Introducing Task Colors

The Task improvements just keep on coming.  In the wake of our Tasks 2.0 release, drag-and-drop Tasks, and Personal Tasks, we’ve now shipped Task Colors.

Task Colors offers a visual way to organize your tasks that is especially helpful in the Calendar View of tasks.

For any task, you can now set a task color.  This color appears in all the different views of the task.  For example, on the Calendar View, the entire task is colored in to make it easy to see.

The task color can mean whatever you want it to mean, and is independent of Task List, due date, or any other bit of task information.  For example, you can highlight your critical tasks in red, then sort by task color on the Sort View of tasks to find all your important tasks.

All your existing tasks will be set to “no color,” and if you don’t want to use Task Colors, simply don’t set any.

Task Colors is a no-cost upgrade to all business plans.

PBworks Spring Cleaning: Reclaiming idle workspaces May 15

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

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

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

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:


Introducing Workspace Summaries (and wiki page previews)

People use workspaces in many different ways–to manage projects, as an intranet, as a knowledgebase–and in each case, someone who wanted to develop a full understanding of what was happening on the workspace needed to look in a couple of different places.

The FrontPage, which is the default place to start, offers a great place to post messages and high-level information, but requires someone to keep it up to date.  Files provides a high-level view of all the uploaded files and wiki pages, but is a largely static picture.  Perhaps the most universal starting point is the Activity stream, but a stark list of recent changes doesn’t offer leaders and managers a way to provide context for all those actions.

That’s why we’ve created the Workspace Summary for our business products, which combines these different points of view into a single sweeping summary view of a workspace.  The Workspace Summary is a new initial screen for each workspace that includes the following:

  • Branding banner: A customizable graphic that runs the width of the screen, which you can use for branding and visual appeal
  • Workspace title and description: These used to appear only in settings, and on the Workspaces tab of your network; now they appear on the summary to provide the high-level description of your workspace
  • Links: You can specify key URLs, either to link to important parts of the workspace or to the external web
  • Recent activity: We’ve broken down your recent activity to recent uploads (file activity), recent pages and edits (wiki activity), and recent comments (comments on both files and pages).  And unlike the activity stream, this recent activity is graphical, taking advantage of the Gallery view of files that we recently developed
  • Workspace users: List key users like admins or guests, or simply provide the workspace roster on the initial screen

In addition to these features, you can also choose to include your existing FrontPage and/or Sidebar, so you can continue to leverage the content you’ve already developed.  The FrontPage is included by default, while the Sidebar is not.

The Workspace Summary is configurable, which means you can pick-and-choose which elements to show or hide on a workspace by workspace basis.  For example, the recent uploads section is probably essential for an asset repository, but the workspace users column is not.

If you’re an avid PBworks user, Workspace Summaries will let you make your workspaces even more valuable, especially for members of your team who need to come up to speed quickly.

If your team hasn’t yet adopted PBworks as an integral part of their workflow, Workspace Summaries are a great reason to re-introduce them to your network, they will help individual team members engage with the product.

If you’re using our freemium business product, you don’t have to do a thing; the summaries will just magically appear.  Because your existing wiki FrontPage will be configured to appear as part of the summary, you’ll still be able to see all the same information, plus all the new summary enhancements.  And if you want to configure a summary, just go to Settings > Advanced > Summary Tab.

If you’re one of our paying customers, you’ll be able to activate it for any of your workspaces from Settings > Advanced > Summary Tab.  If you decide that you want to turn them on for all your workspaces, contact our Support team or your account manager, and we’ll turn in on by default (you’ll still be able to toggle Summaries off on a workspace-by-workspace basis).

We’ve also released two other enhancements.

First, we’ve added wiki page previews to the Gallery View, folder contents plugin, and the “recent pages and edits” section of Workspace Summaries.  You’ve been able to see a preview of the files in those views; now you can also see a preview of any wiki pages in those files.  And of course, clicking on them will take you to the full page.

We’ve also improved the Workspaces list in User Profiles.  The old list let you see which workspaces a user had joined.  The new list incorporates the Workspace Cards we developed for the main Workspaces tab.  These cards, which appear upon mouseover, provide a quick overview of the workspace, along with a list of possible actions.

Thanks again for being a PBworks user!

Introducing Keynote and HTML5 File Preview

One of the most popular features of our business products is the ability to view a preview of your files and documents online from within PBworks, without having to download and open them.

We’ve just added two key enhancements to our file preview functionality, which should make our product even better for our Apple users.

HTML5 Preview

Two important web technologies are Adobe’s Flash and HTML5.  You may be familiar with Flash because of its use for playing videos on websites like YouTube; HTML5 is an open standard that provides similar capabilities.

One of the key limitations of Flash is that Apple’s iOS devices like iPhones and iPads don’t support it.  Because the first version of our file preview functionality relied on Flash, it wasn’t accessible on iOS devices, which is a shame, because file preview is especially powerful on mobile devices, which are unlikely to be able to read Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.  PBworks’ file previews make these documents readable without downloading.

Yesterday, we launched an HTML5 version of our file preview.  This means that you can new preview and read documents on your iPhones and iPads, just like you did on your computer before.  You can log into PBworks using the same URL, login, and password.  Go ahead, try it out!

Keynote Preview

Another software applications which should be familiar to Apple users is Keynote, Apple’s presentation software (the Microsoft equivalent is PowerPoint).  While Keynote is popular with some Mac users for its ability to create beautiful presentations, it poses compatibility issues because Keynote files can’t be opened by non-Mac computers.

Our Keynote Preview feature extends PBworks’ file preview capabilities to Keynote presentations, which means that you can now share Keynote presentations with non-Mac users.

Note that the Keynote Preview feature requires you to change your Keynote settings so that a preview is generated when you create your presentation.  You can also make this work for existing presentations by using Keynote’s “Duplicate…” command.  Once you set up your copy of Keynote to create previews, this should happen automatically for all new files.

For more information on our file preview functionality, or for more detailed instructions and screenshots, please visit our user manual.

New Business/Freemium Features: Visual workspace enhancements, Exporting workspace properties, Support designation

Last night, we released a number of features we’ve been working on for the past few weeks.  We hope that these new features will give you even more ways to customize and get value from PBworks.

1. Workspace Enhancements:

We’ve added a host of new features to improve the visual experience of working with PBworks workspaces.

a. Collections
We’re changing the name of “Network Folders” to “Collections.”  This is designed to eliminate the confusion that tended to arise from referring to both groups of workspaces and the folders within workspaces as “folders.”  You’ll also be able to select a logo for each collection, which will further enhance the visual appeal of the Workspaces tab.

For example, if Nike is one of your clients, and you’re working on several projects for Nike, you can gather all the project workspaces in a single Nike collection and add the Nike swoosh as the collection’s logo.

b. Larger logos
As you may have noticed, we’ve enhanced the pop-up cards that appear when you hover over things in PBworks like users, workspaces, and yes, collections.  These cards include essential information about the thing in question, and the cards for workspaces and collections can now include a much larger (up to 360 x 360 pixel) logo for added visual appeal.  This has been a popular request by customers who use PBworks on a client-facing basis–being able to see the clients’ logos more clearly is a key visual improvement.

The current workspace logos that you’ve uploaded will remain in place at the top of your workspaces, but to take advantage of the new larger logos, you’ll need to upload full-sized logos.

c. Workspace logo plugin
Once you’ve uploaded a larger workspace logo, you can take advantage of it with the new workspace logo plugin.  Much like our network logo plugin, the workspace logo plugin lets you add the workspace logo to any wiki page.  This has several advantages over simply uploading a logo and inserting it.  First, the workspace logo is a part of the workspace creation process.  When you create a new workspace, you’ll be given an opportunity to upload the logo during the creation process, rather than having to do so afterwards.  Second, the workspace logo plugin allows to you make the workspace logo part of your workspace templates.  For example, a template for customer projects could include this plugin, which would automatically add the customer’s logo to the front page of the workspace.

Again, to take advantage of this new plugin on existing workspaces, you’ll need to upload a full-sized (up to 360 x 360 pixel) logo.

d. Default workspace logos
Tired of our classic blank workspace logo?  Internal wags have taken to calling it “the PBworks flag,” since it includes three horizontal stripes, like seemingly half of the world’s nations (e.g. Armenia, Austria, Bulgaria, and so on).  Our Creative Director was tired of it as well, which is why we’re replacing it with a new set of more attractive-looking default workspace logos.

Now, whenever you create a new workspace and you don’t bother to upload your own logo, we’ll randomly select one of 25 attractive designs for you.  We’ll even go back and select new default logos for existing workspaces that don’t have logos uploaded.  This will make it easier to distinguish between different workspaces, and eliminate the “wall of flags” look that affected many of our customers.  Naturally, you’ll still be able to upload a new workspace logo at any time (and you can even upload a copy of the old PBworks flag if you miss it!).

If you’ve been using the workspace color schemes to distinguish between workspaces, don’t worry, we’ve still got you covered.  The workspace cards that appear when you mouse over a workspace in the list now reflect the color schemes you’ve previously selected!


2. Workspace Properties Export

We’ve been surprised by the different uses our customers have found for our workspace properties.  These include things as diverse as the project leader and expected deal size.  As a result, one of the most popular feature requests from our customers has been for a way to generate reports based on workspace properties.  We’ve taking a significant step towards that goal with our new workspace properties export feature.

Now, network administrators can go to the Admin tab and pull a CSV export of all workspaces and their properties.  This report includes key facts and figures like the collection a workspace belongs to, the total storage consumed, and the value of all workspace properties.  You can then use Excel or your other favorite visualization tool to convert this data into graphs and charts.

Need to be able to tell your CEO the total value of potential deals, or provide a list of all “Hot” prospects?  As long as that information is encoded in a workspace property, now you can.


3. Support Designation

The final improvement we’ve launched is another popular request from our bigger customers.  While we’re happy to handle the end-user support for your PBworks network, many larger organizations would prefer that help inquiries go directly to their IT staff.  The new Support Designation feature lets you funnel all support requests to a support page or email address of your choosing.  Plus, we’ll still record the key information (operating system, browser version) in those emails so that if you’re stumped, you can still forward the issue on to our support team and let us resolve it.

We hope that you take the time to explore and take advantage of this latest set of improvements.  As always, feel free to send us your feedback and suggestions.  As you can see, we’re dedicated to improving the PBworks experience for you and your users.

Printing Workspace Pages

We recently discovered an issue with the software package we use to create printable PDFs from your workspace pages.  We’re looking for a suitable replacement.

In the meantime, you can still print your workspace pages.  Instead of using a PDF, you can select “Printable Version” and we’ll provide an easily printed web page.  If you still need a PDF, many web browsers, like Google Chrome, now offer the option to print to a PDF file, or installed software on your own computer can also generate a PDF through the printer interface.

Once we’ve found, tested, and implemented a suitable replacement (a process which we believe will take a number of weeks) we will switch back to providing printable PDFs.  We apologize for any inconvenience in the interim.

Introducing Search Results Sorting (business feature)

One of the features in PBworks that customers love the most is the search.  We’ve continued to improve it over the years, adding the ability to search within files, and more recently, adding search facets so that you can filter results by things like file type, or who last edited an item.

Yesterday night, we launched our latest search enhancement, the ability to sort your search results.

You can sort search results in one of three ways:

  1. Relevance: This is how the search currently works, and is the default
  2. Name: This alphabetizes the search results (numbers come before letters; blank spaces come in front of numbers)
  3. Date: This lets you bring the most recent search results to the top, while pushing the earliest results to the bottom. This is especially handy for finding something you were working on recently, but was getting lost in other search results.

Search results sorting works with search faceting, so you can sort results after filtering, or vice versa.

Check it out, and let us know what you think!

Search results sorting is now active on all business packages.