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I return to Asana after trying Any.do for a few weeks (see Asana announces Chrome extension (at last)).
The announcement of a better Chrome extension was an important consideration, since Any.do has a great integration with Gmail:
I loved that Gmail integration. Frankly, I hope Asana knocks it off. But the extreme limitations of accessing and manipulating Any.do tasks — and their bizarrely cheerful support responses — made it very difficult to use the app on the Web. Better on the iPhone, but even there it was less than optimal.
I think that companies should be as truthful as possible, and when customers point out inaccuracies in marketing materials the company should fix the issue.
Case in point: Wunderkind — the company behind the Wunderlist task manager app — has the following image and text on their website:
Which gives the impression that the tool supports something like sticky notes, widely understood as standalone notes that emulate real world post-its.
But what Wunderlist actually implements in completely different: each task in Wunderlist has a single note. Or turned around, the only notes in Wunderlist are embedded in tasks: they aren’t anything like sticky notes. Here’s an image of a Wunderlist note, embedded in a task:
Note that notes can be popped out of the task, for editing or viewing, but only temporarily. They aren’t sticky notes.
When users comment (or complain) about this inaccuracy (or falsehood) the support staff’s answers are lame.
Demonstration purposes? Demonstration of how sticky notes work in other apps?
If your implementation of notes is better than sticky notes then stop pushing the idea of sticky notes, and put up an image of what you actually have.
Wunderkind — it’s time to fix your app or your website, or both.
Yes, I know the app is free, but people’s time isn’t. I took a look at your new Wunderlist 2 today, and fully expected sticky notes. Now, I’m an analyst, so no real problem, but I bet that for every person that posted a note on your support about this — and I only picked out three — there could be hundreds that are pissed off, and didn’t contact you. They just stopped using your app, and told their buddies it’s a piece of junk.
This is just like the restaurant with cold food and bad service where the patrons don’t all complain, they just never come back.
PS If you actually implemented sticky notes — freeform notes outside of tasks but associated with projects, and having their own comment threads — I’d consider using your product, because it’s one of the features missing from Asana that I would really like to have.
My review of ten team task management tools now available at GigaOM Pro, using a task model versus team model 10x10 grid approach:
Excerpt to give a sense of the analysis in the report:
Three offerings in the top tier — Do, Trello, and Asana — cluster together, with Wrike as an outlier. Do and Asana are competitive products, sharing common design metaphors as well as similar team and task models. Both scored an eight for having effective killer features, as did Trello. Trello has perhaps the most innovative user experience of all of these top-tier solutions. But the choice between those two user experience design approaches has to be left to the user, ultimately. Wrike, the outlier in this tier, is a somewhat less team-oriented tool but has the richest task model of all the products.
I think in future versions of this report I will a/ start with a larger group of products, b/ winnow down more aggressively, with one sentence or one paragraph characterizations of the lower tiers, and c/ provide in depth reviews of the top tier solutions, only.
Last month, Dropbox released Dropbox Chooser, an API to make integration of Dropbox into other applications much easier. Wrike has released a new version of their team task manager to leverage Dropbox Chooser, joining Asana and others. Read the rest.
- Hamish McKenzie, The Great Replacement: Microsoft, Yammer, and a New World in Enterprise Computing via PandoDaily
Hamish inteprets Microsoft’s eagerness to acquire the work media company, Yammer, as something greater than the value of the business — even given its solid team, momentum, and product — but instead as part of a strategic vision of a ‘great replacement’ of the current generation of enterprise software. This transition may take a decade or more, but we will witness the slow dismantling of server-based software running onsite, and the migration to cloud-based solutions, like Yammer.
Hamish also points out that Microsoft has deep expertise in running massive cloud solutions, like HotMail, which they acquired in 1997.
I agree that players like Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle are not going to let themselves be squeezed out of the market by upstarts: they will buy a seat at the table, and cut the cards.
I received email from Asana, the San Francisco-based work media company, making apologies for an email outage. Most interesting is the possible confusion in their explanation when they fall into progeammer speak, and begin to refer to the Asana program as ‘we’:
Over this weekend — from 10:28AM Pacific on Friday until 1:30PM Pacific today — we had an error where we did not process any replies to task notification emails, or incoming emails to email@example.com. We are very sorry for this outage and we are taking steps to prevent this from happening again.
If you sent any emails to Asana during the outage, you can resend them to have them processed correctly:
1. Search your sent mail for “to:mail.asana.com”
2. For any mails in that search sent between 10:28 AM PDT on 8/12 and 1:30PM PDT on 8/15, copy and resend the emails
If you need any help whatsoever with this process, please don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you right away.
Asana takes reliability very seriously, and customers’ ability to trust us with your data will obviously be critical to your success with the product and our success as a business. In general we have made significant strides in improving the robustness of all of our systems over the last quarter, and are on our way toward parity with other services whose reliability you depend on. We will take this incident seriously as an opportunity not only to ensure that we prevent all future problems with bad code disabling incoming email (details below), but also to look even more closely at each part of our system.
We apologize for this incident, and greatly appreciate your patience as our practices evolve. If you have any questions about this bug, about the recovery instructions above, or about reliability in general, please email us at email@example.com.
Here’s what happened:
1. We pushed what we thought was an unrelated change to make Asana work on Chrome Frame in Internet Explorer.
2. This change accidentally caused us to think that our mail server was an invalid browser.
3. Our servers rejected all of the incoming emails instead of processing them.
4. The mail server interpreted the invalid browser response as a success message and did not log any errors.
Here’s how we’ll prevent things like this from happening in the future:
1. We are adding integration tests that will prevent code that breaks incoming email from being pushed to production in the future.
2. We are adding end-to-end tests that will monitor our production environment for any sudden decreases to incoming emails so that we will detect any problems with incoming email much more quickly.
I am betting that when they wrote ‘This change accidentally caused us to think that our mail server was an invalid browser’ they meant ‘This change accidentally caused the Asana program to think that the Asana mail server was an invalid browser’.
In general, it’s better to not anthropomorphize about programs this way, because it becomes very confusing to non programmers who don’t parse the world like that,
Asana, the much heralded work media start up, is in limited beta, and still stirring up buzz:
Asana is a company created by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-Googler Justin Rosenstein. Its aim is nothing short of reinventing how we collaborate. It’s a lofty goal, especially with so many Enterprise 2.0 tools aiming to do just that. But it has deep pockets, high profile advisers, a strong vision and lots of buzz.
The team has been toiling on the project in secret for two years, but have finally started talking about it over the past few months. In February, the company held an open house where Rosenstein demoed and explained the product. It’s currently in private beta, but don’t hold your breath waiting for an invite.
Well, I got an invite, despite everything, and I will be writing up some thoughts early this week. The short version: all tasks, and nothing but tasks? I think they’re GTD-happy.