September 2, 2014 | Written by: Tony Erwin
Categorized: What's New
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The Bluemix UI updates for August are now live in 85 countries! The team kept busy this month and put together a lot of awesome new features since our July refresh. We think you’ll enjoy these enhancements, which include:
Read on for more details. Then, go to Bluemix.net and try it out for yourself!
Better Allowances for Runtime Usage
What are GB-hours?
You are charged for the time that your apps run and the memory that is used, calculated as GB-hours. GB-hours are calculated by multiplying the number of app instances by memory per instance by hours running. You customize the number of instances and the memory per instance.
For pay-as-you-go and subscription customers, you’ll be excited to know the free allowance for runtime usage is now more generous. Instead of being shared across all runtimes, the allowance of 375 GB-hours is now per runtime. This means you get:
The Pricing Sheet in the Bluemix UI now gives you the ability to estimate costs for your apps and services. If you go to the Cost Estimator, you’ll see a list of all available runtimes and services. You can quickly enter your estimates in the text fields to get a projection of how much your configuration will cost for the month.
For example, in the screen shot below I made the assumption that I’d have 1 instance of a Node.js app with a memory allocation of 1 GB. Under the covers, the Cost Estimator calculated projected GB-hours and estimated a price (taking the free allowances from the previous section into account). If you scroll down the page, you can also enter estimates for service usage (like number of notifications used by the Push service or number of build minutes used by the Delivery Pipeline add-on).
In addition, the redesigned App Details makes it easy to generate an estimate for a particular app. From App Details, you can click on the new Estimate the cost of this app link. The Cost Estimator will be launched, pre-populated with the app’s runtime and bound services. For example, in the screen shot below, I’ve clicked on the link for one of my Java apps that uses the Cloudant NoSQL DB service.
Finally, many of you have told us you want to be able to use the Bluemix UI on mobile devices. So, with that in mind, we set out to build the Cost Estimator with mobile responsiveness right from the start. In the screen shot below, you can see an example of the Cost Estimator running on an iPhone. So, now, you can estimate costs from anywhere!
Redesigned App Details
The App Details page is the place to go if you want to see all of the information about one of your apps. Because it’s such an important part of the UI, we interviewed many users to find out how we could make it better. We took your feedback seriously and completely redesigned App Details to make app data more accessible, improve the overall aesthetics, add new function (like a link to the Cost Estimator), and enable responsiveness for tablets and hand-held devices.
We made it easier for you to adjust the number of instances and memory per instance for your app by moving these controls to the Runtime Card near the top of App Details. If you want to scale your app up or down, just adjust the spinners. As you do that, the Available Memory field is updated to show the amount of memory that would be left in your organization’s quota. When you’re ready, hit Save to commit the changes and your app will be rescaled automatically.
One of the top five user requirements from our research was the ability to see historical activity for apps. And, that’s exactly what you see in the new Activity Log. The entries in the log indicate when the app was started or stopped, experienced a crash, or was modified. The log is sorted so the most recent events appear at the top.
The output consists of the type of data you would see if you ran
cf events from the command line, but far easier to understand:
$ cf events mobile-demo
Getting events for app mobile-demo in org firstname.lastname@example.org / space august as email@example.com…
time event actor description
2014-08-29T04:07:23.00-0400 audit.app.update firstname.lastname@example.org state: STARTED
2014-08-29T04:07:15.00-0400 audit.app.update email@example.com state: STOPPED
2014-08-29T04:06:44.00-0400 audit.app.update firstname.lastname@example.org state: STARTED
2014-08-29T04:06:40.00-0400 audit.app.update email@example.com instances: 1, memory: 128
And, even cooler, as app events occur the display is updated in real-time! So, if another developer in your organization stops your main storefront app, you’d see that immediately in the Activity Log. And, then, you could go have a few words with him. 🙂
Cost Estimator for Specific App
As mentioned earlier, a new section in App Details provides a link to the Cost Estimator. If you click here, the Cost Estimator is launched and pre-populated with the runtime and services used by the app. From there, you can easily generate a cost estimate for your app.
I pointed out earlier that the ability to use the Bluemix UI on mobile devices continues to rank highly in the list of user requests. So, we made additional progress this month by enabling responsiveness for App Details. For example, the screen shot below shows App Details on an iPad:
And, the screen shot below shows an iPhone rendering of the same information:
Secure Your Custom Domains With SSL Certificates
The ability to create custom domains for use in your apps has been around for awhile. But, now with the August release, you can also secure them with SSL certificates!
At the time of this writing, associating an SSL certificate with your custom domain is free. However, the function is limited to pay-as-you-go and subscription customers. In addition, only one SSL certificate upload per organization is permitted. To get started, look for the new Upload Certificate button on the Manage Domains tab.
UPDATE: I’ve written a detailed guide to using this functionality in a separate blog post called Bluemix UI: SSL Certificates and Custom Domains.
Apple iOS Solutions Page
On July 15, IBM and Apple announced a partnership to work together to transform the use of mobile in the enterprise. This month, the Bluemix UI was updated with a new iOS Solutions Page that describes the power of the Bluemix and iOS combination. As the new page states, “IBM Bluemix for iOS is an enterprise-grade cloud platform to build and deploy elegant, integrated apps for iOS.”
Bluemix is about helping you quickly compose building blocks to solve your problems. With the addition of the iOS Solutions Page, there are now a total of 11 solutions pages in the Bluemix UI. Each is intended to help you see how Bluemix services can be used together to form solutions in these major areas:
We’ve also worked to make improvements to the Catalog. For example, you’ll begin to notice more and more offerings providing additional media (such as images and videos) to help you make an informed decision. For example, the screen shot below shows the new scrollable multimedia section of the Analytics Warehouse service.
Clicking on one of the items in the list expands it in a lightbox as shown below. In this enlarged view, you can thumb through all of the images and videos provided by the offering.
Java Cloudant Web Starter
The Catalog has also been updated to include a new Java Cloudant Web Starter application. If you create an application from this boilerplate, you’ll immediately get a sample Java application that makes use of Cloudant NoSQL DB. This enables you to get started with Java and Cloudant very quickly.
Bug Fixes and Usability Tweaks
In addition to the bigger updates, we’ve also tried to improve overall quality with fixes to numerous bugs. And, we’ve also made a number of less obvious usability improvements. For example, we’ve taken steps to enable responsiveness for the list view in the main Dashboard:
We want to make it as easy as possible for you to find the information you need to build your apps and leverage services. With that in mind, we added a new feature so you can quickly select a specific programming language or mobile operating system while browsing a service’s documentation. Currently, only some services support this feature, but more will over time.
We’ve also improved styling of our error message content, troubleshooting content, and code examples. There is now syntax highlighting on all code examples as shown below:
Finally, we’ve continued to make improvements for “docs on the go” so that you can easily view the Bluemix docs on your mobile device. Specifically, we added some improvements around navigation and search.
We’re continually working to improve the Bluemix experience, and we’d love to hear from you. So, if you have questions or other feedback, please let us know on the Bluemix Dev-to-Dev Community or tweet us at @IBMBluemix. And, if you want to talk to Bluemix developers in person, check out one of the local Bluemix meetups in your area or look for us at a conference.
Finally, remember if you don’t already have an account, you can just go to www.bluemix.net and get free instant access to a 30-day trial without a credit card!
Thanks to Jenifer Schlotfeldt for providing information on the documentation updates!
Updated September 9, 2014 with information on SSL certificate uploads.
Updated September 15, 2014 with link to my new blog post entitled “Bluemix UI: SSL Certificates and Custom Domains.”