Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Q&A: Version 6 Improvements to the KEPServerEX User Interface

Posted by Glen Marquis

KEPServerEX® Version 6 is the result of nearly two years of planning and development work. Much of this effort was focused on architectural changes designed to meet the evolving industrial connectivity needs of our customers, culminating into a more positive and efficient user experience. All components of Version 6 strive to support and streamline the installation, deployment, and maintenance of our customers' projects—and the new user interface (UI) is no exception.

KEPServerEX users are accustomed to interacting with a simple yet capable UI. With Version 6, we hope to deliver the most positive user experience on the market while also building a foundation to better support future improvements. To learn more about the improved KEPServerEX UI, please read the Q&A pairs below.

Q: Why did Kepware choose to update the KEPServerEX UI for Version 6?
A: A major initiative for Version 6 was to redesign the server configuration to support multiple languages and a Configuration API. We tackled this by separating the Configuration API from the UI, which allowed us to develop the UI without using pre-designed forms and windows. This is an exciting change because we can now add more new features without being held to UI constraints and can provide a consistent user experience across all KEPServerEX components.

Q: What are some of the most significant changes to the UI?
A: Version 6 has a number of enhancements that improve how users navigate and interact with KEPServerEX. The primary changes are a new unified project tree view, a simplified property editor, and an updated wizard.

Unified Project Tree View
This enhancement simplifies the management of all installed products and features. Previous versions relied on a drop-down menu, which required users to select each advanced plug-in and component and switch views to see each item. Project properties and alias configurations were also located in different areas of the UI.

With KEPServerEX Version 6, all components are available in a single, simplified view with new visual icons. Users can now configure all advanced plug-ins, aliases, and project properties from the unified tree. A new connectivity node also enables users to view a list of all channels in the detail view.

Unified Tree View image

Property Editor
The simplified property editor is now presented in a unified grid format. This provides users with a consistent experience across all KEPServerEX components and enables them to change objects without closing the Property Editor dialog. These improvements reduce the confusion many users experienced when trying to locate specific properties.

Property Editor image

With Version 6, the channel and device wizards received a significant update. In addition to a fresh look, the directive text has been moved above the property being edited. The summary page is also now editable, enabling users to make changes without navigating back through the wizard.

Channel Wizard Image

Q: Who will benefit most from the new UI?
A: Consistent with Kepware’s overall development philosophy, these enhancements were designed to meet the needs of all end users—but they are especially helpful to those who manage large deployments and/or have multiple instances of KEPServerEX.

Kepware’s internal teams also benefit—especially Technical Support representatives, who will be able to see at a glance what users have installed and configured in their projects, allowing for more efficient and effective troubleshooting.

Q: What are the plans for the next UI design and functionality updates?
A: We continually collect feedback and suggestions for enhancements that will help us provide users with a streamlined and effective product experience. The ultimate goal is to proactively meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers and end users. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment on this post or send us an email and let us know what you’d like to see in upcoming releases.

Learn More

For a digital tour of the new user interface, watch the KEPServerEX Version 6 Webinar recording. To experience the new capabilities firsthand, download a free demo of KEPServerEX Version 6. I hope you find these enhancements helpful!

Download Free Demo