Building Apollo

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

Set limits on billable time

Tuesday November 19, 2019

Welcome back to Apollo updates. We have a few new features to show you in the following weeks, but we'd like to start with one that mainly concerns project managers and clients.

Starting today you can set a limit on the amount of billable time for each project.

It might seem something that could be already done using the budget tracking feature introduced in Apollo a while ago, but it's actually a softer approach for those who don't need a full fledged budget tracker – which takes a lot more variables into account – but still want to be notified once a limit is about to be reached.

To enable the billable time limit, head to the project settings, set the “Max billable time” amount, activate the “Warn the project manager” checkbox right below it, and save.

If you haven't picked a project manager yet, you can do it by selecting one from the “Project manager” selectbox in the same screen. If you don't want to pick a single person, just leave it as is and the billable time limit notification will be sent to all project members that have the “Can manage projects” permission (those who can edit the project settings and its members).

That's all for today, but you can find a couple minor changes below.

Thanks for reading!


New features

  • Project expenses can now be exported as a CSV file.

Bug fixes

  • The days/weeks/months selector in the tasklist's bulk actions popup wasn't working correctly.

Enforce strict rules in your projects

Tuesday July 30, 2019

The theme of this month has been all about collecting, organizing and implementing many slightly different requests that we received over time from you, all centered on projects control.

Of course a clear and constant communication with your team and clients, along with detailed planning will always be the bread and butter of your project management, but:

  • How many times you had to politely ask to please add start dates to tasks?
  • How many times you had to ask to add approximate start and end dates when creating new projects?
  • And what about subtasks? Isn't it funny that most of the time a subtask's due date slips well after the due date of the parent task?
  • And people adding time entries to tasks NOT assigned to them? That is, tasks that they were NOT supposed to work on? Oh well…

We've all been there; But starting today you have a new tool in your toolbox to enforce some rules and get some sanity back! 😅

It's called “Strict project”, and it's an option available both to new projects – you'll find it in the New project dialog form – and existing ones, by going to the project's settings.

Once the project turns “strict”, a set of new rules must be met when manipulating tasks, milestones or time entries, in order to alleviate the problems mentioned above.

We won't bore you with the finer details, but if you are curious you can read our dedicated FAQ about strict projects.

Thanks for reading!


New features

  • Expenses' receipts can now be uploaded as PDFs.
  • Configurable project features are now fully supported in project templates.

Enhancements

  • Added the event creation date inside the event preview popup.
  • Adding a new project from a template now uses the template category if there's no category selection.

Bug fixes

  • Sometimes expenses' receipts were not saved.
  • The time form was also showing roles and companies in the "Person" selectbox.
  • The search refinement system inside tha tasks page (My Tasks, Tasks across all projects, etc.) was not working in Safari.

Add tags to project tasks

Monday April 15, 2019

Welcome to the April update of your favourite project collaboration system!

Let's talk about busy projects, how they get overloaded with content quickly, and how sometimes the usual hierarchy that sees tasks and subtasks in task lists, and lists linked to their milestones can still be not enough.

Today we introduce the ability to tag all tasks in Apollo. You'll be able to apply one or more labels to tasks in a way that make sense to you and your teammates.

Here's what does a tagged task looks like:

Click the tag icon on a task, and you will be presented this popup:

The first section of this popup allows you to search and add tags to the task. Note that there are no restrictions on tag names:

  • You don't need to put a # in front of it (but that's totally up to you)
  • You don't need to use underscores instead of spaces
  • You can use special characters
  • You can use ✨ emojis ✨

For example, instead of "#review_before_end_of_year" you can write "Review before year's end" or "Review / 2019".

The most common scenario for tags is to add more context to a task. For example bug or call, or the name of a place if the task can only take place at a specific location. We advice you against using tags in place of other fields that are already present in Apollo, such as the Priority of the task or the assigned person. Don't be the guy that tags tasks as high priority when there's already a Priority field available!

Search and filtering

No tagging system would be useful without filtering, and Apollo has got you covered. Once you start using tags on tasks, the filtering system will show handy controls to see only tasks with the tags you specify.

Project vs Global tags

Working on a team means that different team members could think of a different tag name for the same concept. Add that for every project and you'll quickly end up with an unmanageable tag cloud, or with tags that don't make any sense in the current project.

That's why tags are siloed into each project at first – a tag added to a project task will only be available for tasks into the same project.

If you want a tag to be available globally, just make sure you have the ability to edit other user's stuff (or ask the workspace owner) then head to Settings → Tag management and click Task tags (only needed if you have ability to track contacts and leads).
Click on a tag and select Make this a global tag.

This mixed approach should bring together the best of the two worlds, giving you the freedom to create all the tag noise you need in a specific project, but also the ability to curate a clean set of global tags over time.

Thanks for reading!

Duplicate projects

Monday February 18, 2019

We're back with a new feature you asked for over and over again: the ability to make copies of your projects. 🎉

Admittedly, it doesn't look like the most exciting feature out there, but there are definitely some interesting use cases. Here are some of them:

  • Before making important structural changes to a project
    Duplicate the project, do your stuff, and if you're not happy with the result, just delete the project copy and go back to the original one.

  • As an alternative to project templates
    Not everybody likes project templates, just like not everybody likes coffee, or Nutella, or pizza. Just make a copy of a project to use it as a starting point whenever you want. And yes, actually everybody likes pizza!

  • To freeze a project to its current status
    Although Apollo offers revision history for project items, sometimes you might want to keep track of what the project was at a certain date, as a whole. By duplicating it, and removing other users from the duplicated project if necessary, you can do it!

  • To split big projects into more manageable ones
    Projects grow, scope creep is behind the corner, more people join in, things get complicated fast. Split the messy project into two more manageable ones, by duplicating it and deleting unwanted data from both. It will be easier on the mind and on the eyes.

There are a lot more use cases emerged from your feedback. They range from meh to that's legit, to why isn't the feature there already? – they all contribute to Apollo, so keep your feedback coming!

That's all for today. Thanks for reading!


Bug fixes

  • Project activity sometimes didn't load if there were items regarding project expenses.
  • Estimated time in the project overview was visible to users that weren't allowed to see it.
  • Mobile: editing a timer description wasn't saving on first try.

Set budget access level for each user

Friday December 21, 2018

We hope you're enjoying the Budget tracking feature we released last month. The response and appreciation from our users was overwhelming, and for good reason! It's a tool that you don't even need to actively use; just set it up and glance at it from time to time to make sure your budget is below the limit line – or be notified when it reaches a specific threshold.

Speaking of user response, your feedback spurred some interesting ideas, one of which is today's new feature. As mentioned in the last post, the Budget tracking section was only available to internal users with the “Can manage projects” permission, which somewhat limited its usefulness to the team.

Starting today tough, you have the ability to specify the Budget access level for each user, on a project by project basis.

To do so, click the People and Permissions menu in a project and select the access level for each user.

Access levels are simple and self explanatory: “no access” means that the user won't be able to see or access the Budget submenu at all; “can see” means that the user can access the Budget screen but cannot mess with it; the last one gives full access instead.

All users that could already access the Budget feature (because they had the “Can manage projects” permission) have already been granted the highest permission, so this additional flexibility in the permissions does not get in the way of your daily activities.

That's all for 2018. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Enhancements

  • Set a more readable link color in corner notifications.

Bug fixes

  • The task form was not allowing the due time to be before than the start time, even when the due date was later than the start date (e.g.: starts today at 8pm, ends tomorrow at 6am).
  • The link for refreshing a project tab in a notification was instead showing the Overview.

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.