Improving case history
The case history within Clarify has always been a bit of a sore spot with users for a long time.
It was good – in that it made it easy to quickly review the details of the case.
But, it did have its issues:
- Its just one giant text blob.
- You have no control over the formatting.
- Its in chronological order. Sometimes this is OK, but typically you scroll to the bottom to read the most recent activity.
- You don’t have control over the timestamp format (DD/MM/YY vs. MM/DD/YY, as an example).
- The timezone of the timestamp isn’t clear.
- It isn’t easy to hide/remove certain entries.
- Its limited to 32K.
If the case history his its 32K limit, users would see this message:
THIS FIELD HAS EXCEEDED THE MAXIMUM LIMIT. THE ABOVE ENTRY MAY HAVE BEEN TRUNCATED. PLEASE REFER TO THE ACTIVITY LOG FOR COMPLETE INFORMATION.
In later versions of Clarify, they added More, Back, and Refresh buttons, which used ClearBasic to dynamically build up the case history.
This was a definite improvement. The 32K limit no longer mattered. And because its written in ClearBasic, and because you can get at the baseline ClearBasic code, it becomes somewhat easy to control the formatting and content of the case history.
Unfortunately, many of the original problems still remain.
Within Dovetail Agent, we provided the baseline case history, which stayed with our "same look, feel, and function" as Clarify.
We also provided an additional tab that was a dynamic case history.
This dynamically built up the case history from the log entries, close case entries, activity log, etc.
In addition, it had a default sort of reverse chronological order – so the latest stuff was at the top. Users could also click the header to sort the other way, if you really wanted to. This sorting all occurred on the client-side, so additional web requests and database roundtrips were not needed, which improves performance and response time.
Typically, during an implementation, we would work with customers, and help them choose which case history worked best for them (baseline vs. dynamic)
Free to modify
Since we provide the code for building the dynamic case history, you can modify it as you see fit. Want to eliminate certain entries? Go for it. Want to show the site name of the user who logged a note? No problem. Want to not display the Action Type of a note? Its in your power. Want to add custom activities? Add away.
As I mentioned earlier – its in reverse chronological order. And users can simply click to sort in chronological order, if that’s what they choose.
Of course all of our APIs also log to the baseline case history field – we just don’t show that data in the UI. This allows us to still be completely compatible with the Clarify Classic Client.
Timestamps are displayed in the time zone of the user who logs in. In addition, the timestamp is formatted based on the locale of the user. Agents in the US would see 12/25/2008, while users in the UK will see 25/12/2008.
We also include entries that are not typically within the baseline case history – such as the Create Case activity, Add Attachments, and more.
Dovetail Agent V.next
A couple changes are in play for the next release of Dovetail Agent.
Elimination of the baseline case history
Like some of my fellow cohorts in software, we’re taking an opinionated stance. We’ve eliminating the baseline case history element from the page, and replaced it with the dynamic case history. This simplifies the UI, and eliminates the implementation-time decision.
About Time Ago
We’ve also added "about time ago" text to all entries in the case history. Seeing a timestamp of "1/12/2009 10:48:27 AM" is nice and precise, but seeing "about 4 minutes ago" or "about 5 hours ago" typically gives you better information quicker, with less thought. Do you typically care that a case was opened on 6/11/2008 at 10:48:27 AM? Or do you care that this case was opened "about 7 months ago"?
(And don’t worry – the full fidelity of the timestamp is still there, in case you really do need that level of precise information)
We hope you like these changes.
Comments/Ideas/Suggestions are always welcome.