Archive for : activeCollab Tips

activeCollab is changing, and you get to help decide it’s future!

If you’ve been buried in your work like most busy project managers you may not stay up to date with all things activeCollab — so you may not have seen or heard about the Next version that’s been leaked out via a Teaser Video from the activeCollab team.   If not, you can see it here.

But even more important than the teaser, is the opportunity to let your voice be heard regarding their newest version. If you haven’t seen this yet, activeCollab has sent out a recent survey to get feedback from customers on the future of the Self-Hosted edition.

For those using the Self-hosted version, it’s especially important as it will give the activeCollab team direct feedback on what influenced you to choose the self-hosted solution to be sure your needs are being considered.

Go ahead — Take the survey now, I can wait :).  Or, read on for more thoughts on the next version.

Click to Fill Out the ActiveCollab Survey

It’s Getting Exciting

We’re all excited about this new version. We’ve always been early adopters ourselves, as are many of you. But, as you can imagine for us as 3rd party developers who build on top of another platform — there’s always an uneasy feeling that comes along with the excitement of a new major release.  There’s much anticipation as we all wait to see what’s changed so we can begin the potentially labor intensive process to update our modules.

Of course, we want to get our hands on the new version to try it out! But we also want to be sure we can continue to solve those problems you came to us to solve — so you can continue to manage your projects smoothly without interruption.

So much has changed in the activeCollab landscape over the years, especially in the last one – with the introduction of the AC Cloud to support those who wanted an easy out of the box solution without having to setup their own hosting . As easy as it can be to setup AC, it’s still intimidating for some users, so it’s nice they have this platform to get started.

By the way, hosting activeCollab isn’t as hard as some make it look— you may be surprised to learn that we host our own activeCollab for less than $10 per month.  If you need help with this, definitely reach out.

When it comes to Self-Hosting vs Cloud, for some users as many of you already know, the self-hosted version is the only option. There are some key benefits of activeCollab that are only available in the Self-hosted edition….

  • Company policies that require hosting on in-house servers for privacy and security reasons
  • The ability to tweak existing features in order for them to fit the workflow
  • Off the shelf 3rd party modules that can be downloaded and installed
  • The ability to develop your own fully custom new features or workflow solutions that go beyond what’s available via the API

This is especially important for those needing all out custom solutions like the ones we’ve built for Enterprises, Hotel Groups, Restaurants, Startups, Universities and more.

 

Staying True to the Origin of activeCollab

The self-hosted solution was activeCollab’s origin — In my opinion, their key differentiator in many ways as very few solutions allowed for customization or even the availability of downloadable add-on modules.   It’s without a doubt the reason why we started using it in the beginning ourselves — many years before we became ActiveLabs to help others be more productive with it.

I bet it’s part of your story too — after all, you are receiving this email or reading this blog post because somewhere along the way you were looking for modules, custom development help or consulting assistance from us.   And we’re very thankful to activeCollab and the A51 team for making such a flexible self-hosted solution for our own needs and also for the community that’s grown around the app. Not to mention the business, we’ve been able to build dedicated to helping others in this community.

 

The Good News

What’s great, is that even with the addition of the AC Cloud — activeCollab has acknowledged the continued need for the self-hosted edition, and that’s amazing to see.  With the growth of the cloud, I’m sure there could be the temptation to leave the self-hosted version behind for greener SAAS pastures, but I respect that they are recognizing their roots and making a renewed commitment to the self-hosted users that helped them get to where they are today.  It says a lot.

 

What’s Coming Up in the Next Version?

Now here’s where you come in. There’s a big part you can play in the Next edition — call it activeCollab 5 or activeCollab Next — we’re not sure.

Yes, they are keeping it that hush, we haven’t seen it beyond what you’ve seen in the teaser, which is hard for us.  You’ve been reaching out to ask us, ‘Will my module be compatible? How about that custom development we did, will it be hard to update?’

And unfortunately, the answer is –  We don’t knowbecause we don’t know how much the codebase has changed.  But even more unsure is the state of customization altogether.

 

The Future of 3rd Party Modules & Customization

Why do I say this?  Because it seems this question is a high priority on the survey —- that’s where we need your help.  As a power activeCollab user, you may be relying on many 3rd party modules from our colleagues in this space like AppsMagnet, UsWebstyle, ZingDev, Triotech, ActiveCollabMod and others, not to mention our own modules or any customization since it’s all done with modules. I know WE do, along with many of our consulting clients.

We even have some modules you’ve never seen before that haven’t been released because of the unsure nature of the activeCollab marketplace over the last while.  I know my other colleagues in the space have probably felt very similar over the last few years. They are mostly maintaining modules rather than investing in new solutions because the ecosystem of the community is a difficult one with an ever changing landscape and less and less exposure available to new customers with the focus on the Cloud and the removal of the Downloads area from their new website, along with the recent announcement that the public forums on the site will soon be discontinued.

And for those of you who use them, you know that they can make a big difference in the day to day operation when you find one that fits your workflow needs.

 

You Owe it to Yourself

I’m not asking you to help us by manipulating your survey answers, we just want to be sure your voice is heard!   — You owe it to yourself to know that your vote is in for what is important to you.  Take the survey, because it matters to you and those like you who rely on the flexibility of the self-hosted version with custom solutions and 3rd party modules…My concern is that, those who invest in these improvements are often busy improving their business and not always the ones who have the time or interest in filling out surveys.

 

What if Add-ons and Modules didn’t exist?

I understand, we are all busy and doing another survey isn’t exactly at the top of our list, but please don’t  miss the importance of this.

If modules don’t exist, activeCollab becomes like every other web-based project management system – you rely on the development team to know what’s best for you.   And if that happens, those of us who rely on customization to make our workflows actually WORK will be back to work arounds and external api solutions that mean going outside the system for a solution. Many of our customers came from other tools like Basecamp that aren’t customizable and they ended up stuck doing workarounds and were tired of it.

I want what’s best for activeCollab and for all those using it — sure we wouldn’t be here today as ActiveLabs if they didn’t support 3rd party modules so you may think I’m biased. But I’m more biased by the day-to-day interactions with customers like you, who use our products and many of the other 3rd party modules to work smarter by smoothing out their workflows.   And by those that have relied on the flexibility of custom developed modules whether created internally or with our help to go beyond the One Size Fits All solutions out there and really support their specific workflows.

To all those who like to keep their options open, you know who you are — cast your vote for the benefit of all activeCollab users.

We hope activeCollab will continue to maintain support for 3rd party modules and custom development — and even continue to expand the API to allow us to do more within the framework to help you to collaborate!

Thanks for taking the time to read this today and if you have your own thoughts and concerns about activecollab Next/ 5.x please share any comments or questions below  or contact us privately.

And again if you haven’t filled out the survey yet, please take a couple minutes to do that now.

 

 

Custom Fields Support in Task Templates

We’re happy to announce that Task Templates now support activeCollab‘s built-in Custom Fields — thanks to your requests, keep the feedback coming!

Now you can save values in the Custom Fields on templates and have them auto filled when selecting a Task Template and pass along some valuable custom information relevant to the task.

Try it out, let us know if you have any questions.

Greg K, tried out Task Templates and here’s what he had to say —

Great execution of a very important time saving feature. Previously we had a lot of reusable assignments that we had placed in a “Reusable Assignments” Project.  We used the “copy to” function to do the same thing with a lot more keystrokes as well as a disruption of work flow. Now a couple of keystrokes and done.

Buy the Task Template module today at the low price of $39 for a limited time.

Need to download an update? Login to our Members area here

 

How to Bulk Add a User to Multiple Projects in activeCollab

You’ll often find a lot of interesting features hiding within the Options button in AC — this time we’re looking for the ‘Add to Projects’ link. Go to the user’s profile page and click Options then click Add to Projects to reveal a bulk add menu with permission options.

Find the User’s Profile – Go to Options > Add to Projects

Find the User Add to Projects’ />

Now Add to Projects – Click Select All or Choose Individual Projects and Set the Permissions

Now Add to Projects -  Click Select All or Choose Individual Projects and Set the Permissions

1. – Note the gear, you can quickly set all the permissions at one time using this method…

OR… Choose a Project Role — If You’ve Got Project Roles Created You’ll See This View

OR... Choose a Project Role -- If You

If you don’t have Project Roles setup you can learn more here

Feature Highlight: No More Back Tracking to Add People to Projects

Have you ever been focused on preparing a new task or discussion and suddenly go to send it off to your teammates realizing that they aren’t added to the project — if you’ve had this experience, you know what I mean! There’s no simple solution…

You’ve got to go through a bunch of frustrating steps…

  1. Copy your task title and description so you don’t lose it by accident
  2. Close the New Task Window
  3. Navigate to the Project overview screen
  4. Click on Manage People in the Project
  5. Find the User and Add them
  6. Go back to start the New Task process over again, copy your title and description…
  7. Attach any files you had added
  8. Then Select that person you didn’t have available in the first place to assign!
  9. If you feel this pain on a regular basis like I do and I know that I’m not the only – today is your lucky day, slipped quietly into ActiveCollab version 4.0.10’s release notes — Enhancement #7 is your answer to prayer.

    I’ve put together a quick video to highlight this feature, for everyone else who starts using AC today for the first time — they will enjoy this without knowing the pain of back tracking — this one’s for all the longtime users following the updates. See the video for more.

    YouTube Preview Image

    Wait… Before Upgrading….

    Just a note, follow our usual recommendations to upgrade in a Staging environment — you are allowed to make a copy of your current setup, that you can use to test on before upgrading your “Production” ActiveCollab environment — this will save you a lot of headaches. Version 4.x brings some important changes that affect your Roles & Permissions as well as Homescreens that you need to be sure fit your needs before upgrading. We are personally waiting to update many of our client’s AC installations until some adjustments and bugfixes are released.

    And with 4.0.10 specifically, please note that these changes to the Assignees area as well as other issues may affect some 3rd party modules — be sure to check with developers before upgrading. We’ll be running tests on all our AC4 compatible modules to be sure these are not affected and will post an update as well.

    Thanks for following! Share your favorite AC4 features in the comments…

Feature Highlight: Quick Bulk Editing a.k.a. CTRL + Click

Bulk editing in activeCollab

Bulk editing in activeCollab

If you’ve used ActiveCollab for long, you’ve had those aha moments where you discover a feature hidden deep in the UI that saves the day or at the very least makes your life a lot easier going forward… but… this is one of those hidden features, you’ll never discover by poking around in the UI… unless you just happen to be addicted to exploring your shortcut keys.

Mimicking some of your common desktop features, the CTRL + CLICK reveals some bulk management features like that hidden power in your favorite video game — an easter egg of sorts — that when you find it, will put a smile on any project manager’s face. Oh you mean I don’t have to change the status on each individual task? I don’t have to move these tasks to a milestone one by one… or… now I can easily correct the mistake a client made by not adding a category to their file uploads.

All this with just a click of a button — and a keyboard shortcut!

Checkout the screenshots below for more handy tips where CTRL + CLICK can unlock clever new features in AC3

Bulk Editing in the Projects list

Projects_list

Bulk Editing in the Tasks List

Task_List

Bulk Editing in the File List

File_List

Looking for a feature you can’t find? Ask us in the comments, who knows… maybe what you need is already hidden just waiting for you! Or we can build a custom solution just for you, I mean… that IS what we do solving workflows in activeCollab! Book a quick chat

Feature Highlight: New Flyout Projects List Filtering

activecollab Flyout Projects Filtering

If you’re like us, you’ve got more than enough projects in your activeCollab and suddenly that helpful flyout list — well, it’s just not so helpful anymore. Why? Because it’s full and overflowing off the bottom of the menu!

Not anymore, the AC team have released a great update in 3.3.13 that adds filtering to the top right of the menu (shown above)

activecollab group projects in menu

And that’s not all, if you go to your main Projects view and select the “Group by” icon — the flyout menu will also fall in line and do the same! This makes the menu incredibly useful, we’re thankful to the AC team for these types of quick wins in productivity.

activeCollab Project Menu Grouping

activeCollab Project Menu Grouping


We hope to see this toggle available on the flyout menu itself in the future, as it took a few mins after hearing about the feature in the release notes, to figure out that you had to change your main project page settings to take advantage of it. But who are we to look a gift horse in the mouth — thanks @activecollab team!

How to Apply Advanced Filters to Incoming Mail in ActiveCollab 3

@mtracey Asked on the activeCollab Forums, about using keywords and/or hashtags to filter tasks sent in via email to activecollab — here’s a quick video answer:
YouTube Preview Image

P.S. — After creating the video, I started thinking about how changing the subject line to include #helpdesk will change the threading if you are using Google Apps / Gmail for instance. Another method might be to use +helpdesk in the email address if your email supports it (Google Apps does). I just tested the theory and you could do [email protected] and have the filter setup to watch for this +helpdesk in the To address instead. See here for configuration: http://share.activelabs.ca/2013-01-07_1814.png

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Do you have questions? Let us know via the Contact page or point us to your question on the forums and we’ll do our best to help out!