Dashboard for TYPO3 - The past, the present and the future
One and a half year ago, at TYPO3 Camp Venlo, I had a chat with Mathias Schreiber and Benjamin Kott about an important missing feature: a dashboard for TYPO3. Currently there is no user-friendly way to give users an overview of what is happening in the TYPO3 installation. We talked about a dashboard and that this is a feature a lot of users would love. I promised Mathias and Benjamin that after the SEO enhancements, I would deliver a dashboard in core. Now 1,5 year later, I am happy to tell you more about the dashboard for TYPO3.
The past: what we did before we even started developing the dashboard for TYPO3
TYPO3 UX week 2018
During the TYPO3 UX week in April 2018 some people started to work on the dashboard for TYPO3. What kind of widgets would be interesting for users? How could a dashboard look like? They found answers to those questions.
As they did a great job, the development and planning for this feature had to start. The only problem was that my personal priority was still on the SEO enhancements for core. There was still a lot to do to get the basic SEO features in core. So the dashboard had to wait a little bit more.
Forming the TYPO3 Dashboard Initiative
After finishing the most important work regarding SEO, I started to think about the dashboard for TYPO3 again. Like more new major features, we decided to start a dashboard initiative. By teaming up people with the same interest, we can get the best result and share the workload as well.
After a while, I found the right team. Besides me, we have Richard Vollebregt, Simon Smidt, Sanjay Chauhan and Koen Wouters as developers of this initiative. Because the experience of the user is a really important part of the dashboard, we also have Irene Sacchi as a UX researcher.
Defining the goals
The main goal of the initiative is to give users the possibility to get a personalised overview of information out of their TYPO3 installation.
On the Dashboard initiative page on typo3.org you can see we also defined some more specific subgoals, like having the possibility to have multiple dashboards, set permissions for dashboards and widgets etc.
Before we started developing, we collected a lot of feedback from users. We had polls, surveys, Slack discussions, etc. If we want to create a new feature, it should help solving the problems of the users. And we can only solve problems we know of.
As an important factor for the success of the dashboard, the dashboard should have a "wow-factor". It should be "love at first sight". As said, during the TYPO3 UX week in 2018, some first designs were made. We also had a design of Jesper de Bruin (a colleague of mine) that made some mockups for a facelift of the backend of TYPO3. Those mockups included a design for a dashboard. After some discussions within the initiative, we have chosen to use the design of Jesper as the start of the dashboard for TYPO3.
Present: the current state of the Dashboard for TYPO3
After we gathered all the information, we started with the development. First of all the architecture of the dashboard itself. How to register dashboards? What are the relations between dashboards and widgets? We made some diagrams to specify the architecture as a start of the development.
After weeks of development, the moment was there. During the TYPO3 conference in the Hague, we released the first version of the dashboard for TYPO3. This first version contains some basic widgets to show the possibilities of the dashboard. You can of course add widgets to your dashboard. You can even rearrange them in the order you would like them to have. All in a new and shiny design.
Available for TYPO3 version 9 and 10
Currently the dashboard extension is released as a non-core-extension. You can use it in TYPO3 version 9 and 10. At the moment it is only possible to install it by composer. This is because the extension is in Proof of Concept phase. We would like people to use it, but only when they accept the possibility that breaking changes might be introduced in newer versions. The dashboard might have different widgets and may even look a little bit different in the future. So please use it, but be aware that major changes will come in the next months.
Creating your own widgets
Although it is already possible to create your own widgets, we do not recommend you to do so. The structure and way of registering widgets is not final and some major changes are about to happen. At the moment the TYPO3 GmbH (Google Ads), Yoast (Yoast SEO for TYPO3) and myself (PageSpeed Insights) will create widgets that will show you how to create your own widgets. When the structure and the way of registering widgets is stable, we will write a lot of documentation. We will also help all extension developers to create their own widgets when that is possible.
The future: what's next?
Currently we are developing and testing the last mandatory parts of the dashboard. Things like creating your own dashboard, setting permissions etc. After that is finished, we will start integrating everything in a new core extension.
We are working hard to get the dashboard in core as soon as possible but definetely before the release of TYPO3 CMS v10.3. So before the 10LTS version is released you can check the dashboard in version 10.