Enhancing BI usability: Rethinking BI administration

You’re not wrong. But you’re also not entirely right.

When thinking about improving the usability of Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics software, you might automatically think about a seamless User Interface (UI), that lets business users intuitively browse, explore and share reports, dashboards and other BI content with a few simple clicks.

And it’s true. This is important. But what about the content creation and administration phases? What about building reports and dashboards or managing views and source connections? These processes – whether designed for power or business users – should also be an effortless and intuitive user experience.

With the next release getting closer, everyone at Yellowfin is working hard to provide our users with the best administrative experience possible.

As is the case with every release, we intend to stay true to our values; in particular, we want to keep making things easy for our users, which is why we’ve completely redesigned the administration page.

Get rid of the static!

In previous versions, the administration page mainly consisted of a list of links, which pointed to the different administrative sections. Content was static, and there was limited page functionality. This was, so to speak, just a proxy to Yellowfin’s other administration components.

Therefore, unfortunately, the older admin page provided an indirect and somewhat cumbersome experience for the system administrator. While our possibilities were limited by the available technologies at the time it was developed, there’s definitely a better way to do it today.

One interface to rule them all

The redesigned administration page aims to:

  • Be more dynamic
  • Integrate more functionality

In order to achieve these aspirations, it will:

  • Centralise most administration components into a single page
  • Display information relevant to the administrator (licence status, usage statistics)
  • Allow administrators to manage / view / search system-wide configuration (data sources, views, users, etc) directly from the administration page

Moving on to the client-side

It may sound like a largely cosmetic change, but there’s actually more happening behind the scenes.

UI logic is being pushed to the client-side – we rely on the Backbone.js JavaScript framework to organize and structure our code base, as well as its companion library Underscore.js.

Communication with the server-side is achieved via Ajax calls.

Of course, server-side changes are also involved. Whilst our Web services API does not yet allow us to rely exclusively on it for communication with the Web client, we are laying out the foundations for a future where this will be possible.