Entering Spent / Estimate as card comments

If you are not yet familiar with entering S/E, first see:
How Plus tracks Spent and Estimate in Trello
Which entry method should you use?

The Plus card "S/E bar" and “modify” dialog are the easiest ways to enter card S/E for you or others. Plus supports both entry methods in all Plus "sync" modes. For those using sync by "Trello card comments" (the recommended sync method), Plus supports a third entry method: adding a special card comment from any browser or the Trello mobile app.

This third method, adding a card comment, is what the other two methods actually do too when using sync by "Trello card comments". The comment lets other team members Plus to read the new data.

If you are using another sync method (based on Google spreadsheets, or sync is off) the rest of this guide is not for you :)

Advanced users may enter such "S/E comments" directly too. This method also supports more features and special commands not available using the first two methods.

What additional features are supported with this method?

  1. Adding S/E to multiple people at once (example: team meeting)
  2. Modify a "1st estimate" (see the ^resetsync command below)

Each S/E entered generates a "S/E row", the basis for making all Plus reports and burn-downs.

Cheatsheet for S/E comments

plus! 0/4
Adds 4 to your estimate. Same as plus! /4 since zeros are optional

plus! 5/0
Adds 5 to your spent. Same as plus! 5/

plus! -2d 5/3 prepare pdf
Adds 2days ago 5/3 with note "prepare pdf".

plus! @john 0/6
Adds to john 6 estimated units.

plus! @john @paul @me -2d 3/3
Adds to john, paul and you 2days ago 3/3.
Use @me as a shortcut to add yourself (like a team meeting.)

plus! 5
Relaxed format (no backslash). Adds 5/0, or 5/5 if the card is recurring [R].

plus! @global @paul /3 ^etransfer
Transfers 3 from global to paul. The note must start with ^etransfer to be a transfer command, otherwise it will add 3 to both user estimates.

plus! 0/0 !QA begin
Adds a burndown annotation "QA begin" for today.

plus! ^resetsync
Re-reads this card's s/e comments (after you modified or deleted them).

"plus!" is the default keyword. You can change it to another keyword (or several separated by comma) in Plus help. Your custom keywords do not have to end with "!".

Start a comment with one of your keywords using one of these formats:

★ Basic format

plus! [-xd] s/e [note]
Anything between [brackets] is optional. Do not type the actual brackets.
x is the number of days that it happened in the past followed immediately by d without spaces. Zero s or e are optional.
Always include the slash /.

The "plus!" keyword can be changed in Plus help to anything you want.
s and e can be written as decimal "1.5" or unit:subunit "1:30" where unit:subunit is:
- days:hours for "days" units
- hours:minutes for "hours" units (default)
- minutes:seconds for "minutes" units
Currently when using this "colon" format, Plus converts it to decimal in the card comment and reports, as in "1:30" becomes "1.5" which is equivalent. That will be improved soon to show in the original format entered (colon or decimal)..

★ Relaxed format  -  no "/" or "e"

plus! [-xd] s [note]
For non-recurring cards it adds s/0 (spent only)
For recurring cards it adds s/s (both spent and estimate equal to s )

This is the easiest way to make an s/e comment but note that you cannot enter an explicit estimate with this relaxed format, as it is always deduced from 's'. A typical s/e row history might be:
(oldest to newest on an on-recurring card)
plus! /5     Estimate 5 units. must use "/" for estimate
plus! 3       Spend 3
plus! 2       Spend 2 (done. 3+2=5 thus Remaining R = E-S = 0)

With this method, E is deduced based on whether the card was recurring at the time the S/E was entered. This is an important detail, because if you enter S/E rows with relaxed format and later change the card Recurring status, only new S/E entered will use the new status, even if you reset sync.

★ S/E for other users

plus! @user1 [-xd] s/e [note]
Like basic format, except users go right after the keyword.
Enters the given s/e as if user1 entered it.

You may mention multiple users in a single card comment. Just @mention users after the keyword and before the optional -xd.
If four users had a 3-hour meeting yesterday, use:
plus! @user1 @user2 @user3 @user4 -1d 3/3 meeting

This impersonation format also works with relaxed format.

Whenever impersonation is used, Plus will always add special text to the row note, like "[by theActualUser]". These notes cannot be tampered and provide a secure way to identify all rows that were impersonated. Normally, only a manager would impersonate other users.

★ Transfer estimates

plus! @user1 @user2 /e ^etransfer [note]
To make a transfer, there must always be two users (from to), S must be blank or zero, E must be positive, and the note must start with "^etransfer".
This command always transfers from the "1st estimate". See more about transfers.

To include yourself in the S/E row, @mention yourself or use @me which Plus provides as a shortcut since Trello does not auto-complete you.

"Multiple users in a single S/E comment" is the only feature available using direct card comments that cannot be entered with the Plus card S/E bar.
This feature uses a single card comment to generate many S/E rows (one per user mentioned).

Get this help easily from any card:

★ Burn-down annotations

Start the plus note with '!' to add a point annotation in the burn-down chart. Example:
plus! 0/0 !QA start adds an annotation named "QA start".

Any s/e with a note starting with "!" is an annotation. Add these annotations as card comments, or using the Plus card s/e bar which makes it easier to enter past annotations (simply select "other" from the date selector).

★ Multiple keywords

Change your keywords to anything you want from Plus help. They do not need to end with "!". The first keyword is used by the Plus card bar by default.

Each S/E card comment starts with a single keyword. You may want a different keyword per team so their shared board's history won't mix with other teams.
Once you add multiple keywords (not counting the special legacy "plus s/e" keyword) the Plus s/e card bar lets you pick a keyword.

Reports also let you filter and group by keyword once you enable multiple keywords.
If you change your keywords and those were used in past comments, "Reset sync" to pick those up.

Legacy users (before 12-Dec-2014) need to also add the keyword "plus s/e" to their keyword list so Plus can read past S/E history. A typical keyword list for a legacy user is "plus!, plus s/e".

★ Modify a user's total card S/E

To modify total s/e, use "modify". It will enter more s/e rows. Do not modify existing Trello card comments directly. If you do, Plus will not detect those changes until you issue a card "reset sync" command (see the next section).

When using  "modify" Plus will do the math and enter the needed S/E row to make the totals like you specify.

You can also enter those "delta" s/e rows directly using the card s/e bar or a direct Trello card comment.

★ Modify a user's 1st E or bad entries

The only way to modify a 1st estimate is to edit the corresponding card comment in Trello, then issue a special command. This can only be done with the default mode "sync by card comments".

Other S/E besides the 1st estimate can be modified using "modify" in the card front report (easiest) or with this method.

After you make card comment modifications, enter this command as a card comment:
plus! ^resetsync [note]
with an optional note without the [brackets].
This will cause all card S/E to be re-read for you and all board members using that keyword ("plus!" in this example).
You can also use this to modify or remove incorrect S/E rows.

This will happen:
  1. Any existing s/e for that card will be set to 0/0 and the original s/e values set in the row note.
  2. All comments will be read again for that card. The oldest row per user (that is not 0/0) will become the new 1st estimate.
  3. Reports will show a yellow row indicating that a ^resetsync was performed by a given user.
The command should be used only as a way to correct typing mistakes.
To change your current spent or estimate simply use the "modify" dialog or enter an S/E card comment which will keep your 1st estimate intact and update your current estimate. This allows you to later analyze changed estimates from reports.

★ Prevent modifying 1st Estimates
Plus has full S/E traceability and you can always use reports to see who changed what and when.
You can go a step further and prevent team members from modifying 1st estimates with ^resetsync (which is the only way to change a 1st estimate).

For this, you can enter their 1st estimate on their behalf (See above). Thus the card comment is made by you and only you can edit or delete it, which Trello enforces.

If you do let users enter their 1st estimates, watch the "New S/E" for yellow rows indicating a "resetsync" was performed, or do a report anytime to search for S/E rows with note containing "[^resetsync". Bookmark it in Chrome for reuse.

The [^resetsync command] text inside s/e row notes, just like any other Plus note in [brackets] is secure and cannot be removed or tampered in any way. Plus uses them whenever a card comment has special situations:
  • a card command
  • S/E entered with a past date
  • S/E entered in the name of others
  • original S/E values before a ^resetsync command
  • syntax errors and warnings in a "plus!" card comment

Keep in mind that S/E rows with the original S/E values are not kept if you do a full "Reset Sync" from Plus help:Utilities because Trello does not keep modifications in their card history.

The other sync modes do not support this because "card comments" sync was made to improve on legacy sync precisely by using comments, and stealth sync mode of course doesn't ever store S/E data in Trello.