Introducing the CTF

 

When Jive SBS released this March with the newly developed Content Type Framework (CTF), it unlocked a world of limitless possibilities.  Perhaps one of the greatest (and most overlooked) features in the Jive SBS 3.0 release, the CTF allows business owners the ability to dream big without taking a big hit to the wallet by providing developers with simple, easy-to-use hooks for creating new content types like events, ideas, forms and more.  Customizations that would have previously taken several months or longer can be condensed into far shorter development cycles and can now all be done inside of a plugin.  This has the added benefit of reducing long-term cost of ownership, as it ensures developers will be insulated from core product changes, making upgrades and patch release updates a breeze.

 

Naturally, given all of the benefits of the framework, we couldn't resist taking advantage of it ourselves!  In the latest release of the Supportal we introduced a new customer environment tracking feature built on top of the CTF that we hope will shape our customer support experience in the months and years to come.

 

 

What is a customer environment?

 

Simply put, it is a collection of structured data that gives Support details on your setup, e.g., which version of the product you are using, the database you're hooked up to, and special configuration options that you use.  When published, they look similar to a document:

 

environment_view.png

 

Because the environment form is built on top of the CTF, commenting, tagging, search and other extras are all features that essentially come along for free.  The editing experience is just like a regular form:

 

environment_edit.png

 

Once an environment has been created, you'll want to use it when creating new cases in the Supportal:

 

environment_to_case.png

 

 

Why should I create an environment?

 

I'm glad you asked!  Well, first off, if you're an Enterprise SaaS customer, we already have you covered, so no need to worry.  Jive Support will create an environment document for you with the correct details and name it clearly so you know which one to use when creating new support cases.  If you're hosting the software internally, consider these benefits:

 

  • Faster Response Times
    Once you fill out an environment, we'll never again have to ask you which version you're running on or what Java options you're using!  Less back and forth with our Support Engineers means less time spent gathering details and more time on fixing problems and answering questions.  Plus, if you have multiple environments that you manage, the environment tracking feature clarifies which one your case pertains to for both your colleagues and our support team. 

  • Transparency
    We're all about keeping people in the loop and environment tracking does just that.  If your system admin goes on vacation, you won't be struggling to find the information you need to help our Support team resolve the problem.  Plus, if a technical person needs to come up to speed on a case you have submitted, all of the details are available in one central place. 

  • Improved Customer Support in the Future
    When you associate an environment to your case, you're helping us build a repository of information that enables us to identify areas of collective strength and weakness.  Environment tracking opens the door for advanced reporting capabilities that were previously impossible or very difficult at the least.  It also allows us to make better decisions about the direction of the product.

 

 

Is my data safe?

 

When you create an environment, it will only be visible within your secure customer space in the Supportal, so only those with access to your secure space will be able to see the information, even if your case is made public.  And we're not evil, so we'll never share your data with third parties.  Your data is safe with us!

 

Now, after all this, if you still have concerns about creating an environment to associate with your next case, please let us know why! We're hope you're happy with our constant improvements to our Support tool and invite all feedback, either on this blog post or in our Support Feedback space.

 

Thanks and enjoy!

 

 

Additional Reading

 

If you're still reading, you must be a developer saying "I'm excited about creating my own custom content type!  Where do I start?"  For a deeper look at custom content types, start here.  After you have browsed through the documentation, download the example memo content type plugin from our public plugins SVN repository:

 

https://svn.jivesoftware.com/svn/dev/repos/jive/plugins/memo-type-example/trunk/

 

The memo custom content type is a simple example that demonstrates the power of the Content Type Framework.  Check it out and start playing!