A quote from Anil Dash’s article about Fog Creek’s new project management tool, Manuscript:

Be opinionated: Manuscript has a strong point of view about what makes for good software, building in best practices like assigning each case to a single person. That means you spend less time in meetings where people are pointing fingers at each other.

Here is my opinion: if you want to talk about opinionated software (which, by the way, is a concept that I do agree with, even when I disagree with the specific opinions), then own it. Don’t start covering your ass in group legitimacy (before that sentence has even ended!) by saying that your opinions are actually a “best practice”.

Dash does, at least, try to explain why people would feel that individual assignment is a best practice, an opinion worth having. But geeze, that explanation: we’ll avoid finger pointing by making sure that each case has the name of the person you should point a finger at? How does that work exactly?

Don’t get me wrong: he’s got a coherent point of view. As far as I can tell, he believes in primarily optimizing for individual developer productivity. And yeah, if I preferred to work that way, I’d want to assign tasks to individuals, too. But say that, don’t talk in the abstract about best practices.


Though, looking at Manuscript’s feature list, I see no evidence at all that it’s actually opinionated software, so probably the “best practice” empty phrasing is closer to the truth. Take their section on Scrum:

Construct and plan iterations from existing cases. Create milestones for your backlog, sprints, doing and done — or any other structure your team or project needs. Customize each project’s structure to match your ideal Agile or Scrum workflow.

Followed soon by this wishy-washiness:

Estimates can be added to cases from the planning screen, and if you prefer story points, then you can switch between hours and story points too.

And there’s a Kanban section too. So: use Scrum, use Kanban, use your own homegrown process, use hour estimates, use point estimates. Do anything you want, we’ll be happy to support it! (At least as long as what you want to do doesn’t include pair programming, I guess.)

Dash’s article quotes a tweet with the following lament about Jira:

Why are you customizable to a fault, except in the ways I want you to be?

But isn’t that exactly what the above bits from the Manuscript feature list are promising as well?


Ah well; not a big surprise to be disappointed by marketing for enterprise task management software…

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