Why Targetprocess is better than Trello? Part I.

Trello is a really cool tool. It is simple, fast and helpful. And free! You can create boards for everything: Hiring, Product Development, Customer Requests, Personal ToDo, etc. Trello has a solid mobile support, real-time collaboration, passionate community and many add-ons.

However, with company growth, you start to feel limitations. You want to see cards better, customize what you see and what you don’t see. You want to manage 100+ cards easily, without constant scrolling. You want functionality that previously you didn’t need, like time tracking, sorting and more.

Targetprocess solves many problems that Trello can’t solve. However, it comes with a cost. Targetprocess is more complex and has some learning curve. Are you ready to put some effort to overcome Trello limitations? You decide.

Information Density

Trello is not designed to work with huge amount of data. If you have a board with at least 100 cards it looks quite messy. No zooming, no collapsing, limited filtering. You don’t know the solution maybe, but you feel that something doesn’t feel right.

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In Targetprocess you can collapse columns and see cards as small boxes. You can hover on boxes to see additional details. You can even drag and drop these small cards into other columns. Collapsing helps you to hide information quickly.

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Moreover, you can zoom in and out to see more or less details on cards. If you have 10+ cards in a column that may be extremely handy. Just compare the picture above with the picture below:

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Let’s take a more complex case. Sometimes you have a huge backlog with 100+ cards. Not good, but happens. How to manage it in Trello? it is really hard I should say.

Let’s take a look into Targetprocess. Here you see a Kanban board. It looks like backlog management is bad here as well. You see just 7 cards from backlog, while the other 121 cards are hidden.

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Now let’s focus on just two columns: Planned and In Dev. You see much more cards on a single screen and can do something with them: set priorities, move into development, etc.

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Still it is hard to skim through backlog in this view. People like to skim lists, not 2D boards. No problem, zoom in to see cards in a list-like mode:

imageCan you imagine doing this in Trello?

Next time I will show you some killer features in Targetprocess like multiple selection and batch drag and drop, powerful filters, sorting and swimlanes.

Taucraft Conference #2 is coming

June 17

10:31 Agile Development Trends     …Michael Dubakov /ALL

11:55 How to Use Twitter Effectively     …Olga Kouzina /ALL

12:25 Coffee Break  

12:35 REST     …Alex Fomin & Alla Pogotskaya /DEV

13:20 Lunch  

14:05 TRIZ     …Alex Tsayun /ALL

14:55 Problem Frames     …Valentine Palazkov /DEV

15:55 Coffee Break  

16:05 Book Review. Interface. J.Raskin     …Nadia Bulynia /ALL

16:25 Continuous Delivery     …Eugene Khasenevich /DEV

17:25 Coffee Break  

17:35 Video. The best stats you’ve ever seen     …Hans Rosling /ALL

17:55 Video. Language as a Window into Human Nature     …Steven Pinker /ALL

18:05 Munchkin 2. Beer. After-party (sex, drugs & rock-n-roll)

Designing software: 1-few-many

How many screens software application should have? That’s a hard question. Most desktop software applications have 1 screen. While most web applications have many screens. What is the best option? Let’s try to figure out.

1 Screen

One screen is the best option for simple tools. Almost all email clients, calendars, todo lists, graphic editors has a single main screen with some additional popups and dialogs. It helps to focus on your task and quickly access all actions in a single place.

Things is a great example of an application where single screen concept works best.

Few Screens

Many famous web applications have just few screens. They are quite simple and easy to understand. Twitter has few screens, Tumblr has few screens, Basecamp has few screens. There are several types of screens in general, we can easily categorize them:

  • Lists
  • Single entity views
  • Add/Edit
  • Dashboards
  • Functional areas (calendar, planning area, settings area, etc.)

You can split every web application to these screens. Most desktop applications have a single area that contains list, entity view, functional area. Most actions served via popups.

Should we have a separate screen for every list? Should we have a separate screen for Add entity action? View entity? How many different functional areas should we have? What if you have 20 entities in application, does it means you should have 20 separate screens? Most likely not.

Many Screens

Most powerful/complex applications have many screens. In fact, I don’t know any powerful, but simple web application. Hope it will change in future, but honestly I did the same mistake myself. TargetProcess is a complex application (so far). We designed it with a goal 1 action — 1 screen. We designed separate screens for every business action like Prioritize work, Plan releases, Plan iterations, Track iteration, etc. It was a mistake. As a result, TargetProcess has ~100 screens and far from simplicity. 

However, I think I know how to fix that. I believe it is possible to shrink any complex application to 3-4 screens that will be used daily, and N screens that will be used rarely.

The goal is to separate actions that people do often and actions that are rare. In this case you can simplify and merge screens, make them multi-functional yet simple enough to solve real problems with elegance and power. In that case it does not matter how many screens will be hidden from daily routine work, you can always access them with 2-3 clicks, but they should not clutter UI.

Also you should be creative and think whether you need separate screen for every list in you app. It may happen that you can live without lists at all or combine several lists together. For example, we can easily combine Features, Stories and Bugs in TargetProcess, but “traditional” thinking causes functional blindness and blocks your creativity. 

Open your mind. Re-think everything. Re-invent anything again. Believe me, you can always do better. Copy-paste is not the best way to create new software products.