Category Archives: Tools

What’s New in 14.2?

We’re delighted to announce the Axosoft Suite Version 14.2 Release. At a glance, 14.2 features include:

  • Daily Scrum- Get a quick snapshot of your team’s progress to add a visual layer to your daily standup.

  • WIP Limits- Limit the number of items inside a workflow step or limit the number of items a user has in a workflow step.

  • Axosoft HelpDesk Improvements-  Send notifications using the [Created by Email Address] option and copy an item to defect, task, feature, etc by changing the workflow step.

  • UI updates- We have improved the user interface for Email Accounts and Archiving page plus more.

You can watch our What’s New  video here, or continue reading below!

Daily Scrum

When it came to our Daily Scrum, it wasn’t uncommon to have team members forget what work they did yesterday or what exactly they were responsible for that day. Sometimes we had team members abuse the 15 minute limit and talk forever. We realized all this information exists in the Axosoft product; so we put together a projector-friendly visual that augments your communication with the team (with a timer for those long-winded individuals). We’ve started using this everyday internally, and now we can’t really remember a time without it!

Daily Scrum Feature

Get all the essential information you need to guide team members through the Daily Scrum.

You’ll notice the Daily Scrum icon is now enabled next to the Tools menu. A new window opens and you quickly see tons of information – so let’s break it down. Your current release selection is located in the top left corner just above today’s date. Clicking on this will give you access to select other releases you may be working on. Over towards the top center, you’ll find the release timeline. If this is one of multiple sprints in a greater release, you’ll see exactly how that fits with your release timeframe. Pretty cool right?

Sprints

We hope all these awesome visuals add even more information to your Daily Scrum.

WIP Limits

For those who love Kanban, we’re happy to introduce WIP limits. Here’s what Card View will look like once you’ve enabled WIP limits:

WIP Limits

There are now WIP limits visible in the appropriate workflow column headers.

WIP is short for work in process, and now within workflow settings you can restrict the number of items inside a workflow step or restrict the number of items a user has in a workflow step (or both!). You also have the option to go over WIP limits depending on your setting preferences.

WIP Limit and Workflow Step Settings

All WIP Limit configuration is accessible from Workflow Step Settings.

Although WIP limits are visible in card view, they are still enforced when changing workflow from list view or when editing an item directly. Give WIP limits a try in to see how it affects your team’s workflow!

 

Axosoft HelpDesk Love

Help Desk Email Manager

Here’s a peek into what the email manager will look like with the 14.2 release.

We’ve made a number of improvements to Axosoft HelpDesk with updates to email and workflow.  In addition to updating the UI for managing email accounts, we’ve added the option to send notifications using the [created by email address] option. Now you can notify any one who sends an email about changes without having to add them as a customer contact first.

manage your notifications

When you manage your notifications, you’ll have access to this new option.

Just to reiterate, this means there’s no need to create a customer contact for every person who emails a ticket (or bug, or feature request, etc) to send them updates. If you have customers who need updating, be sure to try this notification recipient because it will save you time.

This same information can flow to another item type thanks to the second new workflow setting: Copy to [Item Type]. You can now automatically copy an item to defect, task, feature, etc just by changing the workflow step. To do so, edit the desired workflow step and enable the setting.

Copying Items

Select which item type you’d like to copy. We’ve chosen defects for this example.

For example, I get a ticket emailed into the system from Irene. Upon closer inspection, it’s clear this is a bug so I just change the workflow step to Closed-Defect. Irene is then automatically notified of the change to defect and then she’s kept up to date on any changes from that point forward thanks to my [Created by Email Address] setting. This should help things flow much smoother.

Other new updates include:

  • UI Updates for Archive Manager
  • Global Culture setting for language
    • Found under System Options/Localization
  • User preferred time unit
    •  This means each user can select what time unit they want for all their modules.
  • Muliti-item picklist for Burndowns
    • Choose what item type you want included in your Burndown Chart
  • Return of the Dashboard Twitter gadget:
The Twitter gadget returns in full force.

The Twitter gadget returns in full force.

That about sums up 14.2. Stay tuned for our next release!

Camtasia 2 Review: How does it stack up?

Sometimes we need something that just works. Not everyone in development can be a master videographer, yet there has to be a way to boost our marketing and training needs. That’s where videos come into play. At Axosoft, we have been using Camtasia 2 recently and would like to share our experience with a review.

Axosoft

This is our tool of choice for the simpler videos.

Camtasia 2 (as described on Techsmith) is a screen recording and video editing tool. It differs from other solutions like iMovie or Adobe’s Premiere in that it focuses on providing easy screen capture without needing to juggle several media files or get a PhD in videography. While we have enjoyed using it, there are some snags we’ll talk about towards the end.

First off, I have to say that screen capture is pretty easy with Camtasia 2. Before, I used Snapz Pro X to first capture my screen which would then be exported as a .mov file to then be imported into iMovie and then edited. It was a process. With Camtasia however, your recording is immediately ready for editing once you finish capturing. You can set the screen size, use your own mic, and restart recordings.

Recording

You have the option to customize the area you record on screen. I usually go with 1920×1080.

The tool keeps all your recordings and other media in one place. You drag and drop the media onto the tracks to begin editing from there.  Camtasia 2′s learning curve is not that steep, which makes it approachable for folks (like myself) making video series for the first time. Once I learned how to cut, zoom, and transition in the tool, I was able to produce a great rough cut overlaid with music.

Here's the tracks you edit. I like having the music as my foundation when editing.

Here’s the tracks you edit. I like having the music as my foundation when editing.

We got really excited about the effects in Camtasia 2. The annotations, transitions, and animations are pretty easy to use (just click and drag) and they punch up the quality of the content a few notches. Initially, we were sold on the ability to track your mouse cursor. Surprisingly however, I found myself using annotations more than the mouse tracking. You’re given many options in styles and customization, and you can even add transitions to the annotations.

Annotations

Annotations rock! So many awesome options.

Snags: Nothing is perfect, which is great news for developers (yay, job security). Something I did appreciate about iMovie is its ability to freeze frames. It’s easy. You just scrub over to the frame you desire, click freeze frame, and adjust the duration from there. With Camtasia 2, the freeze frame equivalent is “Extend Frame to Playhead” which works…sort of. It does get the job done but first you have to cut, select, extend, and then adjust again (and it took some time to discover). Perhaps I’m being nit-picky, though the feature could be more elegant.

Freeze frame

Freeze frame work-around buried in the menu.

Also, if you ever move the file locations, Camtasia 2 will lose files until you tell it where you put them.  An understandable side-effect that is mostly mitigated if you keep your files in one place initially. If you’re about to get going with Camtasia 2, just be mindful of this in your workflow.

TLDR:

If screen capture is a huge part of your video editing, then Camtasia 2 will do the trick beautifully. If you’re a hardcore videographer, then you’re probably looking for something more robust but otherwise this is a great find.

 

AxosoftAPI.NET Wrapper

Axosoft’s API is a powerful tool that allows developers to build custom applications and extend the functionality of Axosoft Suite. Because of this, we decided to build a .NET API wrapper. This wrapper isolates developers from having to worry about spending too much time learning the details of a RESTful API or the nitty-gritty details of Axosoft’s API.

I know what you are thinking: this is all good, but how do I use it? Well, lets get straight to it.

To simplify things, we made the AxosoftAPI.NET library available as a NuGet package (available here). The first step is to add the AxosoftAPI.NET NuGet package to your Visual Studio solution. Depending on your preferences, you can install the package through the ‘Package Manager Console’ or the ‘Manage NuGet Packages’ window (how to install a NuGet package). In either case, the ‘AxosoftAPI.NET’ library reference will be added to your solution. You are now ready to start using the API wrapper.

Note: optionally you can download the source code and add it to your solution. Whatever you think is best for your project.

Now it is time to start typing some lines of code.

We begin with some ‘using’ statements (these are optional as you know, just keep in mind that these code examples will not use the classes’ fully-qualified names):

AxosoftAPI.NET using statements

Then we need to create an instance of the AxosoftAPI.Net proxy. Here is how:

create AxosoftAPI.NET proxy

Basically you need three values: a URL for the account being used; and a set of client id and client secret keys either from the account being used (see here) or in the case of 3rd-party applications one provided by Axosoft (see here).

Next, we need to authenticate against Axosoft. Our API uses OAuth2 protocol for authentication and authorization. In this example we show how you can easily authenticate using the Username/Password option:

Authenticate against Axosoft's API

Note: The AxosoftAPI.NET library also exposes a method for authenticating using the ‘Authorization Code’ option, but it is up to the developer to handle the necessary redirects required by the OAuth2 protocol (example application).

Before we start making calls to Axosoft’s API, it is important to point out a couple of things. The first point is that all calls made are dependent upon the permissions of the credentials used to authenticate. For example, if you have five projects in Axosoft, but the credentials used only have access to three projects, then when making a call to get all projects the API will return only those three projects. Makes sense, right?

The second point is that all the results returned by the library are wrapped on a class of type ‘Result’. This class contains three properties as shown below:

result_class

The ‘Data’ property contains the corresponding result return from the API; the ‘ErrorMessage’ contains the error returned by the API or ‘null’ if there was no error; and lastly, the ‘IsSuccessful’ flag is set to ‘true’ if no error, or ‘false’ otherwise. Pretty straight forward.

Ok, so let’s start making those calls I promised. The following example shows how to get all projects:

get_all_projects

Wow, that was easy.

Here is a piece of code from a console application which gets all the projects and then loops through them and writes to the console the projects Ids and names:

loop_thru_all_projects

In this case we used the property ‘Projects’ and its method ‘Get’ to retrieve the project. The AxosoftAPI.NET proxy has a property for every resource listed in our API documentation. Each of these properties is an interface for one or more methods. These methods map one-to-one with the different HTTP request allowed by each resource. For example, let us look at the ‘Contacts’ resource. From our documentation we can see that it allows for six different calls:

Axosoft API Contacts

If we now look at the ‘Contacts’ property in the proxy object, we can see that it contains a method call for each one of these HTTP requests:

AxosoftAPI.NET Contacts methods

Note: the ‘Update’ method corresponds to the POST-update HTTP request; and the ‘Create’ method corresponds to the POST-create/add HTTP request.

Keep in mind some of these methods have overload methods as well. For example, the ‘Get’ method has a one-optional-parameter method which will return all objects; it also has an ‘integer’ – resource Id – parameter method which will return one single object based on the Id value.

Here are a couple of examples from the same console application for creating a new project and adding a new feature to it:

Create a new project

Described in a few words, you need to create a ‘Project’ object, populate the Name property – all other properties are optional – and pass it as the single parameter to the ‘Create’ method of the proxy’s ‘Projects’ property.

Create a new feature

Then, for the new feature, you need to create a new ‘Item’ object, populate the corresponding properties (see our API documentation for more details about required fields and other notes), and then call the ‘Create’ method of the proxy’s Feature property.

For more examples just download the example application and play with it. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us at support@axosoft.com. We are happy to help you.

Axosoft Shortcuts and Tips: The Legendary Subitem Triangle

There are lots of little things that can boost your experience within Axosoft. Today we’ll talk about this little triangle.

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 4.31.00 PM

Pythagoras!

You’ll see this right triangle with all its 45-45 degree glory in the black column header and you will also see it when you create subitems. There are three different settings for this little guy and we’ll briefly breakdown each one.

Points Right:

If the triangle points to the right, then you will hide all your subitems. This one is the easiest to figure out. You can do this locally for each parent item or you can set it for all the items in view by changing the triangle in the main header.

To the right, to the right.

To the right, to the right.

Points to the Lower Right:

The next one gets a little tricky. If the triangle points to the lower right (and it will have this tiny hole in the center of it), then you’re telling Axosoft to only show the subitems that match your filter. If I have my name selected under users for example, this setting is a great way of only seeing subitems assigned to you.

Ah, this one is probably the most useful of the three.

Ah, this one is probably the most useful of the three.

Points Down:

And of course, this one will reveal all subitems. It was really that second one that you should try to use more.

Downward.

Downward.

There you have it! You now have the knowledge to streamline your viewing and filtering even further. Be on the lookout for more tips to come and check out some other useful shortcuts here.

HBO’s “Silicon Valley” Shows Off Axosoft Scrum Dashboard

Did you watch Silicon Valley last night? The popular, critically-acclaimed HBO show has done a great job depicting trials of software development teams, and recently portrayed a transition to Scrum. Though the team started out on a whiteboard with stickies, this weekend we noticed the Hooli offices had graduated to a familiar development tool…

Silicon Valley Hooli Dashboard

That’s the release dashboard for Hooli’s Nucleus project, the competing compression algorithm to the main characters’ Pied Piper. Where have we seen this before? (Hint: We just wrote a blog post about it!)

Axosoft Scrum Dashboard

Yes, we recreated the dashboard with Axosoft and you can clearly see the inspiration! Even the burndown chart labels are the same. It’s cool to see Mike Judge and HBO rely on the #1 Scrum software to help bring Scrum development to a mainstream audience. Interested in taking a spin yourself? Sign up for a 30-day free trial of Axosoft Scrum today.