Stumbling Through Service Portal

No one today would ever confuse me as a front-end developer or UI designer.  Well, maybe a long time ago.  I did place well the Business Professionals of America national competition in 2001 for document/page design (7th nationally).  So at one point in my life, I had at least a little bit of flair for design.  For a current project, the UX is a big deal (in fact, perhaps the biggest deal), so I’ve decided to knock off the rust and cram 16 years of progress in design and usability into the next few months.  Hence the name: stumbling through.  I don’t imagine this journey is going to be all that smooth.

Things I’ve Learned So Far

  1. Despite the interface taking some getting used to, the Service Portal Designer is an incredibly handy tool.

    I still wish the code editor was better.  In my K17 labs it seemed to be better than it is on my Helsinki instance at work.  But alas, I work in Helsinki, so I find myself spending time at the end of a widget copying out code, pasting it into some other text editor that formats properly, and pasting that back into the widget editor.  Minor gripe, not a terrible work around, and I know a fix is out there in my future.
  2. The concepts for portal design, page design, and widget design are not as hard as they were at first.I struggled at first to find out where I was supposed to work.  What did I need to edit to get the desired effect?  What was off-limit?  Until my first foray into the Service Portal world a month or so ago, I had never tried figuring it out.  Considering an alternate documentation site existed, I expected this to be difficult. (Otherwise, why wouldn’t the official documentation site have all the required information?)  But it’s really not all that difficult, and in the coming weeks I’ll explain this bullet point in more detail.
  3. Angular 1.X isn’t all that bad.For those of us who can’t use Typescript, that is.  Angular is another one of those things that was on my list of “I should probably learn that”, but I never got around to since 1) most of my work is back-end related and 2) the front-end work I do have to do is on a UI made and controlled by someone else.
    I still have interest is some other front-end frameworks I’ve seen such as React and Ember, and I have played with those some.  But in terms of actually learning something, it appears I’m locked in to legacy Angular at this point.
  4. I really lack patience for some things.

    CSS was one of those things.  But I’m improving.  There’s a lot of memorization of what properties there are, what I can set them to, and why I should use them at certain times.  Of course, I had the same kind of memorization curve when I first started programming in 2010.  Maybe it was different since that learning was in school and there wasn’t a strict timeline associated with my learning (other than the semester and a grade, which is much less strict than a project deadline and employment status).
  5. I am starting to get the hang of it.

    That’s the best part of it all.  At the least, I feel like I’m asking good questions to help the design process.

What’s Next?

I’ve been working on widgets that modify some of the out of the box ones: changing the way feedback is done for knowledge articles, changing how the catalog items are presented, etc.  I’ll even post some automated testing updates for this (and I have been using the portal for automated testing on catalog item/record producers with some modifications).  All of this is for a HR Service Portal that’s set to release this Fall.

As I encounter neat things or challenges, I’ll post some tips or walkthroughs here so others can either point out how bad they are and help me improve them, or avoid some headache in the future.


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