This month, IBM released an update to the Q Replication Dashboard. The most significant enhancement is the addition of a simplified user interface that's designed for web browsers in small touch-screen devices. I've tried it on both an iPhone 4S running iOS 5.0.1 and a Google Nexus S running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). I've got some highlights and screen shots that help show what it is... and what it isn't :)
First, a few highlights:
What does 'simplified' mean?
The small-screen UI is designed for people who want to do a quick check of Q Replication at times when they're not near their computers. For example, in the morning before they head to the office, in the evening when they return home, or while they're traveling. These are situations where people don't want to spend a lot of time in the Dashboard. Nor do they want to browse a full set of information. They just want a simple status along with the ability to take a peek at any alerts. Therefore, this new UI doesn't provide all the function found in the full UI (the one accessed through a PC browser or an Android tablet). Instead, it has just enough info for a quick check of Q Replication health.
For example, the following iPhone screen shots show a list of Q Replication configurations (groups) and the health summary for one of them:
One thing that might not be obvious is that you won't see any details for subscriptions, latency, etc., unless you have an alert. For example, consider the following iPhone screen shots. The first pair (box 1) shows what you get if you have no latency alert. The second pair (box 2) shows the kind of information you get if latency exceeds your threshold:
On Android, you get the same information and the UI is identical with the exception of how the browser renders fonts, buttons, etc.. Here are some screen shots from my Nexus S. (That's right, Android 4.0 has a built-in screen-shot feature that doesn't require you to root your device :)
What about email and instant messages?
One of the most common questions I hear is whether the simplified UI has a built-in ability to send alert information via email or instant messages. The answer's no. Maybe this will be in a future release, but I haven't found the lack of function to be a problem. I simply take a screen shot. You can easily email, IM, or even tweet screen shots. (Okay, you might not want to tweet them, but Twitter sure does makes it easy to do :)
What about tablets?
The simplified UI works on iPads and Android tablets. However, if I'm on a tablet, I likely working from an environment where want or need more information than provided through the simplified UI. I'm also likely to be on Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi removes any issues around mobile data plan limits and performance (4G LTE vs 3G vs whatever). So, I tend to use a remote desktop app when I'm working from tablets. These apps aren't perfect for touch screens, but they work well enough.
For example, I have Splashtop on my iPad 2. I can work with all of Q Replication's information through it when compared to the simplified UI. To illustrate the difference, here are screen shots that show how much information I get in the simplified UI on my iPad (box 1) vs the full UI on my PC through Splashtop on my iPad (box 2):
It's a no-brainer for me to decide which I want :) Of course, if you have an Android tablet capable of running Adobe Flash, such as a Motorola Xoom, you can run the Dashboard in the Android browser instead of using a remote desktop app. Touch screen gestures work much better with a native tablet browser than with a remote desktop's PC browser.
How do you get started?
You can download the latest version of the Dashboard from ibm.com. If you're new to Q Replication, you may want to try Cecile Madsen's Q Replication Fast Start here on ChannelDB2. You can point both versions of the Dashboard UI, full and simplified*, to the Fast Start's configuration.
* Actually, you must first point the full version to a Q Replication configuration (do what the Dashboard calls "create a Q Replication group") before you can access Q Replication information through the simplified UI.