A little over a month after the release of OrgVue 1.8, which brought visualisations like this:
(Stephen Few, if you ever do me honour of reading this blog, I look forward to mounting a defence for this visualisation).
And web surveys like this:
Comes OrgVue 1.9.
It’s been a busy month here in the Development and Quality team. We’ve been beavering away to bring greater performance and a better all-round experience to OrgVue. Ordinarily we aim to release once every 3 months, but the work we just completed was simply too good to hold up. So on Tuesday we released version 1.9 to Live.
What do you get?
Firstly, I’m thrilled that we have been able to find big speed gains in the way we perform calculations in OrgVue. For typical data with typical calculations the increase should be 10 fold or more!
To be illustrative, in an organisation of 10,000 employees, an analysis involving 10 conditional rollups (and leading to 100,000 calculations) used to take a little over 60 seconds. That sounds slow, and it was (though there is a lot going under the hood as the hierarchy is walked).
It now completes in 2 seconds.
This means that where we once advised performing some of your calculations on your data before loading into OrgVue, where those calculations are dependent upon filters that no longer makes sense… do it right in the tool and see the results instantly. Because this is such a big deal – enabling analysis that was previously nigh on impossible via traditional means – I am going to blog about this more in the coming months with simple worked examples. For those of you who use a few functions in Excel, this is going to be a breath of fresh air.
Next, we’ve given focus to how OrgVue can be become a friendlier tool to live with day in, day out. There are a lot of capabilities within Workspace and Reader, and working with your data can be very fluid with a little know how. But there have been a few rough edges and lots of hard to find shortcuts. Drag and Drop is a great example. You probably already knew you could drag and drop cards in the Org Chart to move them around. But did you know that where ever you saw a node (OrgVue’s name for a record) on a panel you could drag it to another node anywhere else on the screen to move it, or even drop it on the delete button to remove it? Probably not, because it was previously not that obvious.
So, now wherever you see a node displayed with a little square block next to it you will know that it can be dragged.
Oh, and even when your Org Chart has 10s of 1000’s of people on it, you can now drag those cards around in the browser to reparent them.
And there’s more – search for nodes matching a certain criteria and you can drag them all to delete or reparent in one shot. Now that’s a big improvement.
Looking to more aesthetic elements, when it comes to usability, really focusing on the small things counts. Building a complex product is easy. Building something simple is truly hard and that was the genius of Steve Jobs. As Director of Product Design at Concentra I am totally committed to building something simple. That can be quite a challenge in a business full of very smart consultants, but nonetheless it is critical to the success of OrgVue and I will not shirk from that responsibility.
So, there are host a small tweaks we have made throughout the UI to remove what I term visual noise – things that probably go unnoticed to most but which have by stealth been making the experience just that little less joyful. Take for example the big dark banner that frowned down on the rest of the screen. We’ve tightened it up and added a gradient. It just feels a little less heavy, and gives back a some of those important pixels you need to get your job done.
Secondly, we’ve rejigged the more common dialogs. Little things as I said, but by asking the right questions in the right order (and not asking ones we don’t need an answer for), it all means you have to think a little less hard. And by OrgVue being a little less demanding, you are better able to get on with the task at hand.
Here’s another important improvement. How often have been working in OrgVue and suddenly thought “Hang on, there’s something missing here?”. Perhaps you’ve just been doing some analysis of team wide performance and realised that you had a filter on the data you’d forgotten about. Well, it’s been a long standing fault in OrgVue that we never really gave you much indication that a filter was applied. No longer – it’s now summarised across the canvas exactly what the filter is. Helpful, and overdue. We’ve taken that one step further. With the release of pagination in 1.8, you can now rapidly spin through your Organisation by Department, Country, Grade – you name it. And now it’s all nicely signposted.
There are a host of other improvements. Editing directly in the grid is now as natural as we always hoped it would be. It’s been a tough journey getting there – but it’s been worth it. Try typing on a cell in the Nationality column on the grid (or any text column you choose). Try typing the first letter of a Nationality and pressing tab. Keep pressing tab. OrgVue will cycle through all the matches it can find. Another little thing, but so much nicer.
Then there is the process of bulk copy and paste between OrgVue and Excel. This has always been an amazing feature, and a great accelerator for getting started, but we’ve ironed out one or two rough edges. There’s definitely more to do here as it’s amazingly powerful. With clever use you’ll never write a VLOOKUP again (or if you’ve heard of VLOOKUP, you’ll never need to care what it is – just know that something once hard is now super easy!). I’m going to leave the full detail of Copy and Paste for another article. There’s just too many shortcuts to cover now.
We’re by no means resting on our laurels when it comes to usability. There’s a lot more to come and I share your pain when things just don’t seem as elegant and pleasing as they should. We hope you enjoy OrgVue 1.9 and I’d love to hear your feedback, positive or negative.