Last month in Serverboards

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After releasing the first public version of Serverboards, we are back into development mode and we already have new features, a lot of polishing, the initial implementation of the new header design, and long term plans.

Also we decided that we prefer to go all in for a 17.10 release instead of releasing a mild 17.07 release. Sorry if you were waiting for it, but 17.10 will be awesome.

Features

Improvements to service details

We added direct access to related logs and rules at services details, so everything related to a service is accesible from this tab.

Also there is a search function in the logs, so it is possible to easy filter by the text or by the metadata, both in the filtered log for services, and the general log.

Plugin tests, frontend tests and test overhaul

Until now there was some exhaustive automatic testing for the backend, but almost nothing for the frontend, and nothing for the plugins. If we want Serverboards to be a stable platform, it really needs to be well tested.

So we added webdriver.io tests for the frontend, very basic now, but to be expanded as we add new features. There is also initial support for plugin tests.

Frontend tests use Google Chrome in an Xvfb headless X display. Its not the fastest on earth, but works well, and it gives some screenshots of the failing tests which are very valuable.

We added initial plugin test with support from the backend, but early on we realised that it is not necesary, as it can all be client based: now it searches for a component type test and if any, it runs the given command for all the methods that start of end with test, in alphabetical order. This allows to create tests in a specific order, for example naming them as t01_mytest_test(). There is still some parts missing as frontend testing and so on, but we prefer to do continuous improvements than one complete solution that never arrives.

We also improve the use of the Gitlab CI cache, so it recompile only as needed, and tries to do many tests in parallel (with GNU parallel), each with its own database. This was a huge improvement in speed.

Overall tests are now faster, and more complete, but more work is needed to cover all the application.

UX and design changes

New header design

We are already working on the new header design which actually means a full redesign for the navigation of the application.

Work in progress new header design

Now it has collapsible side menu, fast selector for project and section, cleanup of all sections on the header, and easier expansion for new functionalities per screen. We are still fixing the edges, but soon it will avaliable on the unstable channel.

And looks better.

UX tests for new add and new rules

We have designs ready for the new rules system, based on complex pipelines with several actions, if-then-else and so on. And we are doing UX tests with real users, so that we really get it right.

Also we found that discovery is not great to say the least, so we plan to overhaul the add button to be more generic in the sense that everything can be added from there, but much more easy to use. Long plan we want it to jus tshow everything avaialbe on the Serverboards ecosystem, with a clear mark if its not installed yet, and allow to just install it by clikcing on it, no need to search for features in a store or anything. This way if you are trying to achieve something that is not installed yet, but that exists, you will have it right there, no question of where to look for it or anything.

If you want to be a UX test user, please contact us at ux@serverboards.io. We are eager to have more UX test users.

No 17.07 release, we go straight for 17.10

Checking all the features and changes we had in the roadmap, we had very limited plan fo the features and enhancements that we wanted for the 17.07 release, and even for the 17.10. So we decided for skipping the 17.7 and go for a 6 months release cadence. There is always a unstable channel for those who like to live to the limit. We use contininous delivery, which means that every release at master should be a good release, so actually the risk should be low. But maybe all features are not implemented yet, so maybe it will be an incomplete version of or vision.

Also we decided to focus our effors for one specific niche of users: IT support. We plan to add even more server based monitoring, automation and management, but also we will add support for easy management of the users of your infrastructure, with LDAP and AD integrations, and some extra goodies we think will help with the user managment.

This is a community project

We want to emphathise that we want Serverboards to be a community project. There is a company behind it, but all software is Apache 2 license, and we are never going to change it. So please, use it, allow us to help everybody creating a great product. Comment on blog posts, on the forums, on github, or twitter. We would love to hear from you an create a great community around Serverboards.