The Xtrant Project

This is a project page in Xtrant. It’s pretty simple.final_project_pageIt has five parts, Overview, People, Milestones, Shared Assets and Running Notes.  We’re going to talk about how each of them work right here, and show you how we built the project page you see in the sample above.

Overview
The overview is where you put the basic information about the project.  When you first create a project your are prompted to fill it out the following information:

  1. Project Number (generated by Xtrant)
  2. Project Name
  3. Short Description
  4. Due Date (optional)
  5. Company or Group Name (optional, great for associating a project with a particular client or organization)
  6. Reference Code (also optional, in case you have another tracking or numbering system you’d like to cross reference to)
  7. Project Specifications (again optional.)

overviewNotice that the overview edit screen is where you can remove a project (see the link to the right of the save button?)
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People
The people section is the list of individuals who have access to your project, if they aren’t on this list, they can’t see or collaborate on this project – the graphic below shows the steps in adding a new person to an Xtrant project.

  1. Type their name and click “Add a new contact”
  2. Type in their email address
  3. Select their permission level (Contributors can post and comment, Participants can only comment, Viewers can only look.)
  4. Choose if they can also add people to the project, and if they can see “Classified Content” (i.e. posed assets marked classified.)

addpersonYou will be auto-prompted to add people when you create a new project, or you can always click the PLUS next to the People label to add a new person anytime.

pendingsend
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Milestones
A simple list of tasks and deadlines for the project.  The start date and due date also show up in this list. Milestones consist of four elements:

  1. Date (optional)
  2. Task/Milestone Name
  3. Description (optional)
  4. Status (Pending, In Process or Done)

To add a new milestone click the PLUS (+) next to the milestone label. milestones
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Shared Assets
Shared Assets are posts and uploads that are important to your project.  These can be anything from digital files to web URLs/links to editable text documents and code snippets.  Only those you designate contributor may post in Shared Assets but both contributors and participants can comment on those posts.

In Shared Assets you can…

  • Drag and Drop Files to upload directly from your desktop.
  • Create a Document in Xtrant. XtrantDocs are simple text documents, and can be formatted, edited and printed directly within the app.
  • Post Code Snippets with line numbering and color coding for development teams.
  • Post URLs, Videos (Vimeo / YouTube) and Sound Cloud links.  URLs show a screenshot preview, Video and SoundCloud files  automatically embed in our viewer.
  • Upload Almost any File from PDF to DOC to CAD files and popular image formats (plus quite a few obscure file types.)  PDF, DOC, and XLS and even SWF files will show as an icon and can be previewed with our Google Docs integration.
  • Create GROUPS of assets….

To post assets click the green action links - or drag and drop files anywhere into the green box.When you upload an asset you will be shown an icon/thumbnail, the file name, and fields to name and describe the asset.

You can also make the asset “Classified” before you publish it (limiting access to only those on the project you’ve allowed to see classified content.)

To make an asset group just add more items – in the sample below we’ve added a URL and an Xtrant Document to make our group.

Diagram of Xtrant Shared Assets operation

Notice that the Xtrant Doc is marked as a “Living Document”.  This will allow any contributor on the project to edit it.

Xtrant Docs look like this when you initially make them:

Xtrant Doc ExampleOnce you’ve published your group it will look like this – only images, URLs and Videos will show as thumbnails.  All other docs will simply show a colored icon with the doc type.

Asset Group Published
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Running Notes
Running notes appear on the right side of your project page and serve as a contextual running record of comments or conversations pertaining to the work at hand.  Any project participant or contributor can add or comment on running notes.

runningnotesAll running notes become part of that project’s history and can be referred to without searching through old emails or other records.

Running notes are an efficient way to:

  • Start a Conversation, with the comments below it continuing the discussion.
  • Start a Brainstorm List, with each comment serving as a new idea or list item on that topic.
  • Notify Your Team of important appointments and changes.

I hope this helps, and for even more information on using Xtrant please visit our support site.

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Big Fights = Big Wins

Mike and Jim Battle It OUtI will admit…I can be stubborn at times.  There, I said it.

When we launched Xtrant to be an email killer, or “post email” application, we knew that we’d still have to embrace email as both a unique identifier for our users and as a notification method for updates.  Email is ubiquitous, handy, easy to incorporate – and until our users have our app on their phone to instantly notify them of updates (the app is coming soon) or they are in the habit of checking Xtrant obsessively (some of them do) then email will still be the primary update channel.

Well, if I couldn’t completely kill email, I could at least maim it.  I decided that our email updates would ONLY tell our users that projects were updated and provide a link to Xtrant.  Get them used to using the app and seeing everything in context.

Mike had other ideas.  (He’s the one who makes the magic happen at Xtrant, the one on the left clearly winning the arm wrestling match – dude is crazy strong.) So when it came time to update and redesign our email notifications, and make them slick and pretty, Mike wanted to include as much information as possible, stating that we were missing an opportunity to make Xtrant much more powerful to our users.

I begged to differ – “Damn it, Mike, if we put the updates in the email itself why bother going to the app?  We’re POST EMAIL!!!!”

Well, after much shouting and gnashing of teeth I agreed to consider such heresy against the purity that is Xtrant and began working on a design that would in fact include all that damned info.  We even worked out a way to contextualize the updates so they are even more useful.  And I had the easy part…Mike had to actually write the code that ultimately produced THIS!

BEHOLD the new Xtrant Email Update Design

All the information you need, contextually organized and referenced, with direct links to your project(s) and the assets being discussed.

New Email Format

We know we’ll never really “Kill” email – but at Xtrant we’re trying to keep email in its place.  Email is for correspondence, it’s good at that.  It’s not so great for collaboration and workflow facilitation and productivity – Xtrant is good at that.

Mike was right…I will admit it.  Dude is crazy strong in a lot of ways.

 

New Features • People Status, Invite Reminders and More.

Xtrant is about shared knowledge and open communication, and it’s also about accountability and trust.  For what we call “productive sharing™” to be truly productive all of these attributes come into play.  To that end we have added a few new features to the “people” section of your Xtrant projects:  Person Status,  Pending/Send Reminder, and Invite Permissions.

pendingsendect

  1. Person Status: When you click on a persons name within a project, in addition to being able to see their contact information, you can now see the last time they’ve visited the project.
  2. Pending / Send Reminder:  When you add a user to a project – their name will have the word (pending) after it until they’ve visited the project.  When you click on their name to view their info and status you will also have the ability to click “send reminder” to re-invite them to the project.
  3. Invite Permissions: When you are adding a person to a project (or when you are in edit mode on that person) you can now let them invite others to the project.  (This is especially helpful if they have their own team members they’d like to share the project with.)

More new features to come.  Xtrant is getting more powerful by the minute – make sure to invite your friends, and let them invite their friends, and so on…and so on…and so on.

Oh – did you see the Time Tracking demo?  (Time tracking is available to PRO users only.)

Start Using Xtrant Now

Using the Simple Power of Classified Content

One of the things we strive to do with Xtrant is eliminate the therbligs The fewer steps it takes to complete a task, the fewer movements–the fewer times you have to think within any process–the more efficient and natural the experience is, and the more useful and powerful the tool. Combining power with simplicity is a touchstone we judge all of our decisions against – and “classified content” is an excellent example of this philosophy in action.

Within a single project you might have team members with different levels of responsibility.  You may be collaborating between vendors, employees, clients and other stakeholders; some of whom need access to sensitive material that others within the project aren’t privileged to see. Our simple solution is to allow you to specify who can see classified content on a project by project basis, and mark P&R (Presentation & Review) Assets as classified when you post them.

For example, you might want to make your internal team classified and post iterations and process documents for discussion as classified content, while posting client-ready deliverables as non-classified that everyone (including the client) can see and discuss. Or you may make your project leads, sales people and customer leads involved with negotiations able to “view classified content,” so they can share contracts and price lists, without exposing sensitive information to vendors, contractors or non-management personnel .

The following images show how the process works.

First I’ll add Mike to the project, marking him able to “view classified content.”
classified1

Now I’ll add two assets, a photo that anyone can see, and a contract that has sensitive information in it. I mark the contract “classified.”
classified2

Since Mike can “view classified content” he can see both files.
classified3

When I add Amy to the project, I DON’T mark her able to “view classified content.”
classified4

Amy can see the “unclassified” photo in this P&R group, but not the “classified” contract.
classified5

In actuality, Amy is always allowed to see classified content, because she’s our “Director of Business Development.”  While you’re at it, do her a solid and sign up for Xtrant now - it’s getting more powerful every day.

Using Running Notes

Running notes appear on the right side of your project page and serve as a contextual running record of comments or conversations pertaining to the work at hand.  Any project participant or contributor can add or comment on running notes.

runningnotes

All running notes become part of that project’s history and can be referred to without searching through old emails or other records.

Running notes are an efficient way to:

  • Start a Conversation, with the comments below it continuing the discussion.
  • Start a brainstorm list, with each comment serving as a new idea or list item on that topic.
  • Notify your team of important appointments and changes.

 

Presentation & Review

Presentation & Review items (or P&R for short) are posts and uploads that are important to your project.  These can be anything from digital files to Website URLs/links to editable text documents and code snippets.

p&r

Only those you designate project contributor may post in “P&R,” but both contributors and participants can comment on those posts.

In Presentation & Review you can…

  • Drag and Drop files to upload directly from your desktop.
  • Create a document in Xtrant. XtrantDocs act like word processor documents, and can be formatted, edited and printed directly within the app.
  • Post code snippets with line numbering and color coding for development teams.
  • Upload almost any file type from PDF to DOC to CAD files and popular image formats (plus quite a few obscure file types.)

TIP: Some users make the mistake of putting a group of images into a document and then posting the document to P&R.  Presentation & Review works best if you upload the items you wish to discuss directly.  Just post, label and describe them in the Xtrant interface.  Each item can then be discussed and viewed individually, without the need for downloading files to view them.