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Under review

XTRF 8 - Stability issues - I wish we could go back to version 6

Laszlo Kovacs 2 weeks ago in Something Else • updated by Jussi Rautio 16 hours ago 42

After some months of using XTRF 8 after version 6, our experience is that this is a huge leap backwards in terms of usability, stability and reliability.

Some functionality we liked in version 6 is broken, while we don't really get any usable new functionality in return (except the Erase personal data button, which was used once in the last 3 months).

I really wish we could downgrade...
Do you experience the same?

That has me really worried now. We are still running our production instance on 6.11. And while it contains a number of annoying bugs, it is pretty stable. I was eyeing an upgrade to 8.1 as soon as it is publicly available ... and then you come crashing the party  ;o)  Only joking, but of course I am eager to hear the others out.

+1

That got us really worried as well since we are planning on updating our instance soon. Laszlo, could you please give us some examples of which functionality and usability you are missing?

I'm afraid it was more dramatic than it really is, but our PMs here seem really unhappy. And you know what happens when your PMs are unhappy :)

Please note that we use classic projects, so everything here is related to those.

- In the good old XTRF 6 times, when you changed the deadline of a job in a workflow, it adjusted the start time of the next job automatically, even when you made the change in the text field. Now, it works only if you use the pop-up calendar, and it means quite a lot of clicks each day. 

- You have to save everything several times in a workflow. We face considerably more saves (and page refreshes) since the upgrade, and it takes significant time if you need to do it on 20-30 projects every day.

- In some cases (we couldn't really figure out why) jobs assigned using First one wins Availability requests are not started, but stay in Accepted status. This is especially inconvenient when it happens on Friday evening, and you realize on Monday that you should've started it manually 2 days ago :(

- On Provider Invoice Data form, address values tend to get removed when you click save.

- Some jobs cannot be closed on the Vendor portal - you have to log in to Home portal, and close them manually.

- Delivery reminder mails are sent late (a bit randomly, sometimes by 5-6 minutes, sometimes by 30-40 minutes). Strange, because other mails are sent on time. And a bit ironic, as delivery reminder is the only type of mail that shouldn't be late :)

I think this is the list of most annoying "features" we have in version 8, and couldn't really name too many features we actually find useful. We upgraded because of the GDPR panic, but honestly, the Erase personal data button is quite a small chunk of a viable GDPR solution. 

We have encountered all of these, except we do not use the delivery reminders. Also, adding receivables and payables often cause the whole system to hang for a while. We needed to do this upgrade to have compatibility with GroupShare 2017 but now need to consider our options.

I also (still) have concerns about the development and indeed continuing support for Classic Projects: for example the "Show Notes to Other Vendors" functionality works only with Smart Projects for some reason.

+1

There is no more development for classic projects, unfortunately. We were very dissappointed to learn that, since we find Smart projects have many restrictions for us. 

For agencies like us, still using Classic projects, I think there have been zero new features over the last 3 years or so - only bugs :P

Same disappointment here...

For time to time, we try Smart Projects, but they are simply seem too clumsy, complicated, and hardly manageable. We even had a support (demo) session about smart projects last year, but it wasn't convincing at all.

I'm afraid we also need to consider our options soon :)

We're using Smart Projects and it's working for us. It has real limitations, but we're finding workarounds - not ideal, but it works. I'm curious what your biggest limitations are? Because of limitations that we've seen in Smart Projects, we considered moving to (or using in addition for some projects) Classic, but we didn't because we didn't want to essentially train our PMs on two different systems. The biggest limitation that we see is the inability to have multiple source languages in a project, but I'm sure there are many more. Could there be things others have found a workaround for? Or are your needs unique enough that Smart Projects really isn't the answer for you? I'm just curious. 

+2

We never started using Smart proejcts mainly because of these two reasons:

  1. No support for integrations with Memsource or SDL Studio
  2. No support for subfolders

And even though we could probably use it for the projects which don't require any of the above, we would end up in the situation you discribe with PMs having to learn two different ways of running a project.

Memsoure is a huge sticking point for us. We're doing lots of double work by not having a memsource connector. And when you say sub folders, where do you need them? I'd love to have more ability to organize files in Smart Projects. It does get really messy.

I believe we are on the same page here: tasks are a great way to organize things in (classic) projects.

We started our XTRF with Classic projects (I believe Smart projects were not out at that time), and "messy" structure of smart projects was one of the main reasons to stay with classic.

+4

We have 2 major problems:

One is the multiple source languages. We sometimes use English as an intermediate language (and most times we do not know that beforehand but only during a project) and it makes no sense to have to create another project for that.

The other is that you cannot change the customer after the project has been created. We experience this 3-4 times a month when individuals (for who we have created a generic Retail Customer account) want us to invoice a company in the end. 
We know of the very messy workaround of linking the new customer to the generic Retail one, but we would end up with dozens of linked companies. Furthermore, XTRF has already confirmed that is not something they will be changing in the future, so Smart Projects seem to be off the table for us.

The problem is, updated features (such as rolling availability requests, which we would definitely use), are not going to be added to Classic Projects. So, are stuck with Classic Projects and have to watch all the nice things been added to Smart Projects only. 

I think XTRF should announce their plans on the future of both. If Classic Projects are dead, fine; just make sure you will add support for all existing Classic project features so everybody can move. 


Right now, the Smart Project module still seems like it needs a ton of work before it can replace Classic projects.

+1

For us, Smart projects didn't work because there are no Tasks in it.

We do a lot of projects where a larger fileset needs to be split into several pieces to be able to finish TEP with a short TAT. "Several" may mean 15-20 workflows running in parallel in the same project.


With Classic projects, it's quite straightforward: you create several tasks with the same workflow, they run more-or-less independently (do not depend on each other), and it's quite easy to keep track of their status.

With Smart projects, we didn't really find out how to do it in a straightforward and manageable way.


We also love the way instructions work in Classic projects (HTML so that we can copy-paste from an email, it's VERY easy to know who sees what etc.) In Smart projects, formatting has been added just recently, and you can forget copy-pasting instructions with links, headings, bold formatting etc.

The general "bad feeling" about Smart projects didn't help, either. Anything you do is applied instantly (or not, and hard to figure out why), so you don't have the confidence of checking your settings, and apply them when they look OK. 


We also found that setting up a smart projects take a way more time (even for small projects) than setting up a Classic project, as you can pre-set quite a lot of things in classic workflows.


But the worst thing was the inability to delete Smart projects. During the initial testing, we ended up with a few "dummy" projects and we couldn't make them go away. So we ere really happy get rid of them with the "Delete" feature.

+1

Didn't even know that! That would also be a deal breaker for us.

I think XTRF started Smart Projects as a way to quickly launch smaller, simpler projects and there are still many restrictions due to that original design philosophy (and, from what I understand these can never go away). 


Again, that would not be a problem if they had not stopped developing Classic Projects and they released the same new features to both. 

Smart Projects are built on different (newer) technology. It's not so easy to see it from the user perspective but Smart projects are totally different on the inside. 


Most of the cases the technology is the limitation why new features available in Smart Projects are not available in Classics. It's just not possible (or not efficient) to implement that with the classic technology.

It was deliberate to make classic and smart jobs look alike from the Vendor perspective. So they look the same for your Vendors, they don't even have to know if they are working on a Smart or Classic project.


+6

We understand that. At the same time, XTRF needs to understand users are not happy with the way things currently are. 


From what I have been told, development/new features for Classic Projects has stopped (and it is my understanding this has been the case since at least 2015). Only bug fixes will be provided.

So, since you only plan to develop Smart projects, you need to add all the missing features (such as multiple source languages, multiple tasks, ability to change customers after the project has been created, Memsource, integration, etc.) LSPs need to use Smart Projects in all scenarios, and give us an estimated schedule for that

Right now, there is very little information coming out of XTRF about their plans and that leaves us in a very difficult position since we have been waiting for 3 years to see if Smart Projects will catch up, all the while missing on some new features (such as drag & dropping files in the HP, rolling availability requests, preferred vendors, among others). 

+1

I agree completely.

Smart projects are built on a different technology, but not only that makes them different from the Classics, in some areas their approach to the project management is completely different. 

In some areas, Smart projects overlap with the Classic approach, but on others, there are differences on a general concept level. That is why some options (features) available in Classics might never be reflected in Smart.

Some scenarios might be operated in a completely different way in the Smart projects.

It's not possible to estimate when Smart Projects will be able to take over Classic because, for every client we have, that might be a different point.

A bit of a side comment. Technology changes, world changes at a pace that is sometimes hards to keep up.

Some scenarios we're looking at the moment might become irrelevant in the future.

+3

OK, but don't you think XTRF needs to let people know of these limitations? Shouldn't there be a list of things Smart Projects will never be able to do?
And then, if that list either very long or the features there are too important, shouldn't XTRF re-think about stopping development for Classic Projects? 

Just to make sure XTRF understands the 2 issues here, they are:
1) There has not been any detailed, public information on current and future plans for Smart and Classic Projects, which we need to make informed decisions on switching to Smart projects or even switching to a different PMS

2) You have created 2 different ways to perform the same task, but the new one is not good enough (and from what we understand it may never be for many people here) and you have abandoned development on the old one. That has left those who can only use Classic projects with a 3+ year old module while your competitors are catching up on the feature advantage you used to have.

+3

Couldn't agree more... But let me add:

3) Please make sure that existing functionality is as usable as it used to be in the previous releases.

We're developing the product, continuously. We don't know what it will not be able to do in the future.

+1

But you only just said:

"That is why some options (features) available in Classics might never be reflected in Smart."

Anyway, I guess this is not the thread for this conversation, but I am glad to see we are not the only ones unhappy with this situation.

+1

We are also facing the same issue with jobs not assigned after availability requests and have reported this as a bug. What happens is, there is a checkbox at the bottom of that page which controls more settings. One of those which controls the status of the workflow (started or accepted),  sometimes randomly reverts to unchecked.

So, you need to check if the setting has changed after each request to be sure the job will start. 

Wow, thanks for this info! I'll check with my PMs :)

+1

The full process is, you need to uncheck this box:

which will reveal the following settings:

And then when you click on settings, you need to make sure the checkbox is selected:



XTRF said they found out "the issue occurs when you pause between the saves" (not entirely sure what that means though).

WOW! I wouldn't say it's easy and straightforward :(

Thanks much for this!

The "Start Job after Provider Selection" setting comes from the definition of the workflow. You can select the default for that checkbox in the Times and Requests tab in the definition of the workflow.

@Aleksandros am I correct that there is an issue with that setting? Have you found out that even if this checkbox is selected in the definition of the workflow, it is not selected for a job in a Task (project)?

Yes, exactly. We have reported it and your development team is looking into it (reference XHD-20741).

By the way, I think it would be a good idea to have a "Reported bugs" page (even if only for registered users) so that a) we know something is a bug and there is nothing we are doing wrong and b) you are not getting multiple reports of the same issues.

It also seems that other settings defined in a workflow template do not copied to the actual workflow, for example the external system settings like Mapping need to be set manually.

We upgraded to 8 a few months ago and haven't really seen a difference in stability or usability. If anything our memoQ integration has improved significantly so I'm seeing quite the opposite.

Jaime

+1

We've found some bugs (vendor invoicing totals not showing, odd quirks with periodic jobs) but for the most part our upgrades have been pretty straightforward with no pushback from our PMs. 

And the ability to delete old projects or quotes has been very appreciated on our end.

Yep, you are right! I was also happy with the ability to delete smart projects.

+3

I think I'll have to agree that v7 and v8 came with too many problems for practically zero new features. They introduced tons of bugs in existing functionality which made the life of our PMs very difficult. Even worse was that XTRF was not able to fix those promptly and some would even come back in a next minor release.

+1

The eerie silence from XTRF's side since the GDPR-related update is concerning. Exciting and big news were promised, but on the program and features front, nothing much has really happened in 2018, outside of limited GDPR-specific actions. 

@XTRF: The user community might appreciate a bit more transparency as to what is happening behind the scenes. Updates keep on getting postponed and new user features seem to be a promise of the distant future. At least, that's how it feels. Correct me, if I'm wrong.

Speaking of GDPR functions: Is there any practical way to remove personal data from individuals other than going through them one by one? Can you call the delete function from a macro?

This actually is a bit annoying. I can't mass delete. It has to be one by one. I'd love to have a way to delete more than one a time.

Erasing personal data is available for a macro.

Under review

Hello All

First of all, we understand the frustration. XTRF is a complex system, I'm not using this as an excuse, but I'd like to keep in the big picture the fact that it is large and all internal dependencies cause that bugs are appearing and probably will appear in the future.

Internally we understand the significance of this area and since quite a while more and more of our internal resources is allocated to fixing bugs and better quality control of each released version. It doesn't mean that there will be no issues in the system, but we are doing a lot to limit their number and the scale of their impact on the system usage.

On the other hand, we need to keep a balance between the development of new system features and fixing existing issues. This is a situation where contradictory interests clashes together. Within this thread those two topics were mentioned, one hand, we have the number of issues that occur in the system and on the other concern about the speed of delivering new features.

Smart projects is the area where we place most of our development capacity, that's no secret. But when it comes to solving issues we want to fix them equally for Smart and Classic projects. In this case, Smart or Classic is not something that is considered to influence the priority of the bug. It's invariably the impacts it has for the system usage and the possibility of a workaround.

I know it sounds like a cliche but we really do appreciate every time You report an issue in the system. We can fix only what we're aware of. It might look that it takes ages to solve, especially when the description of an issue includes phrases like "sometimes", "from time to time" or in some cases". From a practical point of view, some issues are harder to fix than others.
Never the less we're working on that. So, if issues are still occurring, please keep reporting them.

+1

Hello Marek,

Thanks for this post! You are right, this post is about frustration, and I agree it makes it rather negative :)

I do understand that you focus on development of Smart projects, and in a way I agree, one day it may be a viable alternative to Classic projects.

I also understand that you cannot develop for "everyone", and I'm also fine if we as Classic project users don't get too many new features.

However, this post is about the lack of stability: we do expect you to keep existing functionality working, and not to introduce bugs into unchanged parts of the system.

Many of these issues are related to the user interface and I don't really understand how they could break from one release to another (considering that no development was done).
Version upgrades are always a risk and an opportunity at the same time. However, 4->5 and 5->6 version upgrades really brought in new features and limited number of bugs (which were fixed sooner or later), so we could consider them as an opportunity, not a risk.

With the latest one, it was just the opposite for us: nearly no new features, but breaking existing ones. We could cope with "nearly new features", but "breaking existing ones" is really frustrating, especially as there is no way back.


Despite this negative post, I still believe that XTRF is one of the most customizable systems out there, and we made a good decision 3 years ago when implemented it.

Any news on possible fixes? We are experiencing such crippling performance and usability issues that we soon need to roll back to version 6.

Hi, although we are not happy with some of the things discussed above, we are not experiencing any of the issues you mention. Can you be more specific? What are you performance issues? Are you on their cloud/shared plan or are you running this on your own server?

I have contacted XTRF support desk on all of these issues.