We’ve been so busy building new features recently that we’ve really had no time to blog about them. I’m taking time to post tonight because we retired a feature which is unusual.
Some ideas just don’t implement well and for us that was a feature called Auto-Track. Our goal was to make a cool feature that would appeal to even the most hardened process-hater on the team. You know the guy (it’s always a guy) the one who refuses to update anything; the dude who is just is too busy to actually tell the team anything about what got done when.
We thought Auto-Track would solve this problem. It was a feature that was meant to be the electronic version of that age old social contract: “I’ll do what I said I would do”. The feature did just that, it logged work for you according to the plan. Your schedule and timesheet automatically updated hourly and you always looked right on track. All you had to do was occasionally approve auto-track’s auto logging of progress.
As you might have guessed, nothing ever truly goes according to plan. Auto-Track was always slightly off and people ended up fixing up their timesheets anyway; ergo, why not just log work as you go along.
But there was another unintended consequence. It you left Auto-track running, it would look like you were making perfect progress, even if you weren’t. As time marched on, tracking debt quietly piled up and it got harder and harder emotionally to pay it off. That’s the kind of thing that leads people to not trust their schedule and since that’s what LiquidPlanner is all about, we fixed it with a big hammer.
Now, the good stuff
Killing Auto-Track makes other things easier to build. It made our iPhone application easier to develop (it’s going into Beta now), it has set us up to start working on Timers (should ship in the next release), it makes our API simpler (public beta later this year), and we were able to accelerate two features forward that we released tonight.
We are happy to introduce: events and milestones.
Add events for vacations, conferences, or anything else that just should not move. They are fixed blocks on the schedule that quietly fade away without pushing the schedule forward while you are away. Normal tasks flow around planned events and vacations automatically.
LiquidPlanner has always had promise dates for alerting, and now it has dedicated milestones too. Milestones provide a hard schedule date that will alert if any dependency puts it at risk. You can use it as an anchor to link other tasks to.