Thursday, November 16, 2017

FogBugz Becomes Manuscript

Anil Dash (Hacker News):

At Fog Creek, we’re a company that was pretty much born to help squash bugs, whether it’s “this doesn’t look right in my browser!” or “we shouldn’t be secretly polluting the earth!” We launched FogBugz back in 2000 as one of the first and most influential bug-tracking systems around, and it evolved to be great at project management, issue tracking, and lots more. Since it launched, the platform has been used to fix over 50 million bugs, by tens of thousands of teams around the world. But recently, we’ve been thinking about “Big Bugs”, trying to imagine how we can address both the necessary parts of shipping software and the larger risks that too often get overlooked.

So today, we’re using that same engine to create something new: Manuscript. Manuscript helps any team craft great software.

I find this rather confusing because Manuscript seems extremely similar to FogBugz, which it replaces. The core design and features seem to be the same. I guess this is good because I like FogBugz. The new name doesn’t make much sense to me, though I can live with it. The differences, as far as I can tell, are a visual redesign and a bunch of new integrations:

Our new Twitter integration for Manuscript enables you to monitor Twitter for tweets that mention the keywords you’re interested in, like @mentions and hashtags, creating a case for each match. This is great for Support teams, so you can manage your Twitter queue right from within Manuscript. And it’s good for Product Management teams too, who can add tweets about features and bugs as subcases, helping you gather requirements and prioritize feature work.

I don’t need any integrations and would have preferred to see improvements to the core product. There are a variety of longstanding problems with e-mail handling, and the basic case editing and wiki could use some attention. It also doesn’t officially support Safari.

The main complaint I have about Manuscript is the new design. Everything is more saturated and colorful, and the color choices are odd. The logo looks like an optical illusion. It’s all very distracting. It doesn’t look like a professional product for getting work done. Despite being redesigned, the main page’s elements are not fully consistent, and it clashes with less frequently used configuration pages, which have not been redesigned. The new product site is also oddly designed, with an unstable menu of features that is difficult to scroll through. I just don’t understand why these changes were made. The previous Ocelot design was fine and continuing to improve.

I set up a Customization, included below, that changes the colors and lines to be more subdued. It also changes the font from Benton Sans to San Francisco and removes the avatar images. I don’t need to see five copies of my face on every page. I also removed the RSS and Subscribe links, which I never use. Lastly, there’s some JavaScript to restore keyboard shortcuts, which were inexplicably removed in 2013, for moving up and down the case list. I’d like to make more changes to the CSS to improve the information density, but that will take a lot longer.

name:        Boring Colors and Fonts
description: Change text to be less garish. Hide avatars. Add next/prev keyboard shortcuts.
author:      Michael Tsai


$(function() {
    var isOcelot = function() {
      return (typeof fb.config != 'undefined');
    var changeIt = function() {
        // Previous Case: Control-Shift-[
        // Next Case: Control-Shift-]
        $('#case-lightbox-wrap > div > > > div > section > article > nav:nth-child(1) > > a.icon.icon-case-prev').attr("accesskey", "[");
        $('#case-lightbox-wrap > div > > > div > section > article > nav:nth-child(1) > > a.icon.icon-case-next').attr("accesskey", "]");
    if (isOcelot()) {
        '/nav/end': function(event) {
    else {


To Do:
- SVG icons and arrows.
- Possibly tighten up spacing.

.case-header-block a,, 
#filter-bar #filter-description .filter-description-sort-element .filter-sort-clickable,
#filter-bar #filter-description .filter-axis-clickable,
.case-list th .header-sort-toggle,
.case-list .grid-column-header-drag-helper .header-sort-toggle,
.case .corner,
.event .timestamp,
.event #labelFileUpload,
.event .emailFields,
.event header .changes,
.case-list .list-group-footer>.list-add-case
    color: black;

.case .left a, /* Release Notes */
.case .left #sidebarSubscribe span /* Subscribe */ {
    color: black;
    border-bottom-width: 0;

.case .left a {
    text-decoration: underline;

#filter-bar #filter-description .filter-description-sort-element .filter-sort-clickable,
#filter-bar #filter-description .filter-axis-clickable {
    border-bottom: 1px solid black;
} .event-content {
    background: #eee;

.event .editor > textarea:active, .event .editor > textarea:focus, .event .editor > {
    box-shadow: 0 0 0 1px black;

.case-list th .header-sort-toggle, .case-list .grid-column-header-drag-helper .header-sort-toggle {
    font-weight: 600;

th .header-sort-toggle,
.event .timestamp,
.event .emailFields {
    font-family: -apple-system-font;

.case .left .rss,
div#sidebarSubscribe {
    display: none;

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

Was also confused by this. The pricing (10/month/user) looks cheaper than our current 25/m/u subscription, so I hope we’ll be getting the updated pricing on this months invoice.

> wiki could use some attention

Probably an unfair comparison, but that's one place where Atlassian's Confluence is just so much better, it's not even funny.

Not a fan of the new design. Looks like somebody applied random colors to FogBugz. FogBugz could use some cleanup on the visual design front, but this isn't that.

Hey Michael, thanks as always for the thoughtful feedback! A couple of points:

* "The differences, as far as I can tell, are a visual redesign and a bunch of new integrations" — I think for the way you use Manuscript, that's probably the biggest changes. And I'm sure you'll agree that for a regular business software user, "Manuscript" is a name that makes infinitely more sense than "FogBugz".
* It's definitely on our list to improve case editing, and I know folks on the team are interested in addressing email as well. As to yours and Lukas' points about the wiki, I do agree what we have is a little long in the tooth, but I'll be honest: we're probably not going to prioritize updates to the wiki right now. It's one of those categories just waiting to be reinvented (sort of how Slack reinvented IRC) but between Manuscript and Glitch that's a bigger project than we can take on right now.
* I'm glad the customization is meeting your needs, we'll also be refining our design a lot, the primary goal thus far was to give Manuscript a distinct identity, and we'll be iterating on the look and feel now that the first step is accomplished.

And to Bob's point, this is introductory pricing for new users just to celebrate the launch of Manuscript; we aren't making any changes for current users yet, but we'll be revisiting to see if we can simplify things in the future.

Thanks to all for the feedback, and as we continue to improve & refine Manuscript, I hope you'll keep it coming!

> It's one of those categories just waiting to be reinvented

Perhaps, but here's one data point: our company switched from FogBugz to Atlassian's products. We had tried using the FogBugz wiki. People tried publishing things on that wiki. It went nowhere. People didn't read anything on there, documents were never updated, it was a desert of outdated specs, unread RFCs, and palpable despair. Confluence has made all the difference. Confluence is thriving. People put specs on there, meeting notes, there are discussions that have actual outcomes, people update documents regularly. It's amazing, it's incredibly useful, and it's truly alive.

Sure, maybe Wikis are waiting to be reinvented, but in the meantime, FogBugz's wiki is, well, bad, while Confluence is pretty freaking amazing.

I personally prefer FogBugz over Jira for tickets, but that wiki though... Maybe it's worth making it better even before you figure out how to reinvent it.

Michael, thank you so much for this customization, we will be adopting most of it today.

Just to leap to the defense -- I'm a longterm FogBugz fan, and they were right, it needed an update, including the name. Manuscript is a fine name, imo, I sure it is difficult to find one that relates to writing, is not too cryptic, and is not already taken.

Expect the not-yet-updated areas, like the project settings page, will be coming along in the near future. We're doing the same on our product, our users are thankfully patient.

We don't use the wiki much, and have no complaints about the email, but could not live without the FogBugz search capability. Our case base has become our project documentation.

So we were glad to see that they are investing heavily in the product. Those colors though... I guess it leans on the Trello design, where all the candy colors are mildly annoying, but that eye-watering green background... just no. Thanks again for the customization.

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