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colby
Level 16

DNS Report Feedback & Thoughts

When we were reviewing the new DNS Report tool to tweak and improve the formatting of the output, we tried to make it easy to understand how many issues there were in each section. The previous tool made it very easy to find warnings and errors, though (by making them very yellow and very red), and several customers have commented that they like the old format.

We're going to be doing some improvement work on this tool to make it easier to read and understand, and we'll be going for something that's better than BOTH versions.

What did you love or hate about the old tool? What do you love or hate about the new tool?

Tags (2)
25 Replies
blipp
Level 7

Re: DNS Report Feedback & Thoughts

the new is terrible

the old was much better

better overlook in the old

the new is like finding the needle in a haystack

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colby
Level 16

Re: DNS Report Feedback & Thoughts

Much appreciated. The "needle in the haystack" comment seems to be spot on to other customer feedback.

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goodeye
Level 7

Re: DNS Report Feedback & Thoughts

Hi,

I'm cringing at the buyout (sellout?) of dnsstuff in general, and this is the start of the slide. dnsstuff was a plain, easy to use, very fast, worked anywhere-anytime service. Loved it. My first reaction to the dnsreport is it's fluffy, "ajax-y" (in your own words), dumbed-down, and looks like a report for a manager. The posts about "new back end" and "issues", e.g., SPF records, have me worried that you've scrapped the hard work the original guys did, and have the entire thing on new code. Is that true? or is it just the UI that's different? ("New back-end" is especially disconcerting - is it still on windows? Or did it get entirely rewritten on linux?)

So, some specifics for dnsreport:

Please sort the legend to match the section headings. Legend has pass, fail, warn, info; headings have info, fail, warn, pass. I couldn't quickly tell green from blue in the heading, so I thought I had a bunch of 0 passes.

Please emphasize the fail icons, and deemphasize the others. Presently, The green checkmark is brighter than the red x, especially with the fade/gradient at the top of the red - it's washing out. Consider making the red one larger.

In the headings, please eliminate the color if the value is zero; or perhaps a light colored outline around a white box with a 0 in it. Also, remove the blue background of the section heading. A blue outline or underline, white background, and bold dark heading text will suffice to mark off the heading while not drawing your eye, as if something is wrong since there's a big blue bar. All that will lead to the only color we should see is if something is wrong. I know lots of green looks good, but that's a management report thing; I only want the red x marks.

Please restore the technical details. e.g, "Domain has a WWW hostname" and just IP addresses. There should be something about the A record, preferably with all its details. Similar with NS records, etc. You're showing values, but I have to read the english sentence to map what records you're showing me. Here's one: for some reason you're showing the same IP address 5 times for the WWW record check. I don't know if that's from the 5 nameservers, or if it's a different A record for some reason - I have no idea, and can't tell what's going on. The MX records are just a number and a name. I remember that the number is the priority, but I don't do this that often that all the records are familiar.

Please use a different font for the data, like Verdana or perhaps Courier so it can be aligned without a lot of tables. I don't recall the old report's font, but this Arial is hard to read the data. And e.g., the MX records have different number of digits for the level.

This is making me do more work. Please bring the old one back. If you have the will, you could provide a link to the old one, and you'll know you're successful when people shift over to the new one on their own.

I'll be looking at the other tools too, but I'm also going to do some comparison shopping. Never thought I would.

Bob

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colby
Level 16

Re: DNS Report Feedback & Thoughts

Thanks, Bob. To answer your general questions, first:

Hi,

I'm cringing at the buyout (sellout?) of dnsstuff in general, and this is the start of the slide. dnsstuff was a plain, easy to use, very fast, worked anywhere-anytime service. Loved it. My first reaction to the dnsreport is it's fluffy, "ajax-y" (in your own words), dumbed-down, and looks like a report for a manager. The posts about "new back end" and "issues", e.g., SPF records, have me worried that you've scrapped the hard work the original guys did, and have the entire thing on new code. Is that true? or is it just the UI that's different? ("New back-end" is especially disconcerting - is it still on windows? Or did it get entirely rewritten on linux?)

The core platform work we just went live with was actually built by the original DNSstuff team and had been in progress for quite some time before the acquisition. The original goal of rebuilding the backend was so that it was scalable, portable (not so dependent on specific systems, so they could be more elastic and add systems as they needed), more easy to add/plug-in new tools, and easier to do things like run the tools in sequence and offer cached/historical results comparisons. The original frontend was planned to be based on the beta Vidocq interface, but SolarWinds decided to keep the toolset interface, leaving the results to match the new design (the "AJAXy" stuff).

The primary thing SolarWinds added to the work the core DNSstuff team had already designed and nearly completely implemented themselves was multiple datacenter redundancy. It is deployed on Linux-based platforms today, but the previous DNSstuff platform was actually a mix of systems, so it's not as big of a migration as you might think. We did have to round out the design on several of the results output pages to add formatting where it wasn't present, but most of the core work was already done, we're just building on the hard work of the original DNSstuff team's v2.0 of toolset.

During the design process, we did talk to several long-time DNSstuff customers to better understand the site design and formatting. It's clear we should/could have done more testing with the specific tools of interest, and we're changing our process. If you or anyone reading this thread is interested in seeing and providing feedback on DNSreport redesigns (something we're expediting based on collective feedback) let me know and I'll set up a show and tell where you can give some real-time feedback.

On to the specifics for DNSreport:

So, some specifics for dnsreport:

Please sort the legend to match the section headings. Legend has pass, fail, warn, info; headings have info, fail, warn, pass. I couldn't quickly tell green from blue in the heading, so I thought I had a bunch of 0 passes.

Please emphasize the fail icons, and deemphasize the others. Presently, The green checkmark is brighter than the red x, especially with the fade/gradient at the top of the red - it's washing out. Consider making the red one larger.

In the headings, please eliminate the color if the value is zero; or perhaps a light colored outline around a white box with a 0 in it. Also, remove the blue background of the section heading. A blue outline or underline, white background, and bold dark heading text will suffice to mark off the heading while not drawing your eye, as if something is wrong since there's a big blue bar. All that will lead to the only color we should see is if something is wrong. I know lots of green looks good, but that's a management report thing; I only want the red x marks.

This look and feel commentary is really helpful. What I'm hearing (which is consistent what the previous poster said) is that it's extremely hard to zero in on failures - needle in a haystack. The formatting of the previous DNSreport was all white, lots of text on the page, BUT failures and warnings were the ONLY thing that were another color which made them SUPER easy to scroll down and find. I think we can still improve on the old design, but the current design is now just a wall of text with subtly differently-colored pastel boxes. Easy on the eye, but not functional.

Please restore the technical details. e.g, "Domain has a WWW hostname" and just IP addresses. There should be something about the A record, preferably with all its details. Similar with NS records, etc. You're showing values, but I have to read the english sentence to map what records you're showing me. Here's one: for some reason you're showing the same IP address 5 times for the WWW record check. I don't know if that's from the 5 nameservers, or if it's a different A record for some reason - I have no idea, and can't tell what's going on. The MX records are just a number and a name. I remember that the number is the priority, but I don't do this that often that all the records are familiar.

Please use a different font for the data, like Verdana or perhaps Courier so it can be aligned without a lot of tables. I don't recall the old report's font, but this Arial is hard to read the data. And e.g., the MX records have different number of digits for the level.

This is making me do more work. Please bring the old one back. If you have the will, you could provide a link to the old one, and you'll know you're successful when people shift over to the new one on their own.

Ah. This is where the "report for managers" comes in - too much detail was removed. In some cases, judgment calls were made about what was useful information and what wasn't, some of which clearly are off the mark. Putting back the details is something we heard in some customers that e-mailed our technical support team as well. The old site's font was Trebuchet MS, interestingly enough. New font is Helvetica. It's also coming up 9 point for me by default, which might just be too small, especially for that amount of text.

Ease of identifying issues, restoring the technical details behind the confusing summaries, and readability. Got it.

Again, thanks very much for all the detailed feedback. If you or anyone else are interested in seeing the changes we're interested in making, I am happy to set something up.

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jst3751
Level 9

Re: DNS Report Feedback & Thoughts

I am a long time DNSStuff.com user, and have been since its inception by the original developer. As such, this dramtic change in the format is not welcome at all. The orginal format was fast and easy to find the information I needed. Additionally, it is now a multistep process to send a link to the report to a user as proof of where the problem is, let alone the fact that I would not want to send the report as it is not neat and clean like the original.

Having to fill out a form to SEND the link some where is clunky at best and does not work for me. I end up having to send the link to myself, then from that email copy the link and paste it into the email I am sending to the reporting user, which is usally replying back to their email to me.

colby
Level 16

Re: DNS Report Feedback & Thoughts

Great feedback.

Worth noting, one reason for the "share results" vs. sending a direct link is that using "share results" actually displays a cached copy of the IDENTICAL results that you saw, rather than re-running the tests which could potentially have different results. We are re-implementing direct links to the tools, too, so you'll be able to have a direct link that someone could copy/paste to drop in their URL bar and run the same test you did.

Having the ability to share the contents of the report, not just a link to the online contents of the report, is something we will look at adding back in. We'll need to look at the formatting of the email so that it's readable but still has all of the info.

In your opinion, would you place higher priority on emailing the report contents (they would look like they do on the page right now), or changing the report formatting?

Also, in your opinion, do you think emailing the results directly is only valuable for DNSreports, or would that be useful across other tools for you?

Thanks!!

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jst3751
Level 9

Re: DNS Report Feedback & Thoughts

Making sure the results any person I send the results to appears exactly the same as I see it is extremely important.

If the contents of the report as I see them can be shared easily INTO an email I am creating or replying to, that would be preferred over sending a link to the entire report.

As for which is higher priority, emailing reports or changing the report format, I would have to say the report format is higher priority.

Yes, there are other tools that would also be beneficial if those results could be sent as well.

ntraced
Level 7

Re: DNS Report Feedback & Thoughts

Horrible new system, difficult to work with, too many clicks to get vital information we need in a timely fashion.  I honestly don't care how pretty it looks, it no longer meets our requirements.  Best thing you can do is let people specify what interface they want to use with the system - "pro user" or "eye candy" mode for those that care about such things. I dare say I could live without the "pro user" version being updated as well, it did everything we needed.

What did I love about the old tool: just about everything.

What do I hate about the new tool:

- I hate I need to start a new query everytime and can no longer refresh

- I hate there is no longer a query string in the URL so I can't link it to myself to check later, I can't update a DNS query from A to MX when I'm checking individual records via the query string or check multiple variations of a domain (e.g. com net co.uk which I used to be able to do quickly and simply in the query string of the URL)

- I hate the layout of information, by and large we don't want a fancy report we just want to be able to see the data cleanly in a nice clear table - that is enough!

- I hate that error results tell us nothing now in DNS queries we have to guess what the issue is (i.e. a domain that the zone file wasn't loading properly, no info shown whereas previously we had full results of the process)

- I hate that information seems to have been removed or dumbed down, often we could isolate issues just because of the full results given back to us, if I wanted just the basics I can use multiple free tools

We aren't renewing our subscription.  I appreciate change is not a process most people relish but this just looks like change for change sake (regardless of who was responsible).

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colby
Level 16

Re: DNS Report Feedback & Thoughts

Thanks. Again, this feedback is extremely helpful. We're working on the direct linking and refresh across all of the tools (separate to the formatting of the DNS report itself) and hope to have an update on that issue soon.

Our move was primarily about infrastructure, which we do believe will benefit customers in the long term (otherwise we wouldn't have made it). Fortunately, we're already seeing the benefit in how quickly we're able to confirm and turn around updates when issues are discovered, but unfortunately the number of issues is not at all what we expected so it's taking us some time to work through it all. In the meantime, we're prioritizing updates to the site based on all of your (and other customer) feedback about what was better before, what's missing now, and what is driving you away.

Keep it coming! All specifics and criticism are welcome.

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