Happy belated new year to all of our users! 2010 was a big year for AgileZen — we were acquired by Rally Software, moved our office to North Carolina, and hired Brec, our first employee. We surpassed some major user and revenue goals, and have continued to improve the application to meet customer demand.
At the end of the year, we took some time to step back and evaluate our goals, and decide which direction we wanted to take AgileZen. Now that the holiday season’s passed, we wanted to share a sketch of our 2011 plans with everyone and talk a little bit about the technological improvements we’re going to be making.
We believe that AgileZen is best suited for two things: visualizing work, and improving communication between team members. In order to support that, we’ve got several product objectives for the year.
First, we’re working to complete AgileZen’s REST API. When we released the first (read-only) version of it, we had every intention of completing it in short order, but other work continued to leapfrog it in terms of priority. I’m happy to say that we should be rolling out a beta version of the completed read-write API soon. There will be some minor breaking changes to the current API, but don’t worry if you’ve already built something on top of it — it won’t be too painful.
Simultaneously, we’ve started to re-tool our user interface a bit. When we originally built AgileZen, we decided the server should be in charge of rendering all of the HTML and sending it back to the client. This worked fine for awhile, but it’s slowly started to make maintenance and enhancement a bit more difficult than it needs to be. We’re now re-engineering parts of the UI to support client-side MVC (model-view-controller). With this model, all rendering will be done on the client, and the client and server will only send JSON-encoded data back and forth.
To support this new UI, we’ve started building a client-side MVC framework we’re calling Kanso, which will make the development of HTML5 web applications like AgileZen much simpler. Several other frameworks with similar goals exist already — the front-runner of those that we evaluated was SproutCore — but after taking a close look at each, we settled on writing our own. Kanso is written in CoffeeScript, and we’re hoping to eventually release it as open source once it matures a bit further.
We spent quite a bit of time last year to get a better understanding of how customers use AgileZen, and what parts of the product work, and what parts don’t. Based on some feedback and experimentation, we’ve decided to create a new view inside of AgileZen called the unified work screen that combines the board, the work screen, and the story focus screen. By joining these screens together, you won’t have to navigate forward and back between screens, and you’ll be able to maintain your context and stay in flow while you’re working. We’re really excited about this one, and we’ll be talking more about this as time goes on.
Finally, one of our primary goals for 2011 is to make AgileZen a real-time web application. That being said, we won’t be satisfied with just adding a few popup notifications when things happen — we want AgileZen’s real time capability to be seamless, and hard-wired into the product’s DNA. This means that we have to take a step back in the short term, but it’ll allow us to make a huge leap forward in the long term.
Last but certainly not least, we’re also planning to add some people to the team this year! We’re still working on who and when, but we’re going to be looking for some talented folks to join us in development, marketing, and interaction design. If you think that this might be you, drop us a line and let us know what you can bring to the table. We’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for making 2010 a great year for AgileZen! We’ve got some big ideas, and we’re working hard to make 2011 an even better year for our users.