This month we’ve made some changes to the default users selected to be notified when items are added/edited or comments are added to tasks, milestones, links, files and notebooks.
 
To explain why we added these new settings it would be useful to get the backstory on how it worked previously….
 
Way back when we were first developing Teamwork we ran a consultancy business building websites and doing bespoke application development. We built Teamwork for ourselves to manage the growing workload after trialing several other apps which never lived up to our needs.
 
When we started adding our clients to Teamwork to collaborate on the project they immediately started adding tasks, but we found we were missing them because they were forgetting to check on the Notify checkbox. We had much fewer employees back then, and with the number of projects we were trying to manage, we simply missed the new tasks being added as we weren’t being notified by email. We didn’t have the Dashboard tabs or Everything section in place back then so items were easily missed.
 
To combat this we added a Project Setting called Notify Default, which was either “On” or “Off”. When a “client” user brought up the Add Task form and Notify Default was turned “On” we automatically checked the Notify checkbox on the Add Task form.
 
Job done. We were now notified of new tasks being added.
 
As Teamwork started gaining traction by people outside our company the Notify Default started to grow legs. People found it handy to turn on so they also didn’t miss tasks being added. But they started missing Milestones being added so we extended the functionality to the Add Milestone form.
Still one setting but now doing two jobs – Notify checked on for Adding a task and Notify checked on for adding Milestones.
 
But it didn’t stop there….People were missing Messages being added. Files being added were missed….you can see where this is going…..we kept increasing the work that this one setting was doing to all areas of the app were something was being added. Result? Too many email notifications.
The setting was now either on or off and affected everywhere an item was added. It got even more hairy when we added the feature to email items to your project. The same old over-worked setting was being used and it was email overload for people. Something had to be done….
 
So now you know how this feature grew legs – what did we do to fix it?
We’ve removed this single Project Setting and replaced it with a setting per item.

  • When a task is being created have Notify checked by default (On or Off)
  • When a milestone is being created have Notify checked by default (On or Off)
  • When a message/reply is being added notify everyone by default (On or Off)
  • When a file is being added notify everyone by default (On or Off)
  • When a notebook is being added notify everyone by default (On or Off)
  • When a link is being added notify everyone by default (On or Off)

You can now pick and choose which items set the Notify automatically.
 
While we were tackling this one we also tackled something else people sent numerous feedback items on. The automatic selection of who get’s notified when a comment is being added to an item.
We used to do this automatically by including the person who created the item the comment was being added to, the people who were assigned to the item, any people who previously commented on the item and if the item was completed (such as a task or milestone) we included that person to be notified automatically too.
 
There was never an option to let you choose how this automatic list was generated so we added in 4 new options:

  • Include the person who created the item (On or Off)
  • Include any people who are assigned to the item (On or Off)
  • Include any people who commented on the item (On or Off)
  • Include the person who completed the item (On or Off)

Because comments can be added by people replying to email notifications we gave a separate set of settings specifically for emailed comments so you can have one set for in the app and another set for when comments are emailed in.
 
One other Email only setting is for when new messages are created via email. You can set this to always notify everyone on the project when someone emails a message to a project.

  • When a message/reply is added via email always notify everyone (On or Off)

And there’s more….
When we introduced the Advanced Privacy which lets you lock items down to certain users and companies, people were forgetting to notify people. We got numerous feedback requests to always default the Notify option to Everybody Possible if the Privacy of an item was changed.
 
We could see why people wanted this and so we made it the default. This suited 90% of people but annoyed the remaining 10%. We didn’t have any way of letting people decide themselves how they wanted this scenario to be managed so the last new setting tackles this.

  • When an item is made private notify everyone possible by default (On or Off)

When we rolled out this update we updated all the new settings for existing projects that previously used the Notify Default option so everything will work as normal for everyone. You can tweak these settings per project right now from the Project Settings page of each project.
 
If you copy a project we’ll also copy these settings to the new project, and if you create a new project we’ll look up the settings used on the last project added and use these by default.
 
Email notifications are a double-edged sword. They are perfect for letting people know what happened on a project and keeping everyone in the loop but as your projects grow you could find yourself bombarded by email.
 
Our next challenge is to let people opt-out of receiving email from particular projects and letting people remove themselves from certain discussions.
 
We have a good plan in place for this so stay tuned….