Once we “liberated” the system from the baggage the term Milestone brings, things started to develop towards a different direction and led to a couple of interesting features. One of the bad things about milestones is that tasks usually stayed in one milestone until their completion. Moving a task from one milestone to another probably meant that it was delayed, and this got a bad association - “Things didn’t go according to plan, and this task needs to be moved to a different milestone. Ugh!”
This is not the case with lists. It’s perfectly natural to move a task from one list to another. Maybe that’s the plan - to move tasks between lists until they are completed or scrapped. By drag and drop, just like on a Kanban board… That though process got us to one of my favorite improvement in this release - a different view of tasks in the Tasks tab.
Different Views for Different Workflows
Not all projects are made the same. Some are simple lists of tasks that need to be done. You don’t need to organize these tasks in any way - just check the list from top to bottom and you are done:
Or maybe you need multiple lists:
On the other hand, there are projects that require precise planning and scheduling, and an execution according to that schedule. Content strategy, advertising campaigns, busy newsrooms and other workplace scenarios. It’s useful to have a project timeline to see how things fit together. Everyone likes and understands this view, so much that some people even confuse it for project management:
The third type of projects we noticed are projects where the work “flows” through the system. While there is no strict scheduling, there is a process where tasks go from one step to another until they are completed. If each step is a list, and we display them as columns, you will get something like this:
I wanted to handle our development projects this way for years, but bolting a board on top of tasks and milestones was so hard that two of our previous attempts failed miserably. Both implementations were cumbersome add-ons on top of something that was never designed to flow, thanks to milestones. This is not the case with lists. They can be displayed horizontally or vertically and still make sense. Hooray for a simple solution!
Great thing about task views is that the user can choose them per project. For example, we like to keep development and hiring in a flow, but prefer scheduling for marketing activities. On the other hand, getting a new aquarium for our office is a simple to do list. Not all projects are made the same and the new ActiveCollab respects that.
Gantt Chart and Kanban Board
“OMG, did you just say that you are adding Gantt Charts and Kanban Boards to ActiveCollab!?”
Yes, and no.
Yes, because the new ActiveCollab can show you a project timeline when you set start and due dates for lists and tasks. It can also present tasks in column view where you can quickly drag and drop between columns.
At the same time - no because we do not want to get attached to “Gantt Chart” and “Kanban Board” terms like we did with milestones, for reasons listed here. These terms bring so much extra baggage that we do not want to carry into the future. Task dependencies? No thanks. Swim-lanes? Nope. Kanban is all about capacity control, right? Correct, but this is not a Kanban board, and therefore it doesn’t have capacity control.
Instead of a Gantt Chart and Kanban Board, the new ActiveCollab has timeline and column views for tasks. These are flexible, primitive terms that do not move these features in a direction of greater complexity for little or no benefit.
Here’s how task views actually look like in the new ActiveCollab.