January 2020 Chartbrew Update

January 2020 Chartbrew Update

First month of the year, done ✅

January was a month of heavy usage of Chartbrew from my part. I started using the platform with all the products I'm working on and this enabled me to spot new things that can be improved and bugs to fix. It was also a month of planning and experimenting which involves novel collaborative features when it comes to data visualisation tools. I'll go more in-depth with that on another post that's dropping next week. But first, charts time ?

Show me the numbers

As this month I mainly sat down and coded most of the time, I didn't speak too much publicly about Chartbrew as I did in December and this can be seen from the number of new users and new stargazers on Github.

New Signups - 9

New Projects - 13

New Charts - 18

New Stargazers - 4

Feature of the month - Drafts

The drafts feature was introduced at the beginning of January, but it was perfected through the month since it required quite a lot of changes in the back-end. Nevertheless, the drafts feature is making the Chart creation much easier since all the work is saved through the process. There is an autosave feature attached to it which is "on" by default when first creating a chart and "off" when editing a chart that was already created.

Autosave charts in Chartbrew
The Autosave option and the notification

This feature seemed to be an absolute must in my usage of Chartbrew since I would often interrupt my work on a chart and come back with some new ideas. I would just update the draft with my current work and then resume the work later. All the drafts are visible on the dashboard with a special label and can even be hidden with the push of a new button on the side menu. Have a look at the screenshot below:

Drafts in Chartbrew
Special side-menu option available on the Dashboard

The draft feature is still being adjusted to this day and if you have a chance to give Chartbrew a try, your feedback will be much appreciated. For the future, I'm thinking that the draft feature should be extended to create drafts from existing charts to make sure the user doesn't override live settings on a chart before having the final solution. This feature is tracked here.

Open-Source improvements

On the open-source side, we have two new major fixes to help developers set up Charbrew on their servers much easier.

  • Unified the environmental variables into one .env file in the root folder of the project
  • Modified the setup scripts to stop using cp -n since it has different behaviour on certain UNIX systems which resulted in a lot of confusion when setting up the project
  • (Bonus) Fixed crashes caused by the Headway widget for presenting the live Changelog inside the application.

The next step into making the setup easier will be to create a wizard-like setup process using the create-chartbrew-app CLI tool. This sits in the TODO list and will probably be out in February-March.

Of course, the open-source version has all the features that are discussed in the updates blog posts. If you want to take it for a spin, head over to the Github page and read the instructions on how to get started.

Moving forward

Moving forward into February, the plan is to start working on improving the experience over on the Chart Builder interface. There will be a slightly changed onboarding experience where the user will have more guidance when creating the first chart. The wizard chart setup will become less segmented and more to the point as well. But more on this next month!

If you haven't already, give Chartbrew a try and create charts from your APIs or databases. If you do, shoot me an email saying "Hi" at [email protected] and I'll set up your account with 6 months of free Basic plan.

Until next time,

-Raz - @razvanilin

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