View Updates: Process Flow & Dependency Matrix Redesigns

As mentioned earlier this week, we’ve started an early “Spring cleaning” of the most used visualizations in Ardoq. Today we’re very happy to release a new version of the Process Flow and Dependency Matrix views into the app.

Process Flow

Smarter and clearer reference drawing

References are now drawn to reduce intersecting and be more direct with more right angles which makes your diagrams much more legible, compact and presentable. Here’s a diagram drawn with the old view…

…and with the new version…

Note that in the old Process Flow view example, there are 3 instances of references crossing over one another, while in the new view there are none. The references are also more neatly collected, and overall the second diagram looks much more polished.

One more example, let’s look at a bigger dataset with more references between more components:

Zooming in on a piece of this diagram, you can see how the view now handles intersecting references with bridges:

Bridges are now drawn at intersection points to make it clearer which reference is which.

Dependency Matrix

The Dependency Matrix view, which lets you visualize (and create) references between components in a matrix format, has a few new tricks up its sleeve as well.

First, the design has gotten a touch up, with a cleaner overall look, and enlarged, easier to click checkmarks:

Another change that might not be noticeable at first: with 2 workspaces open in this view, they are each listed on a separate axis of the matrix, whereas previously, all components from both workspaces would be listed on both axes. This change will make it much easier to create and manage references between workspaces.

Finally, conditional formatting has been added to this view; components and the checkboxes representing references can be colored based on criteria you choose.

Try Them Out

Both new views are now available in your Ardoq instance, so log in and try them out!

Need help adding views to Ardoq? Check out this knowledge base article.


Improved Dependency Map, Big Upcoming Changes to Process Flow

We’re proud of the new features and upgrades we’ve released over the past year, but it’s been a while since the core Ardoq views have gotten the “Spring cleaning” treatment. We recently started that process – improving the appearance and functionality of our most-used views. First up, the Dependency Map view.

Dependency Map Improvements

The most noticeable change to this view is the fresh coat of paint – the colors have been updated to be a little less “loud”, and overall the formatting and subtle design touches have been improved.

Under the hood, we’ve also added a big new feature: component grouping. By clicking the grouping button at the top-left of the visualization (image), you’re able to define the groups in the view using reference type, parent, field value, or tags.

Combining this with our recent addition of conditional component formatting allows you to create custom groups with component colors representing dimensions you care about.

For example, below are servers grouped by their operating systems, colored to indicate how much risk each one represents:

The combination of these two features unlocks a ton of new possibilities, so get in the app and try it out!

Adding grouping functionality across the board

We’ve begun the process of adding this grouping functionality throughout Ardoq, starting with the Aggregation view, and now the Depedency Map view. Keep an eye out for the addition of the grouping in other views in the future!

Under construction: Process Flow

Next up on our cleanup list is Process Flow, one of Ardoq’s most used views.

Process Flow is getting a major overhaul to the way components and references are drawn. The result will be a denser but also more legible view, with much more logical reference drawing.

2 areas that you’ll notice particular improvement in: references crossing over each other, and components that reference themselves. Check out the same data drawn with the old vs new Process Flow below:

Drag the slider to the left & right to compare. On the left is the current Process Flow view, on the right, the future. Note the increased density of the new view, and the more logical placement of references.

Keep an eye out for more

This is just the beginning – keep an eye out for more improvements to your favorite Ardoq views.


Ardoq Zapier Integration Beta

As we announced in December, we’ve released a beta version of Ardoq webhooks (to get access, use the form at the bottom of this post). Powered by webhooks, we’ve also built a beta version of an Ardoq integration with Zapier, the popular automation platform that connects web apps.

Zapier Integrations

Using Zapier, you can do things like create new Trello tasks from starred Gmail messages, get notified about Github activity in HipChat…the possibilities are extensive. But the point is: Zapier has a huge catalog of web apps that you can create integrations between, and we want to add Ardoq to that list.

What You Can Do With a Zapier-Ardoq Integration

As this is a beta implementation, there are some limitations, primarily regarding updating Ardoq data. For now, you can’t update existing Ardoq objects, only create them. We plan on releasing an update soon that will enable updating, but for now most of the power of Ardoq+Zapier will come from pushing Ardoq changes to other platforms, and not vice versa.

With this limitation in mind, here are some of the things you can do right now with the Zapier integration:

  • Push all changes made in Ardoq to Google Sheets to keep a log – keep a record in Google sheets of any change made in your Ardoq workspace, information on who made it, etc.

  • Create Ardoq components from email – send an email to your unique Zapier email address to quickly add components to Ardoq on the go.

  • Create and update tasks/issues based on Ardoq changes – you can create new Github, JIRA, or Trello issues based on components that get created in Ardoq. You can also update those issues when changes are made to the corresponding components in Ardoq.

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Ardoq Object Update Capabilities Coming Soon

When we release the ability to search for and update objects in Ardoq, you’ll be able to build more robust integrations, such as:

  • New Relic asset management – keep your assets in Ardoq updated based on changes detected by New Relic.

  • 2-way integrations with task managers – mirror changes made in either Ardoq or an app like Trello or JIRA, so you can bridge the gap between tools used in your organization.

Try It Out

We’re excited to hear about how you make use of Zapier and Ardoq! Leave your email in the form below to get beta access, or email us at contact@ardoq.com .

Note: some of the actions described in this post will require the paid plan of Zapier.


New Feature: Bulk Component Editing

Bulk editing is something that many customers have asked us for, and today we’re happy to deliver. Bulk editing is available now in the product, so try it out and let us know what you think!

Selecting multiple components

In the navigator, hold down Cmd (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) to select multiple components.

Note that simply clicking a component to focus on it does not include it in the selection, you’ll need to Cmd/Ctrl click that component as well.

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Drag components to reorder or change hierarchy

You can drag selected components into new positions in their current level, or move them to a different hierarchy level (where you can move them of course depends on the hierarchy rules of your model). This example uses a flexible model, so the components can be placed at any hierarchy level:

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Bulk edit component properties

By right clicking on the selected components, you can edit the properties and fields that exist in all of the component types. Whatever change you make in this dialog will be applied to all selected components.

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Bulk tag components

Using Tagscape view, you can drag multiple components from the navigator to a tag to apply it to them.

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Webhooks & Conditional Component Formatting - Our Holiday Gifts to You

Happy Holidays! We agonized over what to get for you (you’re tough to shop for, you know), but in the end, we decided a handmade present would show you how much we care. Let’s unwrap.

Webhooks (beta)

We’ve implemented a beta version of webhooks, and it’s currently open to testers – just submit your email below to request access.

We’ve always offered a REST API to give you direct access to your data, but webhooks introduces a new capability that lets you subscribe to and act on changes that happen in Ardoq.

Webhooks can be used to build sophisticated integrations with Ardoq, and makes integration that needs to synchronize state or react to changes in Ardoq a lot easier to write. We’re excited to see what creative uses our users come up with using them.

To sign up for beta access, please submit the email address associated with your Ardoq account:

Conditional Component Formatting (released)

Conditional component formatting is an extension of the filtering functionality of Ardoq. But instead of showing or hiding components, with conditional formatting the matching components are set to the color you choose.

Set component color based on component properties.

This is nice for creating heatmaps – you can set color gradients for things that are critical, expensive, risky, etc. Like webhooks, we have some use cases in mind for this feature, but are very excited to see what our users use it for.

Components that don’t match any conditional formatting show up as gray.

This feature is live in production and ready for you to play with.

That’s a Wrap ( Bad joke eel )

Let us know how you like your presents – hopefully they make you feel like this:

Cheers to a new year,
Team Ardoq


Reducing Risk by Relinquishing Control

Our thoughts on required fields

I wanted to take the time to write a quick summary on a topic that is brought up in nearly every meeting we have with potential customers, especially from the management and enterprise architecture teams:

“Do you support required fields?”

Or

“Can I define what types of integrations are allowed?”

Short answer: No.

But the reasons behind this answer make for a much more interesting blog topic. Our lack of support for especially required fields is one of design, not poor product development.

A feature, not a bug.

Our experience with documentation and traditional enterprise architecture tools has left a bad taste in our mouth, hence why we started Ardoq. One of the most irritating things was the tool’s ability to encourage you to NOT document. For example, we have had situations in our professional career where we found a new system formally missing from the EA repository. Being responsible employees, we thought to update the lacking repository, but then hit a wall with a notification: You can not commit this change without filling in the mandatory fields…

Often these fields are not readily available, things like cost, responsible maintainer, etc. If we knew all these details, it’s likely that we would already have the system in our repository.

The point is, if you require too much of people, they are more likely to just not update or document. By allowing people to quickly input information, even if it’s incomplete, you can identify more “known unknowns” – that is, you will know what documentation is missing. This is still a potential risk, but much less of a risk than not knowing if the system, change, integration, etc., even exists.

The same can be said for rules on dependencies (relationship, integrations, etc.). Yes, ideally you would like your enterprise architect’s design guidelines to be followed, but not allowing people to document the reality can be dangerous.

We have actually seen this when we compared the as-is model found in the customer’s traditional EA tool with the data dumped into Ardoq (the reality). The EA team was quickly made aware of multiple integrations that were dangerous not only to their architecture design (point-to-point), but to legal compliance in handling sensitive data (not over HTTPS).

But then how can we manage the potential chaos?

This is a very valid concern.

Traditionally, reports have provided a sense of safety and control – but all too often it is a false sense. We’ve seen too many cases where architects depend on static reports with outdated information – making decisions based on that information can have costly results.

We understand that Ardoq can fall short in feature comparisons when it comes to reporting, since we don’t offer out-of-the-box reports…yet. We’re a startup with limited resources, and we have prioritized gathering data and automatically visualizing it over vanity reports.

We believe that Ardoq enables processes that result in accurate, up-to-date and quality data. With that data as the foundation of your architecture documentation, you can derive much more valuable insights from live representations of that data than report functionality based on outdated, fragmented and incomplete documentation.

Our vision is to continue to build on our powerful data model to create better reporting and analysis. We also hope to include functionality that will allow you to define suggested rules, and instead of enforcing them strictly, would inform managers as to the health of their documentation and highlight deviatioons from their design. This would enable quick and dirty documentation but still allow for the necessary QA process.

Looking forward

Our first round of enabling Elasticsearch (due to be delivered within 2016) in our search and filtering functionality will provide the basis for more powerful queries and analysis. We are also working with partners and customers to build custom plugins in-app to support gap analysis and conditional highlighting. These developments will be the first steps towards dashboards and reports based on the reality of your documentation, not your best guess.

We just recently improved our filtering capabilities to allow for filtering by “empty” fields. This will give managers the ability to filter workspaces to get a short list of the components or references which are missing field values that should be documented. And since we have full history and an overview of the creator and last to modify, you will know who to contact to get the missing info updated.

At the end of the day, Ardoq is a tool. Nothing is a substitute for good processes and a culture which prioritizes quality documentation. We hope to provide you with the tools and functionality you need to maintain speed and control in your development.