For the majority of 2018, our team was busy working on a new and improved version of Yurbi. We didn’t have a fancy codename for it, it was simply, version 11. Version 10 of Yurbi was released in 2016 and we aim to do a major version update every 3 years, so it was time.
As you can tell from our Changelog, we release new Yurbi fixes and improvements almost weekly, but it was time for something special. So, in early 2018, we started to plan version 11.
Our approach to designing software is a little like dusting (except for us, making better software is not a chore). Software design, as with dusting, just can’t be done once. You can’t do it and forget it. It’s a process that you have to do quite often to keep your software current, to incorporate user feedback and to leverage new trends in the industry.
Otherwise, just like never dusting results in you having dustballs, in the software industry, never refreshing results in you having old, legacy software that ends up collecting dustballs as shelf-ware.
As we set out to build version 11, we had a vision of a few key things to incorporate into all our planning. They were to:
1) Really focus on past user feedback. We had about 2 years worth of feedback on the version 10 interface and lots of in-house experience using Yurbi (yes, we eat our own dog food). This gave us a lot of interface enhancements that we wanted to do, to make the overall usage of Yurbi more intuitive.
2) Speed up report building. We thought we had nailed the combination of ease of use and report building power in version 10. But, we did so at the cost of report development speed. The back and forth nature of the report builder was a challenge for many, especially our power users. We had to make the report building experience faster.
3) Refreshing the interface. No major version goes without an interface refresh to leverage modern styles and UI best practices. For us, we wanted to make the Yurbi interface more consistent, easier to brand and to white label (a big focus for us).
4) Make migration form v10 easy. The good thing about working on version 11, is that we’ve had 10 attempts to get it right in the past. Over the past 19 years (it all started with Yurbi’s predecessor, OakTree Navigator, back in 2000), we understand both the good and the bad regarding updates and migrations. Like touching a hot stove, you learn the most from the bad ones. Our goal was to make migrating to version 11 as simple and seamless as possible.
Here’s the spoiler alert if you don’t get into the rest of this article as we go through all the updates, we nailed all 4 of our initial goals.
In the remainder of this article, we’ll hit the highlights of the main improvements and new features in version 11. Some features are deserving of their own article to shine the spotlight on them, but we’ll cover the main highlights here.
As mentioned above, we had the goal of modernizing the interface, but also streamlining it. We wanted to put the focus less on Yurbi and more on your data. That’s just the type of folks we are, our goal is to make you look better. You (or in this case, your data) are the star of the show.
To this end, we shrunk up the Yurbi header quite a bit, we removed the footer (there was just no need to have a floor on a dashboard, let it scroll!). This had a secondary benefit of making it easier to brand and white label Yurbi for our partners.
In fact, throughout the version 11 interface, we removed a lot of text. To our surprise, version 10 was a little wordy. We learned this when we built the multi-lingual version and also the support requests we would get from partners asking how to change the text. The solution, make things more intuitive with less text.
But there’s an exception. Yurbi v10 also had lots of icons. Hover icons on dashboard widgets, icons in the library, header, admin, everywhere. Who has time to hover and figure out what all those icons mean? Part of version 11 was to convert all those cryptic buttons, which many people never took the time to click to learn what they did, into simple words that clearly show what they do. Also, with our Phrase Manager feature, it’s easy to update those words to say what you want (or translate into other languages).
In general we got away from the long horizontal lists of buttons and converted them to action menus. This gives us the ability to add a lot of new features in the future, without impacting the main design of Yurbi.
We wanted to spend a lot of time and ❤️on the dashboard component of Yurbi. I mean, we are a dashboard and reporting solution, so dashboards are rather important.
There was one major feature that customers and evaluators of Yurbi had been asking for since version 10 was released. The ability to apply a filter to update all reports on the dashboard at the same time.
We did it! Yurbi v11 now has Global Dashboard Filters. But as with anything in Yurbi, the goal is to make the feature something for business users, not just technical developers. And as with everything else in Yurbi, our goal is not just to provide hard-coded features, but to make everything configurable, agile and self-service oriented.
So we built a dashboard filter, that allows you to create any type of date, numeric, or text based filter you want and to easily build the relationship of how that filter applies to each report on your dashboard. Then, as an added plus, you can save those filters into Saved Views, that you can easily click to restore that view of your dashboard. These filters and views can be created by the initial dashboard builder, but they can also be created by each individual Agent, or View-Only, user in Yurbi.
This approach is much more flexible than just making a mandatory relationship that all fields named “customer” are updated when you add a filter on the customer field. Yurbi is designed to connect all your data, from many different data sources. Thus, a “customer” in data source A, may be called “client” in data source B and “id” in data source C. This feature allows you to easily build a filter to connect the relationship of all those data source reports.
In addition to the Global Filters and Saved Views, we also spent time and attention toward making the dashboard layout more precise. We did a major redesign of the dashboard selector and made the dashboard search in the Public and Private library more intuitive. We also completely revamped the hover icons of dashboard widgets and added an action menu. Stay tuned for all the powerful things we add to that action menu.
We didn’t leave out the Library in our version 11 redesign. There were a few things we wanted to focus on in the Library.
First, was a little cluttered. There was lots of data there, some important, some not so important. So, we removed many of the columns of information we displayed in the Library. To not lose the information there, we added a hover card. So, as you mouse and linger on a report, a card appears with the information we removed, as well as some action buttons for the main features, Run and Share. We plan to make this hover card something you can configure in the future.
One thing we noticed in working with clients, some of the power of the Yurbi Library was being lost in the version 10 design. We had a Favorites folder (think of it as a place to bookmark reports and dashboards for easy access), the Public Folder, and a Private Folder (your own private sandbox). Because that Private folder was way down at the bottom of a potentially long list of Public Folders, it was often missed or misunderstood.
We redesigned the Library to bring a greater focus on the Favorites, Public, and Private folder concept and we also revamped our mini-library so that everywhere you select, or save, or interact with the Library anywhere in the product, you get the new tabbed approach as well.
We also made the management of folders and permissions more intuitive with lots of small touches throughout.
The Yurbi Report Builder is where we spent most of our redesign time. As mentioned in the intro, version 10 had done a decent job with the easy, yet powerful side of report building, but there was lots of improvement to make in the speed of the report building process.
First thing we did was get rid of the “wizard” style next and back button approach to building. Many users said they wanted a 1-screen builder. We aimed to go above and beyond, make it a 1-screen builder and make it easier.
One challenge of the 1-screen builder is to convey all the information we did in v10 and not lose anything. We moved from the big bulky horizontal card approach in v10 to a new sleek vertical card in version 11. The new card expands as you add formulas or criteria so you don’t lose that valuable info. We also added an action menu on the data cards, to eliminate cryptic icons.
Another common feedback in our builder was to make it easier to know the impact of report changes as you make them. In version 10, there was a lot of hitting the next button, preview button, then back button to change, then next, then preview. Needless to say, a lot of back and forth.
In version 11, you have real-time preview. Everything you do in the builder, you get a real-time look at how that impacted your report design. This was a big challenge, as it involved real-time calls to the database and timing issues, and different scopes of datasets are needed when you do various pivot tables or visualizations. We took care of the complexity and now it just simply works! We also added features so you can turn off our preview limits if you did want to see the full scope of your data in the preview (although, we recommend you use the View Fullscreen if you want that).
We also didn’t want adding prompts to your report to be a distraction from your preview. So, by default, we suppress any prompts you add to the report as you are building, which let you move even faster.
We added a tabbed ribbon above the preview to contain all our data prep features, we call that the Output tab. Also, for the visualization building, we added a Visualization tab. Everything is right at your fingertips as you build and all changes preview live. It also gives us a framework to add many more features into the builder.
We converted cryptic icons to action menus, we moved the field builder to above the report tree, so all field related stuff is on the left, and we also added some smart logic to the report saving feature to eliminate accidental overwrites. Lastly, we improved some of the error messages (but we admit, we still have a lot of work to do in this area).
It’s a new builder, but it still has the same power and feel of the old. So transitioning users from building reports in v10 to v11 will be easy. We tried to give them all the good, without any of the bad.
If you are still reading to this point, first thank you, second the eye strain must be real. We’ll speed it up a bit.
The main things we did in the Architect and Admin areas are to align with our overall vision spelled out above. We improved the navigation, eliminated unnecessary text, converted icons to text and action menus. These sections just flow with the rest of the product now.
We did add some cool features, for example, if you go into Permissions under Admin, the search bar actually works in version 11 and it leverages fuzzy search. As you type, it doesn’t just bring user names that match exactly what you are typing but things similar to it as well. It’s pretty cool (and powerful). We plan to launch that in other areas of the product as well.
One thing we are really proud of is while we did all the improvements above for version 11, we never missed a beat when it came to improving version 10. In fact, because version 11 took way longer than we expected to complete (you can’t rush fine wine), we actually started to take version 11 features and move them back into version 10.
Here’s a short list of all the new improvements we added into version 10 (and version 11):
Lest we forget, an easy migration was our focus. This will be the smallest section of this article. How do you upgrade to version 11? Simply backup your database and Yurbi directory (we always recommend that), and run the latest update file.
Just like a version 10 update, it will take about 20 seconds and bam, you’re on version 11. Since this is a major update, we do stress that it’s important to have all your end users clear their browser cache to get all the new files.
There is one major exception to this simplicity. If you are using the CustomJS or CustomCSS files to customize, white label, or otherwise change Yurbi v10, there is about an 88.7% chance you will need to manually re-write your customizations (how’s that for data precision?). You’ll want to upgrade Yurbi in a test environment and work with our support team if you need any help at all re-applying your customizations.
So what is next? Well, the dusting doesn’t stop, or in our case, the software improvements don’t stop. We have big plans.
In the near term, we are continuing down our big vision plans outlined above and we’re revamping our data visualization process. We’re also going to focus more on user onboarding and integrated help.
You can help! Tell us what the important features are that you would like to see. Go to https://feedback.yurbi.com and submit your ideas as well as vote for others.
We’ve got major things planned in 2019 and we’re happy to have you on board with us. We don’t always email (in fact, we rarely do), so to stay in the loop and know what’s happening with Yurbi, please bookmark these links. More importantly, follow us on your favorite social network(s) where we will be posting lots of exciting news, webinars and free training opportunities, and weekly tips and tricks.
And of course, contact our Customer Success team for any assistance or questions you may have. We look forward to having you “Bring Your Data to Lifeⓡ” with Yurbi.