If you have never heard of the Butler Power-Up or Butler for Trello before, let me quickly tell you what it is.
It is a tool that focuses on creating workflows and automation in Trello boards. Things you cannot do within Trello but wish you could do to save all these countless clicks and drag&drops or create cross-board interactions – you can do with Butler.
And the best part is, you don’t need to be a geek or technically gifted. Butler commands are written in plain English and are easier to understand than the instruction leaflet of any medicine.
Using Butler for Trello can happen in two ways:
Either by using the Butlerbot, which will access your Trello boards through an API.
Or, by using the Butler Power-Up.
To get a better overview of what Butler for Trello is capable of doing, check out some of my four introductory articles on the subject.
Focus on Power-Up
Whilst the ButlerBot as a tool is currently superior over the Power-Up, it pretty much looks as if the Power-Up is catching up. (And it already has a few features that the ButlerBot doesn’t have.)
In this article, I am focussing on the distinctive features of the Butler Power-Up.
You can do some really nice workflow setups with this tool, and if you are using Trello boards for collaboration, you will quickly learn to appreciate what this little helper is capable of doing for you and your team.
5 Benefits of Using the Butler Power-Up
Besides the benefits of setting up workflows in Trello, which I talked about more in detail in my article on productivity workflows, there are a number of reasons why you may prefer using the Butler Power-Up instead of the Butlerbot.
Benefit 1: More Control over your Workflows
You can execute workflows by pushing a button (instead of having them be triggered at a specific day and time, or some other occurrences you may be uncomfortable with)
Benefit 2: No Butler list in your Boards
You will not have a Butler list in your board with all the commands visible to everyone on the board.
Benefit 3: More Control over your Team Mates
You have more control towards your board members, of what they are able to execute
Benefit 4: A Solution for Command Chaining
You can circumnavigate the problem of command chaining
Benefit 5: Better Custom Fields Features
The actions available for using Custom Fields (which is another Power-Up in Trello), are currently way better than with the ButlerBot.
Disadvantages of the Butler Power-Up
Everything has advantages and disadvantages. And so does the Butler Power-Up.
Here are a few points you should be aware of.
Disadvantage 1: Lack of Functionality
The Power-Up is currently behind of what the ButlerBot is capable of doing. This will change over time, but at time of writing, these two tools for creating workflows and automation in Trello boards are not on eye height. In the future, we hope to witness the availability of some of the more advanced features, like variables, dashcards, and wildcards in the Butler Power-Up.
Disadvantage 2: Lack of Sharing Possibilities
You cannot import commands with a simple copy&paste. Imagine, you have a friend who created an awesome workflow consisting of a bunch of commands, and he is sharing this with you in a text file. When using the Butlerbot, you can quickly make them yours by pasting them into Trello – and ready you are! — That’s not possible with the Power-Up.
I have created a few applications that are immensely useful for Trello users that seriously need to upgrade their productivity and/or working style within Trello. With these Workflow Kits, you can set up the most awesome Trello boards, like a Rolling Calendar, a Master-Project board system, an Editorial Calendar or a Dashboard for your Classic-style Trello boards. To make them yours quickly, you would have to use the ButlerBot, however.
The exchangeability of commands is not given within the Power-Up, but I hope one day such a feature might be included.
Disadvantage 3: Creative Setback
One of the things I like most about the Butlerbot, is that I can write commands in free flow. This means I can simply open up a new card in the Butler list and type a new command into the card’s title. In plain English. I love this feature. For me, it is a quick and convenient way to set up a new workflow. When using the Butler Power-Up, you can’t do that. You’ll have to use the interface. No free flow writing anymore. Everything takes a little longer. And my creativity gets an involuntary setback. But maybe that’s just me.
Disadvantage 4: Lack of Possibilities for Free Users
If you are using the free version of the Power-Up, you are limited in regards to using card and board buttons. You can create one button of each type and share it with others, but if you do need more for your board to work well, you are forced to upgrade.
Nevertheless, let me introduce you to the creation of card buttons and board buttons in Trello.
Creating Card Buttons
Card buttons are buttons that appear on the back of a Trello card.
They are particularly useful to execute one or multiple actions by simply pressing the button.
Card buttons have no specific trigger. The trigger is you pressing the button. That’s the big difference of using the ButlerBot or creating rules with the Power-Up. You can determine yourself the point in time when a workflow is going to take place – and then it does take place.
To create a card button, click the Butler icon on the top menu of your Trello board in which you already should have activated the Butler Power-Up. The first dropdown list shows Card Buttons by default. Click Create a New Button, and a new screen will open up from where you can choose one or more actions for your new card button.
A card button can have more than one action.
All actions will be performed in the order in which they were added to the card.
For instance, the actions that I assigned to my card button “Clean up!”, are:
- First, remove all labels from the card,
- Second, remove all stickers from the card,
- Third, remove the due date,
- Fourth, remove all members that were once assigned to the card.
You can change the order of how the actions are performed at any time. Simply click the arrow icon and drag&drop it into your preferred position.
By default, card buttons are enabled for everyone to see on a board, but they can be selectively disabled.
If you are using a Trello board for collaboration, you can share your card buttons, but those who are using the Butler Power-Up with a free account will be able to see only one card button each.
// Tip //
If you use a Trello board to collaborate with others on tasks, it may make sense to have the card buttons show up in the sequence of how tasks should be executed.
Looking at this example, the “Start Task” shows up underneath the “Clean up!” task, which is definitely not the logical way of processing a task. Actions executed with a clean-up command, are typically those that remove clutter from a card, like labels, stickers, members. All those pieces of information that are no longer needed. It would also make sense to include an archiving action in this sequence, even though there are better ways of archiving cards.
Anyway, the default sort order in Trello is alphabetical.
This is nothing we can influence, but a workaround would be to add a preceding number to each card button’s title. This way, you can pinpoint how exactly you want the card buttons to show up in the Power-Ups section of a Trello card.
Board buttons let you execute one or more actions on your board – by pressing a button.
The difference to card buttons is, that there are lesser actions available as there are for card buttons.
To access the interface for board buttons, click the Butler icon on the top menu of your board (you’ll find it once you enabled the Butler Power-Up), and in the first drop-down menu, select Board Buttons.
Click on Create a New Button. This opens the user interface for choosing the actions for your board button.
First, select an icon for your board button. There are lots of icons to choose from, but whichever you select, it’s only for your visual pleasure. It’s not going to influence the functionality of the button.
Second, choose a title for your board button. I recommend to make it as short as possible. The more board buttons you have, the more crowded your board’s menu looks like.
(At the point of writing I am not even sure whether there is a limit of how many board buttons can be displayed in a board since the space is indeed limited.)
However, if you are using the free plan for the Power-Up, you are only allowed to create one board button. Even though buttons can be shared with others, each free user will only see one button. That’s the one they created, or – if they haven’t created one themselves – one that was shared.
I mentioned before, that there are fewer actions available for board buttons than there are for card buttons. That’s because you cannot add labels to a board, or post a comment, or add a due date. These are actions that are reserved for cards only.
On the other hand, there are actions that aren’t applicable for cards. Everything related to lists is a typical field of application for a board button. Think of creating, renaming or archiving a list. Or, if you’d want to sort cards in a list by a certain condition, like due date, label, votes, age, etc. The action of sorting is very powerful since you can concatenate actions, like firstly sorting by due date ascending, and then by labels red, green, yellow.
These are all applications where using a board button makes a lot of sense – if you don’t want this sorting to happen with a certain time trigger, but executed by pressing the button.
I think that is one of the biggest advantages of using board buttons in Trello.
// Tip //
Now I am going to share a tip with you how to sort board buttons in your Trello board.
As with card buttons, board buttons are sorted alphabetically within Trello.
It can look a little weird when the button for the Butler Power-Up shows up amidst your board buttons. You cannot influence how the Butler button looks like, but you can influence how your self-made board buttons come across.
I achieved the sort order of my liking by adding a preceding number to it. This way, I can explicitly determine the order of my buttons.
If the alphabetical order is something you can live with in general, but want the Butler button out of its way, you can also precede each board button’s title with an exclamation mark.
The two features of card buttons and board buttons are really unique to the Butler Power-Up.
Getting a series of actions executed by pushing a button only, is particularly helpful for repetitive tasks that aren’t bound to a regular day or daytime.
Not everything can always be scheduled. But having the possibility of getting things done by a single click and with a standard process in place, will be a massive win for every busy project coordinator and/or business owner who’s relying on Trello.
Why not giving it a try? Jump over into your Trello account and activate the Butler Power-Up in your Power-Up’s section. With a free Trello account, you are allowed to use on Power-Up for free on each board. After you enabled the Power-Up, you’ll see its icon in your board’s menu.
It’s pretty straightforward to create your first card or board button, and you will be on the free plan with Butler, so it won’t cost you anything. – If card buttons or board buttons are not your cup of tea, because you’d rather stick with real automations (not those that require pressing a button), this blogpost covers exactly that.
If you want to gain momentum with creating unique workflows for your Trello boards, you may consider to join my Patreon community. That’s the place where I regularly publish inspiring commands, tips & tricks, tutorials, the Workflow of the Month as well as discounts to my Workflow Kits.