Monday, July 28, 2014

Spartez sunny summer releases: Quick Notes, Agile Cards and more.

Although the holiday season is taking a toll on our team (sunny skies outside and the proximity of the  beach seem to have something to do with this...) we're always cooking comething in our Spartez lab.

Probably deserving the highest praise in this regard are Quick Notes, formerly known as “kwik!”. Having recently gone a thorough makeover in terms of general appearance and functionalities, followed by a series of new releases with significant bugfixes, this clever little plugin is now improved and perfect for taking notes while browsing Confluence pages, just as you would use Post-It for annotating the content of a physical piece of paper.

Quick Notes can be created in a number of ways, whichever the user finds most convenient. They support Wiki Markup, so that their content will always be clear and look professional.

If you want to notify someone using your Quick Note, just type'@' followed by their username into the note's content and this user will receive an automatic e-mail notification from you.

If a Quick Note overlaps a piece of the text that you are reading, just click on the 'x' button in the top right corner of the note to dismiss it. To reopen the note click on the highlighted text which it refers to.

Agile Cards have also made it to the new release delivery box. The series of recent usability improvements and bugfixes includes a few changes regarding the card templates. The cards’ print settings have been moved to templates; print templates can now be selected when printing from JIRA Agile boards. Also, templates are no longer linked to individual projects and are now sorted alphabetically in the "Select template" screen.

Coming up soon is a new release of TFS4JIRA with lots of new synchronization features.
In the meantime we’re slipping on our geeky flip-flops on, grabbing a handful of wifi and making our way over to the beach to continue summer’s developments… See you in the sun!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

It's a world of things out there

Our asset management standalone system a.k.a. Ephor has moved to the next level with its very own, dedicated minisite:

From now on will be our all-Ephor-related information hub, frequently feeded with practical tips and hints, with a bit of fun and a tinge of Ephor-pink to spice things up. 

We've also taken a brave headfirst dive into asset management and launched an Ephor-linked Facebook site entitled "World of Things", where we'll be exploring a whole new view on asset management, stretching from packing a suitcase for a business trip or a survival camp (it's an asset management challenge, take it from us!) to the hazards of maintaining outdated office equipment.

Drop by and grab some asset management themed miscellanea!

JIRA Service Desk integrable Ephor4JIRA

Now that the our Ephor standalone asset management system is out and about, we’ve  recently launched a Service Desk-integrable Ephor4JIRA app

While the standalone version of Ephor is integrable with Atlassian JIRA - so that you can create issues such as “Replace ink cartridge in printer” or “Buy 20 more chairs like this one for conference room” straight from the concerned item view in Ephor and immediately see them pop up in JIRA - the Ephor4JIRA app is basically a second incarnation of the same software that goes one step further. It’s a JIRA plugin, which besides JIRA itself, also integrates directly with JIRA Service Desk. Plus, user management in Ephor4JIRA is (obviously) transparently integrated with JIRA's. 

Here is a small preview:

So if you already have JIRA and want to tightly integrate it with your asset management - you should probably go for Ephor4JIRA

If you don't have JIRA, or if you want to have a separate asset management server that is not hosted in JIRA (but can talk to JIRA, delegating asset workflows to it) - use Ephor standalone.

Both of these solutions are available for a free 30-day evaluation period (or, if you have no more than 100 assets to manage, they’re free altogether!) and offer what, from our own experience, we feel is most important for such a system to actually be useful to any serious asset-management enthusiast.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ephor 1.0: new promo cartoon

Yes, we believe in unorthodox marketing ;-).

But really, imagine if you were a yak breeder. You'd surely need an asset management system, right?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Agile Poker on the go.

We’ve added a new feature to Agile Poker and made it mobile. It’s now possible to evaluate user stories and participate in Agile Poker sessions using a mobile device.

Imagine that your project team is away from their desks, taking part in a meeting where several user stories are to be voted. All of you no longer have to carry your laptops to the conference room to run an Agile Poker session - your phones are all you need. The Scrum Master presents the issue on the conference room TV or projector and you... just grab your smartphone, log into JIRA and wait for the Scrum Master to select the story:

The Agile Poker deck pops up on your phone’s screen ready for voting to be done:

The team make their estimates:

Once the session is completed, your vote shows on your screen along with the average vote for that session.

 Voila! You’re ready for the next voting to begin.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ephor 1.0: Down to business

With the initial fireworks out of the way and Ephor 1.0 well on its way, here’s a short follow-up to what Ephor has in store for all you serious enterprise / inventory / resource asset management enthusiasts out there. The “Electronics” sample data scheme embedded in Ephor 1.0 is a good real-life illustration of the office IT equipment use case scenario.

Without breaking it up into too much detail, this is basically what your exemplary “Electronics” item classes and hierarchical categories could look like once your equipment categories and subcategories are defined and all concerned employees / users identified.

It’s fully customizable, so really the data scheme possibilities are endless. For, let’s say, computers, the fields you may need would probably include title; user; value; serial number; CPU vendor, model & speed; cores count; RAM size and such. Once you define these field types for a specific item / asset type, here’s what uploading a new computer to Ephor could look like (if you choose to do it by hand instead of the built-in automagic hardware scanning PC Collector app):

And here’s how the uploaded item would be visible:

Once you have your new computer uploaded into Ephor and you find yourself in need of, let’s say, screen wipes, you can create a JIRA® issue straight out of the item view in Ephor to facilitate your need:

The created issue will pop up in JIRA®...

… and the link to the issue (and all other created & related issues) will be visible in the item view:

At some point you’ll also probably want to know which users in your organization own / use / maintain which pieces or sets of equipment. This can be recorded in Ephor by inking items with items & items with users.

If a user has a lot of assets assigned to them, a link graph view may come in handy for a clearer perspective:

Last but not least, assets uploaded into Ephor can be browsed by custom queries. The most often ran searches can be saved and used as predefined queries, either only by you or by all Ephor users (hence the “My searches” and Public searches” distinction):

Ok. That’s it for now. Coming up: a series of short Ephor demos to get those still screens moving with some commentary in the background and a new, tailor-made Ephor website.

We’re also working hard on preparing Ephor to meet the real world during two big international events in March. More on this soon. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ephor 1.0: new features & tweaks, pricing & Valentine's Day themed sample data.

As of today, Ephor's 1.0 release is officially out and about, ready for evaluation and purchase. The package includes two brand new sample data sets, one of them filled with seasonal romance, hearts and unicorns. No doubt about it - this year Cupid's Valentine's-Day-management job will be nice and easy with Ephor, so buckle up for those cards and candy coming in.

The other sample data set is our own office hardware automagically scanned into Ephor with the help of the built-in PC Collector app. Not as entertaining as the Valentine's Day stuff, but probably a little easier to relate to in terms of everyday life, this sample data set lets you take a sneak peek at exactly how we at Spartez manage our electronic equipment using Ephor, with the sole difference being the actual users, whom we've chosen to disguise under the identities of Greek philosophers. Eureka ;-).

Anyway, as for Ephor itself, since its December 2013 EAP BETA release, we've tweaked the majority of the existing features and introduced a few new gimmicks, such as saving search filters, keyboard navigation & inter-item link hierarchy browser in the form of a clickable graph.

Clearly, there's a lot new stuff to try out and see, so if we've managed to whet your asset management appetite, then grab an Ephor 1.0 license from our website, evaluate away and purchase to use happily ever after. After wrapping our heads around the possible item management scenarios and intense discussions with regard to potential asset scopes we've come to the conclusion that it's a complicated world our there. So, leaning towards the straightforward solution, we went for a simple pricing scheme with only four asset tiers:

  • up to 100 items - Free!
  • up to 1,000 items - $1,000.00 
  • up to 10,000 items - $2,000.00 
  • unlimited items - $4,000.00

What a single item entity is, in terms of the assets which you want to manage, is for you to determine. An item of any type counts towards the license limit, so a file uploaded to Ephor is also a type of item. Naturally, system-generated items, such as built-in images of IT equipment, do not count. To learn more about the details, hop over to our website.

We're all geared up for your comments, feedback and general demand, both here and on the Atlassian Marketplace (where Ephor is proudly displayed), so fire away!