New in Pivotal Tracker: Improved Stories!

February 4, 2012 Dan Podsedly

Stories in Pivotal Tracker have been given a serious upgrade. For the most part it’s all pretty self explanatory – the functionality you’re used to is all there, just in a format that’s more intuitive, user friendly and hopefully you’ll agree, more appealing. Our advice, play with it and then come back and read the rest of this post, especially if anything is confusing.

You’re back, so let’s continue!

One of the goals of Tracker has always been to make collaboration around your story backlog as easy as possible, so that your team spends less time managing your project and more of it actually building things. We think there’s room to make that not just easier, but more enjoyable, even fun! So to that end, great usability and user experience are major themes in our backlog for 2012, starting with this story redesign.

See below for all the highlights.

New Look and Feel

Like we said, stories look different, and are hopefully a lot easier to work with now. It’s a complete redesign, with a color scheme that fits better with the rest of the Tracker UI, and that’s intended to make the important information in a story stand out more – such as the story title, description, comments, code commits, and file attachments.

Besides visual appeal, we’re aiming to reduce clicks – for example, when creating a new story, it only takes one click to choose a story type or point estimate value. And, you can now start, finish, deliver, or accept/reject an expanded story with one click, with the familiar buttons.

Click to Copy ID and Story URL

We heard your feedback about having to scroll down in stories to find their IDs, to copy them to your commit messages (you are using the source commit integration, right?). So, we’ve moved the ID to the top of stories, and made it so that you can copy the ID to the clipboard with one click (on the ID button).

The same is true for the story URL, for when you need to send someone a link to the story. Just click the link button in the top left corner, and the story’s full URL will be copied to the clipboard. Note – you’ll need Flash enabled in your browser for these to work. If you don’t have Flash, you’ll see the full URL on a separate line, so you can copy it the old way.

Less commonly used actions, including delete and view history, have been moved to the “More” menu, which is where we’ll be adding some other convenience actions soon.

File Attachments on Comments

One big change in this redesign is that files are now attached to stories as part of posting a comment, rather than as a separate list. This is because files are commonly uploaded and shared in the context of an on-going conversation, and it’s so much easier to refer to a file that’s actually part of that comment (e.g. “Here’s that icon”) rather than having to say “see the file named foo.gif at the bottom of the story”.

You can still drag and drop files from your desktop to stories, and entering an actual comment when adding files is optional – just drop your files on a story and close it.

View All Images and Comment Filtering

The truth is, thumbnails of mockups attached to a story can be indistinguishable from one another. Sometimes you just need to see them all full sized, on one page. Now, with just one click of the View All Images link above the Activity section, you can.

We’ve also made it easier to find what you need in a long-winded (all of it beautifully clear and vital) comment conversation – just use the filter dropdown menu at the top right of the Activity section to show just file attachments, just source commits, or all comments without commits.

Feedback

This redesign of stories is the first step in an on-going usability overhaul. We’ve got much more coming over the course of this year, but we’d like to incorporate your feedback at every step, so please let us know what you think so far, in the comments here or by email to tracker@pivotallabs.com.

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