Cerb Blog

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Cerb is currently the #1 most vital project on Freecode! We posted our 1.0 version on the site back in April 2002 (when it was Freshmeat), and we’ve announced our updates there every few months for over 11 years now.  It’s a great place to discover new projects and stay informed about software releases for the apps you already use.

Cerb is currently the #1 most vital project on Freecode! We posted our 1.0 version on the site back in April 2002 (when it was Freshmeat), and we’ve announced our updates there every few months for over 11 years now.  It’s a great place to discover new projects and stay informed about software releases for the apps you already use.

Jun 4

6.4 - Release Notes

Here’s a sneak peek at the 6.4 release notes (with tons of screenshots).  The full update will ship by the end of this week.

@KyleSwank asked for a way to resize the reply textarea to make it easier to accomodate gesture-based scrolling.

These requests are easy to accomodate with Virtual Attendants.  Cerb 6.3 introduced a new event called “[UI] When starting a reply to a message” which provides a way to modify the contents of the reply form when it is first displayed.  This can solve the feature request entirely with VAs.

The beauty of Virtual Attendants, rather than having thousands of pre-built worker preferences, is that changes like this can also be conditional.  As an extreme example, you could resize the reply box to 50% width on Thursdays between 2pm-5pm and only if the sender’s organization has an SLA.

More practically, you can use this same behavior event to set new defaults on the reply form: status, waiting until, etc.  You can even automatically advance the cursor to the first blank link at the end of the quoted text.

You can click through the gallery above for the steps on creating this behavior.  To make copying and pasting easier, here’s the jQuery script you want to include in the action:

var $reply = $(this);
var $form = {
    fields: $reply.find('form:nth(0)'),
	actions: $reply.find('form:nth(1)')
};

var $textarea_reply = $form.actions.find('textarea[name=content]');
$textarea_reply.css('width','80%');

This is the kind of thing that makes Cerb special.

Here’s a handy trick with the new calendars in Cerb’s 6.4 update.  You can create a calendar with two datasources: open tasks and completed tasks.  On completed tasks you can include a checkmark on the custom label (√ is Option+V in OS X, and you can just copy and paste that in Windows/Linux).

The calendar will then automatically check off any completed tasks as you work on things.

Among a long list of calendaring improvements, 6.4 introduces calendar widgets for dashboards. These widgets offer a quick summary of a calendar without taking up much screen space.
There’s a count of events occurring for each day, and the full list is displayed when hovering.  You can also click each event to open its peek popup and modify it; and those changes will be immediately reflected on the calendar.  This allows you to get more work done from your dashboard — rescheduling tasks, chasing overdue invoices, etc.
You’ll also notice the small gear button at the top of the widget.  If you have edit permission on the calendar, you can modify it directly from your dashboard as well.

Among a long list of calendaring improvements, 6.4 introduces calendar widgets for dashboards. These widgets offer a quick summary of a calendar without taking up much screen space.

There’s a count of events occurring for each day, and the full list is displayed when hovering.  You can also click each event to open its peek popup and modify it; and those changes will be immediately reflected on the calendar.  This allows you to get more work done from your dashboard — rescheduling tasks, chasing overdue invoices, etc.

You’ll also notice the small gear button at the top of the widget.  If you have edit permission on the calendar, you can modify it directly from your dashboard as well.

6.4 introduces ‘countdown widgets’ for dashboards. You can use these widgets as gentle reminders of upcoming events.
For example, on a development dashboard you can display a countdown to the next milestone (an iteration or release). On a sales dashboard, you can display the time left in the current period (quarter, year).

6.4 introduces ‘countdown widgets’ for dashboards. You can use these widgets as gentle reminders of upcoming events.

For example, on a development dashboard you can display a countdown to the next milestone (an iteration or release). On a sales dashboard, you can display the time left in the current period (quarter, year).

6.4 introduces a new ‘World Clock’ widget for dashboards.  The clocks support 12-hour or 24-hour display, and the closest timezone can be quickly selected from the list of major cities organized by continent and country.
These widgets are particularly useful for coordinating with international team members or sales prospects.

6.4 introduces a new ‘World Clock’ widget for dashboards.  The clocks support 12-hour or 24-hour display, and the closest timezone can be quickly selected from the list of major cities organized by continent and country.

These widgets are particularly useful for coordinating with international team members or sales prospects.

The 6.4 release includes ‘availability calendars’, which take the events from an existing calendar and convert them into availability windows. This is what a Virtual Attendant sees when it’s scheduling a task or looking for an available worker.

Each worker can elect one of their calendars to determine their availability, which then becomes visible on their profile. This approach is particularly helpful in situations where a worker’s schedule may change frequently between various shifts. A calendar for each shift can be created, and when the schedule changes it’s a single click to activate a new calendar.

To temporarily remove their availability entirely (e.g. vacation, leave of absence, paternity, sabbatical, code marathon), a worker can simply break the link between their availability and an existing calendar. They don’t need to modify or delete any of the existing events, which makes it much easier to resume working later on.

SLA scheduling is a common workflow that’s automated using Cerb’s Virtual Attendants.  They are very flexible and capable of automating complex behaviors, but one of the major shortcomings up to this point has been the inability to schedule a due date like “+4 business hours” in the future.  All relative dates were based on a 24-hour clock, so 4 hours in the future might be during the night, weekend, or a holiday.  You could use the placeholder functionality to create a complex script that would skip past nights and weekends, but it wouldn’t be aware of holidays or any other exceptions.

In 6.4, you can create group-owned calendars that define different sets of working hours and holidays.  For example, one calendar for paid support may expand availability to nights and weekends.  Virtual Attendants can then use any of these calendars to easily schedule a due date in working hours.

In the example calendar above, December 25th is a non-working day.  If a ticket came in at 5pm on the 24th and was due in “8 business hours”, one hour would be consumed through the end of business at 6pm on the 24th.  The 25th would be skipped as an all-day holiday, and the remaining 7 hours would be scheduled from the opening of business at 8am on the 26th.  As a result, the ticket would be due on the 26th at 3pm; 8 working hours later, but 46 hours of wall time later.

These improvements aren’t limited to SLA scheduling, but that’s one area where they’ll drastically improve how things are being done now.