Building Apollo

Apollo behind the scenes: see what we are working on right now!

Budget tracking

Tuesday November 13, 2018

In our last update, we talked about the new Expenses section, a tool for tracking expenses for a project. Keeping tabs with expenses is not the only piece of the puzzle though; to ensure your projects are profitable, you need an accurate project budget too!

Starting today, there's a new integrated tool in Apollo to help you achieve that: Budget tracking.

Now you can set the budget for a project, calculate its costs (down to the nickle) based on time and expenses, and stay updated on the remaining budget.

To start, just open a project (even an existing one), click the Budget menu, then click the Budget settings button. There you can decide how the budget should be tracked for that project. Please note: the Budget menu is available only to internal users with the "Can manage projects" permission.

We tried to cater to the most common scenarios, from the most simple where there's just a fixed total budget – either as a fixed amount of money or as fixed amount of time – to the more specific cases, where you want to specify the budget per category or per person.

Depending on what you set, you might be asked to set the hourly rate for the project, category, or user, which you can do by clicking the Hourly rate settings button.

The budget screen also shows the internal cost subtotal, which is the sum of the project expenses and the internal cost of people working on it. The hourly rate for the "Internal cost" section is a different amount that can be set from "User Cost Rates" screen inside Apollo's general settings.

Now you're set! Just keep tracking time and expenses, and glance on the chart from time to time to make sure the ship is on its right course! Or, just setup the automatic alert feature to receive a notification when the used budget reaches a specified threshold.

Thanks for reading!

Track Project Expenses

Thursday September 27, 2018

After a period of apparent calm, we're back with a new feature that will give project managers some peace of mind.

Sooner or later every project will have its costs – materials, travel, external consulting, and so on – which sometimes are logged outside of Apollo, or worse are not logged at all and completely forgotten. Actually, the spending review is one of the most important aspects of project management and it is good practice to keep tabs on it.

Well, today Apollo has a new dedicated tool to help you: the Expenses section.

Here you can log and track expenses made by all project users (but you can set limits for each user) and glance at the total from time to time.

In addition to the amount and date, each expense can be logged with context, by selecting a category or adding any personal notes. It is also possible to upload its receipt and specify whether the expense needs to be billed or not.

Expenses follows the same visibility rules of the Time section: you can enable users to log expenses, to track their expenses, expenses from their company or of all project users.

The Expenses section makes the project menu even more crowded, which could be cumbersome to some of you. Luckily, that menu is customizable at will, and we suggest you keep active only the features you need for each project.

Today's feature was the missing piece before we could introduce the ability to track a project's budget, which is coming very soon to Apollo, so stay tuned!


New features

  • Creating a project from a template now includes user roles.
  • Gantt chart has a new "Hour" time scale, to better show a Task's start and end time.

Enhancements

  • Contacts' CSV export now considers the "Owner" filter setting.

Bug fixes

  • Reassigning a Milestone wasn't showing the new responsible in Project activity.
  • The "Roles" submenu in a project was visible even to people who weren't allowed to see it (tough clicking it just showed a permission error to them).
  • Filtering project tasks was randomly moving keyboard focus the the first visible Subtask creation form.
  • Task in templates created from projects had the start date relative to the project start date instead of the original task start date.
  • Sometimes reloading Apollo after an update would need multiple page refreshes to work. That's no longer the case and it won't happen ever again KTHXBYE.

Bulk reassign Project items

Wednesday July 11, 2018

The summer is getting hotter and hotter in our hemisphere but that doesn't prevent us from keep building Apollo! For those that are waiting for it, we are almost done with the Budget management features for projects, and users in the Brave Collective will be able to start playing with it soon!

Now back to today's new feature!

As it's often the case in teams of any size, project timelines are adjusted and people assigned to one project are moved to another. After shuffling teams to different projects, however, any project item responsibility assigned to a user needs to be reassigned by hand.

Not anymore! Starting today, you can reassign all Tasks and/or Milestones from a project member to another; just make sure that both users can access the project, head to the People and Permissions page, and search for the Reassign items button on the right pane. Clicking it will reveal the form below:

Select the current responsible on the left, the new responsible on the right, choose to reassign Tasks or Milestones (or both) and submit. Done!

Here's a handy tip for project managers that already leverage Project templates: suppose you have a template with accurately chosen timing and sorting for Tasklists, Tasks, Subtasks and Milestones, for which responsibles are chosen only when actually starting the project. The normal way of assigning responsibles to those items would be doing it manually after adding users as members of the project.

Instead, we suggest you create some fake users called, say, Generic Designer, Generic developer 1, Generic developer 2, and so on – users are unlimited in any Apollo plan – add those users as members of the Project template and assign them tasks and milestones, then create your project using the template and simply reassign all items using the Item reassignment feature.

A quick update for Apollo Mobile

While we're hard at work to bring you the Apollo Mobile native apps, we're still happy to satisfy all your requests for the current web version. A few users lamented the lack of the Project activity feed, that is very useful to see at a glance what happened lately in a project when you are on the go. So we went ahead and added it!

And that is all for today, thanks for reading!


Changes

  • Import template into project: selecting a template with tasks having a due date relative to the project due date is not allowed anymore if the destination project doesn't have a due date set.

Bug fixes

  • Added spacing to Tasks in My completed Tasks, that were not rendered correctly.
  • Keyboard navigation was breaking when focusing the select boxes in the Time log or Task picker forms.
  • The Google Drive or Dropbox authentication windows would not close after a successful connection, and Apollo had to be reloaded to start using those services.

Milestone Audit

Tuesday June 12, 2018

Last year we introduced a feature called Task Audit, which lets you see the entire life of a task and have a clear vision of its modification history.

Over time, we noticed that the feature was having a steady usage increase, meaning that users have found it useful and were relying on it more and more. Even though its Milestone counterpart even lost a poll against the Crm Custom Fields contender, we decided to bring it to life anyway, so today Milestone Audit is also available for everyone.

Just like for tasks, Milestone Audit is found in the Milestone detail page. Look for the Latest changes box in the right sidebar, as shown below:

Clicking the Details link will present the full Milestone modification history, sorted by date. You can see when a Milestone has been shifted, reassigned, or renamed.

The development of this feature started a while ago, so we've been tracking milestone modifications for the last 6 months already!

Tip of the week

You can see recently completed tasks in each Task list by clicking the Recently completed dropdown in the Task list header, but this will only show the tasks completed in the previous 2 weeks! What if you need to see all completed tasks? It's very simple: just click on the mode selector and pick All tasks and then click Show.

That's all for today, thanks for reading!


Changes

  • Hidden project task lists are now also hidden on the Gantt Chart.

Bug fixes

  • Project Gantt Chart: switching between Active Tasks and All Tasks would restart Apollo when using Microsoft Edge or Safari.
  • Project Gantt Chart: the inbox task list wasn't visible, so tasks couldn't be added to it.
  • Project time: Billable and Not billable time totals were inverted.
  • Some users couldn't see their customized sidebar background image.
  • Some Gantt Chart labels were incorrectly... labelled.

User Roles and GDPR compliance

Monday May 21, 2018

This week we show you a new feature that just landed in Apollo and also we update you about our efforts to be compliant with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Let's dive in!

User Roles

This new feature has been requested quite a lot lately, in particular by teams that have more than a few people collaborating in a project at the same time.

Especially when external users are involved in the project as well – like the customer, for example – it can be difficult for project members to know who to assign a task by looking at a dozen or more available options.

Starting today, you can assign Roles to users in a project, and then assign tasks by selecting that role. Let's see how to do it:

You add roles by going to the Roles page for a project. After defining a role, you just add users one by one. You can mix internal and external users, of course, and assign one user to multiple roles as well.

And here's how simply is to select multiple responsibles for a task now. Just click the role name and the all project members with that role assigned will be selected instantly!

Of course, moving users to a different role will not mess with tasks already assigned to them.

Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

In the last months we also worked to ensure we were ready for the GDPR.

By now, you should have received a huge number of GDPR related emails, so we can spare you the lecture about the new European law that comes into effect next Friday. If you want to know more, see the official resource on EUR LEX.

Rest assured, we have devoted all the necessary resources to comply with the new regulation. A few examples of the activities that we carried out are:

  • Published an updated Privacy Policy.
  • Updated our internal data management and data retention policies, expecially for data backups and made sure that everything is encrypted at rest.
  • Reviewed and updated all our internal tools and dashboards, and made sure the displayed information is adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed.
  • Vetted all subprocessors that handle our customers' personal data to ensure they respect the security and privacy standard under the GDPR.
  • Reviewed our data export options to make sure that the account owner can export all data in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format (XML) anytime.

That's all for today, thanks for reading!


Enhancements

  • API: You can now retrieve projects that have been archived.
  • Project templates: Milestone's due dates can now be set to more than 52 weeks.

Bug fixes

  • Clicking below the "11:00 PM" line on the calendar week view wasn't showing the form for creating a new event.
  • Enabling the "Shift subtask date" option when editing a task with subtasks would only shift direct-child subtasks.
  • Contacts: trying to add a note with visibility to specific people would show an error if there was actually no people selected.

Customize the Project menu

Wednesday May 2, 2018

Summer is coming – at least in this hemisphere, sorry south fellas – and even though the urge to enjoy the beach is ever growing, we keep hammering at the keyboards to bring you new features every week!

This time we thought to simplify access to Apollo's ever growing list of project features.

As you already know, each Project relates to a slew of elements, such as Tasks, Messages, Files and so on. Each of these element types gets its own section in the Project's main menu.

With the recent release of Gantt charts, the feeling is that this menu is becoming more and more crowded, and if your project is only about to-dos and discussing with your team and your client, you can tailor this menu to your needs. It can go from this:

To this:

This is a great way to make the Project look less cluttered, and lower the learning curve for your clients and, in general, less experienced users.

This feature will make even more sense in the following weeks, when we plan to release *hint hint* the ability to set the Project budget, along with the that to store the Project expenses.

Vote your favorite feature

Here's a reminder that you, as an active user, are able to vote for your favorite upcoming Apollo feature. Just head to the Feature polls page, log in with your account and start voting.

That's all, folks. Thanks for reading!


New features

  • Added ability to set a start date to Tasks in Task list templates.

Enhancements

  • Added paginator to the ‘Milestones across all your projects’ page.

Bug fixes

  • API: some workspaces weren't able to add or modify calendar events.
  • In some cases, attachments to a Personal task or to a comment on a Personal task weren't visible to users outside the Task owner.
  • Edit task form: the start date couldn't be removed once set.
  • Body content sent in HTML format using the email dropbox feature was not sanitized properly in some cases.

Gantt charts

Monday April 16, 2018

We heard what you just said after reading the subject above, because it was a massive, resounding and well deserved finally.

That's true, Gantt charts have landed in Apollo.

Now it'll be much easier to see how project tasks relates to each other over the timeline, and make the appropriate adjustments on the fly by dragging them around!

The Gantt chart also allows you to manage project milestones, and soon will let you set dependencies between task. (hint: the latter is a feature being tested right now by users from the Brave Collective)

On the left side you'll find a hierarchy from Project to Milestone to Lists to Tasks and subtasks, and you'll be able to compress parts of that tree using the +/- icon to focus only on what you need.

Even though changes made to Tasks while using the Gantt chart are instantly saved on our end, we do keep track of them so you can undo them via the Undo button.

Like every feature in Apollo, the Gantt chart is going to improve over time thanks to your suggestions, so drop us a line to let us know your thoughts.

Thanks for reading!


Bug fixes

  • Read-only Google Drive files in Apollo were not allowed to be selected.
  • Apollo wasn't reloading after linking a third party storage account like Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • In some cases, a Subtask added from the parent Task detail page would not appear in the right Task list until Apollo was reloaded.
  • Sometimes, adding or deleting a Subtask would not refresh the user interface.
  • Converting a project to a template was skipping the project's file folders.
  • The task picker dialog for attaching a Task to a Timer wasn't showing the real status of each Task.
  • API: Contact tasks were being added without assigning the specified responsible.

Constrain custom CRM field values

Wednesday March 21, 2018

There are two new features today. That's a sign that we're working hard on Apollo. Read on!

Predefined values for Custom CRM fields

A few months ago we added the ability to add custom fields to contacts, so you could stop putting all data that didn't had a specific field in the “Background info” field.

Starting today, you'll be able to control what users can put inside custom fields by specifying a set of predefined values for each field. For example, a “Certified” field could only contain the values “No”, “Pending” or “Yes”, as seen below.

Once you set the predefined values, fields in the contact form will stop being free input textboxes. Instead, they will be constrained to the specified values.

Calendar .ICS file support in notifications

Heavy calendar users rejoice! Apollo now attaches .ICS files containing event data to notification emails.

This means that you can now add or update the specified event in your calendar app by simply opening the attached .ICS file. Some clients – like Apple Mail – can also do it automatically, without your intervention.

This happens to every notification email related to calendar events, like when an event is created or changed, when you're invited to a meeting or when a person responds with its participation.

Let's talk about Feature polls

After a tight battle, the last poll saw the Gantt Charts feature winning over the Task dependencies one 59% to 41%.

We're working hard on Gantt Charts, and users from The Brave Collective are beta testing the feature right now. Meanwhile, we've released a new poll so you can continue voting for your favorite features.

That's all for today. Thanks for reading!


Enhancements

  • Overview: the Team overview table is now more precise; its calculations are based on all workspace projects rather than just projects accessible by the user currently logged in.
  • The quick task entry box below every Task list now has the ability to set the priority: just prefix one, two or three exclamation marks before the task name to set respectively a low, medium or high priority.

Bug fixes

  • Uploading a file with a name longer than 70 chars wasn't being allowed.
  • Duplicating a project or creating a project from a template containing a task with special chars would give an error.
  • For some tasks, the comments icon would never turn off, even after reading the task comments.

New due date option for Tasks in Task list templates

Tuesday February 27, 2018

We're back with something new to show, as you would expect from any Apollo update, and it's about Tasks in Task list templates.

Task list templates (along with Project templates) have been available in Apollo since the beginning, and while they rarely get mentioned here, they're really useful to speed up the repetitive Task creation process involved when managing many projects at once.

Tasks in Task list templates, by nature, can only have relative due dates, and when you actually use a template to create a new Task list, Tasks' due dates are converted to absolute dates.

Up until now you could set them to be due after a number of days, weeks or months, but today you have one more choice: set them to be due after a number of weekdays. This means that the generated Tasks' due date will skip weekends and go straight to the first weekday.

This feature was requested quite often in the last few months, and after testing it internally we are happy to make it available for everyone.

After a short break, polls are back and there's a new one available today, so don't miss the opportunity to vote for your favorite feature!

That is all, thanks for reading!


Enhancements

  • The message preview in the message list now correctly separate lines with spaces (e.g.: "LastWordFirstWord" → "LastWord FirstWord").

Bug fixes

  • Sometimes, showing an hidden project Tasklist would fail to show its Tasks.
  • The first image upload for a given workspace would sometimes not start the thumbnail creation process, resulting in a image missing its thumbnail.

Split Tasks into smaller Subtasks

Friday February 16, 2018

A few months ago, we asked users to vote for their most wanted feature between Support for undeleting deleted items, support for Task dependencies, or the ability to add Subtasks. As you may have already guessed, the latter had the most votes, and we're happy to announce that full Subtasks support is now available in Apollo!

Here's how subtasks look in a task list:

A Task with a Subtask, with a Subtask! It's subtasks all over the place!

Unlike other project management sofware, which just offer a simple checklist, every Subtask in Apollo is a full-blown Task with a responsible, priority, due date, attachments, and everything you can find in a normal Task. Each Subtask, in turn, can have its own subtasks, up to 3 levels deep.

Now, this isn't just visual separation – Subtasks have their own logic. In fact, you cannot mark the parent Task as completed until all its Subtasks have been marked as such.

But there's more: filter Tasks by their name (by searching in the Task listing pages) and Subtasks will show up along with their parent task, for context.

We hope that Subtasks will be a useful addition to your team work. Many thanks go to our Brave Collective users: they've been helping us perfecting the Subtasks experience with their invaluable feedback in the last couple of months, and with their help a few weak spots were made better as a result.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates!


Enhancements

  • Mobile: the overview now shows the project name instead of the responsible below each milestone.
  • CSV and vCard export: added phone, fax and email data to the contact's related company.

Bug fixes

  • In some cases, some users would not get notified when a task had been assigned to them.
  • API: attachments weren't showing all the available fields.
  • Time reports: when grouping by project, projects were not listed alphabetically.
  • Contacts: tags in the right pane of the Tasks page weren't sorted alphabetically.