Tasks planning - Documentation - Riter

Documentation of riter.co — project management tool

Tasks planning

Riter allows you to create sprints to group tasks, plan tasks, distribute them among team members, estimate and track work progress, discuss tasks during implementation, share files with your teammates to keep all project data together, subscribe to stories to get notifications on any updates, and much more. All these actions are available in the project's workspace, where you get after logging in Riter.

Sprint sections

While working on a project and planning new tasks you may need to order and group them according to some principles. For example, you will need to split tasks among future releases or product development stages. Or you may want to visually separate tasks of different teams working on the same project. Here’s where sprints will come in handy.

As an Agile-oriented project management tool, Riter supports the concept of a sprint, though here this notion is broader than you used to have in Scrum. And broader, than it was before in Riter. Since now, by a sprint, we will mean a basic task planning unit without necessary binding to any time frames or duration. It is a way to group and plan your tasks within a project according to a certain criterion which you specify yourself. For example, separate sprints can be created for different versions of your product, project development stages, time intervals, types of tasks, and so on.

Sprint will help you to systematize, distribute work and indicate milestones of the project. In your project management workspace sprints will be displayed in already a familiar way — as separate horizontal sections with tasks, each with its own name, on the main project page. Each sprint has its own ’New story’ element to schedule a task at once for a certain sprint.

Sprints

As you can see, the main difference is the absence of binding to a specific week or another period which you or your project manager used to specify while creating a new project. Now you can decide on your own, what a sprint should be used for.

Sprint use cases

If you are an ardent follower of the Scrum framework and don’t want to deviate from the usual work processes, you can use sprints as before — new principles are completely compatible with previous use cases. In this case, you should use sprints to organize tasks in the order of execution, and implement them using short iterations. Create a sprint as a time interval to develop a specific part of the product. For example, name a sprint “June, 1-14”, “Sprint 1”, “Release v1.0”, etc. Set fixed deadlines for each sprint (in the description field or in your mind) and release frequent product versions.

You can create a sprint for any purpose, for example:

  • to separate tasks at different stages and versions of the product (“Beta”, “Alpha”, “Pre-alpha”, “Mobile”, “Desktop”);
  • to plan tasks on different weeks, months and other time intervals (“June”, “Q1, 2018”, “June 1-7”);
  • to distinguish different types of tasks (“Testing”, “Design”, “Marketing”).

You can come up with any others sprint use cases more suitable for your working environment or don’t use them at all. By default, when you start working on a new project, it doesn’t have any sprint sections — all tasks are considered current and unscheduled and displayed together without any sprint label. You can add, edit, sort, activate, and archive sprints on the project settings page (which can be accessed through the main menu). All team members, not only managers, can manage sprints in the project. In addition, there’re two types of sprints available by default: “Unscheduled” and “Overdue” sprints.

Unscheduled and Overdue sprints

From the very beginning, you have the only unnamed sprint for all current tasks. If you add at least one new sprint, an “Unscheduled” sprint section also appears for all unscheduled tasks. So, if you are going to use sprints in your work, we recommend that you create sprints at once before adding many tasks so you don’t have to move them later from the “Unscheduled” section to new sprint sections.

“Unscheduled” section is always shown under all your sprint sections. All new stories created with a submenu element New story will be placed to the “Unscheduled” section by default. To plan a new task for a specific sprint use a card ’New story’ in the desired sprint section. Each section can contain any number of tasks. You are able to drag&drop them within a sprint and between different sprints.

You can archive any sprint except “Unscheduled” to hide them from the main page. If you archive a sprint with unapproved tasks, all these tasks will appear in another default sprint section — “Overdue”. This group of tasks is always displayed on top of the page. It disappears when all included tasks are approved (or rescheduled on other sprints). Archived sprints can be found on the settings page, and all related stories — in “Archived” stories (see “Stories” submenu), so you won’t lose any important information.

Unscheduled and Overdue sprints

Sprint settings

On the "Setting" page (the “Sprints” tab), you can find all active and archived sprints. To add a new sprint, you need to specify its name and description (optionally). All new sprints become active and appear at the bottom of the list of existing active sprints. “Overdue” and “Unscheduled” sprints are not shown there. You can reorder sprints by drag-and-dropping them up and down the list. The order of sprints corresponds to the order of their display on the main project page.

Sprint settings

You can edit and archive existing sprints. A list of archived sprints is displayed to the right of the active sprints. These sprints are not displayed on the main project page. However, if there are unapproved tasks in an archived sprint, they will be shown in the “Overdue” sprint section until you approve the tasks. We advise you to archive sprints when all the work planned for them has been completed.

Active and Archived sprints

Managers are also able to track existing sprints in the admin panel on the “Sprints” page. They can also set up the behavior of unapproved stories when a sprint which they belong to is archived. This option is available on the Project settings page, in the "Display overdue stories" section.

Project stories

Project stories page allows you to look through all important information about a current project state, planned work, progress on tasks, their distribution among team members and other project characteristics. This is possible due to using project stories - separate tasks within the project, describing some part of it. Division of the project into small tasks greatly simplifies its management. Estimation and planning of stories make executors more productive and responsible. Individual tasks assignment allows you to distribute the work and the load between the developers and organize all future interaction between them. Using the stories tracking tool helps each member of the team always have up-to-date information about the project.

Current and archived stories

The main project page includes current and archive story sections. By default, the first one is chosen. It contains planned for the current and future sprints tasks along with overdue ones that have been scheduled for earlier time but are not approved yet. Archive tasks section allows to hide already done stories from the main page. Approved stories fall into the archive automatically when the corresponding week ends. While all the stories can be easily sorted and dragged within their week group, approved tasks cannot be moved (as well as modified) by users. Archive stories are also grouped by sprints and include the same information about tasks as the current stories pages. Here you can look through the project development history, previous tasks data but cannot change anything.

Story states

The story can be in one of five default states, which determines the level of its completeness. All the states are shown in the image below and can be easily distinguished by color. All states can be changed sequentially. This basic set of task states can be supplemented by other ones. Each company is able to define their own set of story states and use them in new projects. The colors corresponding to these states are determined automatically depending on some keywords from a chosen state name, but they can easily be changed by managers with the color palette.

Story states 1 2 3 4 5 6
  1. Approved story. A task that was completed and checked by a team lead. At the end of the week which it was planned for, the task will be added to the archive stories. This state can not be changed as well as any other characteristics of the story
  2. Completed story. A task that was marked as done by a developer but was not approved yet. The state of this story can be changed to 'Approved' or 'In progress'. You can still add comments or time intervals to it but time estimation is now inaccessible
  3. In progress story. A story that has already been estimated and is now in the process of implementation. This story can be modified, discussed, re-estimated and transferred to states 'Completed' or 'Estimated'
  4. In progress story. A story that has already been estimated and is now in the process of implementation. This story can be modified, discussed, re-estimated and transferred to states 'Completed' or 'Estimated'
  5. Estimated story. A story which is not in progress yet but it was already analyzed and the expected (estimated, 'clean') time for its implementation was set by a developer. The story state can be now changed to 'In progress' and 'Draft'
  6. Draft story. This story is planned for future but is not in progress or even estimated now. You can discuss the task, modify its parameters and change the state to 'Estimated'. Only draft stories without time intervals can be destroyed. Removed stories are not displayed on main project page and can be accessed by the direct link only

Story card elements

You can get the main information about current work process on the main project page. Each story element includes its title, topics and clean estimated and spent time (if the task is already begun). At the bottom of the story there are assigned users' icons. A color of the task element shows its state. The amount of comments, todo-items progress and "the story is unclear and requires attention" sign (a question mark in the top right corner) are also displayed inside story elements on the main page.

Story card elements

Create a story

You can create a story in two simple ways:

  • Using a main menu element "New story". A new story will be placed to the "Unscheduled" sprint section. A new story page with will be opened for filling the necessary information about the task. The minimum data you should specify for a new story is its title. By default, a task will be created as a draft.

  • Using an element "New story" in a particular sprint section. A new story will be scheduled at once for this period. You will also be taken to a new story page.

Story page

You can get on a particular story page from the main page by clicking on an existing task or creating a new one. Here you can find a detailed information about the story, edit or remove it. At the top of the page a story title and description are displayed along with the settings icon for their changing. A description text area provides a full markdown support. You are able to attach files, add todo lists and apply various formatting options to the content. To delete a story, click on its settings icon. You will see a "Remove" button under an opened editing form. Make sure, that the story state is "Draft" and it does not contain any time intervals, otherwise you won't be able to remove it. All deleted stories can be found and restored from the project settings page.

Story description 1 2 3
  1. Title. A project story title as a plain text. It's a main purpose of the task, visible on the main page
  2. Story editor. A settings icon. Click on it to open the task in the editor mode. Here you can edit story title and description or delete the task. Don't forget that only draft story without time intervals can be destroyed. In editor mode press 'Destroy' to delete the story. Note that a removed task can not be restored
  3. Description. A project story description in a text format with a full markdown support. It includes a toolbar for quick adding headings, links, images, lists, code fragments, todo-lists and so on. This section should contain detailed description of the project story

Story settings

On the right side of the page there is a section with additional story parameters. They allow you to get more information about the task, change its state to one of the adjacent values, estimate a story, look through assigned users and related topics (and update them if necessary). If some task is unclear or ambiguous, use an appropriate attention mark to let other team members know about the problem so that you could solve it in advance.

Story page 1 2 3 4 5 6
  1. Story state. A story state switch. The current state is shown above, two next available states are placed below. Click on them to change a story state. An approved state cannot be changed and a draft one has only one possible transition - to estimated
  2. Creation info. Date and time when the task was created and last modified. You can also see here a nickname of a user who created the task
  3. Attention mark. A mark of an unclear story that requires attention of other team members. It is displayed on the main project page as a question mark
  4. In progress story. A story that has already been estimated and is now in the process of implementation. This story can be modified, discussed, re-estimated and transferred to states 'Completed' or 'Estimated'
  5. Users. A list of all project team members and developers involved in this task personally. To assign/unassign a user just click on the icon or nickname. All users mentioned in this section (even unchecked) can be specified in time intervals and take part in discussions
  6. Topics. All project topics and topics related to a current story. To add a new topic click in this section (you'll see a cursor under topic labels) and input a required value. Press 'Enter' to add it to the list of topics. Topics that are already on the list will not be included twice. Only some first story topics are visible on the main project page (depending on the length of their names). Topics added in one story become available in any story of the current project. To get additional control over project topics, you need to be a manager

Time tracking

Under a story description you will see the time tracking section. It is used to fix time spent for the task by its developers. For each timeinterval you can specify the date, clean hours spent on the task, and add users who were working on it (in case of joint work on the task during some time interval).

Time intervals

Story discussion

At the bottom of the story page the annotations section is displayed. At Riter, we see a story first of all as a chat room, a place for discussion and teamwork. We try to keep its interface as close to an instant messenger, as it's possible. That's why we've place the story description just above the comments and under the time intervals section: the task description is just the beginning of the discussion, no more important than all the other comments. If it doesn’t look familiar to you, look at the Github issue pages and you will see the similarity. Users are able to comment a story and attach files in the edit form (full markdown support and Vault8's image processing are available). Don't forget, that all approaches to project development recommend starting work with a discussion.

Story comments

You should not use dozens of different applications like Slack, Telegram, Skype and so on to work on tasks and keep an eye on the progress. Riter is designed to organize a single place to keep all your data together and collaborate without interrupting your workflow. Note that Riter comments and description fields support the markdown.

File attachments

Attaching files may be useful during the creation and discussion of a task. You can attach not only images but also other types of files to a story description or annotations. There are some ways to do that:

You can drag-and-drop a file to an appropriate (story description or comment) form. It will be added to the textarea as a markdown link to the Vault8 storage.

Copy any image into a copypase buffer and use an insert command ("ctrl+v" or "cmd+v") while editing a story description or annotation to paste it. An link will be generated and inserted.

You can also use an Open File Dialog to choose data from your local storage. Click on the "selecting them" link below an annotation textarea to do that.

File uploading

We use our own Vault8 service to upload and store files from Riter users so that you should not worry about the security and reliability of processing your data. Vault8 uses Amazon S3 as a long-term storage and supports security-signature protected URLs to ensure safe processing of your files. Moreover, as an image oriented service, Vault8 allows you to apply the necessary filters to an attached image just from the Riter editing form. Some of them will be added to a generated image link by default: autoorient and resize_fit. You can easily change their values, remove unnecessary filters or add some other ones.

Subscription to stories

You have a possibility to subscribe to any story from available projects and track its updates. To this end, open a story page and find a corresponding button in the “Notifications” section on the right, under the “Topics” section. Click on the button to subscribe to a story. In the same way, you can later unsubscribe from the task.

Subscribe to/unsubscribe from story

The ability to subscribe to a story yourself allows you to quickly find out about any updates in stories. However, Riter also tries to predict itself which of notifications you may be interested in and which of them it should show you by default. To this end, we have introduced the following rules for obtaining notifications (becoming a story “watcher”):

  • When you create a story, you become a watcher
  • When you are assigned to a story, you become a watcher
  • When you are unassigned from a story, you lose a watcher status
  • When you change a state of a story, you become a watcher
  • When you create a time interval in a story, you become a watcher
  • When somebody creates a time interval with your participation in a story, you become a watcher

Story history

Story history contains all changes which you will see as a story watcher. It is generated with a story history bot – your team assistant when working with Riter. This is a special program running in the background and tracking all actions with stories. When something within a particular story is updated, the bot reports this in a new annotation to the story. Here’re some examples:

Story history

Thus, you can see by whom a story was created, who assigned new developers to a story, which topics and by whom were set, who and how changed story states and estimates, and so on. As with any other annotation, you can see when it was created, that is when a particular action took place.

Tracking for updates in stories

There are several ways to know about updates in stories:

  • the "Story was updated" mark on the story card on the main page of the project;
  • push notifications;
  • the dashboard.

On the main page (“Stories”) look at the story which you have just subscribed to. You can see a small circle (with a point inside) in the upper left corner. When a circle is light, that means that nothing was changed in the story. When it is dark, something in the story was updated. Open it to see the changes. After that, the circle will become light again.

Story updated

At the moment, to get push notifications, you have to manually enable them on the “Site settings” page in your browser. Also, make sure that push notifications are enabled in general in your system settings. In the nearest future, we’re going to add a corresponding button to simplify this process.

Push notifications work as follows:

  • If a tab with a certain project in Riter is open AND not active
  • AND if you are subscribed to some task which was updated
  • AND if the task in which something has been updated is NOT open then you receive a notification.

Dashboard

The initial version of the dashboard is the place where all team members, both developers and managers, can track the latest updates in the project. It is available in the development mode for each project and project group which you have access to. To open the dashboard, click on the Riter logo while being on any page of a project or a project group.

The dashboard content is similar to the history of changes displaying on story pages when somebody updates a story or writes a comment to it. However, the dashboard includes changes of all tasks in the current project. Some other updates related to the project in general, not particular task (for example, adding working hours), are shown in the dashboard as well. Thus, you can quickly look through all the latest events in the project and use links inside the dashboard notes to get directly to the updated stories which you are interested in.

dashboard