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Announcing Azure Preview Portal Improvements

Publicado em 29 janeiro, 2015

Principal PM Manager, Azure
Hi, Azure friends! Today we are proud to announce a set of improvements to the Azure Preview Portal. All of these enhancements are based on the great feedback that we have been getting from you. We are very thankful 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:
  • Improvements to the Resource Blades (scoped to Website and VM blades)
    • Show essential properties at the top of the blade
    • Improve access to essential functionality (like Settings, Tags, RBAC, Quickstart)
    • Improve the resource Settings
      • More comprehensive
      • Improved search
  • Improved Portal interactions
    • Improve how blades with tiles (or “parts” as we call them) display when maximized
    • Make all grid columns resizable
    • Show subscription name when you browse resources
  • Improved personalization
    • Rename, move, delete, and add groups in resource blades (e.g. Websites, VM, etc.)
    • Part Gallery that provides access to parts that can enrich your resource blades
  • Improved browser interactions
    • Open blade in new tab
    • Open blade in new window
If you have a bit more time, keep on reading!

Improvements to resource blades

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 this release we are introducing a set of features that improve the experience of those blades. These capabilities are available in the Website and VM blades. These improvements include:
  • Essentials Panel: Section at the top of the blade that displays relevant properties and provides access to Settings, QuickStart, RBAC (Role Based Access Control), Tags, and the associated Resource Group.
  • Simplified resource blades: These blades have been optimized for everyday use by relocating many parts for easier, quicker access
  • Improve settings blades: The settings blade (the one that provides access to all settings of a resource) is more comprehensive and includes improved search capabilities
The image below shows a snippet of the improved Website blade: website blade  

The Essentials panel

Once you open a Website or VM blade the first difference that you will notice is the Essentials panel. This panel presents key information about the resource (in this case a Website) and is displayed at the top of the blade. Before we introduced this capability, you needed to get through a few clicks (and blades) to get access to this information. Now you can see this information as soon as you open up your Resource Blade! Essentials panel The Essentials panel goes beyond just showing properties—it also provides access to some core functionalities that are available to most resources like the Resource Group, the resource’s Settings blade, Quickstart, Role Base Access Controls (RBAC) and Tags. essentials panel   Providing this information and access to core functionality sets the stage for the next improvement: simplified resource blades.

Simplified resource blades (Websites and VM)

Given the fact that the Essentials panel provides access to key functionality, we have removed the parts and part groups that previously reflected this essential information. We have removed the Summary and Access part groups (since all this is already available in the essentials panel), as well as many other parts that are now surfaced in the improved Settings blade (more on this below). The website blade went from 29 parts to 19 and VM from 20 to 8. As a result, the updated blades (Website and VM for now) are simpler!

Resource Settings blade improvements

We made the resource Settings blade more comprehensive. The pattern that we are trying to establish is that every time that you want to make a change to any resource that you own in Azure, you know exactly where to go! For starters, we will be placing the Settings command first in all resource blades (so far just Websites and VMs, but the rest will follow soon). Access to Settings is also available from the bottom corner of the Essentials panel. Settings Command We also made sure that all relevant settings are available in the Settings blade. For example, the websites settings blade grew from 10 settings to 15 and VM from 5 to 10. We also introduced an improved search in the Settings blade. Notice how a search for “.NET Framework” returns the “Application Settings” blade for a Website (that is the place where the .NET Framework version can be changed). settings.png

Improved Portal Interactions

Improve maximize blades

Many of the blades in the portal can be maximized. This means that they can take advantage of all the available screen real estate. Recently we exposed the maximize button on the top of all blades that can be maximized to make this capability more accessible: Maximize blade command In this update we also improved the layout of a blade when it is maximized. Now, when a blade is maximized, the grouping of parts is preserved, resulting in a more predictable and usable layout. Before this release, a maximized blade looked like this (using the Website blade as an example): web blade   As of this update, maximized blades will look like this: updated max blades   As you can notice, the groups and positions are preserved so the maximized blade now allows you to do work effectively leveraging all that space on your large monitor! This capability is available to all blades that have parts.

Resizable columns in all grids

Columns in all grids can now be resized. When you hover on the header of a grid, you’ll see some handles on the edge of the columns that you can use to make columns smaller or larger. This is available on all grids in the portal! Columns and grids

Subscription name available in Browse

We have added subscription name to most resources in Browse. This will be applied to all resource types in a future update.

Complete the personalization story

The Azure Preview Portal provides personalization capabilities that let you configure it to match the way in which you work. As you already know, all resource blades can be customized. This means that you can resize, remove, or move around any part. To start customizing a blade you have to click the Customize command at the top of the blade (see image below) Enter customize mode   This sets the portal into Customize mode where you can make changes to your blade like resizing, moving, or removing parts. In this update we have introduced two capabilities that make this personalization even better:
  • Part gallery: add more parts to your blade
  • Part group management: rename, delete, add, and reorder groups of parts in your blades

Part Group management

You can now rename, delete, or move groups of parts, as shown in the image below: Group management Also, you can add new groups at the bottom of the blade (and then move them up): New part group  

Part Gallery

At the beginning of this post we mentioned how the resource blades have been simplified. If you miss any of the tiles that have been removed you can bring them back to your blade! The Part Gallery provides access to a set of tiles that you can use in your blade. Just drag a tile from the gallery and drop it in your blade. The image below shows how to bring up the Part Gallery: part-gallery.png This will set the portal to Customize mode and will display the Part Gallery. customize-part-gallery.png Let’s look at this gallery in a bit more of detail, again using the Website resource blade as an example: Part gallery The image below show the Part Gallery for a website filtered to the “Monitoring” category. Filtered part gallery Notice how the parts that are displayed are only the ones that are related with monitoring, which in this case means a set of great charts and metrics for your website!

Browser interactions

One common theme of portal feedback is that many of the most common browser interactions that everyone knows and loves are not available. This is an area that we are actively working on, so stay tuned for many more improvements! In this release we are enabling “Open in new tab” and “Open in new window” for blades. To open a blade a new tab, CTRL + Click on a part. To open it in a new browser window, SHIFT + Click. These gestures also work for most grids in the portal. You may find a few issues here and there – this is work in progress, but given all the feedback that we got from you we wanted to put this out to you soon and get your feedback!  

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:
  • Extension of the resource blade improvements to ALL resource types
  • Updates to the browser URL as you navigate the portal
  • Browser back button support
  • More grid improvements
  • Enhancements to our “Browse” resources experience
  • Ability to filter by subscription
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!