• 5 min read

Azure Preview Portal – November 2015 update

Today we are proud to announce a new set of improvements to the Azure Preview portal.

Hi, Azure friends!

Today we are proud to announce a new 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:

  • Navigation improvements
    • Improved interactions when browsing resources
    • Taking action on a resource directly from browse
    • Simplified default dashboard
  • Notification improvements
  • Marketplace search available in New menu
  • Simplified resource blades
  • Customization improvements and important announcement
  • Visual update: improved dark theme

Navigation improvements

In our last update we improved our main navigation experience and, as a result, browsing through resources became more easily available and therefore the most common entry point for managing resources in the portal. In this update we made the next step and improved the browse resources experience.

Browsing through resources

When you are browsing through a list of resources and click on a resource, the browse blade is now automatically collapsed to a list that displays only resource names. If you close the resource blade, then the browse blade is restored (it expands and shows all the columns again).


This experience makes it easier to both navigate through a list of resources and focus on one resource.


Notice the width of the browse blade has been increased. Also, more resource types now provide additional columns that can be added to the list of resources. For example, the image below shows a list of classic Virtual Machines enriched with the DNS names, size, and VIP columns.


Taking action on a resource directly from browse

You can take action on a resource directly from a browse blade. For example, if you want to connect to, start or stop a Virtual Machine you don’t need to open a resource blade, you can just do it directly from the Virtual Machines list. We have updated the commanding experience in the browse blades to make it more discoverable:


Simplified default dashboard

The default dashboard has been simplified and made more about you. The first tile is All resources and provides access to your resources directly from the dashboard. The other default tiles provide access to Azure Service Health, the Azure Marketplace and Help and Support.


The All resources tile shows the first items in your resources list (sorted alphabetically), but once you use a resource it is automatically moved to the top of the list. You can access one resource by clicking a row in the list or the full list of resources by clicking on the tile container (e.g. in the title).

All Resources tile

The number of resources displayed in this tile depend on its size (which you can control).


Notification improvements

We learned from your feedback and our usability studies that notification were very easy to miss. So we updated them so they’re now more noticeable and discoverable.

  • Show a dismissible toast for every incoming notification
  • Keep the top bar notification icon filled with the color of the most critical notification until you click on it (and see the list of notifications)


If you don’t like the toast behavior, you can turn it off using portal settings.


We have made Marketplace Search available as soon as you open the New menu.


Simplified resource blades

We have simplified resource blades using the following principles:

  • Include all important configurable aspects of a resource in the resource’s Settings blade
    • Settings can be searched
    • Settings are grouped
  • Show a minimal set of tiles by default in the resource blade
    • In general we’ve favored monitoring tiles that expose key metrics

We have applied this pattern to some of the most used resource types (Web Apps, Virtual Machines, Storage, etc.). The result of this change is improved performance, simpler default interaction model, and improved consistency across all resource types. The image below shows this pattern applied to Virtual Machines.


If you to want add more tiles to your resource blade, we made it very easy to open the Tile Gallery from the blade.

Dashboard customization improvements

We have simplified the default dashboard and made the Tile Gallery available from the dashboard, so you can easily add more tiles to it.


The existing pinning experience (pinning the tiles you like as you navigate the portal) is also still available and is a great complement to the Tile Gallery. These are the two ways of configuring your dashboard.

It is important to mention, not all resources expose tiles in the Tile Gallery yet. In the upcoming weeks more resources will be progressively offering their tiles.

Important announcement about blade customizations

TL;DR: In early December we will do a one-time reset of blade customizations so you can take advantage of all the latest performance and usability improvements. This will not affect dashboard customizations.

In some cases, the default layout of these blades has caused performance problems. Performance improvement has been a top priority so we’ve optimized many blades’ default layout for faster loading.  To make sure all users get the performance benefits we will be doing a one-time reset of all blade customizations. Here are a few important aspects of this reset:

  1. This reset will not affect the customizations on your dashboard.
  2. This reset will not affect other user preferences like your preferred language or theme.
  3. As mentioned above, the default layouts for resources will have fewer tiles than before. You can still add those tiles to your blades or the dashboard using the tile gallery. In fact, it’s easier than ever to add tiles to a customizable blade. We’ve added new controls to make that possible.

We hope you’ll enjoy the speedier, Azure portal.

Visual update: improved dark theme

We have made some updates to our visual styling. The most noticeable one is the improvements made to the dark theme. The image below shows a customized dashboard using the updated dark theme.


Let us know what you think!

Coming soon…

We had set a quality bar for ourselves in terms of usability, performance and reliability that we needed to meet in order to make the portal generally available (GA). Our team has been hard at work improving on those areas and we are glad to share that we have met those quality bars. As a result of that we will be making the portal GA very soon! 

It is important to mention that general availability does not mean either our commitment or investment to user experience, quality and agility will be reduced. On the contrary, we will keep innovating and improving at an even faster pace than we have been in the past.

Our top priorities remain the same:

  • Improving performance and reliability
  • Bringing all services to the new portal
  • Continue improving the user experience and usability based on user feedback

Please stay tuned for an update on general availability. We will have news to share very soon!

As always, 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.