Polishing our Project Management Software

Liz Pearce | August 20, 2008

Two Trees
left Image

Two TreesIt’s only been a couple months since our official launch, but I feel like we’ve been working on last week’s software release forever. It must be because the core change is so fundamental to our product, and we’ve spent countless hours discussing it. The big change is an overhaul of the terminology and user interface for our “two trees.” If you haven’t encountered them before, the “two trees” are the two views we give users into their project data. One represents the functional grouping of tasks (“Project Folders“). The other represents the priority order of tasks (“Prioritized Tasklists“).

Not too many other systems on the market handle project data in this way. Why do we do it? So that you can easily maintain your projects’ work breakdown structure side by side with your burn-down list, without sacrificing the sanctity of either. This helps keep LiquidPlanner flexible, meaning you can reprioritize tasks in seconds and immediately see the impact of your change on the big picture. No more brittle project plans if we can help it!

Folders Tasks ListsIn the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll admit that the original names (“Categories” for the functional view and “Projects” for the priority view) were confusing to lots of folks. It wasn’t until we realized we had a lot of confounded users on our hands that we decided to take this important step.

Along with this major change, we added a bunch more new features, as well as fine-tuned many existing features. As a hard-core LiquidPlanner user, I can readily say the new version makes my project management process infinitely easier. Here’s the full list of what’s new:

  • Update from the Dashboard: mark progress, update estimates, and add comments without leaving your dashboard. (Just click the remaining work link next to the task name);
  • Keep Watch on Tasks: Select the item you want to follow, go to the collaborate tab, and click the “watch” star; you’ll get updates to the item in your “recent changes” email notifications;
  • Less Tab Clutter: The new “plan” tab merges the old schedule and estimate tabs for a cleaner screen. Switch between the schedule and detail views with a simple dropdown menu;
  • Choose Your View: Customize the columns in your schedule view to display any item details you wish;
  • Customize Date Format: Choose how your dates are displayed (either dd/mm/yy or mm/dd/yy) by clicking “my profile” on your dashboard and editing your settings;
  • Put Tasks On Hold: individual tasks (as well as tasklists or folders) can be placed “on hold” via the task details pane (in the scheduling tab);
  • Duplicate Dependencies: “Duplicate selected item” will now also duplicate dependencies within the selected folder or tasklist;
  • Set Things Straight: Get a fresh start by clearing all auto-tracked progress on a task, tasklist, or folder (via “Advanced Actions” in the “actions” dropdown);
  • Take Out the Trash: Your trash can now be emptied from the trash tab instead of space settings;
  • Print Your Schedule: Find improved print scaling on your schedule PDF

Now, after a round of deep breaths, we’re already hard at work on the next release.