Recently we completed a project to update and enhance our Customer Portal. Active m-Power customers can check it out here. Among the many changes we rolled out, we wanted to share with you a simple, yet effective way to enhance your applications: Intelligent Links.
Our Customer Portal consists of a series of Dashboard screens, allowing our users to find and search out key pieces of information. For instance, customers can click on links for “View My Closed Issues” or “View My Open Issues.” Rather than leave these links as plain text-based links, we made them Intelligent by determining how many records existed for each link and displaying that number directly on the link. This allows users to get an idea for how many records they should expect to see if they decide to drill-down for more information. For instance, if my company had submitted 5 issues, and 3 had been closed, but 2 remained open, my links would look like this:
“View My 3 Closed Issues”
“View My 2 Open Issues”
As the data in the tables change, the links will automatically update to reference the correct count. It is a small example of how you can take basic functionality and add a minimal amount of logic to greatly increase the end-user’s experience.
Here is how we did it
Step 1: Determining the Count
In the example I referenced above, both of the links will call a Report. In each Report, I added a numeric calculation that is set to 1. The goal of this calculation is that once displayed on the grand total line, it will give me precisely the number of records within the data set.
After compiling my Report, I opened m-Painter and added Custom Import tags around my calculation’s Grand Total substitution. (More info on Custom Imports can be found here). Save your changes within m-Painter.
Step 2: Adding your Intelligent Counter
For the next step, head to the dashboard application that contains the two links for Closed and Open Issues. Open m-Painter. Place your cursor between “My” and “Closed/Open.” Click the “Import” icon. Select the Report you created in Step 1. Lastly, under the “Import Options” drop-down, select “Custom Import.” Click OK.
Step 3: Creating the Link
Highlight the entire line reading “View My @import Closed Issues” and select the “Link” icon. Select the same report you selected in Step 2. However, we need to add a view extra parameters:
?run=1 ~~ This parameter will tell m-Power to skip the prompt page and take us directly to the output
&D_DETAIL=1 ~~ This parameter will tell m-Power to only detail records and not show any total level values, including the Total value that is displayed for Step 2. Be sure to save your changes within m-Painter.
Be sure to add any other additional parameters that may be necessary for your application to function properly.
In just 3 short steps we were able to re-purpose our basic report to now include a record counter that is available to users before they access the data. Now that is intelligence that’s a real benefit for the end user!
To see a live example of this feature, please check out our Crazy Bikes Demo here. Notice that the first column denotes the number of orders within the drill-down link? End users can now get an idea of how many records exist within the data set, even before they drill-down!