New Features – Aspose Total

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 11.34.23 AMWe are pleased to announce new features in the area of Document Management for Hot Project.

As from July 2013, our Enterprise product will offer the following tools:

- Automatic creation of thumbnails for MS Word files

- Conversion of Power Point files to PDF for Preview

- Upgrade of Sticky Notes to support MS Power Point files

These new features are being provided through a new software we are using, called Aspose Total for Java.

http://www.aspose.com/java/total-component.aspx

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 11.42.53 AM

We had been developing a number of custom PHP functions to support these needs, however we hit a number of ‘dead-ends’ when it came to management of MS Word Documents in the Linux and Unix. We were keen to offer these functions to all of our Enterprise customers – but with a solution which did not rely on having a Windows hosting platform – and also which did not rely on Webservices/API calls.

Thus, we have chosen to work with the Aspose Total products for Java.  Using Aspose Total, we have been able to integrate our PHP/MYSQL layer to a Java framework for the secure manipulation of MS file formats – on our Linux architecture.

The trial so far has been great. We have had lots of support from Aspose, and they have been really good partners for both sales and technical support. Using the PHP/Java capabilities of PHP5, we have been able to set this up in a secure and reliable way, which can be extended to our customers with a minimum of configuration and deployment dependancies.

Beyond July, we are hoping to build other extended features into Hot Project – using the Aspose Total components – to make life even easier, such as:

- Meeting request compatibility with Outlook and Lotus Notes

- Document conversion from Excel to PDF

- Enable Sticky Notes for MS Word documents

- Low-res previews of high-res advertising art work

- Email attachments of new creative uploads

We expect these features will be complete for roll-out in September 2013

If you would like to upgrade your version of Hot Project to get these latest enterprise features, please contact support@hotproject.com for more information on licensing and upgrade costs.

 

 

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New Online Gantt Chart Technology

Over the years at Hot Project, we have tried many different Online Gantt Chart technologies. Some have been flash, Java, HTML, Even Excel!
All of these solutions have had their benefits and issues – but there had been no perfect solution.

Now, I am pleased to say we have found a new Gantt Chart technology – called ‘Ext Gantt’ from Bryntum.

This Gantt Chart technology is purely HTML/ Javascript based, so it is not dependant on any special plugins. It has many great features – and it works on all browsers (including partial support for iPad.)

The technology is fully integrated into Hot Project – with no additional license for you to pay.

The new features of this online Gantt Chart include:

  • Drag and Drop task time changes
  • Create tasks on the timeline
  • Delete tasks on the timeline
  • Great print support
  • Highlight critical path
  • Time shift ‘cascading’ to update a whole timeline
  • Parent/Child function works seamlessly with Hot Project Parent/Child task
  • Task % Complete fields
  • Inline edit for Task Title, Start Date, End Date, % Complete

Learn more and try our system at www.hotproject.com

 

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Joomla Bamboo – Interview

 Friends of ours over at Joomla Bamboo were kind enough to interview me for the launch of the new Hot Project interface.

The interview looks great – which I would expect given they are an awesome template design team!

Hopefully this will be the first of many interviews and public promotions of the our new Project Management Tools. (Sorry – i couldn’t help myself!)

Here is a direct link to the interview: click here.

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How to set up your Project with a Management System

Project management systems are a great way to manage your workflow, but how do you best organise the tasks within a project? We’ve looked at a few ways of ensuring you are getting the best from your project management system.

For some projects, changing a car tyre for example, the individual tasks and the order to complete them are quite obvious. Task one, removing the old tire, must be completed before you can move on to step two. Of course, your business is probably slightly more complex than that. You will have some tasks that rely on previous steps, some tasks that can be done as soon as you have a free team member to do them and perhaps some that don’t really need to be done at all.

To start with, break down your project into smaller tasks. It doesn’t matter how you divide it at this stage, a basic system that makes sense to you is all you need.  Arrange these tasks in chronological order.

The next step is to make sure you are making the most of the skills your team has. Start by deciding which tasks can only be completed by one of your staff, and assigning them. This will leave you with a clear view of who is busy and who is available for other tasks, as well as ensuring your specialist team members aren’t wasting time on tasks that less skilled people can do.

Next, mark the tasks that are dependent on an earlier task being finished. This will give you a clear picture of how many tasks can be completed at once, allowing you hire the right amount of staff. There is no point having 5 people changing the same tyre, similarly, you may be able to get 5 different tasks done at once before it becomes a one or two person job.

Once you have this clear picture, you will be able to input the project into the project management software with ease. The project will be cheaper and more effective, and your boss (or yourself) will enjoy what we aim to deliver here at Hot Project – stress free project management.

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Project Management in a crisis situation

Though the definition of a crisis situation may vary across industries, it is globally accepted that any crisis requires clear lines of communication, calm thinking and efficient people management. A web-based project management system suits this perfectly.

Pressing deadlines and a need for rapid response can tempt some project managers to abandon their software platform as too time consuming and frustrating for a crisis situation. However, the benefits of a reliable project management system could be the difference between your business surviving a crisis or failing.

A well set up project management system enables you and your staff to communicate in real time, whilst logging the conversation and allowing responsibilities to be assigned to individual people (avoiding the dreaded ‘I thought you were doing that’ moment). Having to create and assign tasks, rather than just issuing verbal instructions, allows time to question the necessity of each task. In a crisis situation, do you find staff wasting time on a task that isn’t important anymore?

During a crisis, a project management dashboard which illustrates current tasks and any staff members who are available is an invaluable resource. Having this one-page progress update might be the difference between your team surviving a stressful experience or falling apart.

These benefits are really just tip of the iceberg and include the bare minimum of features from a project management system. Amongst the wide range of project management systems currently on the market, there are some great features which could prove invaluable in a crisis.

Hot Project’s drag and drop scheduling of tasks allows you to not only quickly plan and edit the workflow for your project, but also gives you an invaluable tool for visualising and communicating the workflow. The document management system that is built into Hot Project allows you to upload a document once and make it available to everyone from one central hub, avoiding having people searching through emails searching for old files.

A crisis situation is a time when you need your team at its best, and a good project management system should be an invaluable part of your team. Stress test your system and ensure you can rely on it under stress. Make sure all of your staff are trained on the system, no one wants to be training in an emergency. Most of all, ensure your system has the tools you need, and you will find yourself with a clearer head and a more effective team.

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Using Flash in a Project Management System

The tumultuous history of Flash appears to be coming to an end with Adobe’s recent announcement that it will embrace HTML5. What affect will this have on the online project management industry, and perhaps more poignant, will this change the technologies your business has come to depend on?

Purchased by Macromedia in 1996, Flash was rapidly adopted by web users and developers alike. Just 4 years later, it was used by over 96% of web users and by 2001 it had grown beyond a design tool into a functional application builder.

Despite the rapid growth, the Flash platform has often been criticised for its intrusiveness and lack of usability. Apple has long refused to embrace the technology, with late founder Steve Jobs saying “the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.”

The emergence of HTML5 (a Flash-killer according to Jobs) looks set to address these shortfalls, adding support for a range of multimedia content with enhanced performance on mobile devices. Adobe has announced that it will discontinue Flash and embrace the new HTML5 technology for its applications going forward.

Hotproject users will be happy to know that we are already taking advantages of many of the opportunities presented by HTML5. The new interface (preview it on our Facebook page) offers a faster and more functional way for users to interact with the software.

That being said, existing Flash applications will continue to run unaffected by this change. Although you are unlikely to see many new Flash-based software packages released now, features like the HotProject Gantt chart, which uses Flash to deliver the visual drag & drop task management, will continue to operate as normal.

If the future plays out as expected, web users will benefit from more efficient and user friendly websites and applications without the need to download updates and add-ons. Mobile users, especially those with Apple devices should notice a marked increase in sites that can be easily viewed on phones and tablets.

Overall, HTML5 will make the web a less frustrating and more productive place to do business, and given productivity is at the core of Hot Project, this long awaited announcement is a win for us, our software and our customers.

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Changing the way the world does business.

Welcome to the new Hot Project ‘Vision’ Blog.

What is a ‘Vision Blog’ you may ask?

Well, I  have been reading the biography of Steve Jobs, and I was amazed by the amount of adversity and set-backs he face when setting up Apple Computers – and then growing it – and it struck me that in the face of all of these set-backs, one of his most valuable tools was his ‘Vision’ for what he wanted in the Products.

So, we felt inspired to share our ‘Vision’ for Hot Project, and create this Blog as a quick and easy way to publish our latest developments, research and achievements – but also, to create an opportunity to engage with our community – and get your feedback on the vision.

So, please stay tuned for more posts and discussion about the Hot Project – Task Management & Document Management System.

Please note, if you are looking for information about the Hot Project Software, please visit our corporate website: www.hotproject.com

If you are looking for our Support Blog, this can also be found at our website: www.hotproject.com

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