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TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer

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Regular Member

TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer

I have been a Web Applications Developer and Web UX Architect/Designer for 20+ years.  Last year, I started working with ThingWorx 8.3.3.  It was quite a paradigm shift for me, but I felt that the composer was a great tool; very legible, easy to understand and use, etc.  Yes, it needed improvements.  But it was still a great product!  And then we upgraded to 8.5.4.  And it was HORRIBLE!  But then I was given hope. 

 

I was super pumped when I heard we were going to upgrade to TWX 9.0.  I had been pushing for it since I heard it was coming out.  We finally upgraded from 8.5.4 YESTERDAY (August 05, 2020)!  I just knew you had fixed all of the super annoying stuff that you inserted in version 8.5.4, and that it would take up less screen space (less scrolling, easier to read), widgets were all fixed, the nag screens would be gone and placed in a user preference.  But instead, it is just more of the same, with only slight usability improvements, not the sweeping improvements I was led to believe were coming. I have immediately run into several things which are making me extremely frustrated.  Here is just a very small sampling of frustrating things:

 

1.  Obsolete bindings for "....<Function Name>...." were removed.

I have found several now so far, and this has rendered my applications completely non-functional.  It appears that only the new (standard) Navigation functions are affected.  My legacy navigators are still completely functional and untouched.  What was the criteria for making these bindings obsolete?  I can find nothing in your documentation about this unexpected development.  The removed bindings passed IDs from the calling mashup, via a Navigator function, to the next mashup.  The same ID is being passed to other widgets and have not been touched.  So WHY are they being removed from my Navigators???  If I try to restore the bindings from the Navigator to my Javascript service via the new tool in the function window (I DO like that feature), and save the mashup, the binding gets removed again.  BUT, if I bind the ID field by going from my JavaScript service TO the navigator, it works and I can save it.  But the bound mashup inside the navigator won't recognize the passed values and fails when viewing the mashup in the browser.  This makes absolutely no sense at all.

 

2.  Getting the following notice on some of my mashups: "This mashup contains widgets that have been automatically updated.  Click Save to accept updates."

It would be very nice to know WHICH WIDGETS were updated, WHY they were updated, and exactly WHAT the updates were.  I don't want to save them until I know what you did to my application without my permission or approval.  It would have been even MUCH better if you would throw up something that says "YOU HAVE THE FOLLOWING WIDGETS THAT REQUIRE THE FOLLOWING CHANGES:"...and list them.  No other development tool or IDE I have used in 25+ years has ever changed my code for me without telling me about it BEFORE doing it so I can take the proper steps.  It would have been very nice if you would have, at the bare minimum, included some kind of warnings that this was going to happen in your documentation.  I guess that's a bridge too far?  And I just discovered that if I click "View Mashup", it saves the changes anyway.  So I just got screwed.

 

3.  THE NAGWARE IS STILL THERE - I was told ON THE PHONE it would go away!

Nagware makes me see red.  I get it.  You want us to move to the new standard widgets.  And we will.  We CAN'T right now, for many reasons.  I have been seeing this nonsensical warning every day all year.  I KNOW it contains deprecated widgets.  I am NOT stupid!  My wife doesn't even nag at me as much as you do with this!  Put something in the preferences to turn the warning ON or OFF.  You have the offending widgets flagged in the explorer window...that's good enough.

 

4.  Connecting lines between widgets

They used to be a DIFFERENT color when you moused over them (green).  Now they are the same color (blue) but only bolded a bit.  Super difficult to see that, especially when you have a whole bunch of them grouped together.  Please put it back to a different color (give users a preference so they can choose a color that they can see.  That way you don't have to worry about pleasing color-blind and vision-impaired people).  What would REALLY be nice is if you could CLICK on a line and it STAYS highlighted so you can trace it up or down from source to target.

Compare 8.5.4 to 9.0: Removed "obsolete" binding...WHY?????Compare 8.5.4 to 9.0: Removed "obsolete" binding...WHY?????Screenshot of warnings.- no explanations givenScreenshot of warnings.- no explanations given

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* An idea that was WAY overdue...I like that you finally included UNDO/REDO...an improvement would be to provide keyboard shortcuts (CTRL-Z / CTRL-SHIFT-Z is pretty standard for web developers).  Also, you should give users the ability to say how many history items they want.  10 items is not always enough.  (Haven't you ever used Microsoft Word?  You have more than 10 history items there.)  I understand the need to minimize it, but it can be better.  The user preferences section would be a great place to provide this option.

* Make the boxes SMALLER like they were in 8.3.3 so I can see my widgets without having to scroll for eternity to find something. You made them bigger in 8.5.4.  And you made them even bigger still in 9.0.  Why?  I'm not blind.

* There are some more subtle changes that I like...I've only been using this for about 12 hours, so I haven't found everything.  I gave 8.3.3 an A+; but so far, I can only give 9.0's Composer a weak grade of C Minus.

10 REPLIES 10
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Re: TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer

Hi @OldGoat.

 

We're sorry that your experience with ThingWorx 9.0 has been unsatisfactory.  PTC takes customer/partner comments very seriously and we will be reviewing this feedback to determine ways we can improve on future releases.  Note that 9.0.1 is targeted for release in late August.  It's not yet known if some of these issues will be addressed in that release.

 

Thank you for taking the time to advise of the frustrations you are experiencing.  Please feel free to provide further feedback on your concerns..

 

Regards.

 

--Sharon

 

 

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Re: TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer - Additional Comments

More problems with the Composer
1. When working in a mashup that doesn't fit the screen entirely, I have to scroll down to find the widget(s) I am working on.  But when I select the widget, the display immediately pops back to the top. I then have to scroll back down to the widget, over and over and over. It also happens every time I make a change to a property. The display does not stay at the area where I am working. This is new in version 9.0's composer, and it is very frustrating.

2. If I am working with a function and I make a change, it collapses the function list. I have to un-collapse the function list, find the function, and un-collapse the properties again. This is very frustrating as well.

3.  I found the new "Category" list in the properties window, which I like.  But there is no way to quickly clear it out.  I recommend a "Reset" button outside the dropdown box (a SMALL button)

4.  The themeable checkboxes now have an annoying blue border when selecting the box.  I can't get rid of it, even if I create my own custom theme.  And the blue border is larger than the checkbox itself.  It makes absolutely no sense.  The display is completely unpredictable.  I removed all of them and reverted back to the legacy checkboxes which act more predictably and I have more control over the display characteristics.

5.  Overall, the screen display is just too full of unnecessary white space.  Boxes take up three to four lines just to display one line within.  Everything is too large for no apparent or good reason, which causes me to have to scroll everything just to find/work on what I need to do.  I am wasting much precious time scrolling and searching for everything instead of actually working.  I have a small monitor.  And it gets even worse if I have to work remotely on my laptop (which is quite often).  It is almost totally illegible/unusable at that point.  

6.  The help screens (click on the "?" in the circle, or mouse over the property name) brings up some text that is very blurry and extremely hard to read...it looks like someone converted text into a very lossy JPG image.

7.  I'm also going to throw in one more exasperated plea for you to get rid of the hugely annoying "Your mashup uses deprecated widgets. Replace them now with new widgets? This action is irreversible." nag warning.  I cannot begin to count how many times I have almost, by accident, clicked the "YES" button.  I DID one time, and had to pull a copy of the mashup from production to replace the "improved" (NOT!) version, losing much work in the process.  At the very least, if you are forcing irreversible changes on us, the tool should create a backup of the original mashup before completely and irreparably destroying it with the new themeable widgets that don't work right.

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Re: TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer - Additional Comments

Hello @OldGoat ,

 

I am Chris Baldwin.  I lead the Product Management team for the ThingWorx Platform.  Thank you for sharing your feedback with our team.  Here is what we are doing about it:

 

  1. Obsolete bindings issues - The intent of this functionality is to ensure the content of your mashup is valid.  We've observed cases while editing and bringing content through from many prior releases creates some data integrity issues that we aimed to correct.  Unfortunately, it may have cleaned up too much.  We have identified these cases especially with the "TargetMashup" property and they will be fixed in 9.0.1 and 9.0.2 patches respectively.
  2. We have fixed the issue to not show any message during auto-update scenarios in the 9.0.1 release.  9.0.3 release will also reduce the size of the messages so that isn't overwhelming.
  3. We are targeting a better handling of the deprecated widget warnings for the 9.1 release.
  4. We have passed along the color feedback for the binding lines to our UX team for evaluation.

In addition, the team and I are willing to meet with you to discuss your experiences in more detail to help influence our product going forward.   Please let me know if you would be interested.

 

Chris Baldwin

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Re: TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer - Additional Comments

Chris,

 

Thank you for your reply; I'm sorry I hadn't had the time to respond in a more timely manner.  Yes, I would like the opportunity to speak you you more concerning the 9.0 Composer.  Since we are working remotely due to the virus stuff, we would have to coordinate a time when my boss (Jeff Williams) and I could be together to speak with you and your team like we did back in March of this year.

 

I hate to be so negative about the new composer; I really do!  I was looking forward to seeing a much better product than 8.5.4...I wanted to love 9.0 more than I loved 8.3.3 (a great tool that made using and learning TWX easy and fun).  I started begging the server team for the upgrade as soon as I heard it was being rolled out.  

 

I want to help make ThingWorx a GREAT product.  If you don't already have one, may I suggest you assemble an Alpha and/or Beta Testing team that can test updates and report potential problems prior to rolling them out to your entire user group?  I would gladly volunteer to be an unpaid member.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I know I had the right to remain silent.  But as a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, I didn't have the ability."

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Re: TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer

I have some other stuff to add to this.

 

1. Widget properties should be sorted by functionality, not alphabetically. It's the responsibility if the widget maker to ensure a good workflow for his widget and the order the properties.

Right now: top, left, width, height are 'randomly' scattered around and you have to search for them EVERY TIME. And it's not one of the features that you rarely use. You use it for every widget that is not full container responsive.

 

As a test, try setting up a Collection widget. See how that goes.

 

2. There was a style introduced in the new widgets for focus state, yet the theme does not support shadows(which is set by default) or a focus state(see attachments). And unfortunately web components widget performance is worse than the now Legacy ones.

 

3. Navigation into a Popup or Modal Popup is broken style wise. Since there is no navigation widget anymore, on which you can set styles, there's a border from the Popup title which you can't get rid of anymore without writing CSS. And if you set nothing to the navigation as Width and Height, it's  all fine. If you go in and edit, you can't save anymore, you MUST set a width and height.

 

4. Entity icons look somewhat alike. This is a new composer issue. All icons are green and dark grey. You don't have visual queues anymore to just snap your mouse to something you catch with the corner of your eye because you know that is supposed to be the color for that type of entity. The difference from the old composer, where you'd know exactly what that entity type without having to double check.

 

Like @OldGoat said. When I switched to the new composer, I HAD to get a 1440p monitor to design for 1080p. There was no other choice. The panels are big, that having to collapse them to just have some real estate in doing something at design time to the widgets is absurd. It would mean modifying the way people work and adding time to their time on tasks. And creating a nasty reflex of collapsing/expanding.

 

 

As a sidenote: there is a case of discrepancy in Learnability vs Efficiency. The platform now focuses on Learnability for new users, and the experienced ones are having all these issues which are not taken into account. Like in marketing, it's much less expensive to keep a customer, than finding a new one. If the platform does not cater for the experienced users, the new ones will have the same problems later on.

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Re: TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer

Hi @GabrielB.

 

Thank you for also providing your feedback on ThingWorx 9.0.  Our teams are currently reviewing.

 

Regards.

 

--Sharon

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Re: TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer

The mashup builder is one of the biggest problems with TWX.  Yes, it makes building applications fast, but so do a bunch of other WYSIWYG products.  However, the limitations imposed by the mashup builder, along with many of the issues described in this thread, PLUS the fact that widgets have a tendency to break between TWX versions have forced us to look towards externalizing all our UIs outside of TWX and using REST APIs to get data to our UIs.  The performance improvements gained by doing this are significant since you do not carry all the JS overhead of EVERY SINGLE TWX WIDGET whether you're using it or not.  

 

Mashup Builder and its resulting runtime need to be the main focus of a future TWX release.  If the issues with mashup builder (and the list is quite long) are not addressed ASAP, TWX is going to start to quickly lose appeal as low code offerings like the MS Power Apps on top of the native IoT cloud solutions will offer significantly more flexibility than TWX will be able to offer.

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Re: TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer

Hello @wposner-2 ,

 

I am Chris Baldwin, Product Management lead for ThingWorx Platform.  I appreciate your honest feedback and we are considering it as part of our product strategy and future releases.

 

If you would like to meet with our product team to discuss these further we would welcome it.  Please let me know.

 

Chris Baldwin

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Re: TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer

Hello @GabrielB ,

 

I am Chris Baldwin, leading product management for the ThingWorx platform.  I appreciate your post.  I am passing your feedback along to our UX design team for future consideration in our releases.

 

If you would like to meet to discuss these items or others with our product team, we would value the time with you.  Please let me know.

 

Chris Baldwin

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Re: TWX 9.0 UPGRADE: Very disappointed with 9.0's Composer

i am sad, that i cant give 2 kudos for this

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