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Really Simple Product Roadmaps: Can't find anything good so building something.

I've been looking for Roadmap software for my day job. It's an oddly challenging task. I had this whole rigmarole last year too and we settled on a product called "TeamWeek". They have since re-branded to Toggle Plan.

They were alright but a lot of my staff found it cumbersome and overly complicated. We also tried Monday.com, Aha and various other such platforms but the problem there is that they are full blown project management suites. We use Jira for that and JUST need a roadmap, and a simple one at that.

So I'm going to have a go at it myself. Just simple, chronological roadmap software for individuals or teams. Private or public facing.

Here's what I'm thinking so far

  • Individuals or teams
  • Private or public
  • Simple chronological roadmaps (dates optional)
    -- In years of roadmapping products the main thing I've learned is that pinning dates on things is absolutely pointless.

If you'd be interested in something like this, or at least learning about it as development unfolds:

https://reallysimpleroadmaps.com

  1. 2

    SIgned up - i'm definitely interested in something like this

    Whats your timeline?

    1. 1

      I have an alpha version ready to play with. Would love your feedback:
      http://d77-roadmap.herokuapp.com/

      1. 1

        Hey Mick,

        Checked it out and so far it's super smooth.

        UI is very slick, UX for creating a team is great.

        I'd like to see some form of a markup editor some styled notes. Is this planned?

        1. 1

          Was a pain in the neck... and I dunno if I'll keep it. But that's the notes / description sections with a full markdown editor in them.

          1. 1

            Phenomenal - looks great too.

            One thing I'd note, from a UX perspective, is the button to save the edit should say "Save" rather than "Edit"

            1. 1

              I hear you. Think I'll change it so "save changes"

              1. 1

                Perfect, great changes.

    2. 1

      Please bear in mind I've only been at this a few hours. However I'd appreciate feedback on this:

      https://www.loom.com/share/a34b2a5357fe473e99c2f4ad7494374d

      1. 1

        Are you building this on a no-code platform? If yes what's it called.

        1. 1

          No in writing the code myself.

          I’m a bit of a no code sceptic to be honest. I think it’s fine if you’re looking to build something basic, or something tried and tested, but (it seems to me) that the minute you want to do anything bespoke then no code falls on its face.

      2. 1

        Looking good so far, the notes text in the bottom right is pretty slick.

    3. 1

      Opinion, do you reckon roadmaps should go left to right, or top to bottom?

      1. 1

        I'd be a fan of top to bottom

        1. 3

          Yes me too.... Don't think I've seen that before AND would work better on mobile.

            1. 2

              I have an alpha version ready to play with. Would love your feedback:
              http://d77-roadmap.herokuapp.com/

              1. 1

                Thanks @Primer!

                • Difficult to see which Public/Private button is checked or not
                • 'Done' markup could be in green
                • Re-ordering elements (by dragging?) is absolutely needed :-D
                1. 2

                  Thanks man. All of those things are - ironically enough - on my roadmap.

                  Not really thinking about colors and stuff just now. Simply trying to get the functionality locked down. Will work on drag n drop re-ordering tonight.

                  Thanks for taking the time.

                  1. 2

                    Yes, basic things are already there!
                    Well done 👍🏻

    4. 1

      Thanks for the interest. I usually move pretty quickly. Should get to a prototype in a week or two.

  2. 1

    My team is using Jira advanced roadmaps... it is pretty good. Did you check it out? It is created by Jira team. Has nice integration: https://marketplace.atlassian.com/apps/1212136/advanced-roadmaps-formerly-portfolio?hosting=server&tab=overview

    1. 1

      I think I used this when it was still called "portfolio". I found it overly cumbersome.

  3. 1

    I'm not gonna add to the discussion other that Atlassian's Jira is one of the worst software I've had to deal with. They have the Facebook's mantra: "We acquire anyone who might compete with us, and make it a LOT worse".

    See: trello, bitbucket. I love both - but since they got bought by Atlassian, their login process is beyond stupid. I used to have 1 jira account, 1 trello account and 1 bitbucket account. Every time I would need to login into one of those the other two would lose access. Then, in order to properly login, I would need to RESET THE PASSWORD. It's beyond words how they can be so bad. And don't get me started on Jira...

    1. 2

      Yeah I agree with this. I actually like Jira; I've used it for nearly 10 years or so. However their backend processes (like their admin sections), and how they've integrated their acquisitions is shocking.

      1. 1

        To be fair, Jira was decent about 7-8 years ago. Probably had 10-20% of the "features" it has now, but it was snappy. Right now, loading any bug (issue) takes like 20 seconds or more. Even when you try to download an attachment, it tries to "help you" and auto view it for you - which is beyond stupid. It even goes into zip files, making the load process even harder. And I'm just getting warmed up :D

        I have no idea who comes up with their development ideas, but they should kick them out, with a kick on their behind, just to make sure he'll find their way out faster.

  4. 1

    Hey Mick! I actually got inspired to do something like this myself last year, like you scratching my own itch. Of course shortly after building this I decided to move away from feature roadmaps like this for my team so I haven’t touched it in a few months. Thinking about pivoting it to line up with how I’m thinking about roadmaps now, but have also just been swamped with other stuff lately.

    Anyways, just wanted to share what I had in case it helped you in anyway. It’s free to use, no sign up, and I had my monetization plans outlined. A lot of feedback I got from early users was to make it a Jira integration, so I’ll pass on that advice. Happy to answer any questions if it helps you. I also had the same frustrations so would love to see a simple roadmap builder exist and thrive.

    https://visionpage.io

    1. 1

      I have an alpha version ready to play with. Would love your feedback:
      http://d77-roadmap.herokuapp.com/

      1. 1

        I signed up and played with it a bit! Love how mobile friendly it is. It’s simple with just enough to check the boxes. Some things I’d need before using it for my team (for reference I’m a PM for a ~14 person team of software engineers and data scientists at a large enterprise):

        • At our team size we usually run 1-3 objectives in parallel. A fully linear roadmap doesn’t well articulate where we parallelize. Ill acknowledge that this likely not necessary for smaller teams.
        • I usually host our roadmaps for casual reference by our stakeholders which you’ve got here, but honestly most never check it and it’s our regular sync up meetings where I show them a PowerPoint slide with the roadmap where they actually see it. Some sort of image export would be helpful (unless I missed that?)
        • My personal take is to make the roadmap alittle more visually appealing, a lot of times when I’m sharing a roadmap it feels like I’m selling something. I put a lot of attention to the visual appearance of what I share. This also could just be me so take that with a grain of salt.

        All and all, love what you have in such a little amount of time!

        1. 1

          Cheers Deven. I just shipped dates. I want to also (as is the premise of the product) keep this is as simple as possible, so I've kept it to just a simple "estimated delivery date" which is of course optional.

          Regards multiple roadmaps in parallel, I know exactly what you mean but I think in order to keep this "really simple" that may be out of scope.

          Loving your feedback though, and grateful for your time.

    2. 1

      This is awesome man, thanks so much!

      Looking at your page it seems like I'm going even simpler again. I haven't made anything clear on my ladning page yet but one of the things I'm trying to avoid is guessing at timeframes. Anyone who has ever estimated software development time knows its a joke and NEVER actually accurate. So my roadmaps will just be chronological; as in this, then that, then that.

      check out the video above.

      1. 1

        Hah! Your point about timelines never being accurate is the primary reason I abandoned this sort of roadmap for my team, so I hear you there! Excited to see what you release, I’ll check out the video

  5. 1

    It's a good idea and it sounds like something I would find useful BUT:

    • It's another software to install and update. It will lead to some duplication of data, since it is very basic, so users will want integrations with bigger software to save time... That will slowly transform it into a big software.
    • Small teams can use a spreadsheet or even a text file - I love text files, they can do almost anything that does not require calculations.

    It's still a good idea for people who will be happy to use a basic software.

    1. 2

      Thanks for the feedback, it's appreciated.

      Building this on the premis that - as with every product - it won't be for everyone.

      In my dayjob (huge enterprise, hundreds of product dev staff) we've found integrations to be more of a pain in the ass to maintain. That's why we're actively looking for a simple standalone option.

    2. 1

      I have an alpha version ready to play with. Would love your feedback:
      http://d77-roadmap.herokuapp.com/

      1. 1

        If you just want feedback I think you should not require email addresses. I think most people will only register and give their email address if they feel it's worth it.

        1. 1

          I can't think of any products, IH or otherwise that don't take email when creating an account.

          1. 1

            True, I thought this was a prototype or a demo, not the finished product...

            1. 1

              Oh do you mean remove the email requirement for the purposes of playing with this alpha build?

              Yeah I can do that! Good idea!

              1. 1

                That's what I meant. You'll get more feedback without the email requirement.

                1. 1

                  I misunderstood you first time around. Ill do this tomorrow.

  6. 1

    Really like how you are scratching your own itch. Good luck, Mick!

    1. 2

      I have an alpha version ready to play with. Would love your feedback:
      http://d77-roadmap.herokuapp.com/

      1. 2

        Hey @primer,

        Looking really good. 🔥

        I tested on Firefox on Fedora 33. Here's what I noticed:

        • During signup and login, Firefox complains about an unencrypted connection and the page potentially being insecure.
        • I didn't have to confirm my email address and I received no email from the product upon signup. That's confusing as I usually have to do it everywhere.
        • For my name (Niklas), it says "Niklas's Team" in the upper right corner. It should be "Niklas' Team".
        • There's no empty state for the "Home" page yet. Guess it's coming. :)
        • When trying to add a second team member, I saw a Symfony stack trace.
          • Exception: Expected response code 250 but got code "550", with message "550 5.7.1 Relaying denied"
          • Error in: /app/app/Actions/Jetstream/InviteTeamMember.php (line 38)
          • Two things:
            1. The exception itself is obviously not perfect. :)
            2. I wouldn't show stack traces to my users.
          • Probably due to the error, I haven't received the invitation emails.
        • Maybe you could skip the "New roadmap" screen where you enter name and description, and jump straight into the roadmap editing screen with the cursor in the name field. Maybe prefill it with some data if you need something in your DB.
        • It will be more comfortable if the "Roadmap Settings" section auto-saves without having to press the "save settings" button.
        • It would be helpful to have a clarification what exactly will happen when hitting the big plus on the "Preview & Edit" screen. I was 80% sure that I know what it means, but it wasn't 100% clear.
          • This could potentially be circumvented by initializing the roadmap with 1-3 dummy elements to show the user what the page is about.
        • When adding new roadmap elements, it would be cool to have them just appear on the page without having to complete a popup and then being able to edit them inline.
        • I was confused that the description of my new roadmap item wasn't shown after adding it. I tried editing the title by clicking on it and then the element expanded. That was unexpected.
        • Nothing seems to happen when clicking on the checkmark next to my roadmap item. The card expands or collapses but that's it.
        • The "Edit Roadmap Element" action would be smoother to do if I could just edit the element's details inline.
        • Editing, adding or deleting a roadmap element leads to a page reload. That feels bad as a user and I could potentially lose unsaved changes in the left column.
        • While creating my roadmap, I wondered: How is it going to be displayed to the non-editor end-user? Why would I need formatting options for the roadmap element description? Why is the line count important? And, again: How is it going to look for the end-user?
        • The spell check was unexpected and nice, but it's going to be confusing for non-English-speaking users.
        • Drag-n-drop to reorder roadmap elements doesn't work. The page says that it's possible, but it doesn't work for me.
        • What does the "Notes" label in the bottom right corner of a roadmap element mean? Clicking it only expands/collapses the card.
        • "Copy link" is a bit confusing: Which link do I copy? Is it the link to editing the roadmap? Or is it a non-editable page where external people can view it?
          • I wasn't even sure if there even was a non-editable version.
            • If there was, I wasn't entirely sure how to get there. Having an actual "preview" button on the "preview & edit" page would be awesome.
        • Having the "copy link" feature decoupled visually from visibility and status is confusing. I'd place them next to each other.
        • Visibility and status took me a while to discover. I discarded the toggles as unimportant settings and didn't even read the labels. Then I created my roadmap and wondered: "Now what? What do I do? How do I show this to my colleagues and/or my users?"
          • Having publish/unpublish as a button instead of a toggle would help in my opinion.
          • Maybe a share/publish action would make sense below the actual roadmap, i.e. before the plus button. That's where I was looking for a hint on how to continue.
        • The expandable roadmap elements are really missing the cursor: pointer; CSS property. Both in edit and in view-only mode.
        • On the non-editable roadmap it's hard to discover that there are descriptions to the elements. Maybe it would make sense to show the first two lines of the description and hide the rest. That would also make the roadmap look more professional.
        • Having a proper heading for the non-editable page would help in my opinion. Something like "${PRODUCT_NAME}'s roadmap" would be great, and it should be centered instead of being right-aligned in the header.
        • On the Create Roadmap page
          • It wasn't clear to me what the "Control Center" button would do. Why is it even necessary when I can just click "back" in the browser? If you want to keep it, I would consider calling it "Home" or "Cancel" or "Go back".
          • The description field did not take up the full width. It was only 247px wide.
        • The page title often just said "Laravel". I guess you already have that on your todo list, though.

        Overall, I'm really impressed by what you built in such a short time. That's awesome, man! 👍

        Would you mind sharing your tech stack? Did you use any templates for UI or some kind of code generator for the login system?

        Also: How did you get 2FA and the session management UI implemented so fast? It's not a common thing to see in an alpha, but definitely appreciated. Did you use an authentication provider? Did you reuse old code?

        1. 2

          This reply is insane. Thanks SO much for your time.

          I can’t digest it all tonight but I will go through it point by point tomorrow.

          Regards the authentication - you get top quality authentication out of the box with the Laravel framework.

          1. 2

            Mick, glad that I could help! I've learned so much from your replies on IH that I had to give you feedback. :)

            If you have any questions or need feedback on anything else in the future, feel free to always ping me. Either here on IH or via email.

            I genuinely enjoy seeing you build stuff.

            1. 2

              I've learned so much from your replies on IH that I had to give you feedback. :)

              That's incredible to hear. Thank you so much, once again 🙏

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