Project tools for product circle

I posted this in Organisational Operations. Discourse won’t let me duplicate it here . . so please read and discuss here in this circle.

I gave it another title here. There it was ‘Purpose of the Product circle’

Membership based on July 16 meeting:

Please fill in your availability for standing meetings (currently weekly).


Yes want to be a part of it :slight_smile: and also @Andreas from collective tools (we will take turns during the summer)


Edited my post to include you both :slight_smile:

Pls also have Andreas fill

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I voted. I can flex more than I filled in, but didn’t want to pre-empt other not-yet scheduled events @ Friday.

Thanks for setting up the time polls @benhylau :slight_smile:
Can we also create a shared space to work (i.e. a docs folder) in the Nextcloud for each group, so we can keep all our collaborative docs in one place - and maybe also some task management software, so we can start to develop processes to work asynchronously?
I’d probably also propose a telegram (or other chat) group for each Circle - as a means to ask quick questions etc. To me the forum and the wiki are not the best tools for small group collaboration.

I’d personally like to avoid meetings as much as possible, but am very keen to collaborate on the work… as and when I can. I’m actually not even sure we would need regular meetings for each circle if we are working together effectively asynchronously… probably we should only have meetings if there is a clear need / purpose for a meeting… as they use a huge amount of everyone’s time.
But I’m happy to join meetings when I can - if they are essential. I’m actually on holiday this week so may not be able to join - but will still try to check emails / telegram.


I created a Riot/matrix room (new generation, now called Element/matrix) for the Work Organisation group. Riot will do the Telegram job, and give us a better interface too as well as free software and bridges to other networks.!
After trying this out, Product/services circle room can be created too.
You’re not in Riot @osb ? Have invited you and @wouter. All the tech infr circle folks are in Riot/IRC I think?

I think that’s a good option. I am very happy with Nextcloud’s doc management, but co-writing content (comment and suggestion mode) of onlyoffice is still pretty broken and I’ve had to use gdoc for other projects. Understanding obvious concerns some members have with google, I am happy to use nextcloud for this. I think there is already one?

I would ask that the entire org shares the same structure, so not every WG has their own thing.

Hypha uses GitHub for this and GitHub Teams per Working Group (Circle) for membership management. I have several other projects using this workflow, or simplified versions of it.

Some may have concerns using GitHub, I cannot use Wekan, happy to use Trello or if GitLab has a project board?

I expect we’ll need regular meetings until end-Aug then it can become biweekly or monthly. Right now I do not see enough coherence to work together effectively asynchronously. So I guess the “clear need” here is to establish shared practices and domains of responsibility.

I think we should use the same practice as the existing group aka. make an IRC room that gets auto bridged to Matrix. From there it’s not difficult to bridge Telegram, WhatsApp or whatever in the future.

Later on, we may need shared calendar, password manager, etc. but I’d consider those future problems.

@benhylau d’you feel HackMD is a viable option? I haven’t used their commenting and their document management is rudimentary, not a proper file system, just a list. But it has work teams. Markdown might be a bit ‘marmite’? I like it myself. offers Deck as its Trello/Wekan kanban-type tool @petter @Andreas is this part of the NextCloud toolset, or an independent instance you host @

I like markdown a lot, and especially in combination of jekyll. The pipe goes like this:

  1. Co-draft in open-edit hackmd using markdown, make a newline per sentence
  2. Copy and paste the plaintext into jekyll repo, now under source control and every future change is diff’d

I don’t use hackmd’s navigation thing, it’s hacky af and prone to mistakes. It’s a throwaway pad that holds in-progress content that will make its way into jekyll. That’s why I am pushing for jekyll in the website thread, it makes the pipeline and division of labour a lot smoother (marketers author content, designers control layout).

Where hackmd fails in drafting is a doc that needs extensive review and wordsmithing. In a grant proposal we’d have 10 ppl each making 10 suggestions, hackmd has no way of coordinating that.

I joined the Riot - which looks like a good instant chat solution.
I hear the concerns about Nextcloud - but think we should try it…
Happy to go with whichever task management option others think is best

I would ask that the entire org shares the same structure, so not every WG has their own thing.


I expect we’ll need regular meetings until end-Aug then it can become biweekly or monthly. Right now I do not see enough coherence to work together effectively asynchronously. So I guess the “clear need” here is to establish shared practices and domains of responsibility.



Broken how? I’ve found it to be OK myself, but haven’t used it that much, so may not have found it glitches.

Personally I find Hack/CodiMD, EtherPad etc to be pretty unusable on mobile.

My favourite collaborative text editor is actually Nextcloud Text. It’s WYSYWIG markdown and works well on mobiles.

Just out of interest, why not? :slight_smile:

I like it myself (but I’m not directly involved, just a lurker, supporter and future customer/ member) :slight_smile:

Everyone having access to everything makes sense, but within that having a folder per circle sounds sensible to me.

It does:

Yeah, that’s Nextcloud Deck. It’s pretty basic, but does have an Android Mobile App (which is something it has over WeKan, although WeKan in the browser isn’t too bad imho).


There’s a broad UI issue here which I’d like to take to Open App Ecosystem in Loomio, if you agree @jdaviescoates. I can raise it anyway, but it could be good to pick up this concrete issue together there . . regarding just what kind of priority exists, around apps working on mobiles . . given that their operating system/UI is intrinsically thinner (fewer degrees of freedom) than OSs with keyboards and some kind of touch/gesture too. So . . under what circumstances is mobile ‘better’? This is basically an economic issue I think, about poverty and economic privilege. Hiding under a network issue (bandwidth, absence of networks) and a ‘consumer preference’? Whatever . . an issue to develop in OAE. I would say.

It’s the suggestion mode writing that was the problem. A couple groups I trialed this with eventually switch back to gdocs, and the biggest one was when we almost lost ~40h of work we spent on a grant proposal here

We explored the technical issue a bit and it seems collab parallel writing is just not well supported.

It it’s markdown based I am happy enough, and integration with nextcloud is a plus.

re: Wekan, it was a couple years back when I tried it but it lacked basic features like search, tagging, notifications, email notifications, filtering, teams, permission management, etc. I don’t know how it is today, but at the time the project didn’t have a promising roadmap to these features. If you have better experience I am open to try.

Yes that is what I mean, just to preserve ppl’s attention and not to limit access. One day we may have a privileged directory with customer private information, but I think we can do without for now.

re: GitLab project board I’d like love to try that, esp since Technology Operations is alrdy working in that space. It will require us to have an account on the gitlab instance though. One path is for to join webarchitects and make emails for each contributor who needs edit access. idk what @chris thinks about that.

Alternatively we can use Nextcloud Deck, which may be shortest path to get a basic structure set up.


  • Nextcloud for content store
  • Nextcloud Deck for task tracker
  • Nextcloud WYSYWIG markdown for drafting / hackmd as temp pads
  • Matrix <> IRC for chat
  • GitLab for Technology Operations only

This is looking good to me :+1:

me too I subscribe to that combination as a good start.
Of course I could rant about the limitations of NC Deck and that Phabricator is really much better for organising tasks between networked teams, but also more complex. So let’s not, it is already a bunch of tools :wink:

I would hope though that this Forum is our key communication medium, where we can/should of course organise it in better structured categories and so, but it has both public and private options, which I think is necessary sometimes. And only in certain moments we should need chats like Matrix. (I’m there, but try to not be there too much ;-))

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this Forum is our key communication medium

I accept this. But I must say I don’t find Discourse (eg categories) easy to navigate - or to post in, for that matter. For example, picking up an issue in one thread (eg webarchitects) and taking it over into others (both product circle and organisation circle). No perfect set of tools I guess. My own sense is that Element/Riot/IRC is a more helpfully organised medium for focused current matters. But yes, keeping things public (ie forum) is a core principle.

Time for the circle meeting, reposted from the Element/Riot room . .

Circle meeting - the poll highlights Friday 11-12am BST. Five can participate.

@Andreas are not present in that room. Received your invitation Andreas?

I have put this as the thread’s event. Unfortunately I cannot make it recurring.

@mikemh what do you think about renaming these “Purpose of” threads to something like “Product Circle organizing” so that’s the name that shows when we add to calendar? Your call.