By Wes Dunn
Apr 20, 2016
There’s a saying about icebergs, something to the effect of only 10% of the actual iceberg is visible and above water, and I think that statement is extremely fitting for the subject of this post. Today, we’re releasing significant changes to the central hub of every Jungle Disk account, the Admin Control Panel.
The primary focus and overarching goal for this release of the Control Panel was to improve the site’s overall usability and the user experience for Backup Reports. We’ve achieved this aim through use of data, analytics, and customer feedback to inform our design choices and feature requirements.
Diagram 1 - Old Jungle Disk Control Panel Navigation
Diagram 2 - New Jungle Disk Control Panel Navigation
So how does an iceberg factor into this announcement? We find that the analogy works quite well in demonstrating the breadth of work we found ourselves undertaking, as well as a metaphor for what customers will actually see and use as a result of this release. To put it another way, asking developers to make some “simple design changes” turns out to not always be so simple.
As Jungle Disk’s Product Manager, I get the great excitement and honor of writing up feature and product release announcements; it’s one of my favorite things about this role. I sincerely see it as an honor because of the amount of passion, creativity, and effort that everyone at Jungle Disk pours into everything we release, and being able to share that with the world truly is an honor. Specifically, Ryan (Lead Admin Control Panel Developer), Trey (Director of DevOps), and the entire support staff we’re absolutely integral in the testing and delivery of this release and wanted to give credit where credit is due.
Before we dig into what’s changed, I’d like to shed a little light on the process of planning, developing, and testing this release to the Control Panel.
At any given time, our Development and Operations Teams are working on a number of projects and initiatives. From improving existing services, infrastructure, and features to experimenting with new platforms and technologies, our technical gurus are always working to make Jungle Disk a better product. The biggest factor in actually succeeding to make the product better is feedback from our customers!
Through crunching numbers, statistics, analytics from the Control Panel, and our support systems we found out we were confusing many of you when you tried to update account information or add new users. It often ended up with a chat, call, or ticket to get help. In other words, we were making it hard for customers to just use the site. Furthermore, we found that 2 out of 3 users of the Control Panel visited the backup reporting section. With the high usage we made it a key feature to significantly improve.
So, remember the iceberg analogy? Just the navigation elements of the Control Panel utilized a bulky amount of logic and code, and to make site-wide changes meant ripping out a lot of that code to start from scratch. A big undertaking, sure, but the result is reduced complexity with a more nimble framework increasing the efficiency of future development and it reduced the size of the entire site by nearly 60% (Big Improvement #2). All of this amounts to a faster, easier to use site, and a Control Panel that is better set to evolve and improve with the needs of our customers.
Previously, the backup reports section required complex data manipulation for each and every page load of backup jobs and backup job logs. Further, after crunching the data we were server-side rendering which took a significant amount of time to load and present a page. Through introducing a new framework (AngularJS), page reloads and database requests have been significantly optimized, which means faster page loads and easier navigation of backup reports. In fact, we tested the page load speed on an account with 813 backup jobs and a backup job log with 8,200 rows. Page load times have been reduced by 48% (2.82 sec. Vs. 5.39 sec.) and 50% (2.66 sec. Vs. 5.30 sec.), respectively (Big Improvement #3).
While this all sounds good, the most important thing is making sure everything works. Any improvements in speed or design don’t mean much if it doesn’t “just work.” To ensure that we deliver a Control Panel that’s ready for customer use, we leaned on our support team to test the site as part of their day-to-day duties. Once we had tested and tweaked enough to be confident in the site’s readiness, we reached out to nearly 100 customer to offer a “sneak peek” at the site and try it out for themselves. These customers provided excellent input and helped us fine-tune the site and have it ready for prime-time. So, if any of you “beta-testers” are reading this post, THANK YOU!
So, onto the good stuff, what we’ve actually changed.
Search/Filters: For customers with hundreds of individual backup jobs they monitor, it was a task to navigate and find a specific backup or the backup jobs belonging to a specific computer/server. We’ve added a search bar that will return only the backup jobs that matches the search term. Search also extends to a backup job’s history and individual backup logs. So, if you need to search a backup report to ensure a particular file/folder was backed up, now you can just search for it.
Sorted Columns: Along with search, we’ve added the ability to sort every column for every backup job and backup job log. If you need to find the backup that last had errors, you can sort by just clicking on the errors column (one click for ascending order, two clicks for descending order).
Exports/Downloads: We’ve always made exports available for all backup jobs and backup job logs, but they’ve been in various formats and with less-than-helpful names. Every export is now in .csv format (to play nice with all spreadsheet programs) and renamed backup jobs log files with the backup job name and date of the log.
If you’ve read this far, high-five and thank you! We’re very excited about this release and how it will make each experience you have with the Jungle Disk Control Panel better. Please log into your account and check out the updates for yourself, we think you’ll like what you see.