Future feature change: GeniusSearch will be enabled on all MindTouch 4 sites on Dec 11th

Feature change for all MindTouch users

  • The “Browse for pages” section’s height will expand to 300px rather than the previous 200px. This will allow more space to view articles in the “Browse for pages” section while still allowing all the options to be viewable on the most common screen resolutions.

Performance Improvement in User Management for Site Administrators

  • In the User Management section you will see two icons replace the action dropdown menu for a specific user’s preferences. One icon can be clicked to edit the user’s options, the other can be clicked to view the user’s contributions. These icons will allow the page to load quicker than when it had the dropdown menu.
  • If your site has more than 1,000 users you will be able to filter by role and the user management section will repopulate. If the amount of users for the chosen role is less than 1,000 you will be able to view and manage those users.

New Beta Feature

New and Recently Updated MindTouch Documentation

Yesterday, MindTouch’s cloud infrastructure handled 6,048,192 HelpRequests across all MindTouch sites, each request creating knowledge or providing it to your customers. MindTouch has a continuing commitment to speed and performance, and delivering all this knowledge presents significant engineering challenges that other customer success software, knowledgebases, and content management systems do not face. MindTouch pages are so much more than static HTML and text, they are also rich with DekiScript code, identity and context specific content, templated content, global variables, and transcluded pages. Each page that is served to your customer is run through our content engine, which parses, compiles, and renders the finished MindTouch page, all in realtime! The more dynamic content the page contains, the more work and load on the content engine. With more work and more load comes longer page response times.

Back in July, MindTouch Engineering and MindTouch DevOps rolled out two big changes that greatly decreased the median server side page load times, resulting in faster page loads for customers. The following chart was generated from actual production data, a particularly heavy page requiring considerable DekiScript and content parsing, on a very highly trafficked MindTouch site. Across the X axis are the days of July 2014. The median and 95th percentile server side page load times are on the Y axis. The median page response time, also known as the 50th percentile, gives us the most probable response time of the day (half of the page responses for that day were either faster or slower). The 95th percentile gives us the range of nearly all response times for a day, with the top 5 percent removed as they always represent uncommon spikes or other outliers. Let’s see if you can spot when the optimizations were released:

July 2014 Server Side Page Load Response Times

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The first drop in load time (from 727ms to 476ms) was on the 11th of July, and the result of work by MindTouch DevOps and our friends at Amazon Web Services. On that release day, we switched our application servers to Amazon’s newer Compute Optimized C3.2xlarge EC2 instances. These EC2 instances provide each application server with 8 CPU’s and 15 GB of Memory, giving considerably more iron to our content engine, and dropping the median processing time by 250ms! In the world of high performance web applications, shaving 250ms off every page load is incredible.

On the 22nd of July all MindTouch sites received Anonymous Page Caching, in this example dropping the median response time to 87ms. Anonymous Page Caching allows us to completely bypass the content engine, under ideal circumstances. If the customer is unauthenticated (they haven’t signed into the MindTouch site), and the page they are visiting was visited once before, the page is fetched from a cache of post-content engine rendered data, requiring no page content processing. Cached page data is stored for an hour before the page is re-processed and re-rendered by the content engine. We can use the MindTouch Developer Google Chrome Extension to observe what is happening under the hood.

Empty application cache

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During this first request, the visited page content is not available in the cache, so it must be fetched from the MindTouch API. In addition the current site configuration is looked up in the cache, and it too needs to be fetched from the API. The section in purple shows the cache misses, the section in blue shows the subsequent API requests made to fetch (and cache) the page content and site configuration. If you look closely, you’ll see one of the columns in the API request table is called cache. This measures the cache hit ratio for another cache even deeper in the system between the content engine and the database, alleviating pressure on our databases. The total server side response time is the blue section, 369.42ms for this request.

Fully primed application cache

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Visiting the page again is a considerably different experience. This time both the page content and the site configuration are in the cache, requiring no communication with the API. The total response time of 57.81ms represents the time required to fetch data from the cache, apply a skin, stylesheets, and other presentation steps. Your site visitors will get pages served quicker, their questions answered faster, turning them into promoters of your brand! For improved search engine optimization (SEO), a MindTouch site’s time to first byte (TTFB) measurement should be 500ms or less for anonymous site visitors. Assuming a reasonable DNS resolution and compressed page download speed, ~58ms adds a trivial amount of time to the TTFB measurement — great for SEO!

So far we’ve seen the positive effect on a single page on a single site. While this is certainly a consistent way to show improvement, it doesn’t give us the whole story. So let’s look a collection of sites and all their page views before infrastructure and application performance optimizations, afterwards, and today! You can thank our friends at Splunk for the pretty graphs.

Here are 5,716,351 page load events across a collection of sites during the week of  June 20th – 28th 2014. Each event is grouped by the time it took us to load the page. These graphs also take into account authenticated requests, such as those for pro members and community members (who do not receive cached pages). It looks like the majority of pages were loaded between 256ms and 512ms.

MindTouch sites page responses grouped by response time

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Here is the week after our performance optimizations, July 11th – 19th 2014. We have 7,380,852 page load events from the same collection of sites. It appears the majority of pages are now loaded somewhere between 128ms and 256ms! Notice the increase in the 64ms – 128ms response times, these are fully cached pages.

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How are we doing today? Between October 3rd – 11th 2014 these sites served 10,108,118 pages. Here are the response times. Wow, that’s a lot more fully cached pages!

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What’s next? We’d love to extend this caching optimization to ALL site users, including community members, authors, and editors. Due to the sophisticated relationship between MindTouch page content and MindTouch access control, it will be a complex engineering problem to solve, but we have the best minds at MindTouch working on it!

Image: Ludo Van Doggy

Get in touch with Andy on Twitter (@modethirteen)

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One of the greatest problems a company faces is losing customers and having those customers endorse other companies, usually competitors.

I recently broke up with my wireless provider. Let me walk you through it.

“I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT”

My Experience: I waited on hold for hours, was disconnected and had to “remain on hold” several times, was redirected back to the main line, and sent to the wrong support agent and heard, “I’m not responsible for that and I’m not sure who is, let me check.”

The Problem:  What my wireless provider encountered is a widespread epidemic. Documentation and articles are filed away in different silos and in multiple formats so that they become about as findable as an article in an 800-page PDF manual. Nobody at my provider knew how to help me because they only had access to one of the many silos of help content. So they HAD to send me to the right agent because only she had access to the siloed help-content that pertained to my case. But how does an agent know where to send someone? Exactly…

MindTouch Solution: MindTouch provides a cloud-based, customer success portal. Documentation is standardized both formatively and organizationally. Content across EVERY department is placed within MindTouch and is accessible to EVERY authorized user. Tech writers are linked to product teams, product teams are linked to marketing, marketing is linked to sales, and support teams have access to every needed resource you see fit. And because Customer Success portals are cloud-based, documentation is updated in real time and automatically pushed out. This collaboration is the bread and butter of Customer Success.

SELF HELP

My Experience: Is it as frustrating for you as it is for me that I can’t find the answers I’m looking for on my providers primary help site?  Is that what you want your customers to experience?

The Problem: Information overload is behind us, you and I live in the cataclysmic information apocalypse. If I have to turn away from your main support site and rely on Google, Bing, Yahoo or an unsolicited community forum to find helpful, accurate, and current documentation about your product, well . . . forget about it; I’ve become an information zombie. The customer ends up unserved, unhappy, and looking for someone who will serve them.

MindTouch Solution: Customer Success centers pull all your product information and help-content right to your public-facing site and provides the search and framework needed to optimize the search, discover, and learning experience. Your users will have the same access to articles your support agents have, making them product experts faster and requiring less support.

AUTHORING/SALESFORCE INTEGRATION 

My Experience: When I finally got to the “semi-right” agent she told me, “Oh! I had a case just like this the other day, let me see if I remember what steps I need to take.”

The Problem: Support agents are at the front lines, battling the issues that you and I are throwing at them. How frustrating is it for me and for Support Managers everywhere to hear, “Oh! I had a case just like this the other day, let me see if I remember what steps I need to take”, and to know that the information was NOT captured, authored, and distributed!? images

MindTouch Solution: Help-content is documented just as effortlessly as it’s distributed. Authoring within MindTouch powered Customer Success centers is so easy your grandma could do it and MindTouch Salesforce integrations allows you to record, link, and request documentation to support tickets or records. Agents are able to capture, record, and author as cases come in to meet the demand they’re facing and pushed out to other agents who will likely encounter similar cases.

TAKE AWAY

Customer Success Centers powered by MindTouch are the golden stake that connect you and your customers by providing the customer success portal containing the answers they need. You will make them happier, reduce the burden of support, and establish a best practice for capturing, authoring, and distributing company-wide content.

New Feature for Site Visitors: User Interface Localization for Czech, Italian, and Korean.

Bug Fix for Site Administrators

  • When adding an incorrect editor configuration, the editor would load all possible button configurations.  Now it displays the default configuration if there is an incorrect configuration in the editor settings.
  • You can now access the default editor toolbar configuration by selecting “Paste Configuration” on the editor settings page in the Control Panel.

Feature Optimization for Content Managers

  • The “more” text that appeared when multiple events occurred on a page for thePage History, Site History, and User Contribution features is now be a clickable link. It works the same as the time display of the revision, expanding or collapsing the multiple events.

Bug Fix for Authors

  • When deleting a table along with text outside of the table, only the text inside the table would be deleted. Now everything highlighted including the table will delete.
  • You could not copy then rename a page to the same path as the source page.
  • The red line spacing tool would trigger when spellcheck was activated, this wasn’t a good use of the tool as you can easily add space below text.
  • Copying a page with a backslash in the page title would create a placeholder parent page for the copied page.

Bug Fix for Site Visitors

  • The Classification Header in the sidebar would be shown on pages without any classifications. Now the text “This page has no classifications” will appear below the header to avoid any confusion for site visitors.

Bug Fix for Sites with Japanese Localization

  • The error that would appear when accessing the Site Activity Report is resolved.

Known Issues

  • PrintBook’s “Browse for pages” section’s border expands when hovering over articles when using Internet Explorer 9.
  • The icons within PrintBook are displayed as empty boxes on Internet Explorer 8.

New and Recently Updated MindTouch Documentation

“Software as a Service, or SaaS, isn’t about the hosting. It’s about helping your customers succeed with your product,” states Aaron Fulkerson, CEO of MindTouch, on theCube during the Splunk .conf2014 in Las Vegas. With top-tier customers like MakerBot, Intuit, Paypal, and more – MindTouch knows a thing or two about creating “Success Centers.

Watch theCube interview with our CEO to learn more.

And, of course, if you didn’t have a chance to attend our presentation, please check out the information on Slideshare: Combining SaaS and Customer Success to Achieve Cloud Enlightenment from MindTouch
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Now that the happily inflicted, corporate craziness of Dreamforce 2014 has crawled to a close, we would like to highlight some exciting new developments.

Our team was based at Moscone West, Booth W-833 this year. Foot traffic was phenomenal and we were very excited to share a working demo of an upcoming MindTouch integration that we built (in under 3 weeks!) on Salesforce Wave. As a customer success driven software solution, we – at MindTouch – know how to make customers into product experts. With the ability to drive shorter sales cycles, expect higher customer retention rates, and increase customer loyalty, all the prospects who stopped by our booth were struck by a sudden desire to build and use an omni-channel, success center.

If you didn’t have a chance to meet us at Dreamforce, here are some fun snapshots:

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Check out what’s new on the Salesforce AppExchange!

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Earlier this week, POODLE, an SSLv3 bug, that affects websites with SSL enabled was publicly announced. This vulnerability allows the plaintext of secure connections to be calculated by a network attacker, thereby compromising encryption. Google has published a paper about the SSLv3 bug here.

In line with our commitment towards excellence, MindTouch quickly patched this vulnerability. Thanks to our team, there should be no extra steps that you or your business will need to take to protect your MindTouch powered website against POODLE. 

Here’s a list of what we did and why.

  • Investigated the possibility of disabling the CBC ciphers in SSLv3.
  • Decided to disable SSLv3 due to the tiny fraction of browsers still using it (IE6 on Windows XP).
  • Disabled SSLv3 on our load balancers on Monday, October 15th at approximately 14:20 UTC.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected]

“Software vendors increasingly provide their products as hosted services, accessible via online APIs and clients. The timeframe for marketing new features and functionality is often short; tight-knit agile teams write, test, and deploy updates within single short sprints.

Documentation must keep up. Enter hosted content providers.

Content management and hosting services can fully eliminate the need for onsite writing and publishing tools and infrastructure, allowing writers to focus their energy on developing content. Rich, interactive content is easier than ever to achieve, without requiring writers to leave the comfort of their browsers.

In this talk, Tanner Volz will describe the exciting process of transforming file-based, linear documentation at iovation (a SaaS vendor), to an agile authoring and delivery process using MindTouch, a feature-rich hosted help and support platform” – iovation.

Presented by: Tanner Volz, @iovation

Today’s customers expect brands to support them throughout the entire ownership lifecycle and will jump ship (and churn) if it takes too much effort to become a product expert. Building a Customer Success strategy requires a collaboration across many departments in your organization and a new way of thinking about how you deliver content to your customers.

Presented By: Ryan Lounsbury

Feature Addition for Authors

Feature Change For PDF’s

  • PDF footers will no longer need the class ‘page-break’ in their PDF Footer as the page break is going to be appended unconditionally in code instead of as part of the footer template.  We have reached out to sites that may be affected and will need to remove the ‘page-break’ class from their custom PDF footer template.

Bug Fixes for Authors

  • Page URIs would occasionally display the incorrect page path in PDF Footers.
  • When adding or editing a link, if you selected an internal page then added an external URL and saved the link, the text would link to that internal page rather than the external URL.