cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Create Post

Web Help Desk 12.2.0: Looking behind the curtain

Level 15

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


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.

Reporting

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.

New Asset Report.png

  • 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".

Asset Report - Details.png

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".

Asset Report - Filters - Purchase Date.png

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".

Asset Report - Filters - Asset Status.png

Now we are ready, to run the report, and there is it. Answer for your boss visualized in a nice bar chart.

Asset Report - Output.png

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.

Old FAQ UI - fixed width of columns.png

We are working on improving the UI, so that columns are both easily resizable and moveable. Thus making UI far more flexible.

New FAQ UI - resizable columns.png

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.

New Locations selection.png

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.

New FAQ UI - tooltips.png

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!

75 Comments
Level 10

Peter,

Is the framework change you are talking about going to resolve the current crippling issue of only being able to have one tab open at a time?  We are considering other products because of this.

If so, do you have any kind of time frame in mind?  It sounds like this will be a huge and complex project.

Level 15

Hi Glen, yes the support for tabbed browsing should also improve with this change. You are right that the task is not small, so there are no timelines, however we want to bring you the first results of this asap. Therefore we hope to split this work into several releases. Thanks to that you wouldn't have to wait for all to be done and we hope you to enjoy first improvements sooner.

Level 10

Great, Peter - incremental improvements sounds like a better plan than a long wait for a massive re-do.

A question to clarify - you mentioned support for tabbed browsing, as per this discussion:

Multiple browser sessions in Web Help Desk?

My understanding from my team is that the same issues encountered when using multiple browser tabs (which is not blocked by or flagged as a user warning, just causes stability issues) is also encountered with any concurrent multiple logins for the same tech, even if it is on (for example) another system (for example, running WHD in a single browser tab / window on the local PC, as well as in a single browser tab / window on a remote session on a Remote Desktop Server).  Can you please comment / clarify?

Thanks!

Level 9

any improvements with "Asset Reservations"?

Level 15

Asset Reservations reports is something we would like to introduce too, we are working on building basis for asset reporting and have a platform for PO reports or reservations.

Level 7

Do you have a firm date on when this will be released?  Thanks.

Level 15

I will contact you offline seems there is a specific support case you are interested in and I'd like to know more.

Level 15

We do not have a fixed date yet, also we are unfortunately not able to publish them in advance, but please keep you eyes opened for Beta or let me know if you are interested - I'd love to get as much feedback as possible.

Level 9

Will the new framework enable dynamic elements? Being able to easily arrange content within WHD would be a great addition. What about plugin support? The API is great but it would be nice to integrate other systems within the ticketing view (think remote support systems / scripts / reference content / calenders) without having to have multiple pages open. We have a lot of screen real estate that is not being used currently and I am sure the community could help fill that space with productive add-ons.

Level 9

bump for response

Level 10

Any work going to be done that will allow you to reference ticket information into another ticket(s).  A good example, new employee process that takes an initial new employee setup and generates new tickets with the custom information into the new tickets needed for computer, phone, workspace, etc.  Right now you can auto generate the tickets, but someone has to go back in the system and update the information.  I've read several other creative ways people have gone about doing this.  I've been hoping this would at some point be addressed. 

Level 10

Please, please....

You can use the problem / incident functionality, but it really isn't the same as having a proper "Related Ticket" functionality.

Level 8

I would love to know when this Beta is open for sign up. I really need asset tracking. Will have to start looking elsewhere if this does not come soon.

FYI - The lack of basic functionality and updates to WHD makes me skeptical of the other products Solarwinds offers. Which on the surface look like something I could potential use.

Level 9

Yup. I agree cgachot. We don't hear from Peter for months and then he sends a note 3 weeks ago to give us all hope he is actually making progress (if you consider BETA SIGNUP PROGRESS). He made it seem like 12.2 is just around the corner and that we should be excited. Based on my experience with the way Solarwinds is treating the WHD product I would not be encouraged to purchase any of their products (but, then again different engineers work with different products. It's really the team that is working on the WHD product that is the problem)

Level 7

Solarwinds has Oracle/Microsoft envy, and that is why they acquired our beloved WebHelpDesk.  They can basically reap the profits on support renewals without putting much development into the product.  Our support expires at the end of the month, and at $1200 a year to renew for simple dot releases with no firm release date, we are opting to let our support lapse.  If WHD blows up, we'll switch to another product.

Level 9

Ryannix - that makes a lot of sense now why they have not placed any emphasis on updating WHD on a regular basis.  It would probably cost them more money to have a development team work on the project so they stick one person on it.   The complaints go nowhere. I've complained to our account rep.  I guess the only way we can fight back is by not renewing support until they (I mean Peter) actually come through with the promised updates.

Level 9

Just patiently waiting for the release...

Level 15

Do you have few examples how you would use this? Which part of UI you would like to modify this way and how?

Level 15

That is definitely on our roadmap and something we are looking at, please stay tuned!

Level 9

Thank you for the response Peter, it looked as though these comments we were falling to the wayside.

Just as a simple example- We are working to adapt WHD to better suit our industry, in doing so we rely heavily on custom fields - being able to move this up in the ticket view would be beneficial to our agents. Think drag and drop.

Being able to easily modify or rearrange the elements in both the ticketing view and user portal would let us better style the application to meet our needs and branding. We use several different systems to monitor and interact within our user environment and being able to modify the overall layout of each tool is key when trying to bring a layer of continuity to multiple systems. For example, we like to see all of our notes and comments at the bottom of the system - this just makes scalability easier when adding new agents.


For the plugin request, this is just to aid in development - it seems that updates to this product are pretty scarce, just reading the comments on this thread shows the level of dissatisfaction with this tool (in fact reading the forum as a whole would scare away most perspective buyers). You serve an industry of tech professionals and developers/designers, opening the framework up for plugins and integration would allow us (the community) to bring features to the table that are not currently offered.

I could go on and on about UX v. UI, if you would like to reach out to me for more examples feel free.

Level 15

I count on you for Beta! Thanks for letting me know.

Level 9

Peter is making great progress.   Keep up the good work Peter.

Level 8

How do you know this? Are you on beta?

Level 9

Nope - beta is not available. I was just being sarcastic.  I'm sure he is working hard behind the scenes though.  It seems he updates us every couple of months with the progress.  Let's wait until November.  Maybe something will be out by then.

Level 8

Solarwinds is a joke!! They have until the end of December to impress us with what they've been working countless hours on for over a year, otherwise the joke will be on them next May when they call us to renew which at that point we'll kindly just hangup.   -$1600 no one to blame but yourselves!

Level 8

So what are our alternatives? ServiceNow? Casper?

Level 8

We're just starting to look around a decision was made this past week to explore other options for next years budget. I've only looked at SYS-AID online but haven't yet had a chance to download and try a demo. I'm sure we can find other help desk options from vendors that actually give a dam about their customers and the product they sell, but its pretty clear we're not getting any satisfaction from these yahoos.

R.I.P.

A WHD customer since 2004 and very happy...died 2012 from Solarwinds acquisition.

Level 10

There doesn't seem to be much response from SolarWinds on this forum.  Try the Solarwinds forum on SpiceWorks - they have a massive, very active user community with a dedicated SolarWinds community rep.  Spiceworks also makes a great free (ad-supported) IT Tool for small-medium business (including ticketing, but not as feature-rich as WHD in some areas).

Level 9

Glen - Any chatter about the webhelpdesk product from the Spiceworks forum?

Level 9

we don't want beta. We want the real thing. Your customers have waited a long time for any update. 

Level 10

Haven't even looked yet - I have been following a number of posts on the SolarWinds WHD forums, but I don't believe any of them have been resolved yet.

I used SpiceWorks at a former employer, and it's a great tool, but it's different from WHD - it does a much better job of some things, and has a lot more functionality in some areas, but it also has its own weak points.  I'm a huge fan of the SpiceWorks community, though - it's got probably the fastest response time on questions that I have seen on any public forum.  Because there is such a large user base, it gets a lot of exposure, and the manufacturer reps seem to be pretty active.

We are living with WHD for now, as we have other priorities, and a move to another platform would be painful right now.  We do have a project on our pile to review it, and see what other options we have.

Level 10

Better beta than nothing (or a buggy release)...

Product Manager
Product Manager

Hello folks, some of you may know me, some may not from my Product Management days when I was the Product Manager for Web Help Desk.  My name is Brandon Shopp and I now oversee the cross functional or cross domain set of products like Kiwi Syslog, DameWare, Web Help Desk, etc. and this includes Product Management.  First, I appreciate your candid feedback as well as patience as we have worked on this release.  As Peter touched on in his post above, there has been some under the hood work we have had to do in order to enable us to deliver some of the features we have discussed above and other that are on our to-do list.  I know Peter has had some of you on UI and UX reviews for this release and we are working now on setting up a webinar style walk through to get your feedback and thoughts soon (as in next week or two) and after that we will be heading into RC not too far down the road.  If you are interested in attending this review and feedback session, please let myself or Peter know and we will ensure you are on it.

Second, Peter and I have been spending a good amount of time recently start to put together our list for the next release based on feedback through support, here on thwack via the forum or the ideas section, direct phone and email discussions with folks, feedback from our sales engineering team, surveys we have done and other sources as well.  I would like to discuss and review this with many of you as well if you are willing and available.

If at any time you have questions, concerns, etc. please DM me via thwack or email/call me if you have my info already.

Level 11

This needs to be more visible!

Are all the above mentioned features targeted for 12.2? Or will they be scattered across several releases?

Product Manager
Product Manager

patricks wrote:

Are all the above mentioned features targeted for 12.2?

Everything written in this blog post is coming in the release we are working on now.

patricks wrote:

This needs to be more visible!

Can you elaborate on this visibility comment.  What part specifically needs to be more visible?

Level 11

Good to hear!

I was just commenting that your comment might be better suited as its own post? Seems like a lot of people are on the edge of their seats for a release.

Product Manager
Product Manager

Good feedback and makes sense.  I may look into doing something directly in the Web Help Desk section of thwack. 

Product Manager
Product Manager

We plan on having a UI/UX review before we go into RC soon later this week.  Please let myself or Peter know if you are interested so we can put you on the invite.

Level 10

I would be interested to help.

Level 8

Please put me down! thanks!

Level 8

Please add an undo function to the note section. I have made the mistake a few times now of writing a long note, pasting something over it and not being able to undo. This is extremely frustrating!

Thanks!!!

Level 11

CTRL + Z should work in the helpdesk.

Level 8

Just did a quick test. Command+Z does work(Mac). However, when inserting a list, it will overwrite the content instead of making the content a list. And from there you can't undo.

This forum works correctly, or as expected. WHD does not.

Level 11

Ick, you’re right. Probably would be a good candidate to do to the feature request section.

Product Manager
Product Manager

You mean you make mistakes?

I do hourly, so I agree this makes sense.  I will let Peter chime in here if he needs more info, but we will open an enhancement if one doesn't exist already in our internal systems.

Level 14

I would open to this as well.

Level 15

Thanks! I contacted you over email to schedule a call to get your feedback.

Level 15

Thanks, email invite is in your mailbox!

Level 15

Thanks Tom, looking forward to get your feedback!

Would definitely be interested.