Archive for October, 2010

“Leaking” FogBugz 8 and Kiln 2

October 22nd, 2010 by Rock Hymas

"Just as with the beta release, it’s helpful to roll out the final release to our hosted customers in stages. We call this “leaking the release,” which sounds kind of gross, but I like to think of it like sugar water leaking out of a bird feeder rather than, …well, you can come up with an appropriately negative metaphor yourself. The birds love it. As before, this gradual process helps us to catch issues before they have a chance of affecting everyone. Now that we’re dealing with 2-3 orders of magnitude more customers, it’s much more likely that we’ll run into performance problems with the new code. One serendipitous benefit of this type of release was that buzz about the new versions progressively increased over the course of the month leading up to the full rollout."

Read more about how FogBugz 8 and Kiln 2 were released to customers.

Wiki Comments in FogBugz 8

October 20th, 2010 by Alex Gartrell

Have you ever found yourself in the following situation? You’ve been slaving over the spec for a new feature (you do write specs for them, right?) and you’ve just circulated the spec among a bunch of your colleagues to get their feedback.

spectacular_spec

The Old Way

Shortly after emailing everyone, a miniature forum begins to materialize at the bottom of the wiki article. It’s got suggestions, questions, responses to questions, and responses to responses to questions from you and your coworkers. Sometimes it’s a bulleted list, sometimes it’s a name as a sub-heading followed by a blob of text. It’s almost always valuable information. But, truth be told, it’s a bit of a mess, and short of printing out your spec and speckling it with handwriting and sticky notes, what can you really do?


pseudo_comments1

As you address your colleagues’ concerns and answer their questions, you either have to a) manually scratch out the comments that are now obsolete, or b) delete them. And on top of that, your colleagues sometimes trip over each other trying to add their comments at the same time and end up having to deal with merge conflicts when they go to save their changes. Blarg.


pseudo_comments2

In short, it’s cumbersome, time consuming, and enough of a pain in the neck to stop someone from leaving a useful comment.

The New Way

Well not anymore! FogBugz 8 includes the new Wiki Comments plugin which allows you to add commenting to any wiki article:

wiki_comments

How To Use Wiki Comments

Once you’ve installed the Wiki Comments plugin, you’ll find the comments block under the insert menu in our new wiki editor:

insert_menu

Once you’ve added a comment block to your wiki article, you should be all set!

FogBugz 8 Wiki Navigation

October 15th, 2010 by Jeremy Hoon

Harry Potter had the Marauder’s Map and now FogBugz 8 has the Wiki Navigation plugin!

The new wiki navigation features in FogBugz 8 won’t put a wand under your cloak, but they will help you organize the content in your wiki. When it comes time to find a secret path out of Hogwarts, you and your customers will know just where to look in your FogBugz wiki to find the answer.

Wiki navigation begins working its magic as soon as you upgrade to FogBugz 8. During the upgrade process, FogBugz will overlay a hierarchical structure onto each of your existing wikis. To do this, FogBugz will look at all of the links between your various wiki articles and then try to determine which articles are the children of other articles. Sound confusing? Don’t worry. We’ve found that FogBugz can usually do a pretty good job at guessing these parent-child relationships without any additional input or effort on your part.

The first place you’ll see this new-found structure on display is on the left-hand side of the new FogBugz 8 default template:

wiki_hierarchy

The related pages control on the left side of the screen (under the “Hierarchy” heading) acts as a kind of “You are here!”—a mark on the Marauder’s Map:

marauder_map_small

By adding the related pages control, we can leverage the newly-added hierarchical structure of your wiki to give users better insight into the context of each wiki article they visit. The related pages control shows the current wiki article being viewed along with its parent page, siblings, and children. In our own experience here at Fog Creek, when linking from a wiki page with a general topic to one concerned with something more specific, we’ve often found ourselves linking back to the more general page. Now, with the related pages control, this process is not only completely automated, but also made into a central part of the FogBugz wiki experience. It’s like having a house elf on hand to do all your menial wiki-related tidy work for you (not that we would ever condone such…uh…”arrangements”).

But the related pages control hardly exploits the full potential of your wiki’s structure for locating and organizing information. That’s why we’ve also created the “Page Hierarchy” wiki view. At its simplest, this view allows users to quickly navigate to any article in their wiki and gain an overall idea of what their wiki contains. In previous iterations of FogBugz, it was all too easy to create “orphans”—pages without incoming links that once created were never seen or heard from again. The Page Hierarchy wiki view helps prevent this unfortunate situation by making every article readily accessible:

page_hierarchy

The Page Hierarchy view behaves a lot like a file system browser (think Windows Explorer or Spotlight on a Mac): click on the arrow next to a wiki page title to expand it and show that page’s children, or click on the title text itself to visit that wiki article:

link_areas

New pages that have been added to the wiki but have yet to be written are indicated by gray italic font:

not_yet_written

But the real power of the page hierarchy lies in its ability to edit your wiki’s structure. Clicking on the organizebutton in the upper-right sends you into edit mode. Once you’re in edit mode, you can drag and drop pages to change their hierarchical relationship. It’s a quick (and hopefully intuitive) way to organize your wiki’s structure to make it as simple and relevant as possible.

page_hierarchy_organize_small

After you’re done organizing your wiki to your heart’s content, just click save_button.and your wiki’s structure will be updated to reflect the changes you’ve made by dragging and dropping things all over the place. We’re hoping this tool might even make organizing your wiki…dare we say it…fun!

The FogBugz 8 wiki has been designed to simplify communication within communities and streamline collaboration for development teams. We feel the organization provided by the new wiki navigation features in FogBugz 8 gives even greater meaning to the information shared by developers, customers, and community members, and makes this information easier to find and browse. Whether you’re standing up to Lord Voldemort or (even more terrifying) trying to ship great software, the new wiki navigation tools in FogBugz 8 will help you plan and document your process every step of the way.

New FogBugz 8 Wiki Template

October 12th, 2010 by AJ Palkovic

FogBugz 6 and 7 both had wiki template functionality you could use to customize the look and feel of your FogBugz wiki. What’s that? You didn’t notice? Hmm. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t always the most flexible or powerful feature in the FogBugz toolbox, but we’ve aimed to fix that in a big way with FogBugz 8. FogBugz 8 has a brand spankin’ new, super awesome looking template (if we do say so ourselves) that comes ready to use right out of the box.

What’s even better is that all of your existing, potentially less-than-sexy wikis using an unmodified FogBugz 7 default template (as well as any entirely private wikis you might have) will be automatically upgraded to use our spiffy new template when you upgrade to FogBugz 8.

“What’s so freakin’ great about this new template,” you ask? Well, let me tell you:

  • It’s been completely redesigned to better support organizing and navigating your wiki content:
    wiki_template
  • There are a bunch of powerful new template placeholders (including placeholders for plugin content):
    placeholders
  • We’ve updated all of the built-in table styles to be dapper straight out of the box instead of tacky:
    sexytables
  • There’s now support for specifying a “default” template for use whenever a new wiki is created:
    defaulttemplate
  • We’ve added a number of “Wiki Views” that allow you to leverage (and more easily find) the articles inside your wiki:
    sidebar
  • And lots more!

In short, we think our new template is a HUGE improvement over the FogBugz 7 default template, and we’d love for you to try it out and let us know what you think!

FogBugz 8 Permissions Overhaul

October 7th, 2010 by John Daniels

When Fog Creek released FogBugz 7, I’m told they thought they were doing a good thing by merging the confusing “Clients and Departments” feature, which almost nobody used, into the “Groups” feature, which everyone would understand. This would’ve been a great plan had your average person’s understanding of a “group” been “a list of permissions that can be applied to one or more projects.” Unfortunately, it’s not. Most people think “group” and think of their favorite band or a group activity. In short, they think of a group of people.

A bit of FogBugz history

The idea behind Clients and Departments was that you would segment your Projects based on which client or department they were related to. As such, it was assumed you would mainly care about keeping permissions for Clients and Departments distinct, and that if you wanted to assign permissions, each permission granted would apply to everything in that Client or Department. This made some sense, but was hard to grok and not very flexible.

fb7_groups

Some blame can be placed on merging Clients and Departments under Groups. The term implied more flexibility than was actually in the software. A lot of people tried to use FogBugz 7 Groups as if they were user groups, but you couldn’t give multiple Groups access to the same project. Weird, right?


fb7_wiki_perms

The way forward

After realizing how super-confused people were about FogBugz 7 Groups, we took a good long look at things and thought “maybe we should make Groups work more like people think they should work.” After talking to a lot of our customers, we realized this would make a lot of people happier, even if that meant some short-term pain during the transition.

In FogBugz 8, Groups work like they do everywhere else in the known world of software (and also, probably, in your brain).  Groups are now simply reusable collections of users to which you can grant permissions. Huzzah!

Setting permissions in FogBugz 8

Permissions are now defined directly on Projects, Wikis, and Discussion Groups, where they belong. You can now grant permission on a project to an individual, or to a group (of users). In addition, we’ve also cleaned and spiffed up the interface for configuring permissions:

fb8_wiki_perms

The only change to permissions that people will see when upgrading to FogBugz 8 is the elimination of Group Administrators. This little-used feature made sense in the old implementation, but when groups became groups of people (not groups of permissions) they just didn’t make much sense anymore. (Don’t worry, if you actually need to worry about this, we’ll tell you when you upgrade and walk you through how to address it.)

Other than this change, permissions should operate exactly as they did before upgrading. This took some doing, and when you upgrade to FogBugz 8, there might be some shuffling, but the end result is something we feel to be a much more flexible and intuitive permission system. We’re hoping it’ll be worth the effort from us as well as you!

Drag’n’Drop Attachments

October 4th, 2010 by Ben Kamens

Back around the time when FogBugz 7.3 was about to launch, Gmail launched a really cool feature: the ability to drag and drop attachments from your computer directly onto your browser window and into the email you’re about to send.

We thought this was an awesome display of browser power and wanted in on the fun. So we secretly snuck drag’n’drop case attachments into FogBugz 7.3 so that we could play around with the feature and see if it felt useful.


screenshot_drag
Adding screenshots to FogBugz cases has always been one of the most powerful ways to describe bug reports.

With the launch of FogBugz 8.0, we’re bringing a little more attention to the feature. And we’d like to know what our users think.

We’re still a little unsure about the usability experience of dragging items from your desktop directly into a browser window. If this behavior becomes more standard in popular web apps across the board, or if our users start heavily relying on the feature, we’ll bring in support for more browsers (Firefox in particular), add the ability to drag’n’drop multiple files at a time, and generally refine the experience.

For now, drag’n’drop is a nice little shortcut that Chrome and Safari users can use to quickly attach items to any FogBugz case.  Let us know how it goes!

Props go to Google for continuing to push the limits of browser technology…and for inspiring us to push the boundaries of how FogBugz can leverage that technology.


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