In 2016.3, we solicited a list of tiles requests from our customers and based on that feedback built out what was deemed most critical.
One key piece of feedback is that as customers are setting up their tiles pages so they can have a mobile responsive landing page, they want a fast loading, customized experience for their end users on the place landing page. In order to better support that, we added more configurable tiles, faster loading tile pages and a much improved ask a question tile.
In an effort to build a customized view, place admins want to be able to remove titles or change the titles to better suit their community and needs. They also want to configure how many results are shown as it was currently hard coded to show 10 results. In 2016.3, all tile titles can now be configured and are optional and results shown can be set from 1 to 25 results. We made 25 the maximum based on customer data and what the maximum results being viewed in widgets was.
When the admins are building out their tile pages, they are finding that the page was loading very slowly when their end users visited it. We investigated and determined there were a number of performance enhancements that could be applied. We addressed this by loading tiles pages asynchronously and addressing performance behaviors in custom tiles....
Tile Pages Load Asynchronously!
Before 2016.3 all tiles would need to retrieve their content before the page would be shown to the end user. After 2016.3, the tiles page is shown at intial page load and then all tiles load their content and each displays independently when ready. This makes the page appear to the end user much sooner than it was before.
We had a sample group that prior to 2016.3 would take 13-15 seconds to display using out-of-the-box tiles and a slow super list tile. That tile page now displays to users in under one second and the tiles then begin to show their content as they retrieve it. We also applied some performance fixes to super list queries. That same tile page is now displayed in it's entirety in roughly 4 seconds with the first view rendering in under one second.
No feature toggle is necessary for this - all tiles pages will load this much faster going forward.
Custom Tiles Performance
Another area of feedback was the performance and limitations of custom tiles. Custom tiles are a key element for our tiles strategy in order for specialized behavior to be designed by you for your community landing pages. They allow you, the community and place admins, to create tiles that look and behave exactly how you'd like them.
While we want a proliferation of custom tiles so you may customize your end users experience, it currently was limited to two custom tiles per page for performance reasons. We were leveraging a third party library that was very slow and used a lot of memory. This caused the overall page interaction to load too slowly.
In 2016.3, we re-architected how custom tiles load and now use a much lighter weight approach for loading custom tiles. This makes the custom tiles load very quickly and removes the limit of two tiles per tile page. This is currently behind a feature toggle and will need to be toggled on by existing customers. It will not be available until later in the preview cycle as we are wanting to ensure it's of the highest quality. There is a FAQ and tutorial being put together - keep an eye on the developer community and we will be able to answer any deeper questions you may have.
Ask a Question Tile
There were many requests for an improved Ask a Question Tile by customers. Both internal and external communities wanted a more flexible, broader searching ask a question tile for their Q&A needs. They wanted to be able to search across other content types for answers, and make the look and feel much more customized. They also wanted to be able to specify where to search and where to post questions when a user is posting.
In 2016.3, when a user types their question, we now search across the place specified or across the entire community and we search the content types configured - questions, discussions, documents, videos, and blogs. If the user posting the question decides to post it, it will post in the place specified or allow the user to choose where to post it - depending on how you have the tile configured. The tile can be in wide or narrow view.
Anyone that has an existing Ask a Question Tile set up, the tile will operate exactly as before and will search and post in the place it is located. No toggle will be necessary for these changes - simply edit the tile and you can now configure it as stated. This new built in flexibility within the Ask a Question Tile will be a significant improvement for those who want advanced Q&A.
*FYI: All comments made in this post will be publicly accessible after GA*