Plutora is going through a transformation. We are leaving our old look and feel behind and bringing in Stellar, a fresh, new, user interface design model. (Plutora will still be named Plutora.)
Rather than delaying implementation until the whole application is rewritten, we will be deploying areas of the application as they are completed, which allows us the opportunity to take an Agile approach and take your feedback onboard as we iteratively refine our solution.
Old Plutora Navigation Menu Design
Stellar: Plutora’s New Navigation Menu Design
Previously, we had a Plutora icon and a Home text menu item. Different settings applied to each, and the Plutora icon did not always navigate to a certain page, depending on the account settings set at the customer level. Now, we have replaced the Home navigation text in the standard menu view, and clicking on the Plutora icon will always navigate you to a page selected in the site settings.
Naming under each top-level Navigation item is now consistent. For example, where we previously used to show Releases > Release Manager, we now show Release > Manager, and we have removed the duplication of the top-level word (Release, Environment, and so on). Also, our entity grids (Release, Environment, Deployment Plan, and PIR) are now consistently named “Manager”. For example, Deployment Plan Library has now been renamed Deployment Plan Manager.
Previously, clicking on some of the top-level menu items would result in the user being navigated to a page. Some of the pages that a user would be navigated to were confusing. For example, clicking on Environment would direct the user to the Environment Requests Page rather than to the Environment grid, which shows the list of Environments.
Now, clicking on top-level menu items will not navigate the user to a page. Hovering on a menu item will reveal the second-level menu, which contains the selection of pages that a user can navigate to in a single click.
Previously, two of our top-level menu items had a three-tier structure. For example, Environment > Requests > New TEBR. Within this structure, the middle option could also be clicked, leading to users thinking they were clicking New TEBR, but being unintentionally taken to the Environment Requests page. Now, a reorganization of the menu structure has allowed us to go to a two-tier structure across all menu levels, meaning that all second-tier items are now click-to-navigate items rather than both a navigable selection and an umbrella for more actions.
Previously, to create a new Project Release, users had to navigate to the Release grid, wait for it to load, then click Add New, then select Project Release. There were similar delays in the creation of other entities. Now, we have added a new menu item so that the creation of new items is much faster. With a single click, users with the appropriate permission can now create the following new items:
- Enterprise Release
- Project Release
- Independent Release
- Environment Group
- Master Deployment Plan
- Deployment Plan
- PIR Item
This is a huge win for user experience.
URLs and Routing
Previously, some of the URLs we displayed to users when they navigated around the application from the menu either did not follow a consistent pattern, or did not work when a user typed them in and clicked Enter. Now, whenever a user clicks on a navigation item in the Menu, the user will be directed to the correct page, and the URL will be updated to a logical URL. A user will be able to click refresh, or copy and paste this URL and it will resolve to the same page.
It is important to note that navigating to windows from other areas of the application, like opening a TECR from the Environment Requests Page, for example, will not result in a navigable URL being created. This is already the case in our application before the release of the improved menu, and the functionality to deliver sensible, well-structured URLs across Plutora will be rolled out as we rebuild each area of Plutora.
Previously, Favorite items were located under each major navigation item; Favorite Releases under Releases, and TECRs and TEBRs under Environments, and so on. Now, we have a dedicated spot in the Menu where all Favourites are located. Users will find this located under the star icon, which matches the icon that you click on in each entity to save that item as a Favorite.
Display of Search Items, Recent Items, and Favorites
To make it quicker and more intuitive for users to find the items they are looking for in these areas, items have the corresponding icon and color-coding for fast identification. This applies to Release Categories, as well as TECR and TEBR, with styles matching those that appear elsewhere in Plutora.
Previously our Settings menu item was located with the general navigation items for day-to-day usage of Plutora. To make this more consistent with most applications we are now locating the administration areas of Organization Structure, User Management, and Customization under the standard settings cogwheel icon on the right-hand side of the navigation menu.
The menu has been built to be responsive. This means that on narrower screens, the menu structure will collapse and all items will be available to be navigated to from the left-hand side of the screen when the user clicks on the “hamburger” that appears in the top left of the screen.
While the new menu has been built to be responsive, it is important to note that it has not been built to detect device types and tailor behavior for mobile devices. Additionally, existing screens and windows, like a Release or TEBR have not yet been rebuilt in Stellar. For our users this means:
- We have the same behavior for both desktop and mobile – so we have not made custom changes for mobile, such as thicker headers for better touchscreen experience.
- All the existing pages and grids that use different technology have been made to work with Stellar, but have not yet been rebuilt. This means that while the menu will be responsive, existing windows will operate in the same way as they currently do. Screens and pages will be updated individually as we roll Stellar out across the application.