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5 Zenhub Tips and Tricks
Agile & Product Management

Five pro tips and tricks to take Zenhub to the next level

All the *amazing* features aside, Zenhub really just wants to do one thing: help developers, not let project management get in the way of coding. We put a lot of work into making sure it does exactly that, and all its major features help to support that goal.

But we weren’t just doing that in broad strokes. The nitty-gritty of Zenhub is just as powerful. However, not every small-but-mighty capability may have jumped right out at you when you first got started.  

So, we’ve put together a few of our favorite “pro” tips and tricks to help you and your teams get the most out of Zenhub. Not only will these tips make developers’ lives easier, but they’ll help Zenhub itself function even better overall. 

Alright, let’s get started!

Multi-issue planning poker

Everyone knows and loves planning poker. If you’ve been in Zenhub for a while, you may have invited some teammates to a planning poker session for a single issue. But did you know you can request a planning poker session for multiple issues at the same time? It’s not always super obvious for Zenhub newbies, so we’ll show you how:

  1. Go to your Zenhub board
  2. Press the “Shift” key on your keyboard. This will give you the ability to select multiple issues at the same time. Select every issue you wish to request a planning poker session for. 
  3. Then click “Set Estimate” in the top right corner.
  4. Select “Start Planning Poker” from the Set Estimate screen at the bottom of the pop-up screen.
  5. Select all the participants you wish to join the planning poker session. 

That’s it! And you don’t even have to send a reminder to your team because Zenhub will send them an email notification when it’s time to plan. The big advantage of multi-issue planning poker is that it multiplies all the awesome benefits of planning poker – including more accurate story point estimates and less time meeting to discuss issues – across multiple issues simultaneously. It also makes it so much easier for your team to fit a bulk-estimating session into their day, as they’ll be notified of all their estimation tasks at once. 

Multi-repository boards

Having a single source of truth and streamlining project views effectively improve focus. Zenhub leverages this idea with multi-repository boards so you can pull multiple repositories (both private and public) into one board instead of bouncing between them.

If someone else set up your workspace for you or you have a new repo you’re using, you may not have noticed this capability in Zenhub, but you can add or remove repositories to a board at any time. Here’s how:

  1. Click on your workspace name in the top left corner. This will reveal all workspaces in your organization. 
  2. Hover over the workspace you want to add repositories to. Click “edit.”
  3. Under “Connected repositories,” click “+ Add repos.” From here, you can add or remove any repositories you have access to in GitHub (provided you’ve connected a GitHub account that has access to those repos.)

For more information on connecting Zenhub to GitHub, check out this article on connecting Zenhub to GitHub. 

Filtering workspaces and collapsing pipelines

So, you’ve brought multiple repositories into one workspace, but now the board is a bit cluttered. For that, there’s advanced board filtering, which, though you may already be using it, is a hugely underused feature. 

If too many repos is the issue (or you just need to focus on one) you can filter by repo in the top left corner of your Zenhub board. If you’re more interested in a single branch of work, you can always filter by GitHub label, release, Epic or milestone. To further streamline things, you can also look only at a specific sprint to avoid looking at irrelevant issues. Personally, I always have my board set to “Assignee – myself” and the current sprint by default to keep things clean. All these filters usually stick around, so make sure you’re always filtering what’s necessary.

Another great way to keep your board cleaner is by collapsing or expanding pipelines. For example, I rarely look at my Icebox pipeline. Because of this, I choose to keep that pipeline collapsed so it’s still accessible, but the work in it is not visible.  

Here’s how to collapse/expand pipelines: 

  1. Hover over the pipeline you wish to expand/collapse.
  2. Select either the expand or collapse arrows.

Note – “Expand” has two settings. There’s the regular-size pipeline and extra wide, which is ideal for more frequently used pipelines that you wish to see in a larger format.

Automate pull requests to close issues

Closing out issues often feels like tedious busywork that takes away from the more important things in life, like love, happiness, and, well, coding. And that can make it easy for issue-updating to be forgotten.

When issues aren’t closed right away, it makes other tools like burndown reports and velocity less accurate and makes it harder for stakeholders to tell how much progress is made, where blockers are, what resources are needed, etc. 

Thankfully, there’s a better way. In GitHub and Zenhub, you can link issues to pull requests to automatically close issues when a pull request closes. Here’s a simple way to do it so it’s reflected in both Zenhub and GitHub: 

  1. Select a pull request in GitHub
  2. In the body of the Pull Request description field, type the command “Closes #___” and then add the issue number you wish to attach. This leverages GitHub’s closing keywords feature. 
  3. Click “Create pull request.” 

That’s it! You’re issues are now linked to that PR both in Zenhub and GitHub, and you will no longer need to manually connect them, and the issues will automatically close when the PR is closed.

Zenhub Issues: keep non-technical users working close

This is a brand-new Zenhub feature, so you may be unfamiliar. Basically, you can now create two types of issues. The first is a GitHub Issue, and it will work the way you’re used to: it’s reflected in both GitHub and Zenhub. The new kind is a Zenhub Issue, which only lives in Zenhub. 

The Zenhub Issue is ideal for team members that aren’t working in GitHub but still want to collaborate with developers – think product managers, marketing and design, customer service, etc. We introduced this feature because we heard from a lot of teams that they like Zenhub so much some users were buying GitHub licenses for team members that weren’t even using GitHub! 

By separating them out, non-technical users can plan and track projects alongside developers without needing to pay for GitHub licenses or have unnecessary access to repositories – a big win for security. 

To take advantage of this feature, simply:

  1. Go to your Zenhub board and hit the “+” button beside “Create a GitHub Issue.” 
  2. This will give you the option to “Create Zenhub Issue.” 

Note – Zenhub Issues will NOT appear in GitHub, so it’s advised that you only use this feature for non-development work. 

Work better together in Zenhub

As a purpose-built Agile tool for GitHub, Zenhub has a lot of ins and outs that are best learned by working with it. If you’re already in Zenhub but would like more help configuring your board and getting the full value out of all its features, schedule an onboarding session with one of our customer success representatives here.

If you haven’t tried Zenhub yet, grab your team and give a free trial a go.

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