The Diffusion Management Console, Past and Present

The Diffusion Management Console has been a staple feature of Diffusion since 2015, allowing users to monitor and, more recently, configure their Diffusion server. It has undergone a lot of change since its inception. With the release of Diffusion 6.3 in May 2019, we began to focus on making the console a capable tool not only for administrators to monitor and manage the server itself, but also a workbench for developers and architects.

What does this mean in practice? Well, let’s take a quick tour of the improvements we’ve already made, and what you can expect from Diffusion 6.5.

Diffusion 6.2 (November 2018)

The topic tree in Diffusion 6.2

The security tab in Diffusion 6.2

For a few releases, the console had received relatively little attention, as work was put into new and redesigned update and fetch APIs. Despite the lack of console changes, these new APIs provide the groundwork for the modern console’s abilities to administer the topic tree.

Diffusion 6.3 (May 2019)

The release of 6.3 saw a visual overhaul of the console, to unify the styles of the individual components which had diverged over time. This visual overhaul was not just a fresh lick of paint though – internally, 90% of the console had been re-written in TypeScript. This huge overhaul resulted in the elimination of hard-to-diagnose issues and marked the beginning of a shift towards our use of modern web technologies.

The topic tree tab in Diffusion 6.3, showing the new details view

The security tab in Diffusion 6.3, showing a visual tidy-up

These two wide-reaching changes were not all, though: the console now gave users the ability to add and remove topics, letting them design and administer their topic tree structure from anywhere, without having to write a single line of code.

Diffusion 6.4 (December 2019)

For 6.4, the main focus was on improving the usability of the console. The topic browser had improved scalability and could now easily handle production-sized topic trees with multiple millions of topics in wide sub-trees. Not only could topic values in JSON and binary now be viewed in human-readable formats, but 6.4 brought the ability to update topics directly from the browser. There were also fixes for longstanding pitfalls in the dashboard, in addition to misaligned visual elements and jumpy animations, and many more small quality-of-life issues.

Diffusion 6.4 also introduced improvements to topic views – and to help users kickstart their use of this powerful new feature, the console shipped with a fully interactive topic view editor. With syntax highlighting and a built-in assistant, the required knowledge barrier for effectively using the power of topic views has been greatly reduced.

Diffusion 6.5 (July 2020)

While the user experience for the console improved considerably between 6.2 and 6.4, the underlying systems remained largely unchanged (TypeScript notwithstanding). In order to continue to make improvements, and facilitate a tighter integration between the management console and our Diffusion Cloud dashboard, we are moving the console to a new web development stack, using Vue 2.6 and Bootstrap 4 (via Bootstrap-Vue).

For you, as a console user, this will mean several things:

  • A more integrated Cloud dashboard, where you no longer need to transition to a console to perform certain activities.
  • A refreshed visual style, including a design overhaul for security management features.
  • Improved navigation between tabs and keyboard usability.
  • The ability to have multiple different console views open in different tabs (leveraging Diffusion 6.5’s support for shared web workers)

Additionally, the transition to a modern web framework will make development easier – meaning we can improve and fix the console more quickly. This release also includes:

  • Simple configuration for the new remote servers feature.
  • Redesigned interfaces for configuring security and authentication.
  • More information in the session browser, including user properties and the ability to close sessions.

We hope you enjoy the new console. Please get in touch through our support team with any feedback or feature requests.