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Announcing Azure Preview Portal Improvements (February Update)

Posted on 2 mars, 2015

Principal PM Manager, Azure
Hi, Azure friends! Today we are proud to announce a new set of improvements to the Azure Preview Portal. Just like last month, all these enhancements are in response to the great feedback that we have been getting from you. We are very grateful for that and look forward to more of it! This post contains a detailed description of the changes, but if you are in a hurry here is a quick summary:
  • Improved Portal interactions
    • Keyboard shortcuts
    • New (and simpler) startup experience
    • Added Minimize command to all blades
    • Improvements in Browse
    • Maximized blades only scroll vertically
    • Simpler default startboard
    • New setting: disable animations
    • Show value of chart in X axis on hover
    • More resources implementing the Essentials pattern
  • Audit logs
  • Marketplace improvements
    • Updated New hub
    • Social sharing of marketplace items
    • Improved pricing tier blade
  • Improved browser interactions
    • Browser Back button support (preview)
    • Text selection in blade headers
If you have a bit more time, keep on reading.

Improved portal interactions

Keyboard shortcuts

Enabling keyboard shortcuts has been a very common and popular ask since we first unveiled the Azure Preview Portal. We have added keyboard shortcuts to open the hubs and to navigate between the blades. You can learn more about the specific shortcuts and their functionality in a great blog post from one of our team members, Jakub. Of course, this is just the start. We’re doing more work in this area and are eager to get your feedback. Let us know what you think!

New (and simpler) startup experience

The first thing that you will notice when you come to the portal is a simpler and more elegant splash screen: StartupScreen In addition to the visual changes, we’ve made functional changes to make startup faster. This is an area where we are still doing a lot of work, but we hope that you can notice the difference so far!

Added Minimize command to all blades

We have added a minimize command in all blades that allows you to collapse a blade if you want to hide its contents: MinimizeCommandInBlades When a blade is minimized, this is how it looks: MinimizedBlade If you want to restore your blade content, just click anywhere on the minimized blade and it will snap back into view!

Browse improvements

Browse is one of the most common starting points for accessing resources in the portal. We have introduced some new capabilities that make it more efficient. This new infrastructure is currently used for Resource Groups only, but will be soon available for the rest of the resource types. Firstly you’ll notice that we only load the first 30 items and show a “Load more” button at the bottom of the browse results blade: Browse Speed and scalability are key here and we’d love to get your feedback as we expand this to other resources. Next, we will be working on some highly-requested features to help you find your resources even quicker (like all resources view, filtering, and subscription filtering). Stay tuned!

Maximized blades only scroll vertically

Previously, maximized blades scrolled both horizontally and vertically. We have updated them to scroll only vertically. The image below shows an example with a Redis Cache instance: RedisCacheMaximized

Simpler default startboard

Based on usage data and the feedback that we have received from you, we changed the default layout of items in the startboard to complement the habits and preferences of most users. Below is an image of the updated startboard: NewStartboard Here are some insights into why we did some of these changes:
  • Browse tile is the most clicked tile, so we put it in a prime location
  • Many of you told us that default size of the map was too big and takes too much space, so we made it smaller. You can still make it bigger again by right clicking on the map and selecting “Customize”
  • Billing tile was moved to a more central location
As you know, the startboard is a space that is intended to be yours. You can customize it (move, resize, remove, or add new parts) to bring the resources and information that you care about front and center!

New setting: Disable animations

If you are using a slower machine you can disable the animations (via a new setting in the Portal Settings blade). DisableAnimations

Show the value of x-axis in charts when hovering on a point

A common complaint is that in our charts it is difficult to determine the x-value for any given point. In this update when you hover on a value in the chart we show what value it refers to in the x-axis: ChartAxisLabel

Resource Group and Redis Cache blades implement the Essentials

Last month we introduced a set of improvements to resource blades to make them simpler (more details here). In this update Redis Cache and Resource Group blades have been updated to use this new pattern. As a result, the blades show more information upfront, have less parts, and offer a centralized settings blade. The rest of the resource blades are being updated and will light up soon.

Audits log

Audit Logs enable you to see all your operation logs in a single view (for all resources across all your subscriptions). Audit Logs are accessible via Browse, like any other resource in the portal: AuditLogsFilterBy The Audit Logs blade shows operation logs for all your resources in all your subscriptions during the past week. Each entry in the list is clickable, so you can get more details: AuditLogs You can filter the events and the time range using the Filter command in the blade (that will open the filter blade): AuditLogsWithFilter We are still working on this feature, but wanted to put this in front of you early so you can start using it and give us feedback. One improvement that you can expect to see soon is improved filtering.

Improvements in Marketplace

New Create Hub

The New hub used to include list of commonly-created resources. Based on your feedback, we make our creation experience closer to this the taxonomy of products and services on the Azure website. In the updated experience when you click on New (at the bottom-left corner of the screen), you get a list of categories as well as your recently created resource types: NewHub Clicking on any of the categories returns a list of relevant items in that category. If you can’t find what you are looking for, jump to the Marketplace (at the bottom of the blade) and we’ll take you to the full Marketplace! NewHubFlyout Try it out and let us know what you think!

Social sharing of marketplace items

We have enabled social sharing of the marketplace items. It is available in the description page. Below is a screenshot that shows this new capability: MarketplaceSocial

Improved Pricing Tier blade

During creation of a resource, we ask for a pricing tier for the resource that you are creating. We improved the pricing tier blade so that all the cards are smaller, and you can switch between all the available options and the recommended ones: NewPricingTier

Improved browser interactions

Browser Back button support (preview)

A common cause of frustration was that clicking the browser’s Back button navigates you out of the portal to an error screen. We have been working on updating the browser URL as you navigate the portal and back button interaction. The work in this space is still not done (we are expecting to update this in the next few weeks), but we have introduced a first version of this feature: right now, as you navigate we add some information in your browser URL (basically, this refers to the set of blades in your active navigation path). When you click the back button, we take you to the startboard. Clicking the forward button takes you to the previous active journey. This first step will solve the problem of “when using the portal and clicking the browser back button I get to an error page”, which many of you reported. In the past few days, we have been following up with a few customers who mentioned that this situation has gotten better with this new feature.

Next steps: update browser URL and improved back button support

In the next few weeks you can expect to see that as you navigate the browser URL bar will show a URL associated with the last blade in your blade sequence. This URL will be a deep link to that blade that you can add to your browser bookmarks or share with a colleague. Clicking the back button would take you to the previous blade (or journey if applicable).  We will send an update as soon as this gets deployed.

Selecting text in the blade headers

Selecting text in the header of the blades was challenging, as we were masking some interactions. This has been corrected.

Coming soon…

There is a lot of great stuff in this update. Our team is already working on the next set of improvements. Here are a few that you can expect to see soon:
  • All resources view
  • Complete updating the browser URL + back button support
  • More resources consuming the Essentials pattern
  • Simplify the portal customization experience
  • Subscription filtering
I’d like to end with a big thanks to YOU. Your feedback has driven the work for this update and all the work that we are currently doing. I hope you enjoy all of these new updates to the portal and look forward to hearing from you soon!