There’s No Magic

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There’s a common phase here at Tasktop, “There’s no magic.” It’s typically evoked when there’s a tough problem to solve. There’s no magic to solving tough problems, it’s hard work and deep thinking. But in the very next breath, we talk about giving customers magical experiences–making things ‘just work’ and anticipating their needs before they know they have them.

I have to sheepishly admit that I’m an amateur magician. I know how to palm a coin and make cards disappear. It’s a bit of a hobby. But what surprises me most is the parallel between a good magic and good software. Today I’d like to talk about two: flourishes and sleights.

Flourishes are the fancy stuff you see magicians doing. Fanning cards, rolling coins across their knuckles. They’re the flashy displays of talent that add color. They make you think, “this person knows what they’re doing”. But here’s the part you may not realize…flourishes aren’t the magic. The real magic is in the sleights.

The sleights are the things you don’t see. They’re the part where the magician secretly drops the ball in their pocket or palms your signed card. That’s where the real magic happens. Magic is more about what you don’t see than what you do see.

All flourishes and no sleights makes a juggler. There may be great talent, but there’s no magic. All sleights and no flourishes doesn’t draw a crowd. A good magician needs both. And so does good software.

Tasktop Integration Hub is no different.


I’d argue that our Integration Landscape is an excellent flourish. It catches your eye. It’s incredibly helpful to understand your overall integration picture. But the magic is about the things you don’t see. I’d like to tell you about a few of them.

Unlike a magician who hides their sleights, we want to tell you about them. We think that pulling back the curtain to show you behind the scenes makes our “magic” all the more impressive.

Here are a few bits of magic you may not even have noticed when using Tasktop. And really, that’s how it should be. These are things that should be seamless when you’re using our product.

Ok, so let’s start:

Smart Fields

There are some fields that are in nearly every tool. Things like Summary, Description, ID, etc. These are fundamental to almost all artifacts in any tool we work with. Here’s the rub…sometimes these fields are named differently across systems. That could be confusing, but Tasktop Integration Hub has built in smarts. It knows that these differently named fields are really the same.

Here’s an example: the “Description” field in JIRA is called the Description field, but in IBM DNG it’s called “Primary Text.”.Tasktop is smart enough to automatically map these two fields together. You don’t have to think about it.

Smart Transforms

So speaking of Description fields, different tools have different text markup in those fields. Some use Rich Text, others use their own proprietary markup language. We have to transform the different markup styles between dozens of different tools. We take care of all that behind the scenes. There’s nothing for you to do. There’s no flourish here. It’s all behind the scenes.

Smart Value Mapping

Tasktop employs a Model-based integration style which allows for a normalized definition of your requirements, defects, stories, etc. We allow end systems to define their field values independently and then map them to values in your custom models.

That’s great when the values in your tools don’t match the values in your Model, but very often, you create your Model to reflect your tools. Tasktop is smart enough to automatically match field values to your model values. You only need to match the values that are different.

Automatic Person Mapping


What is a ‘person’? Sounds silly, right? But in ALM tools, a ‘person’ is a complicated thing. It may involve a display name, internal ID, email address, department, etc and there’s no guarantee that this information is the same between tools. In any integration, it’s important to flow person fields between tools, but since much of the information (such as person ID) may be different, there’s definitely some magic involved.

In order to match users across tools, Tasktop employs a smart algorithm to inspect the person fields and match based on their metadata. We see if the internal person ID’s match, then whether the display names match, then whether the emails match.

This is all behind the scenes for the Tasktop admin. All you need to do is indicate that you want the person fields to flow.

Comments with impersonation


Tasktop enables cross team communication and this is exemplified with our Comment Flow. A user in one tool can comment on an artifact and that comment shows up on the twin artifact in another tool.  For example, the product manager in can comment on a Feature in Targetprocess and the developer sees that comment on the Epic that shows up in JIRA. That’s pretty magical, but it gets even better.

Not only will the comment appear, it will be attributed to the tester! And you know what you need to do to configure that? Nothing. If you enable comments to flow, Tasktop will automatically take care of comment attribution. We call this Impersonation.

And enabling comments and comment impersonation is as simple as checking a checkbox.

Conclusion

I could go on and on about these behind the scenes sleights, but just like in the real world, there’s no such thing as magic. There’s an explanation for everything, but sometimes, just sometimes, you can have a magical experience. That’s what we’ve set out to give you with Tasktop Integration Hub. And just as in a magic performance, the flourish is important, but it needs no explanation. But unlike a magic performance, we feel that understanding some of the workings behind the scenes makes our performance even more amazing. I hope you’ve enjoyed a behind the scenes look at just a few of the things we’ve built in to give you this experience.