Linking multiple cards together in a custom breadcrumb/table of contents macro

Related products: Navigation and Search

  • What is the problem?

As we migrate content into Guru, we are dividing larger pages into individual cards that are related to the same topic.  For example, we have one long page that goes over navigation of a core system that has been divided into 11 cards.  These cards are located in a section within a board and all the cards in that section relate to that product, and there are many many cards for various processes related to the product.

Another example would be a long process guide that can be broken into multiple steps by putting each step on its own card, but that presents a problem if the process needs to be followed step by step--users would either have to know where to find the next step in the hierarchy, search for it, or we have to manually link all the steps to one another, which is a huge lift.  Even more of a lift if you have a process with branching paths or that you can jump around in.  E.g. If x, do 1; if y, do 2.  If z does not apply, skip to step 7.

  • Who is it a problem for?

Both users and knowledge managers.  For users it makes it difficult to correctly follow processes and for KMs it make it difficult to create and manage cards--any time you change one step you’d have to edit all of the cards to account for removing one piece of the process.

  • How do you solve the problem today?

Obviously the entire process is on one page today.  But for really long processes that’s not how Guru is meant to work.

If we had broken out a process like this in Confluence, in the instance of a normal company each part of the process would be in the sidebar in its own “folder” page.  The folder page would contain the “children display” macro which would automatically list out the steps in a table of contents for users to navigate through and each page would only need to link back to that page which would keep the table of contents up to date as any of the steps changed, without any need to manually rework the links on any of the individual pages.

At Upstart, the way we would solve this problem would be to pull a JQL query of the Jira keys associated with those pages (by using metadata located on the Jira issues) and insert a Jira table into each page that links users through the process step by step.  The query would automatically keep the breadcrumb of related pages up to date.  None of the pages have to be next to each other in the sidebar, and users who search for and find any of the pages would easily be able to see how to navigate to the step they need.

  • How would you ideally solve the problem?

I have several thoughts:

  1. The ability to select cards in the Card Manager and “associate” them with each other on a more effective/specific level than just through title and tags.  This could then be used for my other suggestions below.
  2. A table of contents macro that lets users selectively pick which cards in a section should be included (or which group of associated cards in the Card Manager should be included), so that all the cards related to one process could be connected that way.
  3. A custom breadcrumb macro that can be inserted into the page and allows users to similarly select which card in a section comes “next” in a process.  This would also need to allow for branching paths or allow users to look ahead if they need to skip steps.

By having an overarching associated group to draw on, macros inserted into the cards would automatically be kept up to date if a step in the process was removed or a new step was added--the knowledge managers would simply have to create the new step as its own card, add it to the associated group in the Card Manager, and then update the numbers of the other steps to account for it (or vice versa for removing a step).  Rather than having to update the individual links to the other 15 cards in order to manually build a link tree to each step on every card.

  • How big is the problem (business impact, frequency of impact etc.)?

This would be a big help when it comes to user navigation.  An absolute game changer for the functionality of Guru’s system.  Very high business impact on a daily basis.

It’s messy to create a separate section for every single process and still doesn’t solve the problem of users being able to navigate to the next step in one click from wherever they start their search.  Even if we put the process in its own dedicated section, you can’t put content on the section heading so we’d still be manually maintaining links on each individual card.  And there are only so many levels of hierarchy available in Guru, so in my opinion having to put all the cards in individual sections defeats the intention behind Guru of small, digestible pieces of information being presented, along with the notion that the search feature is superior and more user friendly.  If a user has to click to the section level of the breadcrumb to then get to the next step in the process, they won’t.  They’ll try searching or just simply not know that there is another step after the one they just completed, putting a lot of extra work on knowledge management to maintain this content.

Creation of this feature would make the flat taxonomy available in Guru search/widget more robust while simplifying the hierarchical taxonomy of the web version.

The interesting part here is the idea of “branching paths” as you mentioned. The “logic tree” concept has been typically reserved for building ie: Google Forms, Typeforms, etc, but having an easy to use, customizable pathway of card sequences in longer processes seems invaluable, especially scenarios with multiple possible outcomes.

This is a clever game changer in knowledge management, and I’m sure virtually every active Guru user could benefit from this flexibility.

Awesome idea.