Introducing Hypertext: “@” links for Projects, Tasks, People, and Tags

Kris Rasmussen

Asana is building a new way for groups to communicate and coordinate. We have designed our app to combine the flexibility of a piece of paper with the structure and intelligence of a digital brain. In support of this goal, Asana already offers multiple ways to connect items in a Workspace: Tasks can simultaneously live in multiple Projects, have multiple people as followers, and be connected across Projects by Tags.

But there are often more subtle relationships between Tasks, Projects, and People. We wanted a way to capture these nuanced relationships and make the process of establishing them happen at the speed of thought.

Introducing Hypertext

Hypertext is a new Asana feature that makes it lightning fast to create links between any two things in a Workspace. Just type “@” into any note or comment, and instantly search for Tasks, Projects, People, or Tags. Select the item you want, and Asana inserts a link to that item into the note or comment. While you’re commenting on a task, @-mention a teammate, and they’ll be automatically added as a follower and receive your comment.

Hypertext makes adding context easy, fluid, and flexible, enabling you to link to Tasks, Projects, People, and Tags nearly as fast as you can type. With Hypertext, you don’t have to forward long email threads to give your teammates the context they need. You don’t have to copy and paste URLs from one Task to another. You just type “@” and link. Hypertext gives you a new way to connect information inside Asana and lets you navigate these connections with a single click.

When will I use Hypertext?

Hypertext increases both the flexibility and the structure of Asana. There are dozens of ways you might use it. Here are just a few:

Linking to Tasks

Linking from one Task another is a great way to highlight related Tasks, point out dependencies, close out duplicates and link follow-up Tasks back to richer sources of information. You could, for example, capture a customer interview in the notes of one Task and link future tasks back to the that interview. You could link a feature you’re working on back to the customer request that inspired it. You could link a task to publish a blog post announcing a feature to the task to launch the feature, as seen here:

Linking to Projects

Linking from a Task to a Project is a great way to connect a high-level task to the Project that contains the execution details. This is great for sprint planning. You can also link Tasks to Projects to highlight dependencies between them.

Linking to People

Linking to a Person from a comment is the fastest way to bring him or her into the loop. You can also use links to People to direct comments:

Hypertext’s Future

The introduction of Hypertext is just the beginning. In the future, you’ll be able to view all of the Tasks that link to the current Task, enabling you to see dependencies, duplicates, and related Tasks at a glance. Hypertext will enable your team to represent and navigate the relationships between Tasks, Projects, People, and ideas in ways that haven’t been possible before. Ultimately, you’ll achieve your goals more quickly, and be even more empowered to do great things.

  1. avatarClay

    Thank you for this! Now I can keep my internal links within a single browser window, and it’s easy to spoof subtasks while waiting for a more integrated solution.

    Cheers! :)

  2. avatarMatt

    Hey guys, great new feature. Just thought I’d point out here that the RSS feed doesn’t have a name/title. When I added the feed to Reeder for Mac, it pulls in the feed fine but does not display the name of the feed, i.e. Asana Blog

  3. avatarAsh Menon

    I love that you guys are continuously thinking “How can we make this even better.” It’s really inspiring to see such a project blossom, especially since I was here since the beta period.

  4. avataropher

    Awesome! How about using current task number to link to that task? IE @123 translates to the current task numbered 123 (and still maintain this link even if the number changes). That would be much faster than searching by name

  5. avatarMohammed

    Is this currently live already for all or will be rolled out? As it doesn’t seem to work for me at the moment?

    Also now that this is done, any news on the iPhone Mobile App update, subtasks feature and coloured labels?

  6. avatarKris Asana Team Member

    Opher, clever suggestion! We will consider that in the future.

    Mohammed, it should be rolled out for everyone already however you may need to reload your browser to get the latest version of the code. If that doesn’t work, please write to support@asana.com and we’ll help you figure out what’s wrong.

  7. avatarMike

    Wow, it’s like you read my mind or something: just before I saw the strip at the top of the page that called this feature out, I was poking around for a “permalink” to an individual task. I have now found it. Thanks for continuing to innovate!

  8. avatarShannon

    Hypertexting to create traditional links out to external web apps and sites would be useful. Imagine if your team were collaborating on Google docs in a Google drive. It would simplify the sign-in process….. I’d be the first to use it!

  9. avatarBranden Silva

    Great idea and I love it.

    My only recommendation would to be to have it auto complete with a tab. Right now you have to hit “enter” to do this which makes me think of accidentally submitting a comment before I’ve completed it.

    Seeing how tab is used a lot throughout the app, this seems like a good spot for it as well.

    Example:

    Going out with @Ann (auto completes and @ links Anne Hathaway) tonight to show off Asana! (to submit comment)

  10. avatarBranden Silva

    Last comment didn’t accept my key enters.

    Example:

    Going out with @Ann (Hit tab key. Auto completes and @ links Anne Hathaway) tonight to show off Asana! (Hit enter key. to submit comment)

  11. avatarkris Asana Team Member

    Colin, I’m sorry your having trouble typing emails. The hypertext feature is only supposed to activate if you type an ‘@’ that is not preceded by a space. We did this to make typing emails easier. Could you please let me know which browser your using if that is not the case?

    You can hit escape on your keyboard to exit the hypertext dropdown and keep typing as normal.

  12. avatarkris Asana Team Member

    Branden, I’ll add a task to look into auto-completing on tab in addition to enter to our Asana project for hypertext.

  13. avatarPat Erler

    Nice Idea, but It bothers me a bit, that the @ is removed. Mainly we use @Paul to ask a question in a status update (@Paul: Can you check please?) – without the @ “Paul” is just a link and you don’t know if it is referring to Paul or asking a question.

    But this is minor. Keep up!

  14. avatarWill

    Nothing happens for me on Chrome not sure if this is rolled out to everyone or just stopped working after a day ( see another comment above me saying not working on the 8th )

  15. avatarNiall

    This only seems to work with a US keyboard layout in Windows – ie with it set to EN-US, shift-2 then gives a hint that hyperlinks are available; with the layout set to EN-UK, the @ is shift-‘ (apostrophe) and nothing happens.
    Disappointing that this means faffing about with the language bar and remembering where the @ is on a US keyboard.

  16. avatarHalima

    Works like a charm – I just spent a few minutes looking for a task earlier while on a call, now I can link to it for all users to see. Fantastic ! Thanks a lot guys !

    Now, let’s have that multi-ownership feature for tasks and I’ll be as happy as an Asanian can get :)

  17. avatarChristopher

    Excellent feature, but sadly not working for me either. I’m using latest versions of Chrome and Firefox. UK Keyboard layout. Also tried cleared my cache.

  18. avatarMarc

    Excellent addition and working fine here on my Swiss German keyboard on the current chrome version.
    What could be enhanced is the turnaround time cause the refreshing of the list or the box showing up at all take a fair amount of time despite this being a Core i7 2011MBP

  19. avatarMoore

    Doesn’t work for me either in the UK, after refreshing, logging out and closing down my Chrome browser. Sad face :(

  20. avatarBrian

    I don’t know if anyone else made this suggestion, but when you click through to a linked task, it would be nice to see in that task if anything linked to it, to get the full context. for example, Task 1 links to Task 3. When I arrive at Task 3, it would be nice to see the inbound link from Task 1 (tasks/objects are “link aware” somehow)

  21. avatarRyan Porter

    Love this!!! Great to see Asana getting these bonus feature that make it that much better!

    Suggestion: allow us to delete users last name in an “@” tag.

  22. avatarAlex

    Great feature. Right now I place links to a related tasks in comments, where they are converted into clickable task name. Would these links also be included in upcoming feature, that would list all tasks, that reference this one and via-versa?

  23. avatarAziz Syed

    Its really helpful. Now I don’t have to copy paste the URL of tasks when referencing.

    Keep up the good work guys!

  24. avatarZiko

    Fantastic! I’ve been looking forward to something like this. I can set commonalities and dependencies **without depending on a rigid structure**
    Love it.

  25. avatarTillmanZ

    Great feature!
    But I do have to report that on a Mac running Chrome 21 with German keyboard it doesn’t (yet) work.

  26. avatarColin

    Kris:

    Thanks, what I wanted to enter is something like *@gmail.com. It enables hyper-text. I tried the Esc key and it works great!

  27. avatarkris Asana Team Member

    For all of you having issues with non US keyboard layouts, we apologize for the inconvenience. We will look into making this a smoother experience for you as soon as possible.

  28. avatarMike Walsh

    Very clever – its like a reversal of Facebook putting the task rather than the person at the center of the activity universe.

  29. avatarMatt Hixson

    I really appreciate how you guys have continuously evolved things. You can tell there is a mentality of continuous deployment with little changes and always looking to bring in new features. Thanks

  30. avatarTom L

    How does this work if you are contributing to a conversation via email? I’m guessing it’s not possible to make these links, which would be a big shame, as in most of my projects 90% of the comments come from email.

  31. avatarFelix

    NOT WORKING!
    Using German-Keyboard and Chrome latest version…

    Nevertheless thanks for this wonderful tool!!! Keep up that awesome work!
    Thank You!

  32. avatarKris Asana Team Member

    Tom, if your contributing via email you can still include links to projects, tasks, people, etc and they will be turned into the actually names of the objects when viewed in Asana. In fact, you can also enter asana links inside asana and they will be converted to the name of the object as soon as your cursor moves away.

  33. avatarprabhakar s

    Kris,

    Its already great, but just my 2 cents…

    1. Editable Comments. I believe we can just delete posted comments right.
    2. Rich Text Editor for Comments Box.

    I dont know if I am using it the right way, but we tend to use the comments box for Notes related to the task. And it helps to have a Rich Text Editor.

  34. avatarPhilippe

    Great!!!
    Next step if possible, display a completed task differently from others (strike-through, gray, green,italic) just show-off somehow.
    Would be so awesome solution for sub-task-like solution

    1. avatarRaj

      I agree. Several members of my team have said that instead of greying out and getting removed from the task group, a strikethrough option ONLY would be welcome ;) Or can this already be done?

  35. avatarRaphael Gluck

    If you add a file, say an image to a task, and then have lots of comments back and forth, but you want to reference the image at one stage,
    Wouldnt it be a good idea to allow @image to refernce the uploaded file?

    1. avatarClair Melville-Brown

      I Need this function as a designer I often send files to people so I need to be able to reference a particular one a comment

  36. avatarJS

    Now get make an android app and this would be THE best. (The HTML5 is nice, but doesn’t cut it…too slow…has to download each item every time.)

  37. avatarPete

    File sharing . . . I’d LOVE to see this tied in with box.net or dropbox teams so I can share files in Asana tasks with team members.

  38. avatarTillmanZ

    Just saw that you guys pushed another build (had to reload) but wanted to let you know that the new @ feature is still not working with German keyboards.
    I will keep on trying each morning… ;-)

  39. avatarEdwin Yip | dev of LIVEditor

    Great! Asana is awesome, I’m now using it to plan and track the development of my soon-in-beta new text editor (http://liveditor.com, with a Firebug-like UI for tweaking css/html/js in realtime).

  40. avatarMatt

    This is useful, but I sure wish you’d fix the problem of a consolidated task list across workspaces. People that work on multiple teams needs this to make the product efficient to manage their work.

  41. avatarStéphane V

    Didn’t work for me… I cleared the cache but I don’t have anything when I hit the @ and then some letters…

    What should be done to get this functionnality ?

    ps : another great functionnality should be to set a percentage of completeness f the task with the keyboard such as typing @50% , or @+10% ;-)

    1. avatarStéphane V

      I read in the comments that they may be some troubles with french keyboards… it is my case, also… so perhaps is the @ not correctly detected ??

        1. avatarMohammed

          fubles.com’s workaround is working fine

          “I’ve found a workaround that could/should work for every european layout (tested under windows/italian layout): type the ‘@’ sign then press alt-2″

          i can confirm that this works using a UK layout : )

  42. avatarChristian Perry

    Once again, a lovely feature that makes a post-email reality closer by the day. This is a wonderfully flexible and powerful addition to Asana. Keep it up!

  43. avatarDerrick

    very awesome new feature. One suggestion for a small improvement: being able to link to task or project attachments within the comments “Hey Kris, check out this document here @LinkToFile.” That’d be extra awesome

  44. avatarPierre Emmanuel

    Hello guys,

    I’m trying to convice my organisation to switch to Asana as soon as possible, it’s a great tool so far!

    As others did before, i’ll point out just 2 issues :
    – the links doesnt work on french keyboards (but i just read you’re working on it, thanks!)
    – As I followed your (very interesting) CRM tutorial, i would definitely need to link my CRM database/workspace (1 project/people) to the tasks workspace. That would just save us an incredible amount of time.

    When do you think those features would be available? So i know if i have to find another solution for now, or should i wait a little bit ?

  45. avatarMohammed

    Ok this STILL does not work in the UK using a UK keyboard layout, if I mash a bunch of “” @@ “@ randomly it does appear bu in a none functional kind of way

  46. avatarfubles.com

    I’ve found a workaround that could/should work for every european layout (tested under windows/italian layout): type the ‘@’ sign then press alt-2. The hypertext searcher should now appear.

  47. avatarJim

    I would suggest you use the ~ (tilde) charachter to trigger this feature rather than the @ charachter. The @charachter is in many email addresses and is also used commonly for things like 10.5 gallons @ 3.59 a gallon.

    This would make this awesome new feature even more awesomer.

    Thanks so much for this site you all “get” it

  48. avatarfrank

    thanks to fubles, too! better than switching to us and back again.
    but still too much typing to get a working link. shouldn’t be that difficult to implement that, is it?!?

  49. avatarMvif

    bahut sahi…Neeta ji ekdam sahi baat kahi… aur ekdam sahi mudda uthaya… ajaakal is net ke chakkar mei to pata nahi sabhi ko kya ho gaya hai…n specially females ka to aise logon se yunhi pala padta rahta hai…

  50. avatarTillman Zschucke

    Still nothing with Chrome 21 (Mac) and a German keyboard.
    Any indication when this will work for us “non-US” keyboard users?

  51. avatarTony West

    This is an interesting extension and reminiscent of Lotus Agenda (vintage groupware). Agenda had the concept of “Views” where every item which was tagged with designated keywords appeared. The powerful thing was that, if you changed the designated keywords, Agenda would “re-scan” the entire object space to rebuild all the views. This meant that you didn’t have to know all the possible tags you might one day want to use in advance. I’d be happy to talk to you about this if you like…

  52. avatarKris Rasmussen Asana Team Member

    Hypertext should now work when you type the “@” symbol on all keyboard layouts. Please let us know if you continue to have any issues!

    There are some keyboard layouts that do not have the “@” symbol. For those, you will need to switch to a layout that does have the symbol and then switch back.

  53. avatarAaron Gibralter

    Are the links in comments supposed to remain as actually links. I always find that after picking a person, the link disappears and the text becomes normal, unclickable text.

  54. avatarDave Benton

    Grateful I found this feature but one thing that would help tremendously is if I could see the linked child tasks from the parent not just the child to the parent. Any chance you’re working on this and/or have a timeline for implementation?

      1. avatarJan Hubka

        As was mentioned in text above by fubles.com
        “I’ve found a workaround that could/should work for every European layout (tested under windows/Italian layout): type the ‘@’ sign then press alt-2. The hypertext searcher should now appear.”

        All you have to do is enter @ sign by short cut CTRL + ALT + V or ALT + 64. Once the symbol will appear, simply press ALT + 2 (You must press number 2 not form numeric keyboard but form numbers above the letters).
        AND THAT’S IT!

      2. avatarFederico Calore

        If you are using a Mac instead, you can use a very similar workaround: after you’ve typed the @, press ctrl+2, and the search filter will appear.
        Tested on a MacBook + italian keyboard layout.

        @Asana, it would be nice if this would work on not-US keyboards without the need of this clumsy workaround, though.
        Or at least, edit the post and add the heads up; I spent some time before figuring out why it was not working…

  55. avatarTim T-L

    Great feature!
    I would love to be able to use hypertext in subtasks in addition to notes and comments. Same with hyperlinks to external URLs in subtasks.

  56. avatarAndrea Moretti

    it still does not work on Italian layout, neither pressing @ and ALT+2
    with USA layout it works well, but is annoying having to switch.

  57. avatarBen

    Hi !

    First of, great job on Asana !

    Would it be possible to mention attachments ?
    Like there’s a bunch of comments to a task, people attach random pictures as they discuss and I want to mention a specific picture/attachment from the project related to my comment.

    That would be pretty amazing…

    Thanks !
    ben

  58. avatardanit

    I agree, it would be VERY useful to @mention attachments.
    Currently, to reference an attachment in a different task the experience is:
    – In a task, we have to @mention a task and then tell people which attachment they should manually look for inside that task, and then they must come back to the original task.
    It would be great if instead of that we could just:
    – In a task, @mention any attachment

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