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September update: Azure Preview Portal improvements

Publikováno dne 21 září, 2015

Principal PM Manager, Azure

Today we’re proud to announce a set of improvements to the Azure Preview Portal. Like last time, all these enhancements are in response to the great feedback we’ve received from you. We’re very grateful for your feedback and look forward to more of it!

Here’s a quick summary of the main changes:

  • Improved navigation
    • Upgraded the left jumpbar to a customizable favorites bar
    • Added resources search to the top bar
    • Browse through the entire list of Azure services
      • The list includes services in both the classic and preview portals
      • The list can be filtered
    • Improved support integration (ticket management, support center, etc.)
    • Moved portal functions (Active, Notifications, Settings, Support, and Account) to the top bar to a position consistent with other Microsoft products
    • Simplified experience for switching tasks (previously known as Active)
    • Updated keyboard shortcuts to work with the updated navigation experience
  • Resource experience
    • When opening a resource blade (Web App, VM, etc.) open its settings automatically
    • Improved styling and grouping of settings blade for better information density
    • Move resources between subscriptions and resource groups (preview feature, supported by a few resources)
  • Customization
    • Simplified tile customization experience for the dashboard and resource blades

Improved navigation

We improved the main navigation experience to make common flows more effective based both on what you have been telling us and how you use the portal. One of our key goals is to make it easier and faster for you to find resources that are important to you (Web Apps, Virtual Machines, etc.) and perform tasks on them. We’ve considerably reduced the amount of clicks to perform the most common flows in the process.

1. Updated navigation 

Left bar

The left bar is the key navigation artifact to access your resources and tools. The left bar functions are always available at the left of the screen, no matter what you are doing or where you are in the portal.

2. Left bar
The menu icon at the top allows expanding or collapsing the left bar. This gives you control over screen real estate without losing functionality.

3. Expand - collapse
To create a resource, the + New item at the top gives access to the marketplace and all Azure offerings, just like in the previous navigation experience.

4. Left bar - new
The Favorites section is fully customizable and provides direct access to your favorite Azure Services. Clicking on any item in the list opens the browse blade for the associated service. The image below shows the result of clicking the All resources view.

5. Left bar - favorites


We pre-populated the favorites list with some of the most-used services. If these are not what you use most, you have full control over the list and can add, remove or reorder items!

The Browse menu at the bottom of the list gives you access to the entire list of services available in Azure (similar to Browse in the previous design). A few comments about the list:

  • The list contains all services available on Azure (both in the classic and preview portals).
  • The list can be filtered by service name.
  • Every item can be added or removed to favorites using the star icon to the right of the name.
  • Items available in the preview portal open the Browse experience for the associated resource.
  • Items available in the classic portal show a special icon and deep link to the classic portal.

6. Left bar - browse list
Pro tip: You can get the Browse services list using the B keyboard shortcut.

Top bar

The top bar provides access to key portal functions. Functions that are always available, no matter what you’re doing or where you are in the portal.

7. Top bar

Dashboard, breadcrumbs and active

Clicking on the text Microsoft Azure takes you to the dashboard. If you are not in the dashboard, the breadcrumbs provide information about all the blades you visited and help you navigate through (clicking on the name of a blade brings it to focus).

Switching tasks (aka Active/Journeys) is represented as a dropdown of breadcrumbs to better represent the intent, as shown in the image below.

8. Switching tasks

Resource search

We introduced a search box in the top bar that allows you to search for resources in all subscriptions you have access to. The search box is always available.

9. Search
Pro tip: You can set the focus in the search box using the / keyboard shortcut.

Notifications

We moved notifications to the top right corner. Clicking on the notifications icon shows a dropdown with notifications. Each notification can be clicked to open a blade with more details.

10. Notifications

Support integration

The top bar provides access to common support functionality.

11. Support

Settings, customization and account

Both Customize (enter customization mode to move, resize and add tiles) and Settings (change language, theme, across the portal, etc.) are accessible from the top bar. The account menu works the same as it previously did in that you can logout, change directories or jump to the classic portal.

Keyboard shortcuts

We updated the keyboard shortcuts to work with the updated navigation experience. A few worth mentioning include:

  • / sets the focus in the global search box
  • B opens the “Browse” list
  • H goes to the dashboard
  • G + A go to all resources
  • G + R go to resource group

To get the full list of shortcuts just press ? and you’ll get a help panel with all the shortcuts!

Resource experience

Resource blades are the blades that surface Azure resources like Websites, VMs, SQL Databases, etc. They are a common starting point or destination when you use the Azure portal. In the past we made improvements like Essentials and Settings that simplified and standardized the experience for managing different types of resources.

Open settings blade automatically

We found a very high correlation between opening the Resource blade and its associated Settings blade: Most customers who open a resource blade most often open its associated settings blade. That said, we are opening both at the same time to make those settings available as soon as you access the resource.

12. Auto-open settings

In addition, we changed the style in the settings blade to improve information density and added support for grouping (which will progressively become available for more resources in the upcoming weeks).

Moving a resource to another resource group and subscription (preview)

Some resources expose a Move command that allow you to move them to another resource group or subscription. The image below shows an example of the experience for the SQL Server blade.

13. Resource move
This capability is currently available for SQL Server, DocumentDB, Search, Data Factory and Batch. In the upcoming weeks more services will include this functionality.

Customization improvements

The Azure Preview Portal has very powerful customization capabilities allowing you to personalize it to match how you work. The tiles in the dashboard and resource blades can be resized, moved and removed. In addition, you can add new tiles to the resource blades.

To customize a tile, hover over it and leave the mouse there for about a second. That will display the customization options in a blue bar at the top of the tile.

14. Customization
Using that bar you can:

  • Remove the tile clicking the X.
  • Resize the tile selecting a new size.
  • Move the tile around, dragging it from its top bar (you’ll notice the drag handle).

Note: Once you resize or move a tile, the portal will automatically enter customization mode. This option is also available as a button in the top bar allowing you to easily move, resize, or remove other tiles.

15. Customization mode
To exit customization mode, click the Done button at the top, any part of the dashboard background or just hit the ESC key.

Coming Soon…

There’s a lot of great stuff in this update and our team is already working on the next set of improvements! Here are a few you can expect to see soon:

  • Improved performance. This is a main area of focus for our team. We’ve made a lot of improvements in this space and we know there’s work ahead of us, but we are working hard on this!
  • More navigation improvements.
  • Expand coverage of move a resource to another resource group/subscription functionality.
  • Improved integration support within the portal.

 

I’d like to close with a big thanks to YOU. Your feedback has driven the work for this update and all the work we are currently doing.