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… email@example.com — 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
That, plus a long list of bug fixes and quite a few UI touchups.
As always, release notes can be found here:
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.
… saves a little bit of space on a small screen, eh?
Build 326 is now live. Reload them browsers!
From the Release Notes: 2011-October-24 (build 326)
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
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.
Starting this Friday we will begin migrating everyone to the new Nirvana.
If you haven’t seen the new Nirvana in action (affectionately named N2 by our beloved community) you’re in for a treat.
Some N2 highlights:
- A much polished and faster-than-ever user interface
- Work without interruption even with an intermittent or no internet connection at all
- New options for viewing Next and Focus (the list formerly known as Today)
- Projects can be made Parallel or Sequential
- Recurring Tasks, Recurring Tasks…
… and much more.
Here’s what you can expect when you log in
- You’ll be asked to accept our Terms of Service – the standard legalese
- For most everyone that’s all there is to it. Your data will be instantly transferred to the new Nirvana and you’ll be back to getting things done.
- If you tried N2 during our pre-release-early-preview phase you will be asked whether you’d like to continue with your existing N1 or N2 data.
Nirvana will remain a free service for a few more weeks. After that we will be introducing a 2 tier plan structure: Plus and Basic.
The Plus plan will include all of the features we currently offer, priced at $7 per month or $59 per year for new signups. But here’s the great news: for everyone who’s been part of our beta program we’ll be offering the Plus plan for $5 per month or $49 per year. Awesome sauce.
The Basic plan will be Free, but will restrict you to 2 active projects, 2 weeks of logbook history, and the global Area filtering menu in the left navi will be disabled. Area filtering will still be available via the tag filtering bar in the top navi, however. Not bad for a freebie.
We are considering Team plans for folks who want to signup a group of users at a discount, but this will come a little later.
So what’s the deal with native mobile apps?
We are still a few weeks away from releasing the iOS version, and probably a few weeks more for Android. They will be available in the AppStore and Marketplace for the low low price of $0.00, otherwise known as Free. :-) Can’t beat that, right?
More Features to Come
We’ve received a ton of great feedback, and we are actively working to incorporate many of your feature suggestions. If Nirvana has made a positive impact on your life please consider supporting us by opting for the Plus plan. The more people who go Plus the more resources we will be able to devote towards future enhancements.
We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. Thank you for helping make Nirvana such an amazing product. Onwards!