I'm delighted to share with you more details on what we are working on recently in Web Help Desk (WHD). Many of you are very excited about what's coming and we are listening on all channels and working hard to combine your inputs in the best possible way. Some of the features include
- tighter Dameware integration,
- various improvements in API you asked for like Client access (comparing to Tech only access) or ability to upload attachments,
- massive improvements in WHD documentation for areas like SSO and less documented features like BBCode (a lightweight markup language used to format posts, see Hidden Gems of Web Help Desk - Text Formatting with BBCode for more)
- Java 7 support.
These are all great, but I'd like to also show you what we are working on, so let me elaborate on Reporting and UI changes in this post and give you a small teaser.
You can create two types of reports in WHD now – Ticketing and Billing. One of the larger features we are working on is Asset reporting. If you want to see simple statistics of the devices you have deployed in different locations, or if you need to know how many new laptops you have bought since January, you need an asset report.
Let's say your manager asks, "How many different, new types of devices are now in use across the offices since the beginning of the year?".
You can easily answer this in the new Web Help Desk.
- Open the Reports page in WHD.
- Click on the "New" report button.
- Select "Asset Report".
- Don't forget to define a name and group (optional) for your new report.
- Next you move to the Report Details tab
- Choose "Bar chart" to visualize your results into nice bar charts.
- In the Bar Category, choose "Asset Type"
- In the Bar Stack Category, choose "Location".
We are almost there. Now you want only assets purchased since January, so you
- move to Report Filters,
- click "New", and
- choose "Purchase Date".
- Next you define the purchase date from January 1st 2014.
- Now click "Save".
The last filter we need is "by Status", since your manager asked for only devices in use.
- Click on "New" again in the Report Filters tab.
- Choose "Asset Status", and check the values which represent devices in use in your environment (most likely these are "Deployed", "Used", etc.).
- Click "Save".
Now we are ready, to run the report, and there is it. Answer for your boss visualized in a nice bar chart.
Under the hood of new Asset reports
Asset reports are not just another report type. There is much more to it. They are built on the new reporting engine, which will bring a plethora of improvements. With the new engine we get a more feature rich, performance optimized reporting infrastructure which gives us the long term flexibility to create new reports quicker going forward. Having a more flexible engine, allows you to potentially render reports into many different formats, generate reports faster and with lower memory consumption. Another benefit is easier migration of reports between systems and also easier troubleshooting in case of problems thanks to textual configuration of reports. New engine can also separate generating of reports from main WHD application and thus makes WHD much more robust. If you by mistake create a report with millions of lines, it would not affect the availability of WHD for your users even if generating of that report takes hours. We are working on Asset reports now with the goal to get them to you as soon as possible however ultimately we want to bring all this goodness also to other areas of existing reports (Ticketing and Billing) or new reports like Purchase Orders or Reservations. There is a lot to look forward to!
Knowledge Base UI
Another area we are working on is the UI and WHD front-end. We started with FAQs and are working on improvements in usability, adding lot of on-the-spot help in form of tooltips or making it much easier to work with large numbers of objects. As you grow and have more Clients, Techs or Offices (read Locations) we want to make it even easier for you to scale. WHD should support you and thus we are looking for ways to support your growth. Let me show you some improvements we are working on.
Sometimes you might find Question/Answer column in FAQ list too narrow.
We are working on improving the UI, so that columns are both easily resizable and moveable. Thus making UI far more flexible.
If you have a large system with hundreds of Locations or Techs, the new UI we are working on can support large deployments and has UI elements to make the work with large volumes of objects much easier. Instead of checkboxes, you can add objects to the list by browsing a list or typing the names with auto-complete. For example when defining Locations for FAQ.
Another example of improvement is a more detailed help system with new tooltips and details on individual settings. Our goal is to provide on the spot help when and where it's needed.
As a part of the various improvements mentioned, you may notice that the UI is slightly different than what you are used to. I'm not talking about new UI elements, but some familiar parts are just a bit different. The reason is another big change under the hood we are working on.
What's new with front-end anyhow?
Another exciting improvement we are working on is adopting new framework for our front-end. It will bring great new features into WHD, some of which you have seen in previous sections. There are not only huge performance benefits, but more importantly various usability improvements like auto-complete or aforementioned support for very large systems (with vast numbers of objects like Locations, Companies, Techs or Models), better browser compatibility and easier maintenance. While not visible right away, they will bring lot of enhancements to future releases and might be necessary for the product to break ground for other new features in the future.
We will keep you updated on our progress and keep your eyes out for Beta signup or simply let me know if you are interested here in comments or contact me directly!