Announcing zendone 0.7.0: zendone reloadedDec 27, 2011
We can finally announce the version 0.7.0 of zendone (codenamed zendone reloaded). It has been over one month of hard work in the internals of zendone. That’s a much longer time than initially estimated. We owe you a detailed explanation about this version, and why it represents such an important milestone for us.
We believe that speed is a feature. We already believed that when we started with zendone and we have always tried to provide a highly responsive user interface. But our old architecture contained a very important constraint for providing a desktop-like response time: most interactions depended of the server response. zendone is powered by a pretty fast server and user experience was good in general terms, but we really felt it wasn’t good enough.
Now, zendone doesn’t depend on the server responses to work. The user interface is totally decoupled from the network connection. This means all the interactions will feel instant. And working with an application with instant responses just feels much better, specially in the long term.
This new architecture has many other benefits. A very big one is that zendone is now almost ready for offering offline support. We don’t offer full-offline support yet. But, for example, if you now lose your internet connection, zendone will work normally, and everything will be synced once your computer is connected again.
You’ll still need internet connection for seeing your Evernote notes. But we intend to improve this very soon, as part of the incoming Evernote notes editing capabilities.
Now you can manage your recurring actions in zendone. Before, we fully relied on Google Calendar for creating and managing them. This approach presented two serious drawbacks:
- It couldn’t work offline. It just wasn’t valid for clients like the iPhone app or the new web client itself.
- You couldn’t define or edit your recurring actions without leaving zendone.
The new date picker dialog will now show a section for setting the recurring attributes of your actions. The recurring options are quite simple for now. We wanted to start with something simple, but we intend to offer more powerful capabilities in the future.
As a drawback, zendone now won’t support recurring events created in Google Calendar. zendone will just ignore them. Recurring actions have now to be created and managed within zendone itself. We have had quite a few battles with Google Calendar when it comes to recurring events, and at the end we have decided it would be better to manage them from within zendone itself.
We don’t discard to support recurring GCal events in the future, but we’d like to see its API working better before walking that road again. We know this update is an inconvenience if you have recurring actions defined in Google Calendar. We sincerely apologize if you are in this situation.
New API and syncing architecture
We have rewritten the API that zendone exposes to the world, and also the mechanisms that zendone clients have to use for syncing with it. It’s now much more robust and complete. The web and the iPhone apps now speak to zendone using the same mechanisms.
Before, only actions and items were synced dynamically with the web app. This meant that if, for example, you created a new project using the syntax for creating actions from Evernote, you had to refresh zendone in order to see it. With the new system everything will be synced. No need to restart zendone anymore!
Although most of our work was done in the internals of zendone we also added a few new features:
Improved keyboard and selection support in Review and Organize
- You can navigate between actions of different modules using the arrow keys. For example, when you reach the bottom of a project, and press DOWN, the first action in the next project will be selected.
- If you select an action and press ENTER you will add an action right below the selected one.
- When you delete an action, the selection is automatically placed in the next action.
- If you are editing an action and press CTRL-ENTER, a new action will be added below it. This let you add a bunch of actions very quickly.
- You can rename projects using ALT-R.
- Drag and drop scrolls properly.
System clock and timezone
- Now your timezone is the timezone you have selected in your operating system. You won’t need to configure your timezone inside zendone anymore.
- There is no need to reload zendone everyday. When the day changes, zendone will detect it and will update automatically all its elements (calendar pickers, overdue actions, etc.)
Context filters will now hide empty projects
- When filtering by context, empty projects (projects that don’t contain any relevant action) will also disappear.
Load time performance and performance with many actions
- zendone starts much faster that before.
- In general, drag and drop and selection system work much smoother now.
- Users with many actions (+500) should perceive a great performance improvement (in both start time and general behavior in general).
Much easier to evolve
This is a major feature for us the zendone team. The new zendone is many orders of magnitude easier to evolve for us. The new architecture just makes everything more simple. This was a major factor in the decision we made of stopping adding new features and rewriting a big part of zendone. We knew it was going to represent a delay in our roadmap, but a delay we would be thankful for the rest of the life of zendone.
We know the best thing we can do to show this feature is to start offering good and frequent updates. That’s exactly what we intend to do from now on :).
And what’s next?
When we started working on this version we had quite a few much-needed features in our backlog. We have many minor things to do, but these are the three major features we intend to address in the very short term:
- Editing your areas of responsibility.
- Editing your action’s comments.
- Adding some interesting filters and counters to the Review and Organize panel.
We haven’t been very good in providing estimations about releases, so we’ll stop doing it. But we intend to start offering zendone updates much more often from now on. Of course, we will continue trying to have a good communication with everyone in all our channels (Twitter, community site, mail and this blog) so don’t hesitate in contacting us about anything you need.