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New in Pivotal Tracker: Improved Stories!

Stories in Pivotal Tracker have been given a serious upgrade. For the most part it’s all pretty self explanatory – the functionality you’re used to is all there, just in a format that’s more intuitive, user friendly and hopefully you’ll agree, more appealing. Our advice, play with it and then come back and read the rest of this post, especially if anything is confusing.

You’re back, so let’s continue!

One of the goals of Tracker has always been to make collaboration around your story backlog as easy as possible, so that your team spends less time managing your project and more of it actually building things. We think there’s room to make that not just easier, but more enjoyable, even fun! So to that end, great usability and user experience are major themes in our backlog for 2012, starting with this story redesign.

See below for all the highlights.

New Look and Feel

Like we said, stories look different, and are hopefully a lot easier to work with now. It’s a complete redesign, with a color scheme that fits better with the rest of the Tracker UI, and that’s intended to make the important information in a story stand out more – such as the story title, description, comments, code commits, and file attachments.

Besides visual appeal, we’re aiming to reduce clicks – for example, when creating a new story, it only takes one click to choose a story type or point estimate value. And, you can now start, finish, deliver, or accept/reject an expanded story with one click, with the familiar buttons.

Click to Copy ID and Story URL

We heard your feedback about having to scroll down in stories to find their IDs, to copy them to your commit messages (you are using the source commit integration, right?). So, we’ve moved the ID to the top of stories, and made it so that you can copy the ID to the clipboard with one click (on the ID button).

The same is true for the story URL, for when you need to send someone a link to the story. Just click the link button in the top left corner, and the story’s full URL will be copied to the clipboard. Note – you’ll need Flash enabled in your browser for these to work. If you don’t have Flash, you’ll see the full URL on a separate line, so you can copy it the old way.

Less commonly used actions, including delete and view history, have been moved to the “More” menu, which is where we’ll be adding some other convenience actions soon.

File Attachments on Comments

One big change in this redesign is that files are now attached to stories as part of posting a comment, rather than as a separate list. This is because files are commonly uploaded and shared in the context of an on-going conversation, and it’s so much easier to refer to a file that’s actually part of that comment (e.g. “Here’s that icon”) rather than having to say “see the file named foo.gif at the bottom of the story”.

You can still drag and drop files from your desktop to stories, and entering an actual comment when adding files is optional – just drop your files on a story and close it.

View All Images and Comment Filtering

The truth is, thumbnails of mockups attached to a story can be indistinguishable from one another. Sometimes you just need to see them all full sized, on one page. Now, with just one click of the View All Images link above the Activity section, you can.

We’ve also made it easier to find what you need in a long-winded (all of it beautifully clear and vital) comment conversation – just use the filter dropdown menu at the top right of the Activity section to show just file attachments, just source commits, or all comments without commits.


This redesign of stories is the first step in an on-going usability overhaul. We’ve got much more coming over the course of this year, but we’d like to incorporate your feedback at every step, so please let us know what you think so far, in the comments here or by email to

  1. Really brilliant stuff. The having to scroll down for ids and links had been bothering me forever.

  2. Peksa says:

    +1 for more accessible IDs.
    +2 for baconipsum.

  3. Thierry says:

    Great improvements !
    We’re also waiting for project template and copy stories from a project to another, but your tool is the best one I’ve seen for easy and agile project management !

  4. Jan says:

    Looks nice, but does work worse than before! New story are actually being deleted while editing another one. Thats not nice.

    Try this: Expand an existing story, create a new one, write something there, click “save” on the existing story, the new story is gone. Lost precious time…

  5. Dan Podsedly says:

    Jan – as per the reply to your post on Satisfaction, we’re fixing that, sorry.

  6. djones says:

    Were there changes to the API? When adding stories with XML, the project window is throwing an alert with:

    “Unexpected exception occurred
    Please click ‘OK’ to reload Tracker.”

    And it appears that the XML parser isn’t accepting CDATA any longer either. If I remove the CDATA from my XML, I get a valid XML response with the story details, and it goes into the project, but the project window still throws the above alert.

  7. Jan says:

    Thank you Dan. I’ll try it later.

  8. Derek Jones says:

    CDATA was a red herring; I’m getting valid XML story responses back intermittently – but always with the error thrown.

  9. Dan Podsedly says:

    Derek, thanks, we’re looking into it.

  10. Dan Podsedly says:

    Perfect, thanks Derek.

  11. Ani Gupta says:


    To expand on Jan’s comment on data loss, we have just noticed that when two separate people are logged in to the same project and changing trackers (one is adding, other is modifying) simultaneously, it results in loss of the changes by the one or the other.

    Also, cannot edit Comments anymore. Have to delete the entire comment and repost. Seems like a regression

  12. Dan Podsedly says:

    For anyone who was experiencing loss of edits when new stories were added, that issue should now be resolved.

  13. Jaro says:

    File attachments on comments. Nice!
    Will you add this feature to API v4?

  14. Daniel Dines says:

    I’ll kill to get sorting on search pane.

  15. Dan Podsedly says:

    Jaro – yes, API V4 will support posting of file attachments as part of a comment.

  16. James A. Rosen says:

    These are great improvements, thanks. There’s still one thing that bites me regularly, though: when I save a story in such a way that moves it out of the current view, it disappears. Let’s say I have “My Work” open and I change the assignee to someone else. When I save the story, it moves out of the My Work view (understandably) and closes, which means I need to go find it in whatever view it ended up in. One solution would be to keep a “recently touched” view. Another would be to leave the story open in the new column so it’s easy to spot there.

  17. Excelent improvements!

    I’m still hoping the history time tracking possible. We actually need to put the total time at the comments and have someone to count the time for us and put them on another system.

  18. Alexia Smith says:

    This is a complete step backwards in accessibility. Keyboard navigation of story creation is completely gone with this redesign. No longer can I simply tab between the form fields to select data. I can get to the Requester and Owner drop downs, but simply pressing the first letter of the name I want to get to it no longer works. Can not even tab to the story type or points.

    Form fields can be styled with CSS, but instead they were removed in favor of Javascript that does not work with accessibility.

  19. Dan Podsedly says:

    Alexia, thanks for the feedback. Reduced keyboard support wasn’t intentional, and these issues will be addressed shortly.

  20. Ian says:

    Why did we add menu dropdowns everywhere? To be honest, I love the changes around comments / activities and basically everything toward the bottom, but the smaller top part is irking me. I find the layout harder to process (perhaps because it is too soft / cramped?) and it is no longer obvious how to use or change those options.

    Basically, everything you outlined uniquely in this blog post = awesome, but everything you didn’t touch = irking me. What do you think Dan?

  21. Ben says:

    The layout seems to be harder to use, of course change is always a shock, but adding and editing stories feels harder then before.

    The save/cancel buttons are in different places when adding and editing, i found this very confusing, ill get used to it but initially i was looking for the save button when adding and i missed it down the bottom as it seemed to blend in.

    I find my eye wandering, i think the grey backgrounds used to group elements make things more cluttered and its harder to work out the different sections, maybe you could try removing them and see how it feels in testing.

  22. John says:

    I love the changes guys. Contrary to some of the other comments, I think the updates greatly enhanced usability, particularly with new shading in the edit box.

    Keep up the good work.

  23. Dan Podsedly says:

    We’ve rolled out a the first batch of a updates/fixes tonight. Opening/closing stories should be faster (although not quite where we’d like it to be, just yet), all of the dropdowns in new stories can now be manipulated via keyboard, and we’ve fixed a number of other bugs. More updates coming in the next few days, including for the problem with the “Other” External integration.

  24. Lee Hambley says:

    I’m so relieved that the “ticket id to clipboard” feature is there, and that keyboard navigation when creating a new issue is all still possible.

    Well done, those are two “features” that one wouldn’t typically see unless the developers were eating their own dog food, and suffering the same way as the rest of us, Kudos!

  25. Alexia Smith says:

    Dan, thanks for you and team for getting those accessibility fixes out. I really appreciate it!

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