OnTime 11.1: Subitems, GitHub and Drag-and-Drop

Today, we are announcing the release of OnTime 11.1. Even though this is a .1 release, it contains some of the most important and useful enhancements that we’ve ever added to OnTime. The top new features are:

Subitems

The best way to discuss the new Subitems feature in OnTime 11.1 is using an example. And what better example than showing you what the “Subitems” feature itself looked like in the OnTime instance our own dev team uses:


(screenshot of the new Subitems feature in OnTime as used by the OnTime team)

In the screenshot above, you can see the “Subitems” parent feature.  Below it, indented and marked using a subitem icon, there are 7 subitems listed. These are the subitems that the OnTime team added after they had the ability to add subitems in OnTime. What’s great about subitems is that it lets you easily break down larger features into a number of smaller items, each with its own status, workflow, assignee and work remaining. The parent item consolidates the data, showing the total amount of work done and remaining.

Subitems make managing large features much, much simpler. You can track them as individual units by collapsing all the subitems, or you can expose all the details and still have roll-up information. Once you start using this feature, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. Our own teams now heavily rely on Subitems as part of the day-to-day development of OnTime. Even our marketing team uses subitems heavily breaking down larger tasks (such as “Update axosoft.com web site for OnTime 11.1 launch”) into a number of smaller items assigned to different team members.

GitHub Integration

Over the past couple of years, as distributed version control systems (DVCS) such as Git have gained popularity, one particular “Git-in-the-cloud” provider has emerged as the leader: GitHub. When you use GitHub, you immediately realize why: they’ve done an amazing job of simplifying Git. They’re now hosting millions of repositories. Git is the new standard for DVCS systems and GitHub is the new standard of hosting Git in the cloud.

But one area that isn’t a GitHub core strength, is tracking defects and features for software development teams or managing their products from inception to completion. Fortunately, the GitHub folks were smart enough to build integration hooks, which means Axosoft can provide you with seamless integration between GitHub and OnTime.

To set up the integration, you start by going to the OnTime System Options in the GitHub Integration section. There, you will see a screen that looks like this:

Once you enable the GitHub integration, the OnTime APIs that allow for GitHub and OnTime to talk to each other will start to work. The API key, which should be kept secure, will be needed for the API calls. This API key will need to be provided to GitHub in GitHub’s service hooks section (where you’ll need to find the OnTime service hook):

Once the setup has been done, all of your GitHub users will be able to relate code commits to specific items in the OnTime system using a special syntax in the comments of the commit. The special syntax is in the following form:

[otX: # wl:# TIMEUNIT]

 Where “ot” refers to OnTime and “X” is one of:

- d for Defect
- f for Feature
- i for Incident
- t for Task

and # refers to the item number.

Then the optional “wl” tells the system to add a work log entry where # refers to the amount of time and the word “TIMEUNIT” is replaced with whatever time unit you happen to use (hours, days, story points, etc.).

An example of a commit comment would look like:

 This GitHub commit would communicate with OnTime and connect this change set to Defect #98 in the OnTime system. So inside of OnTime, the above commit will show up in the new GitHub tab:

From there, users can see the associated files and open them directly from the OnTime system.

Furthermore, with a single GitHub commit, users can connect a change set to multiple OnTime items, create work log entries on those items (so that OnTime can track the amount of work done and remaining) and even move the items automatically to another workflow step.

We think GitHub users are going to love the new OnTime/GitHub integration. We’ve also built in a system to import your existing GitHub issues as a one-time importer into the OnTime system.

If you’re a startup company using GitHub and don’t yet have an OnTime account, this might be a great time to start using OnTime for your bug tracking and project management needs. We’ve made the OnTime Express product FREE for 1 year for new startups with 10 or fewer employees. Learn more about this here: Free OnTime for Startups.

Drag-and-Drop

You might be thinking, “Really? Drag-and-drop is your big new feature?” Well, yeah! First, it’s rare to see drag-and-drop in web-based applications. But even if you’re used to some drag-and-drop capabilities, what you get in OnTime 11.1 is nothing like you’ve ever seen in a web-based application.

Drag-and-drop is now a core functionality of OnTime’s grid and Organization sections. You can drag-and-drop one or more items on the grid to create parent/child relationships…or to move items to a different project…or to plan out releases and sprints…or to assign items to team members. It’s incredibly powerful, extremely efficient and most of all: a HUGE time saver.

The only way to demonstrate the new power of the drag-and-drop feature is to do so using a video. Take a look at this:

Large Project Tree Performance Improvements

For some of our customers who have been using OnTime for a number of years, the projects (and subprojects) that they have in the OnTime system have exceeded the thousands. If you are one of those customers, you may have also been frustrated with the amount of time that the project tree took to load. For example, if you had 5,000 projects, OnTime might take 10 or more seconds to load the project tree.

Not anymore.

Previously, even if only 20 projects were visible, all 5,000 were being rendered by the system. In OnTime 11.1 we’ve changed the behavior so that only the projects that are visible on the projects tree are the ones that render. As such, loading the project tree is now a sub-second activity that you’ll rarely if ever notice. It just works…and damn fast!

Where is Subitems in OnTime for Windows?

The short answer is: it’s not supported.

Here is a slightly longer answer: While users can add subitems in OnTime for Web, those subitems will show up like any other parent item in OnTime for Windows. They will be shown without any information about the parent/child relationship.

There is no way to sugar coat this, so here it goes: I seriously doubt we will continue to make OnTime for Windows for more than another year. In fact, even a year might be optimistic. You see, we had to make a decision about the future of OnTime and with limited resources, it was slowing us down to continue to make the same enhancements to two different products. So as I was reminded of a quote from Steve Jobs (and Wayne Gretzky), we decided to go where the puck is going, not where the puck has been. Web applications are our future. I believe all desktop applications’ days are numbered. We decided to focus the vast majority of our development efforts on the future. Our goal for OnTime for Windows is to make sure we don’t break it…at least for a while.

If you are an OnTime Windows user, I want to urge you to take a look at OnTime 11.1 for the web. It is absolutely amazing! It’s faster than OnTime for Windows. Yes, it’s faster! It’s better in virtually every way and it doesn’t require an installation on every single user’s machine. Try it and see what you’re missing. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Just to be clear, you can still install OnTime locally and use the web version or run the web version in our hosted environment, which we call OnTime Now.

Here is a walkthrough video of the new OnTime 11.1 features that will show you how powerful the new OnTime 11.1 is especially now that it supports drag-and-drop:

So there you have it. OnTime 11.1 is out. We hope you love it as much as we do.

  • Joe Smith

    Wow!! I knew this was coming. Don’t get me wrong what you guys have done with an HTML web app is impressive, but it’s a long way from providing the accuracy, fine detail that a windows application or a flex or a Silverlight application could provide. I’m really disappointed to hear this:( I also hate that I led my company down this path based on the UX of what the windows client provided…

    • http://www.axosoft.com Hamid Shojaee

      Joe, I understand your concern. Believe me, as a long-time OnTime Windows user, I was hesitant to make the switch myself. I didn’t think it was possible to provide the fine details of a desktop application in a web browser. I was wrong! I suspect you haven’t yet used the OnTime 11.1 web interface for day-to-day use. I encourage you to try it for a week. Right now, you can use OnTime Windows (because we still support it) and OnTime Web side-by-side, so you have nothing to lose and it doesn’t cost you a dime to do it. Try OnTime Web for a week (make sure it’s V11.1) and see what you think after that. There have been a number of users who were skeptical at first and will never go back.

  • Anonymous

    I understand the need for moving in this direction. But since you are eliminating (in the near future) the windows “Fat Client” application. What are your plans for SCM integrations being that you are moving exclusively to a web based application.

    • http://www.axosoft.com Hamid Shojaee

      The OnTime web product has extremely tight SCM integration with Github and Subversion.

      • Anonymous

        According to you forums, SVN integration is only available with the .NET plugin or the windows “fat client”. If that is true, are you saying that the only integration that is available for us is to use Github? If that’s the case then that’s a deal killer.

  • David

    The web version is no where near as rich, so I guess 11.1 will be our last version until we locate another product. Your right the writing was on the wall, our maintenace is due next month and I guess this helps us decide the value in renewing it.. We wont be.

    • Anonymous

      Couldn’t agree more. This is the second product you have abandoned since I have been a customer. RocketSVN was the other……..

  • David L

    I would also like to add my disappointment to the death of the windows client. I have tried the new web client but it doesn’t fix the problems I had with the windows client, and it adds a few new inconveniences.

    I think you’ve done a great job with the web client. But the claim that it’s as rich as the windows client, it’s partly due to the neglect the windows client has received over the last couple of years. There are quite a few simple features that have been requested many many times over, but nothing has been done (e.g. a spell checker). The grid control in OnTime for Windows is fairly primitive by today’s standard, and the app could be a LOT more productive if it were given a fairly simple revamp.

    Having said all that, I fully understand your argument as we are facing the very same issues with our application. We are working on a web client that will be available early next year, but I certainly do not see it matching the usability/productivity of our windows app in the foreseeable future. If we froze development in Windows maybe, but Windows will evolve, and we plan to move with it. It’s an added cost for sure, but if we dropped support for windows now our customers would leave in droves.

  • http://gravatar.com/torq Apolon

    I tried the web version and the general feel is still not near the same as a native windows client for day to day operations. We’ll be reviewing the choice of feature/issue management software. This is just a natural side effect of such a major inflection point as announcing the slow death of a product line. In the mean time we’ll retry the web version for day to day use. I’m not convinced from the last attempt.

  • Anonymous

    I love what you guys have done with the web app. That being said I’m extremely disappointed to hear that the Windows client will be dropped. I think it will be a huge deal breaker for a lot of your prospective clients. The web app is very nice but it doesn’t compare to a well made Windows application.

  • http://www.tvn-elze.de Michael Keuer

    i’m also very disappointed. And when the Windows Client is not yet available, its like another software for us. We then will defintely show what the market has to offer.

    • Jeff Walter

      Our company will also be looking to the market to see what other products are offering in 2012. The pricing structure for On time is not scalable and we cannot justify this within our budget. In addition, since we are losing 3 years worth of project data, we will have to see what the competition is offering.

      Very disappointed.

      • http://www.axosoft.com Hamid Shojaee

        Hi Jeff. Your comment that “since we are losing 3 years worth of project data” was a bit confusing. I wanted to make sure you understand that going with OnTime Web does not mean you would lose any data. It’s a 100% seamless transition. In fact, you can use OnTime Windows and Web at the same time.

  • Jeff Walter

    The good news is that there is no point in paying for support on the windows client any longer.

  • Anonymous

    I too am sad to hear the death bells of the Windows client. One of the reasons our company chose OnTime was because of the availability of client programs: Windows, Web and VS.NET plugin. Also, I believe that this is one of OnTime’s greatest advantages over the many competitors. With the demise of the Windows client, I feel that OnTime is less unique, and less likely to be chosen over the various other project management tools.

  • http://www.axosoft.com Hamid Shojaee

    A few clarifications…

    1) OnTime Web can still be run on YOUR servers. Going with OnTime Web does not mean you have to go with the hosted service. All your data would remain intact.

    2) You can use OnTime Web and Windows at the same time. There is no extra cost for this. You can access all your data from both client types.

    3) The OnTime VS.NET client will continue to be supported. In fact, we will likely put more resources on this product in the future.

    4) I have OnTime Web & Windows here side by side and virtually every action that can be performed in OnTime Windows is faster in OnTime Web (V11.1). I am wondering if the people who think OnTime Windows is better than Web have been comparing it to OnTime Web V10 or use an outdated browser such as IE 7 or 8? If that is the case, I would highly encourage a review of OnTime Web V11.1 using the latest version of Chrome or FireFox. OnTime Web was re-written from scratch in V11. The V10 product (or older versions) are not comparable.

    • Joe Smith

      Hamid,
      I’ve been using OnTime v11 since it came out and I’ve always used Chrome to run it in, as I found out that Explorer was a no-no with OnTime V11. You are right when you say that OnTime V11 is fast, this is very true for my company as we have a hosted account with OnTime and the Windows client is slow compared to OnTime V11 web. When we first started with OnTime the web was version 10, so I let everyone download and use the Windows client. After version 11 web came out I went around and got everyone to install Chrome and put a shortcut for version 11 web in Chrome for them. When the next release of OnTime came out I got a rash of calls from everyone telling me their OnTime quit working. I was like “What”? When I started going to users machine I discovered that 98% of them went back to using the Windows client and it wasn’t self updating for them. I wasn’t surprised as I too had went back to using the Windows client. In the web version items in the interface seem large and bulky and not as sharp. When I right click I don’t know if I’ll get a meaningful context menu or an HTML menu. The menu items seem delayed and “ghosty”. Scroll bars love to pop-up in the web version in the oddest places. Also, how do I build/edit my custom reports in the web version? I know I’m being picky here and I can understand what you’re trying to do from a resource/cost perspective but I still think not having the Windows client is a mistake. Thanks for letting me voice my opinion:)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the heads up, we have a year to switch from your product. You will learn quickly to do whats best for your customer, not what is best for you. I guess there is no sense in renewing support. In regards to the cloud, after the thunder, cometh the rain.

  • Günter Kieninger

    Time to look for a alternative. Too many ‘I am sorry, but…’-Mails from the support for things which should work or should be available and now the death of the Win-client.
    I am really sorry about the wasted time and money …

  • ross


    Where is Subitems in OnTime for Windows?

    The short answer is: it’s not supported.

    Does it mean, OnTime for Windows is unsupported? Like no new features, just critical bug fixes? For our usage and 15 licenses this is important information.
    Btw, I have the feeling, that some times ago there were not a lot systems based on WinForms, so you just take the business chance.
    Now you have a lot of clients and you are able to change platform silently.
    Thx for answers.

    • http://www.axosoft.com Hamid Shojaee

      Ross, I don’t think we’re very “silent” about it. The change is happening. Much like the transition from DOS applications to Windows happend years ago, the companies that were sticking to their DOS strategy ended up dying. The writing is on the wall for Windows Desktop apps. Not just OnTime. All of them. We needed to make a decision where we put our resources and our bet is on the Web and Mobile. We will also create better integration directly inside of IDEs like Visual Studio. But a full-blown desktop app in 5 years seems unimaginable.

  • DL-ONE

    Hamid, I think, to name DOS, is a bit misleading. Anyway, can you imagine, still DOS applications is out there? Yes, in 2011. And they do the job. Everyday. Back to the matter. I think is not about the survival of the desktop apps. They survive, I’m sure about it. At least, I hope it deeply. This is about the fact, the software developers and ISP-s hysterically want to move the customers to the cloud. Why, we all know, and best of us you do. But it is mostly just a popoular name as so much around us. It is so good, we can use words, what just a few people understand. And in the same time we can get the power of the information…But I think, the software developers do not want to move their sensetive data anywhere. This is why the resistance, they feel a beautiful day the own server will not be supported anymore (for example with a beautifull explanation wich begins so: “remember the DOS? That died as well”) …. and that is, that is a dark future. If i can choose, I do not want to take a part of that feature….
    BR,
    L

  • http://gravatar.com/torq Apolon Ivankovic

    Hamid Shojaee :
    The writing is on the wall for Windows Desktop apps. Not just OnTime. All of them. We needed to make a decision where we put our resources and our bet is on the Web and Mobile. We will also create better integration directly inside of IDEs like Visual Studio. But a full-blown desktop app in 5 years seems unimaginable.

    Hamid,
    My interpretation of the industry changes is a bit different from yours. “Traditional” Windows Desktop are going to fade away, but there’s plenty of room for highly responsive “native” apps regardless of whether these native apps are for the desktop environment or mobile or tablet/ipad. People want their apps to be easily/quickly installed/uninstalled, have no worries about the native app’s altering their local environment (sandboxed), have a very responsive UI and integrate well with the rest of their software/data. The latter is somewhat at tension with the sandboxed nature of modern apps.
    Yes sure, there’s a race between Web apps and Native apps to achieve all of this. Up until now, I’d say web apps haven’t fulfilled the promise otherwise why is there a huge native app market on tablets/phones? I gravitate to a native app on my ipad rather than a web app or page. They’re just quicker and easier to use. I still get that feeling when comparing the OnTime Web app and Windows app for the same data on screen density. Hence my response to your announcement of not retaining feature parity between Ontime Windows and Web from here on in.

  • Anonymous

    Lots of negative comments…for a good reason. No need to add any more, it’s time to leave the sinking ship. Looking at Telerik TeamPulse and Countersoft Gemini as solid .Net alternatives. Bye……………………..

  • Pat

    Just learned that Axosoft will be dropping the Windows client. I am very disappointed to hear that. I will have to agree with everyone posting negative comments about this decision. Native apps have always and, despite what many people like to sell, will always be faster and richer than Web based clients.

    At this time, I am not willing to make any threads of changing software, but the incentive to continue maintenance and upgrading has been seriously diminished and will need review when out support is up.

    Please reconsider you decision. We’ve been hearing for 10 years that the Web is going to take over and no one will want to use native clients yet as Apolon has pointed out people still would rather have a native phone/tablet app than a web app. Same thing for many desktop apps.

  • Anonymous

    I for one love the simplicity of administrating the web based application. We chose OnTime because it was web based and after searching for over a year we could not find any better alternative.

    I like to keep our own infrastructure clean of client side integrations, so the windows client is not an option. However I can understand if it is a dissapointment to existing users. My hope is that we will now see faster updates of reporting, customer portal, notification settings and hour registration. Everything else about the product is great.

  • Dan

    I am extremely disappointed to hear about the fact that Axosoft will drop the development of the Windows client.
    The functional reasons invoked for abandoning are not standing, as many of the voices in this thread pointed out. I feel all the reasons we are given are just excuses for cost cutting without any decision based on real customer feedback .
    The WEB client is so slow it is practically unusable for my overseas team and generally, I am not at all happy withe the usability.
    We are not a big client: about 25 users and 50 customer portal licenses, but I will think again if I will renew support for a year or start looking elsewhere,

  • Ted

    Can only add that I have tried Web version and it is not the same and it is not faster. All Details take 1-2 seconds to do ‘Loading…’ , Attachments don’t show date added (as Windows client does) , it is confusing I agree with menus and right clicking, I will need to retrain 10 guys here to switch to Web? Drag and drop items is great, but I accidentally dragged and item and lost the track where it went.
    I can also agree that Windows client was neglected for a long time, most features requested were culled and ignored with Hamid chasing new cool product or nesworthy item. It is all good to quote Steve Jobs all the time, but looking after existing customers is important too. We will also start looking at alternative solutions and will not renew next year unless things change. I don’t think Web browsers is the way go to and also telling people not to use IE and so on is restrictive. Thin web interfaced clients I think would be good. In fact, it would be better to speed up Windows Client and make it work faster via Remote server (url) so then my offshore team would not even need to use Web version.
    MS Outlook that we use know does work great over https connection and preferred to limited Web version of our Mail.

    • Skeptic

      Hear! Hear! Latest versions have focused on the newest “in thing” (SCRUM, IPad, Cloud, Web-based). I’m sure this could continue forever, but chasing the next “big” thing and ignoring the fundamentals will eventually mean that new customers will not be attracted to the platform, and there will be no one left to advocate for it either. Hamid’s candor is appreciated, and I’m not abandoning ship immediately. BUT, the web version is NOT as fully capable as the Windows version:
      1) SCM support; I MUST have support for SourceGear Vault.
      2) Information density; others have already pointed out the web interface isn’t as concise.
      3) Report editing; currently stuck with out of the box reports. Can’t even run custom reports that I created on the Windows side.

      Lastly, “I’ll believe it when I see it” with respect to the Visual Studio client. I haven’t even bothered installing the last two versions of the client because it was so limited compared to the Windows version. The Visual Studio client upgrade would seem to be an empty promise for now.

      I’m cautiously optimistic (by nature), and I hope that Axosoft hears our concerns and addresses them. Otherwise, our 50 licenses will also be expiring (along with a top listing on Axosoft’s customer page).

  • http://axosoft.com g

    We to are pondering over the future of our products and their platforms. Windows or Web? If I were to do it all over today I’d go Web. With proper architecture we can engineer a fast, efficient, and rich user experience. If you read into MS blogs regarding the future of VS and Windows in version 8 we’ll most likely see a merger between what we convetionally refer to as a windows and web based apps. Hell the next version of SL is suspected to render visual interfaces to both platforms. You can already see its happening with WPF. Why do you think Axosoft is able to crank out new features as quick as they do in their web based version. Because its more versatile, masterpages, content pages, themes, skins, styles. With that you can do just about anything without even touching the code base. I visited Axosoft and their crew for a week in their SCM training. Love ‘em.

    • http://axosoft.com g

      …and moreover. You can implement a reporting engine and integration using the web. No problem.

    • David L

      Well g, if what you say is true we won’t have to wait long until all the outstanding feature requests have been implemented in the new web client and it will be as good as the old windows client. I’d like to think you’re right, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Pat B

    Is it true what Skeptic said above that custom reports are not available in the Web client? Even custom reports created in the Windows client?

    If this is true Axosoft, please tell me again why I should be moving our install base to the Web client. This is just another thing where the Web client just doesn’t stack up to the Windows client.

    • http://www.axosoft.com Hamid Shojaee

      Pat, all of your custom reports would be accessible from the web client. You just can’t create custom reports in the web client. However, to create custom reports, you could continue to use the Windows client and still access those reports from web.

      • Pat B

        OK, so the custom reports created in the Windows client are available in the Web client. But Axosoft has already started making new features only available in the Web client and have announced that they will be dropping support of the Windows client. Sure hope you plan to add the ability to create custom reports in the Web client.

        We are still not happy with the dropping of the Windows client.