Well Planner is finally in released, and after a rocky few months its shaping up pretty well. For those of you who've not played with the Office 365 early access apps this is the next in a long-line of innovations from Microsoft cloud services.
The Planner launch-icon appeared not long ago, and introduced a task-oriented new site skin, over the top of Groups and Document Collaboration site.
The new site and setup is quick, easy and Planner provides nice and clean interface for creating and coordinating tasks and activities. Not as overloaded as Project, and not as underdeveloped as a Project team-site. It includes a kanban-style groups for tasks and activities and great summary tracking data in a nice-visual manner.
Task Management - KanBan
As with the early Outlook Groups, this is a click-to-setup approach which means its easy and quick to get into. Click on the specific workspaces (Group sites) on the left and you get summary views on what is a nice new skin over an old SharePoint site concept - Document Collaboration site, but making use of Outlook email alias, Calendar and Exchange online for synchronisation. It makes good use of basics...
BUT that's where it falls over. The user experience becomes hideously jarring as you crash-back into SP13 UI for the library, and OneNote notebook. Damn shame really.
The other area of disappointment is the complete lack of forethought in operational managment of these things. Planner and Outlook Groups sites spin up unlisted SharePoint site-collections in your tenent.
Yep - Unlisted. They can be seen from the URL where they are created - SharePoint/sites/xxxxxxx, but the site template is tightly controlled - to the point where (today) you can't apply your own defaults for surfacing content in a managed way in Search apps etc. Its the Microsoft Search bucket or nothing.
Unlisted also means it doesn't currently register in the Administration Centre view for SharePoint tenent - so we do not know if these sites count against the amount of storage we are allocated for SharePoint Online.
Fortunately there is a published roadmap on the Office 365 site, which indicates some degree of operational sensability is ahead - and the speed of which it has improved over the last 6 months bodes-well.
So in my opinion it's a great start, and will become a great app/tool in the suite in the near future - so keep it in mind and start reviewing it now - just keep in mind it's not in the best shape for BAU yet.