IT|Redux

What I Love About Intalio|Cloud, Part 2

Wednesday, November 18th 2009 | Ismael Ghalimi

Today, let’s start with the beginning: Intalio|Cloud’s home page. As with any web-based application, the home page is where most users spend the majority of their time, therefore making it user friendly is absolutely critical. While I learned over the years how to customize Salesforce.com’s home page, I always found its customization tools difficult to use. I also found myself wishing that it made more extensive use of AJAX technologies in order to improve the overall user experience. Fortunately, Intalio|Cloud goes a long way toward fulfilling those wishes.



As can be seen on the screenshot above, Intalio|Cloud’s user interface is closer to the one sported by Microsoft Dynamics CRM rather than Salesforce.com, and this choice was deliberate. Salesforce.com’s user interface did not evolve much since the application was first released ten years ago, and is starting to feel a bit Web 1.0. For Intalio|Cloud, we decided to take full advantage of now-mature AJAX technologies in order to make it a true Rich Internet Application.

The result speaks for itself: an accordion on the left-hand side gives you access to large collections of objects (many more than you could get with an horizontal tab bar), while horizontal tabs are used for showing different dashboards. And a simple drop down menu on the top right lets user quickly switch from User View to Administrator View and Developer View, as long as he or she has the right privileges to do so. Everything is just one or two mouse clicks away, organized in a very logical fashion, while only showing a rather limited number of buttons and options, so that new users do not get overwhelmed at first sight (a common feeling with Salesforce.com or SugarCRM).

But what makes this user interface extremely powerful is that it can be customized right from the home page. Tabs, Views, Reports, Charts, and Widgets can be added without having to go through configuration options hidden deep into some setup area, empowering users to create the dashboards they need to get things done as effectively as possible.

Now, where things get really exciting is that such a design philosophy has been applied beyond the home page, throughout the entire application, and it’s nowhere more evident than when looking at individual records. The following screenshot shows how an instance of the Account object (or any object for that matter) is displayed through a pop-up window. This user interface also makes extensive use of accordions and tabs, giving the user access to a tremendous amount of information without having to browse through very long HTML pages (as is the case with Salesforce.com unfortunately).



Furthermore, the application lets users open as many windows as they want at the same time, allowing records to be compared and data to be copied from one record to another very easily. To make a long story short, Intalio|Cloud provides a true multi-windowing environment, right in the web browser. When using a browser that supports fast execution of JavaScript code (Google’s Chrome or Apple’s Safari), the productivity gains resulting from such a user interface can be very significant.

This is what I love about Intalio|Cloud!

Entry filed under: Cloud Computing

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