Getting greater insights into Glimpse

It’s the start of another year for Glimpse, and like last year, we are gearing up for more big things. In the first half of the year, we are expecting to get version two out the door – plus more support for new frameworks and platforms.

In 2013, Glimpse version one shipped in February, and since then it’s been a roller-coaster ride of support for additional frameworks (ADO.NET, EF, ASP.NET MVC4, MVC5 and WebForms), great new new features and a design overhaul. In addition we’ve been keeping up with new paradigms and rethinking established ones (support for async, and the new visualizations of WebForms information released in October and November). Some amazing work has gone into all this, and while there are a few names that do stand out (we brought on two new full time contributors Christophe Gijbels and Bj√∂rn Holdt), it’s all down to you guys – so thank you, and we hope you had very Happy Holidays!

With the start of 2014, we are focusing on how we get you the information you need to better understand your application. Most of this boils down to what we are currently calling “context aware UI”. This is based on a realization that we are currently siloing information that can better be represented when shown together, in a unified view.

Currently, this is happening in HUD and the various popup views. Here, we merge together information from the several tabs (such as the execution and SQL tabs), to build a unified picture. But we want to carry this vision beyond just HUD and forward into the main Glimpse UI. Exactly what form this will take, we aren’t sure yet, but it’s something that we are actively working towards.

To this end, we want to better understand how people use and interact with Glimpse. With this information, we feel we can better make the decisions on how to move forward and what impact potential changes will have. To help in doing this, we feel the most effective tool we can introduce is system analytics.

In the past, we’ve made all Glimpse improvement decisions based on anecdotal evidence that hear in the the issues list/forum and by chatting with users at conferences. While this information has been enlightening and hugely helpful, we’re never been able to be quite certain whether we’re helping the majority of you, or just those of you who are active in voicing your opinions.

Removing the Server tab is a great example of where we might not have made the best decision that we could have. We made the change based on feedback from users who said that they didn’t use it. Once it was done, we had a large number of users come back saying that they regularly use this tab. We had no idea these users existed or used Glimpse in the way that they do.

To remedy this, we’d like to introduce metrics into Glimpse to allow us to more fully understand usage, what tabs are being used and what mostly gets thrown by the wayside. This will help us to create a Glimpse that works best for you, based on what you want and need, rather than what we think might be useful. This, we hope, will help us move forward and take Glimpse to the next level.

Being the type of project we are, we will be fully transparent with our findings and what the data is revealing to us. We expect that the metrics will flow through to our site, but we haven’t worked out the exact technical details yet. Additionally, like any similar effort, if for what ever reason you don’t want to participate in providing anonymous usage data, we will provide a simple means to completely opt-out. Lastly, it is intended that none of this effort will impact the runtime or execution of your application which we deem as a key criteria for success.

Like always we would love your feedback and ideas. If anyone is interested in helping out with the dev effort, let us know, as there are several technical challenges that are going to be interesting to work through.

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