Announcing: Brazos UI Enterprise 4

Scott Francis
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LI-BrazosOur BP Labs team has released Brazos UI Enterprise version 4 last week.  I can’t emphasize enough what an awesome bit of engineering and coordination this release represents.

Before we get into the details, let me just say how proud I am of our team for the planning and effort behind this release, and the laser focus on customer experience in all aspects of the release planning. This release represents the cumulative learning of 3 years of being the best UI framework for IBM BPM on the market, with more than 10x the number of production deployments of any other UI toolkit on the market. Brazos continues to dramatically reduce UI development costs for BPM projects, while producing more engaging user interfaces that just happen to look great across a range of device screen sizes and touch interfaces.  But let’s set aside how good the toolkit is, and how well received it is in the market, and talk about the philosophy behind our approach.

We are making long-term investments in Brazos UI – beyond just normal break fix maintenance.  This is apparent from the quality workmanship we put in and the thoughtfulness of the work.  Our team anticipated two years ago the need to make these changes and carefully plotted out the right time to make the underlying upgrades.  We believe in incremental, cumulative improvements and investments in our products, and the release history shows it.

We consciously make design and development decisions with our existing customers in mind. We strive to make Brazos UI easy to upgrade – even for major releases like version 4. We work very hard not to break your existing coaches. We build tools to make the upgrade easier for existing customers if we can’t eliminate every last issue (see below). We optimize for customer experience first, rather than for our own development costs (we invested somewhere around 16 person weeks on additional effort to protect the customer experience of the upgrade).  This is a core prioritization that our team takes to heart.

Brazos UI 4.0 has many improvements, but at the core of the release is upgrading the underlying libraries that we use. Bootstrap mainly, but also JQuery, and FontAwesome.

We were relatively slow to upgrade these underlying technologies because a naïve implementation would have forced breaking changes for our users of previous Brazos UI versions, and we generally do everything we can to avoid that.

This upgrade puts us in a position to start leveraging new technologies, and makes our path to add ever more interesting controls to the palette that much clearer.  All of which is important, but is secondary to a great customer experience.

With that preamble out-of-the-way, let’s get on with the release announcement:

It is important to us to keep Brazos UI up-to-date with the latest UI technologies.  As such, The 4.0 release focuses on upgrading the underlying technologies upon which Brazos builds. Here is a list of the major upgraded components:

  • Upgraded from Bootstrap v2.3.2 to Bootstrap v3.3.4
  • Upgraded from jQuery v1.8 to jQuery v1.11.2
  • Upgraded from Font Awesome 3.2.1 to Font Awesome 4.3.0

This release of Brazos UI requires more steps than the usual Brazos upgrade, but fear not! Our team has written a Brazos 4.0 Upgrade Guide that will give you all the details you need to upgrade (the TLDR; version is that certain types of CSS customization will need modification – and that’s it!).   Because it is so important for us to make these easy for our customers to do, we’ve also released a new free feature in our Neches Process Analysis product that will identify any areas of your solution that need to be updated as part of the Brazos UI 4.0 upgrade. Upload your process application and look for the ! next to your process app in Neches. Additional details are found in the Brazos 4.0 Upgrade Guide.  Moreover, if you’re a subscriber to our support and maintenance program, our team can help you through it if you need our assistance.

Taking a step back, our BP Labs team has covered all the bases:

  • We’ve made it as easy as it can possibly be to upgrade, and made many design and development decisions that cost us extra effort to make the upgrade seamless.
  • We’ve documented the few things that are left that we couldn’t design in
  • We’ve provided a tool to detect places in your solution that need an update
  • We’ll provide the human expertise to help update your solution if you’re a support and maintenance subscriber

Our customers get first-rate service.  Perhaps surprisingly to some, that often includes a significant investment in technology, but we never forget the human touch when needed.

Brazos 4.0.0 also includes the following new features and improvements, in addition to fixes for 17 customer reported bugs:

  • Improved performance
  • The Data Table and Table controls now include a button that allows users to download the underlying data in CSV format (Microsoft Excel compatible).
  • Form label alignment can now be inherited. This means if you like your labels to appear above your controls (or left of your controls), you can change that configuration once, and see that alignment in all child Sections.
  • Sections and Columns can also control the alignment of numerical inputs (and inherit this configuration from parent Sections and Columns). This means it’s now easy to left-align the text inside of the Input Decimal and Input Integer controls.
  • Labels are automatically hidden in table cells unless they’re wrapped in a column/section. This avoids a common development annoyance.
  • Tables and Data Tables now take up less vertical space than before, especially in the read-only configuration.
  • Brazos controls now support the “HIDDEN” visibility option.

You can find the full details in the Brazos UI release notes.

 

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