Archive | March, 2013

PBworks Spring Cleaning: Reclaiming idle workspaces May 15

29 Mar

This May, PBworks celebrates its 8th birthday.  We have thousands and thousands of workspaces dating back to 2005, many of which have lain idle for years.  The problem with these idle workspaces is that they take up a lot of valuable URLs without doing either us (PBworks) or their creators any good.

That’s why PBworks is doing a little spring cleaning to prepare for our birthday.  On May 15, 2013, we are going to reclaim any workspaces that haven’t been changed (page edited, comment made, file uploaded) since May 15, 2012.  In other words, if a workspace has been inactive for more than a year, we’re considering it abandoned, and will reclaim it and delete the data.

Reclaiming these idle workspaces will free up thousands of potentially useful URLs for people who will actually put them to use.  This won’t affect our paying customers (though we’ve checked–no one who is paying us has left their workspace/network idle for an entire year!) or anyone who has actually used PBworks since the middle of 2012.

If you have any old workspaces you’d like to keep, all you have to do is log in to them!  We’ll know you’re still getting value from them, and they won’t be reclaimed.  We’ll also post warnings on your workspaces prior to the reclamation date, so if you don’t see any warnings, your workspace is safe.

Workspace Properties Upgrade

27 Mar

One of the more unique features of PBworks is the ability to combine structured and unstructured data.

Structured data is the kind of information you might find in a database with a very specific format, like a phone number.

In contrast, unstructured data is a blog of information that doesn’t impose any requirements, like a wiki page.

PBworks often combines structured with unstructured data.  Take Tasks, for example.  Some aspects of a task are structured (due date, person responsible).  But others are unstructured (comments and updates).  Sometimes, the two are even more firmly intertwined.  For example, you can add a link within a task (structured), but the wiki page or file that you linked to is unstructured data.

One of the key structured data elements PBworks provides are Workspace Properties.  These properties can be defined and assigned to the workspaces in your network, making it easy to designate a Project Leader or Due Date.

Properties can be formatted as text, a number, a date, a user, or a pre-defined list of options.

We just released a major upgrade to Workspace Properties, which takes this powerful tool and makes it even easier to use.  Some of the newly released features include:

1) Support for multi-value properties.  Let’s say you’re listing the offices involved in a project.  Now you can designate New York and Los Angeles.  If you’ve already assigned more than one property value to a workspace, we’ll automatically check off multi-value support for you.

2) Workspace Properties are now visible on the Workspace Card.  When you mouse over a Workspace, the Workspace Card pops up to provide you with options and information.  the newly upgraded Workspace Card now displays all the properties of the workspace.  And if you’re a Workspace Admin, you can even edit them right on the Workspace Card.

3) Properties section of the Workspace Summary Tab.  Want to make sure all your users can see the properties?  The Summary Tab now includes a section that allows you to “Show properties.”  Just decide if you want 1, 2, or 3 columns, and we’ll format a table listing those properties, complete with a background color that matches the workspace theme and color scheme.

This Workspace Properties upgrade is active for all our business users, and comes at no extra cost.  We plan to be doing more with structured data in the future, so stay tuned!

Introducing Drag-and-drop Tasks and Personal Tasks

27 Mar

Now that we’ve launched Tasks 2.0, we’ve come back three weeks later and made our project management even better.

With Monday’s upgrade, you’re now able to drag-and-drop tasks.  From the Task List view of tasks, you can drag-and-drop tasks to reorder them within a Task List, move them between Task Lists, or reorder Task Lists.  You now have full control over the ordering of Tasks.

All you have to do is use your mouse (or trackpad) to grab a Task or Task List, then drag it to the desired location.  Note that you can’t grab a Task or Task List by the title; you have to grab another part of the Task or Task List. (Also bear in mind that drag-and-drop re-ordering is per-workspace–if you reorder the tasks on a workspace, all of the members of that workspace will see the new order when they go to the Tasks tab.  If the order of Tasks and Task Lists has changed since the last time you saw it, it probably means another team member rearranged them.)

We’ve also added tasks to your Personal Workspace (paid networks only).  Now, you can use PBworks for all your personal to-do items as well, and have them show up on your personalized Network Dashboard.

Just as with any other workspace, you can create Task Lists on your Personal Workspace to distinguish between your “Shopping” and “Workout” to-dos, or whatever other categories make sense to you.  But your personal tasks are on your private Personal Workspace.

We hope you enjoy the latest improvements to Tasks.  There’s more to come in the near future!

Introducing Tasks 2.0

5 Mar

The goal of Tasks 2.0 is to dramatically improve the usability of tasks.  This includes making it easier to create, view, and edit tasks.  We want you to make tasks a part of your daily work life.

The Tasks Tab

The new Tasks Tab looks similar, but provides more information and better usability.  The entire view is now filterable, so you can quickly find the specific task you want.  In addition to your previous ability to filter by task assignee, you can now filter by name and due date.

In addition to name, assignee, and due date, each task also displays whether or not it includes a link (more on that later) and the number of comments that have been made.

One change is that Milestones are now Task Lists.  We found that the overwhelming majority of people used Milestones as task lists, without ever using the due date feature.  We’ve made the change official, though those of you who used Milestone due dates don’t have to worry; we’ll automatically add all your Milestone due dates to any tasks to which they apply.

Tasks 2.0 also makes it much easier to edit your tasks.  If you mouse over the name of a task, you now see a Task Card that lets you check the assignee and/or due date without leaving the page.  Or, if you want to make more extensive changes, clicking the pencil icon lets you edit the Task right from this screen; in addition to assignee and due date, you can also change the task’s name, insert a link, or even move it to another workspace.

We’ve dramatically enhanced what used to be called the Due Date view.  The new Sort View starts with your tasks sorted by due date, just like the Due Date view.  But in addition to sorting by due date, you can also sort by the task name, to whom it’s been assigned, the task list, and the number of comments.  As with the standard view, you can mouse over any task to pull up a Task Card, and click the pencil icon to edit the Task.

Finally, we’ve added Task Cards to the Calendar View of tasks.  Now, when you scan the calendar for upcoming tasks, you can use the Task Cards to change the due date and assignment of the tasks, and click through to view the content link and any comments (if they’ve been added).

The Task View

We’ve also improved the view we provide of individual tasks.  The previous task view was a simple activity stream, which mixed together all types of activity.  This made it hard to follow the conversation around a task.

The new task view maintains the activity stream, but breaks out and highlights comments in their own section, making it easy to follow the conversation.  It also highlights key information about the task, such as the due date, assignee, and link (if applicable) to make it easier to find.

You can add a single designated link while creating or editing a task.  This link lets you explicitly link your task to a piece of content.  If you need to add more than one link, you can still add those links in the comments, much as you did in the old system.

Task List View

One new view we’ve added is the Task List View.  If you want to focus on a single task list, you can drill down and work with just the tasks that belong to that list.  You can filter, sort, and even view the tasks in calendar view.

My Tasks

Tasks 2.0 improves working with tasks everywhere in the product.  For example, My Tasks on your personal Dashboard now includes all the features of the Sort View, including filtering and sorting by task name, task list, and number of comments, as well as sorting by workspace.  My Tasks also includes the ability to create a new task from the Dashboard.

The User Profile has also been updated to including the sorting features of the Sort View.

Network Bar Tasks

For a while now, we’ve had a tasks shortcut in the Network Bar at the top of your screen.  This check mark let you pull a list of your incomplete tasks, then navigate to the one you selected.  Tasks 2.0 enhances this feature, letting you edit the tasks in the Network Bar.  It will also allow you to create a task from any screen.

Task Reminders

While task reminders have appeared in our change notification emails, Tasks 2.0 breaks these out into Daily and Weekly task reminder emails.  No need to nag your people; we’ll do it for you!  Every user gets to choose whether to receive Daily or Weekly task reminder emails (they can also choose not to receive any task reminder emails, though this should be discouraged.)  Depending on what they choose, we’ll either email a list of upcoming tasks at the beginning of every week or send a list of tasks that are overdue or due that day each morning.

Task Notifications

One popular feature of our old tasks system was the automatic notification of task assigner and task assignee whenever changes were made.  What this system left out were folks who might be interested in the task’s progress despite not being responsible.

Tasks 2.0 extends our concept of “sticky” notifications to tasks.  Sticky notifications use your actions to determine which notifications you’re likely to find interesting.  If you’ve edited a wiki page or commented on a file, we expect you’ll want to know about future changes to that item.   With Tasks 2.0, the same approach will apply to tasks.  If you comment on a task, you’ll be notified about future comments and changes.

If you’d like to learn more about Tasks 2.0, you can get detailed, step-by-step instructions with images by visiting our user manual.

You can also watch a recording of our Tasks 2.0 Preview Webinar: