Using phabricator as a to-do management software

I have been using Phabricator as an issue tracking service since October 2014, when Wikimedia Foundation moved away from its bugzilla to Phabricator. While I disliked it when I saw it for the first time, I became used to it that I have even installed own installations (on librewiki) and on few other sites, and even contributed some minor stuff to the codebase.

Anyway, during March, I, once again, realized I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do. To remedy this, I started using Trello, but their inability to comply with ISO 8601 made me to move away.

(I deleted the original tweet as part of regular tweet wiping: archive here)

I also considered Any.do and even GitHub Issues with Projects, but none of these tools suited my needs. (Any.do was missing ISO 8601 compliance, and GitHub Projects were missing mobile support.) After that, I remembered Phabricator handles ISO 8601 correctly, have “first-day-of-week” selection, responsive, and have a workboard support. And I don’t have to deal with installing/managing phabricator instances anymore: They offer free option for instances less than 5 users: I am the only user, so what’s the problem? Let’s move on.

Since my trello boards and then-migrated GitHub issues didn’t have more than 20 issues, I decided to migrate them by hands. It took 30 minutes to an hour’s work. After then, I’ve set an workboards, and a few tag that will help at-a-glance lookups.

At a glance

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Main page of the instance[1]
I have the phabricator link in my chrome start pages. Things in “Handy links” are the link to workboards. The below board is my personal quotes and some handy external links. Recent activity in the right side is just a feed of what my latest 10 actions are.

Workboards

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Project workboards[1]
Workboard is where I do the most of quick organizing. There are few small rules here:

  • New tickets sits in Backlog.
  • Once you start working on it, move it to In Progress.
  • If other thing is more important that current one, move it to Stalled and leave a comment where I left it. Otherwise, do it now or you’ll never do it.
  • When done, move it to Done and mark Resolved. If you decided not to do it, move it to Done too, and mark as Invalid or Wontfix as appropriate. When things are marked done (whether Resolved or Invalid/Wontfix), it is hidden from default view.

The yellow label is tags, used to answer the question “what is this ticket about?”.

Task view

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Task view [1]
I usually do not visit individual task page: Most of the things that can be done here can be done on project workboards, with a pencil button on task card. However setting a relationship between tasks (like, T1 is required to do T15), I set the relationship when I have time, and that’s shown in the graph.

Caveats

Phabricator is not meant to be a To-Do management apps, so it’s not offering fast view on what needs to be done inside a task button, nor there is a super quick at-a-glance unless you set an assignee on yourself. Also I need to click “edit task” before marking a checkbox.

I don’t use priority at all because I think it will just multiplex the complexity of maintaining the board, instead of doing actual work.

Phabricator is a decent tool for software development, but I wanted to show phabricator can be used on stuff like this.


[1]: Phabricator is licensed under Apache License 2.0. Screenshots of it is licensed under the same license.

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