list.

If you are our customer, I want to let you know that we are working on these items, and will have solutions soon.

I am a little upset and worried due to these issues. At the same time, I am thrilled by the commitment of PlannerX users! Kudos!

What can you expect from our upcoming Planning module for activeCollab?

March 26, 2009

We have been talking about our Planning module. It’s taking shape well, and we will release it in the next few days (unless we hit some road blocks). So what can you expect from it? What will be included?

  1. We will have an Outline view to create project plan. With assignees, due dates and estimates. Similar to PlannerX.
  2. We are adding a “card view” to add ticket description, category and other details. Also pushing in a simple ticket workflow (new -> assigned -> resolved etc)
  3. A weekly iteration planner, that allows you to select from a list of incomplete tasks (backlog) and schedule them (via drag and drop) for immediate 3 weeks. (Update: We are skipping on iteration planner for now)
  4. And a Gantt view that shows your project plan

What will be the most valuable features for you? How much time do you think something like this can save you?


The Card View took much longer than we expected. We added many things to make the workflow easier. And some eye candy 😉 Checkout Nirav’s blog post about Intelligent Time Estimation and Card Deck animation. There is more in the actual product! But we had to keep Iteration planner for later because of this.

Using OpenID with PlannerX for Basecamp

March 26, 2009

We have got a number of requests to add OpenID support to PlannerX. I just tested it, and it works!

Here’s how you can try it:

  • Make sure you have an OpenID profile. I use MyOpenID.
  • Add a new user to your Basecamp account and give access to her for relevant projects (this is not necessary if you have users configured to use OpenID already)
  • Log in to Basecamp using the new user. Go to “My Info” page. Switch to using OpenID with your OpenID URL.
  • Save settings. This authenticates using OpenID and saves the settings.
  • Once this is done, you will get a “Reveal my special username/password” link right below your OpenID URL.
Special Username / Password for OpenID

Special Username / Password for OpenID

  • Click on the link to reveal your special username and password.
  • Now use this username, this special password, and your current Basecamp URL (e.g. on PlannerX.
  • You will be logged in and see your project list (or get straight to the project plan if you have only one project assigned).

What could go wrong? What should you check if you can’t login with OpenID?

Here are a few things to check if you can’t login using OpenID.

  • Are you using your special OpenID username and password? Remember, it’s not your OpenID URL that you can use, you need to use the special username and password. The password will be some combination of characters and numbers.
  • Are you using your correct Basecamp URL? Again, this is not your OpenID URL, but your Basecamp URL – it may look like or
  • Have you enabled OpenID access for this user? Confirm by logging in with that OpenID to your Basecamp project. Does it work?
  • Do you have projects assigned to this user? If you have no projects assigned, you will get a “No projects found” message in PlannerX.
  • Does OpenID login work with some other Basecamp Extra that uses Basecamp API?

Still not working? Let us know the details and we will investigate!

Welcome to visitors from Basecamp blog

March 25, 2009

Basecamp team wrote about PlannerX on their product blog today. We welcome you if you are coming through Basecamp blog.

Like the blog mentions, PlannerX is an online service that lets you manage your Basecamp project plans effortlessly. PlannerX gives you a single page view of your entire project plan. This is shown in an outline view, so it’s easy to expand/collapse. And guess what, this plan is fully editable! You can use your keyboard to quickly navigate and edit items. You can even add new milestones, to-do lists and to-do items. You can assign items to people on your team quickly and add due dates to milestones – even using shortcuts!

PlannerX even shows you a Gantt chart of your plan. (It’s really neat, I must tell you!)

Overall, it will make you at least 5 times faster in viewing, managing and working with your project plan.

We look forward to your comments! Let us know how you like it!

PlannerX is on Basecamp Extras page

March 24, 2009

We’ve been waiting for this for a while! And it’s finally there!

PlannerX is now featured on Basecamp’s official Extras page.

Gantt Chart Support Added to PlannerX for Basecamp

March 21, 2009
Gantt Chart in PlannerX - v1

Gantt Chart in PlannerX - v1

Yes! This is one of the sleekest Gantt chart implementations for Basecamp. It’s a view only Gantt chart, but it’s been a feature people have been asking for years!

There are still rough edges in terms of the UI, but your plan shows up well on the Gantt chart. Completed items show in green. We distribute to-do lists equally in a milestone, one milestone’s due date becomes next milestone’s start date, and to-dos occupy the full duration of to-do lists.

You can’t edit the plan, plan edited in Outline view won’t reflect in Gantt view until you save it (since we need IDs to establish parent-child relationships, and need to expand dates on milestones). Printing does not work across browsers – but you can right click and save the plan as an image to print it later.

It’s been a full night without any sleep! So I will retire to bed now! But will look forward to your feedback.

Many thanks to AnyCharts team – they make an awesome Gantt chart component. They even gave us a special price, and worked hard with me to get their component to work with Flex! Thank you Timothy and Anton!

Go ahead, take our live demo! Try it out yourself!