Saturday, March 30, 2013

Project Plan and Gantter.com

Project planning is always a difficult task for me. I could do anything to skip the project planning because for following reasons:

  • I know right away I am not going to meet the deadline, regardless of time provided.
  • Splitting the tasks to be developer friendly, without modifying the timeline promised to client by sales is very hard.
  • The tasks breakdown provided at the time of proposal is never the same. 
  • Introduce milestone to match the target revenue set for the subsequent months by your division.
  • And I hate anything related to Money (Revenue/Commercials)
For some reasons I always end up as a Technical lead who does everything related to project /people management in addition to actual development. It has been the same in all the companies I worked so far. Though I know it is good for me in career, every time, I think it is a Project managers' responsibility and they are delegating. I do them with cursing every minute.

This past week, I was assigned to prepare a plan for a new project. We don't use MS Project and the Excel format which we use is not very helpful If I miss a non-working day or any modification of tasks to be done in middle of planning. Since I hate it, i was procrastinating happily in finding alternatives. 

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Gantter.com is in my bookmarks for long time, though I didn't use it heavily I thought I had give a try. After spending 3+ hours with it, I kind of liked it. It is far better than MS Project whatever the version I used long ago. 

As a true developer and a person who notice everything, I also jolted few features that could improve this tool a lot. They do support extensions and I'm yet to explore the documentation. Hopefully someone could implement the following features someday.

  • Modify/Assign resources for multiple tasks?
  • Keyboard friendly Predecessors 
    • An autocomplete text/dropdown with {Id}-{Task Title} eg., 2 - Wireframe internal review
  • Option to view just the duration of filtered resource?
  • Filter tasks for more than one resource
  • Export to Excel? (just as values should be a good start)
  • Calendar - Marking non-working days could be easier
  • Tasks properties Dialog
    • In addition it could have {Id}-{Task Title} in the title.
  • Keyboard shortcuts 

Modify/Assign resources for multiple tasks?

Right now, you had to manually click each task row and select a resource to assign. This could be simplified, by providing a multi check options to update resource and their utilisations for multiple tasks?


Keyboard friendly Predecessors 

The same for Predecessor, I agree if you have more resource you don't include a constrain of completion date for previous task as Finish-to-start for every item. But my issue here is not a multiple update. But have an autocomplete text or a drop down to easily select the predecessor.
Or you could go crazy like Xcode4/Interface Builder or Omnigraffle like joining tool.

Option to view just the duration of filtered resource?

When you filter by resource, the total hours displayed are not the sum of hours for the resource.  It is the same as the complete plan.



Filter tasks for more than one resource

If you provide option to filter tasks for multiple resources say I would like to know the tasks assigned for Dev1, Dev2 in case of development and Tester1, Tester2 to know my test schedules.

Export to Excel?

One thing I learnt in my experience is all bosses would like to see the plan in Excel. Trust me, I wrote a project time sheet management tool with Google Apps Script. My VP approved this crazy idea because they can just view their data in a spreadsheet. 

As of now Gantter doesn't allow multiline copy. Right now, I use a workaround, Project -> Printable HTML and copy the content to Sublime text, and do a Find & Replace to get the tasks list.

Calendar - Marking non-working days could be easier

All you have to do to mark a working day as holiday/non-working day, you need to goto a calendar properties. Select a date and clear the working time. This is not very friendly, it would be cool, if I enter/key in series of days to be ignored in planning.

Tasks properties Dialog

Refer the image, it would be immensely helpful to know which task is getting updated. I'm not sure whether it is a bug, I see the task list in the plan is scrolled to bottom. May be I was having a FS constraint at the bottom related to the particular task, but it was annoying, to click the General tab to know which tasks I'm correctly looking at. 


Keyboard shortcuts 

Because of Google, I can't live without keyboard shortcuts. It is also a reason why I can't switch to Feedly like everyone else.
If you provide  keyboard bindings for Task properties dialog to switch between the tabs or the fields, it would be helpful.

The current plan is not an exhaustive list of tasks (around 120+ line items). Still I think Gantter could be more helpful with the suggested features. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Google Reader - Take 2

I was insanely angry with Google's decision still I am. Here are some stats from my Google Reader takeout data.
  • Following 44 people
  • Followed by 31 people
  • 690 Articles shared* with me
  • 1017 Articles shared* by me
  • 5657 Starred Articles
If you are people who think Social feed is replacing it, I promise you it never will. Reader is completely a different beast. I agree with Führer here. Leave.

Why I don't use Google+

* URL: https://plus.google.com/100489225191991285746  - big random number?
* It is a Facebook clone.
* Vanity URL - +YourScreenname - Really?

If you guys really want the people to use Google+. First task would be providing vanity URL to all. Even if they don't get TheAwesomeUsername people would be happy to pick a screen name BadAss2041AD.

I would suggest to take Tumblr's path of Social, when you decide to copy, copy a decent one. Merge your old Blogger system with Google+ without breaking internet. No user would like to see a 404 page.

*Sharing before Google+

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Don't Kill Google Reader


Larry, if all these are because of Steve's advice. Learn one important attribute of Steve, his ability to change his mind. Kill products that are copycat of others (cough! cough! Google+). Whatever the efforts that went into recent changes of Google reader (Unified theme, Removing "Share" feature and add "+1" features) are the reasons why there was a decline in usage.





There are reasons why people don't use Facebook as their newsfeed and Google plus is not going to solve it. I have shared a lot of articles until you pulled the "share" feature from Google reader to integrate with plus.google.com.

Above all de Führer too is not happy with your decision.

Brooks was here


I was in Bangalore for two days, I kinda liked it.