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AutoTag User Interface Redesign and Improvements

Posted on 06/24/2015

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autotag-sq-128As mentioned in an earlier post, we are stepping back and evaluating our current user experience through almost every aspect of the AutoTag product. The goal is simple: to provide a much more fluid and intuitive experience throughout our product.  

Listed below are a few of the interface components that will be receiving the most change.

Interface Redesign

Redesigning a Modern UX for the Macro Wizard

We are aware that the selection and usage of macros in the past has been a manual process.   The UX assists but there is a lot of room for improvement in this area.

So there will be a complete redesign of the user interface regarding how functions and macros are selected. We are also making the ability to use macros within other macros more intuitive. In the end, designing and working with the Windward macro library should be a smooth experience with much of the manual back-end formatting hidden from the UX.

Redesigning the SQL Wizard With a Modern UX Through Extension

SQL WizardThe staff at Windward think that this is one of the components that was designed well from the beginning. We continually hear from clients and prospects alike that the SQL selection wizard is a strength of our application and it promotes the ease of use we strive to achieve. However, we do not settle at Windward. We always feel that we can make something that is already great even better.

Therefore, we will be adding many improvements to the SQL wizard such as date pickers, group by, improved manual join definitions and an advanced SQL editor. The advanced SQL editor will allow for the parsing of more advanced selects live applying the textual select items back to the wizard UX. Plus, the text in select queries will be color-coded according to standards set by other modern SQL editors.

Redesigning the XPath Wizard With a Modern UX and Extended Features

XPath in the past has been difficult to display graphically simply due to the fact that an SQL node can be circular, causing an infinite expansion of the tree. In our re-design we will be able to handle ../ (ancestor) notation in XPath queries. We will also work with more functions (including matches and ends-with) as we are upgrading our XML processing library to make use of the Saxon libraries.

This will allow Windward to improve data grouping that can occur multiple times as well as give the ability to process automatic total calculation for each numeric node to be referenced later in a template. Lastly, there will be an advanced XPath expression editor with syntax highlighting and the ability to parse more advanced XPath statements and apply those elements to the back to graphics elements in the wizard.

Table Wizard

Table Wizard on its WayThe advanced settings in a forEach tag have given our application the ability to process tabular data in a dynamic row and column expansion, but the implementation is not smooth and can be tricky at times. We have also received many requests to dynamically rearrange the order of columns in a table built from forEach tags. The culmination of these types of requests yielded a better way to select tabular data.

The table wizard will present the user with a simplified interface to select, rearrange and show/hide tabular data. This will begin with a live preview of the data selected in a tabular format. This is followed by the ability to select filters dynamically via a drag and drop interface.

The table will appear in a pre-rendered format displaying the first few rows in the template to allow for visual adjustments. This will also eliminate the need to move an end forEach tag to many different positions both inside and outside of tables in order to achieve the desired output. Master-detail relationships will now be set up in the table wizard itself instead of nesting forEach loops manually in table cells. In the end, we are going to present the data in a more simplistic manner that allows for rapid and intuitive changes.

Rework Pods and Dataset UX with Management Interfaces

podsPods have long been a feature unique to Windward and we are building on that. We realize that a large collection of Pods can quickly become cumbersome to manage with the current interface, so we will be re-designing the Pod and Dataset interfaces to introduce management controls.

This will allow you to quickly reference where a Pod is used in a library of templates and update it across all templates. It will also allow for great organization in folder and naming structures with the capability to search through all Pods and Datasets in these structures. We feel this will increase the usage and management of Pods and Datasets.

Other AutoTag Improvements

We’re hard at work on other AutoTag improvements as well. Stay tuned for information on other updated charting, improved features currently in progress and more.

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Author: Ryan Fligg

Ryan, Windward's Sales Engineer, has been with Windward since 2006 in many roles as a sales engineer, IT specialist and account executive. Ryan's background fuels his desire to guide Windward's product development. He now works on the future vision of Windward offerings through creating the product roadmap, responding to customer requests, and communicating what Windward is doing and where it’s headed.

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