Great UX Trick: 250 hidden icons to use with bookmarks

ServiceNow contains a hidden treasure of almost 300 icons than can be used to convey better visual distinctiveness to your users’ bookmarks, service portals and system info messages. This distinctiveness can be used to ensure that your contextual messages receive more attention and to facilitate navigation in your instance.

Those icons are dingbats characters grouped in a special web font included in your instance, and can be applied in your html content via CSS classes, applied to the italic or emphasis tag. Example: <i class=”icon-name”>i>.  This web font was compiled by ServiceNow, using the open source Grunt-Webfont project. As of June 2017, the version included in Jakarta is called retina_icons_2017_1_17.woff and contains 295 distinct icons.

You can access a nice preview with all the characters included in the web font via a hidden URL that is available in any instances, even HI

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Great UX Trick: HTML Placeholders

As a software platform, ServiceNow has a great and modern GUI that works with any web browser. Yet there is one glaring missing UI feature from modern HTML: HTML Placeholders. Let me present you my ninj’admin trick to implement them in your instance.

What are HTML Placeholders?

Placeholders are the ghost texts present in many web sites’ input fields. They are an old trick, introduced with the HTML5 standard in mid 2011.
The most common usage is with Search input fields.

As soon as you type something in the box, the placeholder text will disappear, to be replaced by your own input. Used in the Service Catalog, or in your Forms, they can add useful information without being obnoxious for the users.

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Istanbul automated testing

One of the most exciting feature of the ServiceNow Istanbul release, is the new Automated Testing Framework (ATF).

Why so excited over automated testing?

  • Custom test frameworks are very expensive to implement.
  • Most customers only do manual tests.
  • Every time customers upgrade their instance, weeks of works are needed to test against regressions. The time spent bug-fixing is often tiny compared to the large amount of time spent on manual testing. Anything that has automated tests will consume almost no resource at all and will benefit of better reliability.
  • Because of this resource burden many customers don’t upgrade their instance as often as they could. Instead of having a steady process of continuous improvements, they focus all their resources over testing and ignore new functionalities that could benefit their processes and users.
  • ITIL best practices recommend continuous improvements. Yet, customers don’t like to implement changes, or experiments with new features, because it is too heavy on costly resources when not automated.
  • Major UI changes tend to break documentation made for testers, or break tests implemented in custom test frameworks, like Selenium. Istanbul’s automated tests are UI agnostic.
  • We now have a free, out-of-the-box, automated test framework specialized for ServiceNow.

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When ServiceNow Express have better UI than the Enterprise version

I suppose you have heard of the Express version of ServiceNow. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the young little brother of the Enterprise version: ITSM focused, no JavaScript allowed, almost no plugins, and mono instance. Amongst its advantages: it cost a quarter of the price of its bigger sibling, it’s very robust because you can’t implement dirty customizations without JavaScript, and a few elements of the User Interface are way more intuitive.

In this article, I’ll focus on those interface improvements, and show how to implement the same contextual feedbacks in your Enterprise instance.

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How to progress from ServiceNow Administrator to Implementation Specialist

As most new ServiceNow administrators that I meet, I started with the 3 days “ServiceNow System Administration Training” ($2100), that you can pass with ServiceNow or one of its official certified training partners. As an alternative you may also consider this Udemy 7 hours online course “ServiceNow 101: Administration” as an economic alternative.

Now, how do you improve on your technical knowledge of the platform, and what steps could you apply to assert your experience?

After this introduction course, you’re expected to gain experience on the field, while administering your instance. Many administrators stop their curriculum here, but you many opportunities to improve. Let’s me present you some possible next steps…

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Financial Implication of Extending Tables

Did you know that extending the wrong table can multiply the cost of your implementation up to four times?

As an implementation specialist, you need to be aware that there may be some consequent financial costs when you extend ServiceNow tables.

A quick reminder of what are extended tables

I’m regulary amazed by the elegance of ServiceNow’s Object-relational database, where tables can be child of another table. Child table inherits all columns and properties of its parent.

The CMDB heavily uses this. At the root level the cmdb_ci table contains only the common fields used for all CMDB items, then it’s extended by the cmdb_ci_hardware  that adds fields relevant only to hardware, like a serial number. This is extended again by cmdb_ci_computer, that adds a layer of computer centric fields, like OS information or RAM amount. Continue reading “Financial Implication of Extending Tables”

All about sharing

This is my third year working full time as a ServiceNow implementation Specialist. During my day to day job, I was often able to found useful help on the ServiceNow’s blog and communities. It’s important to return the favour, so I’m starting this blog to share some ideas and experimentations.