After SolarWinds acquired DNSstuff, we interviewed many long standing, recent, and brand new customers to find out what they did with the site and where it was lacking. We heard loud and clear that Toolset - DNSstuff's toolbox of DNS, network, and mail troubleshooting tools - is where most people spend most of their time, but it was suffering from some long-standing usability issues. People reported:

  1. They frequently ran 1 or 2 of the same tools, sometimes from bookmarks
  2. They had to memorize where the tools were on the page, or CTRL+F to find them every time they visited (especially for the less frequent user)
  3. It wasn't clear when new tools were added, since there were so many things on the page it was hard to tell what was what - people just focused on what they needed to use
  4. Tools were not logically grouped to the way people think


We took your feedback to heart, came up with some new designs, reviewed them with some of those same customers, and went live with the first in a set of changes today. These changes look awesome but more importantly make toolset easier to use.


What's Changed?


Tabbed Categories

We've separated the tools out into their relative categories in tabs, so you can narrow down to just the troubleshooting you're interested in.


Inline Collapsible Categories



Those same categories appear on the page, and you can expand/collapse different sections. Just hit the + or - to expand or collapse. You can also use the grab on the left (the dots) to move the sections around.


You'll also see inline links to SolarWinds tools or products that relate to each section.


Consistent Look & Feel


Each tool has:

  1. A hint to expected input in the input box (does this tool expect a domain, an IP, something else, all of the above?)
  2. Hover help that tells you what each tool does
  3. A "Learn More" link to tell you more about that tool
  4. Grab handles (dots on the left) to rearrange tools
  5. The same size, color, button arrangement, fonts, and other things that probably drove you nuts on the old site.


What We Didn't Change

We have been addressing issues in each tool as we continue to receive feedback, but outside of issues, we did not make major changes to any tools or their output - just how they look on the page. You can still bookmark each tool's results page, the results pages are still formatted the same as they were before, and we didn't change MSTC, RBL Alerts, or Domain Doctor. You'll still need a (free trial) account to run the tools after so many runs.


What's Next?

Here's a peek at where we're going from here with Toolset.


Favorites. In order to make it easy for you to find your most used tools, we're going to add a "favorites" section that lets you pin your frequently used tools to the top.

More page customization. We want you to be able to reorder items on the page, even customize a page theme, and store that in your user settings.

Multi-tools. Some customers frequently run groups of tools and the new DNSstuff architecture makes it possible for us to present to you a "set" of tools that can be ran together.


In addition, we'll keep working on issues you've reported.


Feedback on Toolset, Thoughts on Future Features?

We've put up a survey on SurveyMonkey related to the new toolset features and what you'd like to see next. You can also post over on the DNSstuff forum here on Thwack, where product mangement, development, and support all respond to issues.


If you think you've encountered a bug or issue you can't work around (either with a specific tool or the site in general), or have an idea for a new DNSstuff tool or site feature that would really help you, post it over in the DNSstuff forum here on Thwack, too.