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How To Take Charge of Your Project’s Navigation in 5 Minutes

Posted by adam feber on Tue, May 06, 2014
  
  
Tags: 

In this post, we will show you how to:

  • Set the default landing tool so team members that visit your project land on the most used tool without unnecessary clicks
  • Add/remove tools to ensure your team has all the tools available to work smarter
  • Rearrange your tool navigation to make the most used tools the easiest to access

Note: These configuration changes require ‘Owner’ project permissions. I you do not have this, you can visit the Team page to see who has these permissions and share this link.

Setting the default landing tool

By setting the default landing tool, team members will always land on the most used tool without unnecessary clicks. While a click only takes a second, when you compound that over hundreds of visits, you will be saving your team time while making their experience more enjoyable.

1. Visit the Admin page of your project → click on the ‘More’ button in the Appearance section.

admin appearance button

2. Scroll down to the Navigation section and select the desired tool in the “default landing tab is” dropdown.

default landing tab menu

3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the ‘Save Changes’ button.

If your default landing tool is the Tickets tool, you can set which Tickets view is the default (List, Planner, Cardwall) as well as the default filter. Here is how:

1. Visit the Tickets tool of your project → click on the ‘Setting’ sub navigation item.

2. In the left navigation menu, click on ‘Default Views’ and set the desired view.

assembla ticket settings2

3. If your default Ticket view is the List, you can set the default List filter in the ‘Default Views’ section. If your default view is the Cardwall, you can click on the ‘Cardwall’ section to set the default Cardwall filter.

Now when team members visit the Tickets tool, they will land on the correct view with the desired team filter. 

Add and remove project tools

If you haven't had a chance to browse through the tools section of Assembla, we recommend you check out all the great tools Assembla has to offer. You can reduce clutter by removing unused tools and add new tools for your team to try.

1. Visit the Admin page of your project → click on the ‘More’ button in the Tools section.

2. Browse through the tools list - you can click on ‘Add’ for any tool you want to add or ‘Remove’ for any tools you want to remove.

assembla tools admin snippet

Recommendation: Check out the Custom tab tool that provides access to external tools from within your Assembla project.

Rearrange your tool navigation

Now that you have set your default landing tool and determined the desired tools available within your project, it is time to order the tool navigation so mission critical tools are easily available and never overlook.

1. Visit the Admin page of your project → click on the ‘More’ button in the Appearance section.

2. Scroll down to the Navigation section and drag and drop the tools in the “Order Tabs” box to the desired order - displayed from left to right in the main navigation.

rearrange assembla tool nav

3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the ‘Save Changes’ button.

We hope this exercise helps you and your team navigate your projects more efficiently. If you have any problems or questions, you can get in touch with Assembla support at our help desk or by emailing support@assembla.com.

If you do not have an Assembla project, you can quickly sign up for free.

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Assembla Tips and Tricks to Work Smarter and Faster

Posted by adam feber on Thu, Mar 20, 2014
  
  

assembla tips

Assembla has many powerful and hidden capabilities that can help you get your work done more efficiently. In order to get those most out of your Assembla projects, here are a few tips and tricks to help you and your team work smarter and faster. Do you have any tips and tricks you want to share Email tips@assembla.com or tweet your tips with hashtag #AssemblaTips.

Get attention from your team members with @mentions. For extra certainty, add a ! at the end like @adam! or @support! to instantly send an email to that member or group. 

Type @ and start typing a users name virtually anywhere in Assembla to call out users. User get notification alerts in their top bar to signify something needs their attention. Set up labels in the Team tab to mention groups like @support or @admin. 

Focus the attention of your team by setting your project’s default landing page (tool) and arranging the tool tabs so that the most important tools are easy to find. 

Visit the Admin tab of your project > click on the Appearance section > and scroll to the Navigation section. Drag and drop tools to rearrange the order of the tool tabs in the main navigation and select the desired default tool in the “default landing tab is” drop-down. When you have made the desired changed, scroll down and click on ‘Save Changes.’

Illustrate your point by dragging and dropping files on a ticket.

Once a ticket has been created, you can grab any file from your desktop and drop it anywhere on the ticket. This will upload and associate the dropped file to the ticket. 

Edit ticket status values to create custom workflows. Additional status workflows will be displayed on the Cardwall view so you can visually see the status of all work in progress. 

Go to the Tickets tool > Settings sub-tab > Status and Workflows section. You can create new statuses and rearrange the order of your statuses. The order the statuses appear on this page is the order they will appear in the status drop-down on tickets, and the order of the columns from left to right on your Cardwall view.

Get code reviews by setting repository branches as "protected” so only certain team members are able to push commits to a given branch after the code has been reviewed and approved.

Visit the repository’s tab within Assembla > Settings sub-tab > Protected Branches section and define what team members are allowed to perform what action to given branches.

cta tips2

We would love to hear your tips and tricks! Email us at tips@assembla.com or tweet your tips with hashtag #AssemblaTips.

If you do not have an Assembla project, get started for free.

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TimeLoggr Review: Time Tracking Chrome Extension for Assembla

Posted by adam feber on Thu, Oct 31, 2013
  
  

Disclaimer: TimeLoggr is a third party Chrome extension that is not affiliated with or maintained by Assembla in any way.

TimeLogger was recently brought to my attention and since a lot of Assembla users track their time in tickets, I thought it would be helpful to provide a walkthrough for this useful tool.

TimeLogger is a free Chrome extension available in the Chrome Web Store - click here to install. Once installed, you will see a clock icon in your Chrome extensions bar. The extension will recognize your Assembla session, so you must be logged in to Assembla for the extension to work.

Clicking on the extension will display an expandable list of your projects and tasks you are assigned within each project.

timeloggr3

A. Clicking on your profile picture or name will open Assembla’s view of recent time entries across all projects. This view also allows you to manually input time entries.

B. The orange tasks box will display how many tickets you are assigned. Clicking this area will open your active tickets view within Assembla, displaying all tickets that are assigned to you across all projects.

C. You can click on any tasks to open the Assembla ticket in a new browser tab.

D. From the extension, you can click on the ‘Start’ button for any task and to begin tracking time associated with that tasks. Once you have started tracking time for a task, the view will change:

describe the image

You can comment on the ticket from this view but it is important to note that entering a comment and clicking the ‘Stop’ button does not add the comment. To add a comment, you must type the comment and hit Enter on your keyboard.

At anytime, you can click the “Stop” button and your time entry will be created and associated with the ticket.

describe the image

If you track time in Assembla, the TimeLoggr Chrome extension is a simple, handy tool that can save you some time. Thank you optini for developing this extension and making it available for everyone to use. 

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Personal Github Mirroring in 3 Steps

Posted by Michael Chletsos on Thu, Jun 27, 2013
  
  
Tags: ,

Github Repository Backup

Github is a great service and very reliable, but your code is so precious you back it up in several places just in case it is unavailable when you need it most. Occasionally, Github does go down, it’s a fact of life. With Github having 99.69% uptime over the past year, that means about 27 hours a year your code is unavailable. It is time to get that code elsewhere, so you can continue working without any hiccups. An easy way to always be moving forward and collaborating while Github is getting back up and running is to use a free Assembla repo as a mirror.

A mirror is a duplicate of your work. It is a point in time, just as most backups are not real-time, the mirror must be pushed to in order to get back in sync.  If you end up pushing data directly to an Assembla mirror while Github is unavailable, you will have to sync (push) that data back to Github once it becomes available again.  The mirror is just another fork of your data, that must be maintained and updated regularly.  

To setup a mirror from a local repo, all you have to do is add a remote to your git repo and then push to it with the --mirror flag. By using the --mirror flag in your push, all references and branches are pushed, it’s a complete backup. Any Assembla repo will work without any special setup, using an empty repo tool is easiest.

Remember, you will control when the mirror is updated, so you must push to this new remote each time you want to sync from your local repo to your mirror and push to your Github repository as well. I will show you how to make a nice trick for this as well at the end.

Steps:

1. Clone your Github repo locally

# git clone git@github.com:<GITHUB_USERNAME>/<GITHUB_REPONAME>.git
# cd <GITHUB_REPONAME>

2. Add the remote Assembla repo to your local Git repo

# git remote add assembla_mirror git@git.assembla.com:<ASSEMBLA_REPONAME>.git

3. Push to your Assembla mirror repo

# git push --mirror assembla_mirror 

github mirror

Now you can view your mirror in the online repo browser or pull and push to the remote mirror as necessary from your favorite client.

Remote Push Trick:

Let’s say you want to always push to both remotes, your Github and your Assembla remote, at the same time.  You can do this with a quick change to your .git/config file.  Just create a section like this:

[remote “all”]
        url = git@github.com:mpchlets/michaelspace.git
        url = git@git.assembla.com:michaels_github_mirror.git

Now you can just push like this and keep everything up to date:

# git push all

Notes to Remember:

  • This is a mirror of your local repository to Assembla, ensure that your local repository is up to date before pushing up to Assembla.
  • This is an asynchronous mirror, you must push up to Assembla to get the data there.
  • If there is a conflict, you must resolve it before the push will be successful. hint: checkout the remote Assembla repository and update as necessary or just remove and add a new one.
  • If you push to your Assembla repository, you must remember to update your Github repository.
  • Using --mirror pushes all refs and branches up to the repository, you can push just a branch without --mirror and adding the ref to the end of the command
  • Only your repository will be available in Assembla, not your Github discussions, wiki nor other features of Github will be available.

 

Get Started with a Free Hosted Git Repo from the Assembla plans page.


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How to Manage Agile with Assembla: Tutorials

Posted by Jon Friedman on Wed, May 29, 2013
  
  

How do you plan, manage and close Scrum sprints with Assembla?

Stabilize a Scrumban iteration? (And what is "Scrumban"?)

Manage the tasks in a Kanban or lean Continuous Delivery process?

Assembla has very flexible tools for managing Agile (and non-Agile) development processes. So flexible, that it's not always obvious how to manage tasks for a specific Agile methodology.

That's why we have created three online tutorials that walk you through how to manage Scrum, Scrumban and Kanban processes using Assembla's new Renzoku feature set.

Tutorial screen

You can find the tutorials here:

How to Manage Scrum with Assembla

How to Manage Scrumban with Assembla

How to Manage Kanban/Continuous with Assembla

By the way, Scrumban uses periodic releases, like Scrum, but adopts some lean practices from Kanban. Read about it here.

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The Cumulative Flow Diagram: Your Most Valuable Management Report?

Posted by Jon Friedman on Wed, Feb 20, 2013
  
  

The Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) is an extremely valuable management report. It gives you an “at a glance” picture of key process variables such as velocity, WIP and ticket cycle times. It can help you release more features faster by identifying bottlenecks and problems in your development process.

In Assembla it takes less than a minute to generate a CFD with your own ticket data.

In this blog post we will show you how to create a CFD, measure velocity and find bottlenecks in your development process. In the next post we will discuss cycle times and how the CFD can warn you about scope creep and other process problems.

Generate Your CFD

Cumulative Flow Diagrams are one of the management reports available as part of the Assembla Tickets tool.

To create a Cumulative Flow Diagram based on your ticket activity, just 

  1. Click on the Tickets tab.
  2. Click on the Metrics subtab.
  3. On the list of reports, click on Cumulative Flow Diagram
  4. Select the Milestone, Start Date and End Date and click the Update button

How to generate a CFD

 

What is on This Graph?

You will see a graph that looks somewhat like the one below. It shows the number of tickets in each of you status categories, for the milestone and the time period you have selected. 

If you draw a horizontal line at any point on this graph you will see a snapshot of your tickets on a given date (how many with status “New,” “In-Progress,” “Test,” etc.). In fact, if you move your cursor along the top boundary of any layer a popup box will list the number of tickets in that category on each date.

So the CFD is really just a picture of your tickets by status over time. But this picture can tell you a lot about your development process. 

Example of a CFD

Note: In your graph the shape of the layers may differ from Figure 1 depending on whether your development process is based on iterations and sprints, or on a continuous flow. You can see “ideal” Cumulative Flow Diagrams for Scrum, ScrumBan and Kanban processes in Andy Singleton’s blog post: Scrum + Kanban = ScrumBan, an Easy Scrum Upgrade.

 

The Departure Rate (Velocity) Helps You Project Completion

The bottom layer on the graph (usually labeled “Fixed,” or “Done” or “Completed”) shows the number of finished tickets at different times. The upper boundary shows the cumulative number of tickets completed or “burned up” in the iteration or milestone. 

The slope of this line is the “departure rate”; that is, the average number of tickets completed per time period. In Kanban and other flow process this is usually called the “velocity” (in this diagram measured in tickets completed rather than points).  Either way, it is a measure of throughput and productivity.

The departure rate can help you estimate:

  • The time needed to complete the current milestone.
  • The time and resources needed to complete future projects with a given number of tickets.

Of course, these estimates are not going to be exact, because different tickets require different amounts of work. But over time they should average out and let you make rough projections. (Also, if you have a few very large tickets you should try to find ways to break them up into smaller ones.)

In addition, changes in the departure rate might indicate problems with your development process. For example, in diagram below, why were so few tickets completed between 2012/11/12 and 2012/11/26? There might be a good reason, but the CFD clues you in on where to look for possible issues.

By the way, the upper boundary of the top layer on the CFD represents new tickets arriving into the milestone, so the slope of that line is the “arrival rate.” 

departure and arrival rates

 

WIP Levels Show You Bottlenecks

Identifying and eliminating process bottlenecks is a critical element of continuous improvement.

In the diagram below, the red vertical line represents work in process: the cumulative number of tickets accepted into the process but not yet completed. 

This information is useful because you can see how much work needs to be done at each level; for example how many tickets haven’t been started, how many are in progress, how many need to be tested, etc.

But even more important, you can see where your process developed bottlenecks. Those are at the places where a “boa constrictor” suddenly becomes fat. For example, in this diagram the “Deploy” layer goes from very thin to very thick between 12/11/26 and about 2012/12/07. It looks like something went wrong during this period and the imbalance in the process was only gradually worked out towards the end of the diagram.

View WIP and spot bottlenecks

Note that the cause of the problem may well be in the process step below the thick layer. In this diagram the bottleneck in the “Deploy” layer might have been caused by problems preparing new features for deployment, or by a constraint on actually deploying them and accepting them as “Fixed.” (If you “push” tickets, then the problem is likely to be in the fat layer; if you have a “pull” system it is probably in the lower or receiving layer).

The CFD makes it much easier to see when and where the bottlenecks started, so you can investigate the root causes and fix the underlying problems. 

In our next post we will look at cycle times and how to the CFD can help identify scope creep.

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Planner is now the default Tickets view in new spaces

Posted by Peter Farlow on Tue, Jun 12, 2012
  
  

We changed the default Tickets view in new spaces to Planner.  New users will land on the Planner, and hopefully get started easily.

You can change the default view for your team to List, Cardwall, or Planner

* List:  This is the old default.  You can use the list filters to configure views by milestone, team, component, user, and make your own containers and process.

* Cardwall: The "Current" column in planner will show up on the Cardwall, which makes Cardwall useful for your contributors.

* Planner.  See your New, Backlog, and Current tickets on one page, and prioritize them.

How to set the default view?  Within the Tickets tool, go to the "Settings" tab.  Under settings, go to the "Default Views" tab on the left. By default, the land on planner option will be selected. Select "Land on Ticket List" and then update your settings. Now, when you go to the Tickets tool, your team members and you will see the List view instead of Planner.

2

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Webinar: Accelerate with Scrum, Kanban and Scalable Agile

Posted by Jon Friedman on Fri, Mar 02, 2012
  
  

Join us for a Webinar on March 13 to hear about combining Scrum and Kanban from agile expert Damon Poole, and see a preview of the upcoming "Simple Planner" view of Assembla tickets, which supports both approaches.  Register at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/396697960

Time: Tuesday March 13, 2012, 2:00 pm EDT (UTC -4)

Accelerate with Scrum, Kanban and Scalable Agile

Damon Poole will show you how to accelerate software development by combining the best features of Scrum (with fixed-length sprints), Kanban (continuous flow with rapid completion of each selected task), and Scalable Agile (multiple contributing teams working on a big project). Damon will describe how to introduce Kanban into a Scrum process, how to accelerate development with “One Piece Flow”, and how to coordinate the work of multiple teams.

Andy Singleton will preview two soon-to-be-released features of Assembla. The “Simple Planner” view of Assembla tickets with an AJAX UI that will allow you to move effortlessly between Scrum iteration planning and Kanban. The Advanced Merge Request feature that can help you manage continuous development and release.

Register

The Presenters

Damon Poole is a widely-recognized Agile expert. He founded AccuRev, where he created multiple Jolt Award winning products. He writes and speaks frequently on Agile development and is the author of “Do It Yourself Agile.” He has consulted for industry leaders including Ford, Xerox, Orbitz, Texas Instruments and Verizon Wireless, and has trained hundreds of people on Agile methodologies.

Andy Singleton s Founder of Assembla. He previously founded PowerSteering Software and Cambridge Interactive and has built more than 20 new software and Web products.

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Setting Up Git on Windows in Four Easy Steps

Posted by adam feber on Thu, Feb 02, 2012
  
  

Introduction

Setting up Git can be intimidating, especially for those that are trying a version control system for the first time or moving from Subversion. It used to be the case that Git was a huge hassle to install and use on Windows. However, nowadays it's super easy to use Git on Windows either through Git Bash, if you're a fan of the command line, or if you prefer a graphical interface, through programs like TortoiseGit. Below we'll show you how to set everything up and connect it with Assembla.

Table of Contents

  1. Download and Install Git for Windows
  2. Download and Install TortoiseGit (Optional but recommended for first timers)
  3. Generate SSH keys
  4. Link SSH key with Assembla

Prerequisites

  1. Assembla Git repository - sign up if you haven't already, Git and all our other project management tools are totally free for teams up to 3 people.
  2. A strong desire to install Git on Windows.
  3. That's it, let's go!

1. Download and Install Git for Windows

To get things started, you'll need to download and install Git for Windows. You can download it here. If you're unsure of which one to choose, just go with the full installer. After downloading, run the installer.

  git setup wizard
If you have PuTTY/TortoiseSVN installed, you may see this screen, otherwise just ignore this. Regardless, use OpenSSH to make things easy. 
 

SSH Executable

Complete Setup Wizard

Download and Install TortoiseGit

This step is optional. If you are comfortable using the command line for interacting with Git, you do not need to install TortoiseGit.

Next up, let's download and install TortoiseGit.
  tortoise1

tortoise7
We'll need to configure TortoiseGit - to do this, right click anywhere on your Desktop, select "TortoiseGit" and then "Settings."

tortoise8
Find "Git" and then click on "Config" from the menu on the left. Then fill in your Name and Email, making sure to use the same email that you used to sign up for Assembla.

Don't forget to click OK when you're done.
 
tortoise9

Great, now TortoiseGit is all set!

Generate SSH keys

There's two ways to generate SSH keys:
  1. If you installed TortoiseGit, use the method directly below. 2. If you only installed Git on Windows and are not using TortiseGit, jump to the "Git Bash SSH Keys" section.

TortoiseGit SSH Keys

SSH creates a secure connection from your computer to Assembla, making sure that you are who you claim to be so that only authorized persons can commit to your repository. Assembla needs to know your public SSH key to make the secure connection, so let's fire up Puttygen to generate an SSH key pair.

Start -> Programs -> TortoiseGit -> Puttygen

puttygen1
In Puttygen, first click on the "Generate" button.

puttygen2
Next, you'll move your mouse around the big gray area under the progress bar to generate randomness for super security.

puttygen3
Once the key is generated, you should copy it onto your clipboard. You'll use this later to authenticate with Assembla.

puttygen4
Afterwards, choose a memorable password and confirm it. Don't forget your password!

puttygen5
Lastly, click on the "Save private key" button and save your private key somewhere you'll remember.

puttygen6


Git Bash SSH Keys

If you did not install TortoiseGit, you're at the right place! If you did install TortoiseGit, follow the steps above and skip this section.

  • Start up Git Bash: Start -> All Programs -> Git -> Git Bash
  • On the command prompt, type in the following command substituting with the email you used to sign up for Assembla.
  • When it asks you for the file, just hit Enter.
  • Please note that you should definitely enter a passphrase; when you type, nothing will show up. This is normal, don't worry about it.

ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "me@email.com"

Use Notepad to open up the .ssh/id_rsa.pub file you just generated and copy the all of the contents of that file.

Link Your SSH key with Assembla

Open up your Assembla profile which is where you'll paste the public key you just copied from the previous step. 
 
key1
Click "Add Key" after you've pasted the key into the box. You should see something like the following picture below. If so, congratulations, you're done with this section!
  key2

Stuck? Need help?

If you encounter difficulty with any of this, don't hesitate to contact Assembla support.

Want free Git hosting?

Assembla offers Git hosting and all of our other project management tools for free for teams up to 3 people. Get started in less than 60 seconds

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Collaboration Tools - Overview Videos

Posted by adam feber on Thu, Jan 19, 2012
  
  

Below are the updated overview videos for Assembla's most used collaboration tools - Wiki, Files, and Messages. If you are not taking advantage of any of these tools, you can add them to your project workspace in seconds from the Admin tab of of you space.

wiki   The Wiki tool is ideal for organizing pages for instructions, ideas, specifications, documentation, and anything else you want. Add new pages in seconds, and customize the navigation to fit your needs. Let other team members contribute; if you don't like their additions, just roll back to any previous version. 
 files   The Files tool provides a central and secure place or organize and manage project files and Google docs. You can add files and Google docs directly to the Files tool or you can upload them to tickets, messages, wiki pages, etc. - either way, all your project files will be organized and searchable from the Files tool.  
 messages   The Message tool lets team members communicate with each other while maintaining a centralized record of all conversations. Messages are a great way to facilitate communication and collaboration without messy email threads that get overlooked, clutter email inboxes, or don't reach everyone.


These videos and others can be found on Assembla's YouTube channel

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