N2 Build 379 – New Themes / Collapsible Lists

Happy New Year Everyone!  (it’s not too late to say that right?)

It’s a new year and we’ve been having a blast in Nirvana land.  There’s a lot less noise from the agency side of the house (the holiday workload was intense, but wildly successful for our clients and for us), Mitch flew down to sunny Buenos Aires last week, Elbert and Romina will join him soon to escape the brutal winter (forecast says -30 tomorrow, yikes), David’s hanging out in Mexico as usual… iOS and Android apps are on the horizon, looking to remove the beta moniker soon, and the sunsetting of N1 (take 2) will be grounds for a serious party. Life is good.

So about that build that went out a few moments ago.  The blog title pretty much says it all, but do read the release notes if you want more details re: some of the other important though perhaps less sexy tweaks/fixes.

Screen shot 2012-01-13 at 6.02.18 PM

As always, feel free to join the party over in the forums.  A lot of great discussions, suggestions, tips and tricks.

P.S. We know that there are many people waiting in the queue for access to N2. We’re working as fast as we can to open our doors en masse. Shouldn’t be much longer.

N2 Build 358 – Cloud Intelligence / Client Bug Fixes

N2 Build 358 is a rather significant arrival point. It leverages Cloudmailin for email I/O, provides the foundation for plugging in to Chargify for billing, and required some not insignificant changes to our core data structures and subsystems. Took about a week to roll this one out as it had to be done in phases. Few seem to have noticed the steps we took along the way, which means things went smoothly.

Below are some topics that merit expansion, at least for those who like to know how their toaster works.

SCHEDULED AND REPEATING

So we fought the good fight, but after too many months of mixed results trying to get client spawned repeating tasks to flawlessly synchronize amongst multiple disconnected devices through the cloud, we’ve decided to stop with the ivory tower bs and go back to what always works… brute force server-side horse power.

So with this release your browser no longer moves tasks between lists or calculates repeating patterns when you’re offline (unless you tell it to). The default behaviour is for all of this to happen automatically, server-side, centralized, by determining when midnight rolls around for you and your timezone, and then spawning repeating tasks and moving scheduled and due items accordingly.

As such, it is important that Nirvana knows what time it is for you. Nirvana now auto-adjusts your timezone settings at login, so once you’re on build 358 be sure to logout/login to ensure we’re compensating for daylight’s savings, or the fact that you recently moved coasts, or continents, and failed to send us a post card.

PHANTOM TASKS EXORCISED

On the topic of repeating tasks, what has sometimes been referred to as “phantom task spawning” is something that can no longer happen starting from this build, as all repeating task calculations are now centralized in the cloud.

BUT HERE’S THE CAVEAT!!! — If you’ve been using N2 for awhile now, and happen to have a machine/device that you only occasionally use (weekend home, spare ipod/ipad etc) and if that device still has an OLD cached copy of N2 running on it, and you access your account without first flushing the cache and updating to the latest build, that old version may try to spawn tasks like a rabbit in heat.

So we know this is kind of a pain, but try and remember to visit https://app.nirvanahq.com/reset directly (do not load the app from a bookmark first, eh?), then reload a few times until you see build 358 or better.  Yeah, we know. Sucks. Sorry. C’est la vie. Yick. Bleaach.

CREATING NEW TASKS VIA EMAIL

On the email front we started fresh again. We are now using Cloudmailin (a great service) to manage and parse inbound messages, including (in the not too distant future) attachments. What this means for you today is that we no longer choke on international characters or long emails, or experience delays between sending an email and seeing it reflected in your account. It’s pretty damn near instantaneous. We’re stoked. Plus, with cloudmailin’s help we will be able to do things like comment threads via email replies for shared projects and the like… with ease and grace.

You’ll notice we have a new domain for this… yourinboxid@nirvanahq.in — so whatever your personal N2 inbox address is, replace the .com with .in and you’re good to go.  The old addresses will still continue to work, routed through the old email parsing system.  In the near future we’d like to let people create humane aliases like david@nirvanahq.in to make life simpler.

AND BECAUSE IT WAS EASY…

and because I didn’t feel like creating static screen comps for Mitch and his iOS spit-and-polish, spent an afternoon retooling the mobile web app stylesheets to render tasks as multi-line w/preview text in all list views, and gosh darn it, it’s pretty cool. Better than anything I could’ve produced in balsamiq, plus it’s actually real to boot. I know I know, the mobile web app is a dawg on older iOS devices, but being able to see what you’re supposed to be doing now (almost) rewards your patience.

multi-line tasks

multi-line tasks

That, plus a long list of bug fixes and quite a few UI touchups.

As always, release notes can be found here:
http://help.nirvanahq.com/kb/site-updates/nirvana-2-release-notes

N2 Build 327 – Rapid Entry Show/Hide

Quick rollout to restore ability to hide the Rapid Entry text field via account settings. The Nirvana ninjas will probably prefer hotkey “e” to toggle show/hide.

Screen shot 2011-10-24 at 3.56.14 PM

with rapid entry

Screen shot 2011-10-24 at 3.55.53 PM

without

… saves a little bit of space on a small screen, eh?

N2 Build 326 – Desktop spruce up, iOS5 Fixed

Build 326 is now live. Reload them browsers!

From the Release Notes:  2011-October-24 (build 326)

Changes:

  • Rapid Entry field moved into main task window, rather than being a separate panel at the bottom
  • Area filtering menu has been moved to top navi to better indicate global nature
  • Search now limits to selected Area
  • Logbook now shows completed items from selected Area only
  • Focus has been moved to provide better visual grouping of GTD lists, resulting in a more natural GTD workflow (inbox –> next / waiting / scheduled / someday)
  • Scheduling / Rescheduling tasks and projects now automatically removes them from Focus (un-star) until the new start date arrives
  • When filing items from Inbox to other lists, there is a new preference setting to enable/disable automatic assignment to the globally selected Area
  • When marking a project completed, any incompelte tasks remaining in the project are also marked completed (rather than cancelled)
  • Inactive Project tasks do not show the “focus star” icon. This is to alleviate confusion as inactive project tasks are supressed from Focus anyway. This goes for Scheduled and Someday projects as well.
  • Tasks can no longer be removed from Focus if they are due
  • Hotkeys: numeric keys 1-9 have been remapped to reflect new list order in left navi
  • Hotkeys: comma for prefs, “g” for Tag Library, “r” for Refresh (formerly sync)
  • Added “Email this” to tasks, ala N1

Desktop Refinements:

  • Less translucence and better buttons for all dialogs and prompts
  • When creating new tasks inline, Nirvana does a better job of scrolling up/down to ensure that the task edit panel is within view
  • Visual indication in main task area when showing an Area-filtered subset of tasks
  • Visual indication in left navi when new build is available
  • Getting Started and What’s New section added to Account menu (top right)
  • Expanded notes are collapsed on completion
  • Updated Login screen

Desktop Fixes:

  • Fixed a bug where creating a new task within a project within the context of an Area would result in double tagging of Area
  • Fixed a bug where renaming a tag with double quotes would sometimes fail
  • Fixed a bug where editing tags would sometimes fail to repaint the screen to reflect the change
  • Fixed a bug where hitting Enter when prompted for a Waiting For contact no longer fails to catch
  • Fixed a bug where a task might not be immediately saved to the cloud (though it was always being picked up during the regular sync interval)
  • Fixed a bug where repeating task preview of “next dates” would sometimes not being repainted on screen
  • Fixed a bug where reordering projects in the main view would cause the left navi tag cloud area to jump around
  • Fixed a bug where converting a task into a project via drag/drop onto projects was not honoring sequential/parallels user pref
  • Repeating tasks are now timestamped to the “effective” creation date, which should reduce side-effects when merging spawned tasks from multiple devices
  • Minor css / layout tweaks for better consistency between browsers / os

Mobile:

  • Compatibility fix to work on iOS5 Safari
  • Optimizations to reduce the need for ajax connection retries
  • Last update from server is displayed on Home screen (date/time)
  • Visual indication on Home screen when new build is available
  • Updated Login screen

Take 2 – Phased Rollout

Here’s the revised rollout plan:

  • Push a few N2 builds – code cleanup / UI spruce up
  • Monitor how things go for awhile
  • Sunset N1 – migrating everyone over to N2
  • Make sure everyone was able to transition smoothly
  • Open Beta for N2 – no more invite queue, all new signups land in N2
  • Monitor how things go for awhile
  • Launch

We basically tried to do too much of this in one fell swoop last week and there were just too many dependencies.  Better to tackle in bite-sized chunks.

As these become ready they will be released:

  • Native iPhone app
  • Native Android app

Native mobile apps may be released before launch, or shortly thereafter.  Depends on how things play out.

I know people have been wondering what we’ve been doing…  Separating out the above steps required a bit of rework, but things have now been nicely decoupled (as they probably should have been all along, but you know, sometimes one can be optimistic to a fault).

Based on the feedback we’ve received, we’ve also decided to loosen up just a tad on the free plan restrictions, but more on that in a future post.

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What is GTD®?

GTD® rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally. That way, the mind is freed from the job of remembering everything that needs to be done, and can concentrate on actually performing those tasks.

Read more about GTD® on David Allen's website »