Ray Sensenbach, Steve Kulaga and Paul Scott from Inductive Automation sit down with us to talk shop regarding the deeper meaning of design and why it is important to our team. They also talk about the breakthrough impact and the bright future of the Perspective Module, and how we are empowering our users to elevate their industrial visualization projects.
“Good design is brushing away complex unnecessary things so the meaning behind the content is really shining through.” — Paul Scott
“We want to give you the best tools out of the box so you don't necessarily have to shoulder the entire burden of becoming a designer yourself.” — Ray Sensenbach
“Good design is commonplace now for having a good software product, and if you want to get to that next level, we put out the Design Fundamentals to get to that level.” — Steve Kulaga
Arnell: Why is good design so important to Inductive Automation? How does IA approach design and what is its value to its users? Does the Perspective Module represent a breakthrough in industrial visualization? How is Inductive Automation helping users achieve the next level and visual application development? This is Inductive Conversations with our host Arnell Ignacio, speaking with our guests, Ray Sensenbach, a Product Design Manager. Steve Kulaga, UI/UX Designer and Paul Scott, Training Content Manager, all from Inductive Automation.
Arnell: Hello and welcome to Inductive Conversations. My name is Arnell Ignacio and I'm the Marketing Technology Specialist at Inductive Automation. Here today with me are three great guests from Inductive Automation. We have Ray Sensenbach, who's the Product Design Manager. We have Steve Kulaga, who's the UI/UX Designer, and we have Paul Scott, who is the Training Content Manager here at IA. Welcome guys, thank you for joining me here on this podcast.
Ray: Yeah, thanks for bringing us together.
Arnell: So before we begin, I'm gonna have you guys introduce yourselves, and just tell me who you are and what you do here at IA. Ray, you wanna begin?
Ray: Yeah, sure thing. So my name is Ray Sensenbach. I joined IA, I don't know, about six years ago or so. And joined as a UI/UX designer, and since I've become the Product Design Manager for the Product Design team, which works within the Development department, so I sort of lead and work with the designers on making the Ignition product itself.
Arnell: Thanks, Ray. How about you, Steve?
Steve: Yeah, Steve Kulaga here. I joined IA a little over nine years ago as a designer in the Marketing team. And I worked there for about eight years until recently, I had a new kind of change in pace in what I wanted to do, so I focus more on UI and UX now, in the Internal Systems department, where we work on things like the website, Inductive University, internal and external products for customers and people in the company, and it's been awesome.
Arnell: Excellent. Excellent, welcome. And Paul.
Paul: Yeah, so I joined the company a little over eight years ago. I started off as a support engineer in our Technical Support team. I switched over to our Training team and as an instructor, so I taught classes and made IU videos for a few years, switched over to Development for a little bit. I helped out with some product ideation and development, and then switched to my current role where most of my time now is spent sort of maintaining and updating our user manual as well as Inductive University.
Arnell: Thank you, thank you. Welcome, Paul. In today's episode, we're gonna be talking about design, kind of the philosophy that we have here at IA, how it plays a role here, and how it influences how we do things in terms of the product that we make and as well as what we put out there front-facing on our website, all the materials. And then we're gonna also jump in and take a look at the Perspective Module and how its effect has been for our customers, how it's pulling in new technologies from IT, and also pulling in some thoughts on design and how it's influenced the product. So just as background, as a company, we've been putting out a lot of content, producing a lot of material on design. And we've been emphasizing the importance of design and then showing our customers how they can achieve that high level of design, so through ICC sessions, through blog posts, webinars, for example, a Design Like a Pro. We've been putting a lot of great content on the methodology and the best practices on design. In this conversation, I would like to look at what is the reasoning, why we are so focused on design and how it's playing a role in the way we develop our product. So I'm gonna start off with the first question here. So why is Inductive Automation so focused on design?
Ray: I can kick that off. So why not be, right? I mean, Steve and I were talking about this yesterday a bit, but as consumers in just our general day-to-day lives, we really expect nowadays this really high level of UI and UX design polish in the applications that we use as consumers. So think of your Facebook or your email client or something like that. And we notice poor design when we see it and use it because we're just so used to this high level of quality, so just as a company, as IA, we want to sort of bring that high level of polish to the applications and products that we produce because consumers expect that nowadays, customers expect it. And there's so much training and information and content out there that allows anyone to get up to speed with design nowadays that it's kind of more or less unacceptable to have poor design output. And design is so much more than how things look. It's really how things work. So we really have a big emphasis on that, not just in the engineering department, but really across the entire company. It's definitely something that... It is part of our culture, and we definitely hire obviously creative folks in every department and tend to allow anyone to be a problem solver and bring their expertise to the design realm.
Arnell: Excellent. So like in our industry, is there something that's expected, I mean with a lot of our competitors out there, we see a lot of these industrial-type interfaces and designs and how our software works. Do you think our customers find it refreshing or surprising that we are focusing on this design methodology, this increase or improvement into our design?
Ray: Yeah, I mean, I'm not sure if they find it surprising or not, but I definitely think that they get some delight out of it. The industry is so complex that we really have this emphasis on UI/UX design in the product because we want it to not be so intimidating and they get more approachable so that anybody can pick up Ignition and with some of the tools that we've baked in over the years, can really get up and running with a new project without sort of that initial hurdle of complexity and really needing that backlog of engineering, depth of knowledge to jump in and start creating something.
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. And what value does having good design bring to customers and users?
Steve: Yeah, so I can talk about that a little bit. So, good design is kind of like you wanna make something as easy to use, user-friendly, and that really leads to, if you're a new customer or you're trying to figure out something, the less time you take to figure that thing out, the more time you have to spend on what really matters to you, or less downtime which saves you or your company money, so I'd say that's a really big value for having good design, and I think that's one of the big reasons why we do it, we wanna let our customers do what they need to do and not have to focus so much on the little details, we try and get that figured out for them first.
Arnell: Yeah. Okay, okay. Design, is it merely to make things look good, or is there a deeper reason for it? Does it help with, let's say, communication for an organization to standardize communication across the board?
Steve: Yeah. Design is definitely more than just making things look good, I think that's something people usually tend to say like, "Oh, can you make this look pretty or whatever, and that's usually not the case." It happens sometimes, we do wanna make things look aesthetically pleasing to people, that really helps things, but when you break it down, it's really... It's more than just the visuals, it's how things are organized, it's what words are being used and the tone of those words, so it's like this whole thing of creating a user experience of all those things added together. So there's a lot of thought that goes into it, and it's not just a person who's a designer that can help with that, it's everyone in the company that has a good idea in figuring out what customers are wanting and building solutions that help them and make it easier for them.
Arnell: Excellent, thank you. And then when it comes to our customers, we're putting a lot of this content out, how equipped are they when it comes to design? We're just kind of like a... Current customers, they've used Vision for as long as it's been out, and then now we're moving on to a different sort of, you can say, platform in terms of visualization, so do you find that our customers are right on the go, they can go in there and design, or build with that design mentality, or is there something else that needs to happen for them?
Ray: Personally, I've noticed a pretty large uptick in sort of the design chops of most of our customers from the projects that I've seen in our case studies over the years, and I think that is for a few reasons. Primarily it's the training resources and the content that I think that we put out as a company. Obviously, we have all these free resources out that Paul's been a big part of over the years, and led a lot of these projects, things like our webinars on design, the various ICC sessions that we've recorded and uploaded, and obviously, Inductive University itself is just an indispensable resource to learning not only just visual design skills, but also best practices around how to structure projects, how to make your information...
Ray: Turn your data basically into information in these industrial projects, and also, I'll say that we're... On the design group team within Engineering department, we're working really hard to provide these tools out of the box within Perspective specifically that are really intentionally and well-designed so that we're trying to take some of that burden off of users. Obviously, it helps to have the design skills or the design folks on your team, but we wanna give you the best tools out of the box so that you don't necessarily have to shoulder that entire burden of becoming a designer yourself, or even hiring one internally. We think that providing these well-designed tools within Perspective and just across the board within Ignition has sort of helped that transition.
Paul: Yeah, I think it kind of helps out a lot in our particular industry, like a lot of the work you guys have done. So speaking from personal experience, my background really wasn't in design back when I was in college and whatnot, and it's one of those things where I was like, "I'm not really... I'm not good at making stuff pretty." That was a very ignorant mindset, right. And I think working with Steve here and working with Ray over the years and kinda seeing the benefits that a good design can lead... Kinda going back to the last question here, good design is sort of... You're sort of brushing away complex, unnecessary things so that the meaning behind the content is really shining through. And that's huge, right? 'Cause if you look at something that's really convoluted or confusing, it's not that the information is bad, it's presented in this way, that's maybe difficult to process.
Paul: And I think a lot of our customers have sort of a similar background to myself, or they're electrical engineering backgrounds, they're the PLC programmer backgrounds, they have all these backgrounds that aren't necessarily design, but now need some sort of design tips, and I think that's where a lot of these articles, these resources we've been putting out have been helping folks, 'cause they're trying to distill kind of key points down, so folks can easily incorporate them. So it's one of those things where there's a need for it, but there hasn't really been a good way to transition or basically translate that over to folks, and I think that's something we're still trying to develop and work towards. I think that's what people really like about a lot of the content we put out there is, is that we're catering to the folks with those backgrounds and trying to make it easy for them to adopt.
Ray: Our industry does tend to be maybe a few years behind the general tech industry, moves a little bit slower, and for good reason, because there's so much more potential impact of poor design or poor development of these applications being that we're in critical infrastructure and things like that, but the implications of UI/UX design are becoming a little bit more known in the industry, whereas we see these big players in tech are really staffing up in design specifically. You'll have big tech giants, Amazon, Facebook are obviously examples, but having teams of hundreds of designers, and that's very intentional obviously, because they're starting to understand the impact that good user experience can have on their bottom line. If an application is highly usable, it'll be less error-prone, it'll be less overhead for their support teams, it'll be less ticketing, less pain, I guess, in general, and really just boost people's confidence in using the tool that they've provided, so we're starting to see that a little bit more, I think, in this industry now.
Arnell: Yeah, and I think you guys made some of these points, just improving the user experience, improving the UX/UI, and do you think design has become essential in terms of giving data a voice? So for example, we've recently seen a lot of chatter about DataOps, and so you have a lot of data being generated by the manufacturing plants and plants out in the field, and now you have all this data and everyone's like, "Oh great, we have all this data but what do we do with it next?" And so there's the whole idea of formatting it and giving it models so that the data has some context, but then you get to that step of, now it has context, now we can get the information but how do we present that? So do you feel like design has become now an essential piece?
Ray: Yeah, I definitely do. You're right, we have all this big data, right, especially in this industry, it's monumental, and being able to turn that data into information is the key, the key point. You can smatter data and tables all over screens, but unless you're really intentionally trying to target some sort of use case with that data and presenting it in such a way that it can be digested by a target audience, that's sort of where the magic happens, and that's what user experience designers have been doing for years and years and years, both in other industries and just in general, and yeah, that's starting to see the light of day more in the industrial space.
Arnell: Thank you, thank you. I'm gonna move over to the Perspective Module, and so this has been a big release for us with Ignition 8.0, and I just wanna dive in into what that Perspective is bringing to our customers and to our users and to everyone in general. And I'm gonna start off with how important is design when it comes to software development, now we're improving a lot of our interfaces, Ray, you've done a lot of work with the gateway, improving a lot of the area. With Perspective now being released, how has design been with the influence on that?
Ray: Yeah, it's been within the company, definitely increasingly important as in we're staffing up obviously within the Development team with designers as well as across other teams as well, we have, I think three design teams spread out throughout the org, and a lot of folks, like I mentioned earlier, just with that creative problem-solving mindset who can bring solutions to the table that really simplify the problem, that's really what our job is as designers, is solving problems, we're starting with the use case, and then trying to decide how and what to present to whom, it's sort of a pretty simple process, but there's a lot of asking questions and talking to those who will be using the product and working with our customers and customer base to develop the best thing. So yeah, I'd say it's extremely important.
Arnell: We have a lot of individuals in our organization and they're coming from all different backgrounds, do you feel like there is a lot of ramp-up for new designers coming into the industrial space.
Ray: Not necessarily, it's a little bit of a strange space for product design because of the two steps of separation from end users, and what I mean by that is we're designing the Ignition product for engineers who are then building applications and products for their end users, so that's a little bit of a unique environment for designers, and it takes a little bit of time to get up to speed with, but in general, we're just doing the same thing that folks do for other products, but with that small caveat where we really are limited in the assumptions that we can make about what our engineers are gonna do with Ignition and with the new components that we're putting out there, and that's sort of a big mindset shift where you don't necessarily know the end user's use case, what they're going to do with this component when you give it to them. Our customers are so creative with what they can take and do with our components, and they really surprise us every day and come up with these new use cases that we then... If they're sort of mainstream use cases, we might then turn around and expand upon a component to better support that or add additional components to make those use cases come to life easier within Ignition.
Arnell: Thank you,thank you. On the topic of Perspective, it leverages web development technologies, specifically HTML5, and we've seen a lot of that being leveraged across the industry, especially in the IT industry, we've been seeing a lot of great things being built out there, and it's now... With Perspective, we're moving it into our industry of industrial control. So, have improvements to software design, has it been accelerated by web technologies or having software hosted on the cloud, has that expectation driven pretty much the need for the Perspective Module?
Paul: I would say that the idea of having these sort of cloud-hosted services or even just web-based access to things, I think it's driven software development quite a bit, including Perspective. I mean, there's kind of a joke already within the programming community that if you're trying to solve the problem, the first thing you do is you go to Stack Overflow and see if someone else has done it, right, which is kind of a joke, but it sort of speaks to the design guys a little bit, if I can drop $5 words down that there's sort of this expectation that sharing idea, sharing existing work and utilizing work is sort of a common place now. I you make it some cool tool or whatever, you put into a Git repo somewhere and then other people can either fork it and make it their own, or they can just contribute source and make it better, and then that's how you get these kind of really popular libraries or tools that do certain certain things. And you see it with our own development teams, you see it with other development teams that this idea of just putting stuff up somewhere in some shared area and then other people can kinda utilize it has been huge, and I think it's really, honestly accelerated a lot of our software development I should say, not just to us, but the entire world, right.
Paul: It's made it a lot easier, I mean, contributing or having collaboration from other folks generally makes things go a little bit quicker, in a lot of cases, with some exceptions. And you can even look at it at a smaller scale too, like if you look at the Ignition Exchange, for example, that's been sort of like obviously a very Ignition-specific sort of resource or utility to share things, but it's also been, I think, a bit more approachable for folks that maybe aren't super familiar with other tools like version control systems and whatnot. It kinda reminds me a little bit too, I did an Ignition Community Live last year some time, I can't remember what number it was, but the theme of it was, we were talking about Maker projects, project people have developed for Maker that did kind of cool stuff and they kinda wanted to show off and talking with them, I wanna say all of them, because I can't remember a case of someone who didn't, but I wanna say all of them have actually contributed to these projects to the Exchange, which means other people have started using them and taking advantage. So I think it just kept, it's...
Paul: It's kind of no one's asking them to do that, it's just they kinda just did it. You know what I mean? It's just kind of this expectation, some of it's kind of cool because you can kind of say, "Hey, I helped with this project in some way," but it's also kind of nice to just share it with the community. So, you get these people building these things that then other people end up using, and it just kinda builds upon itself, so it's kind of going down a rabbit hole there. But, yeah, long story short, I think this idea of open collaboration and being able to share these resources, these web technologies really, really have expedited how we're able to develop software now.
Arnell: Yeah, excellent, yeah. No, that's a great point you're making, especially with Ignition Exchange, just the... The collaboration, we have a very large community here at Inductive Automation,and they have done amazing things. And they've been prolific with a lot of the stuff that they produce, but then, kind of the... Just pushing in and creating all these different things and are willing to share that so that as a community, we're growing what we can do with the Ignition platform. Yeah, Ray, can you speak to that in terms of how that's been for us?
Ray: Yeah, it's been phenomenal. Paul said it really well. Again, it kind of links back to that sort of two levels of our user base. So, folks that are using Ignition itself are able to tap into this community and these resources on the Exchange that we've created for Ignition-specific projects, gateway backups, tools, things like that. And then, on our development team's end, because of these web technologies that are out there and these open source libraries and things, it really speeds up the production and development of the platform itself as well. For example, we're able to tap into the React tool for creating our components on the development side. And then, little things too, like the material design icon repository, which we built into Perspective now and offer, it shifts with the product. That's thousands of icons that were very well intentionally designed by a huge team of designers over years and years and years. And we just get that for free. And we can give it to our users for free, who can then give it to their users for free. That type of collaboration and sharing of resources has been pretty monumental in the industry in general.
Arnell: Yeah, that's exciting to see, just having all of that. All of that wealth of knowledge being shared across the board, and just to make everything better, and work better, and just be better, right? So, I'm gonna move on to, further into Perspective. Recently, I read an article from inc.com about the iPhone. And it said there are four words that Steve Jobs had said that literally changed the course of history for that company. And those four words is: “Breakthrough internet communication device.” And then, this article, it says that at that time, no one knew what that meant. And people were still stuck in the idea that you had a phone, and you had a music player, but what is that third thing? And so the reason I'm talking about it is that the device has changed pretty much the way we have interacted with the world today. Today, if you wanted to order something, you just open up an app, and you can order it. Someone can deliver it to you, or you could pick it up. You can set schedules. You can look up all your health information, just a wealth of things that we have never been... we haven't done before. And so, the reason I wanna bring that back into this conversation is that Perspective, it leverages this web technology, but it also leverages mobile devices. So, not trying to stretch the connection here, but do you think Perspective represents a breakthrough in the industrial control industry?
Paul: Yeah, I think the... One of the things that really kinda I think gets downplayed a little bit, not intentionally with Perspective, is just the fact that it can utilize a web browser for the client, right? It doesn't... 20 years ago, if you needed to run some applications somewhere, you would what? You'd install something and then, hopefully other things you install later don't clobber that installation or cause some other problem, so that you're basically having to manage the system yourself, right? And nowadays, I mean web browsers are basically front-ends for any number of other software packages or services, right? I can't speak for everyone, but I know every day when I'm at work, I have a million browser tabs open, and that's not necessarily because I'm bad at cleaning things up, but it's because I got a calendar open. I got an email client open in another tab. I have some documentation or maybe several tabs with the documentation that I have open because I need to reference them.
Paul: I have another one where I'm writing something, or you know what I mean? Web browsers are basically like this sort of standardized front-end. I say standardized in the loosest sense, because if you actually do web developing, you know that different browsers do different things, but in a more general sense, we can kind of assume people will have access to a web browser, right? It's pretty safe to assume that. You know what I mean? Even talking about that article, or talk about Steve Jobs kind of announcing that. Like, yeah, phones have web browsers now, right? That's huge, and everyone has a phone on them, right? And it's not uncommon for folks to, even for our space, to maybe have some sort of tablet or something, on the plant floor that has a browser, has some sort of approved browser and whatnot.
Paul: So, just getting Perspective, like a run-time of Perspective on that device is really simplistic nowadays. You know what I mean? You just point it to a URL, and then it goes. And then, that's it. You don't have to fiddle around with anything else, so just that, being able to sort of develop some sort of application and Perspective. And then, trusting that it can run on basically anything, right? You have Amazon Web Services, you have Raspberry Pi’s, you just, tablets, whatever. You know what I mean? It's just so accessible. You can get Perspective on so many different devices. It's huge.
Arnell: Yeah, I think that's amazing, that kind of the widespread accessibility that mobile devices have provided, and then Perspective is able to leverage... And I think that's great.
Ray: Yeah, and I'll say, that definitely tends to be sort of an a-ha moment, I think for a lot of people in the industry where, if I remember correctly, when we first released Perspective at ICC, there was, I think, a live demo. And at the end of it, folks on stage built an application in Perspective live within just a 30 or 45-minute session. And then, at the end of it, we put up a QR code, I think. And hundreds of people in the audience pulled their devices and immediately had live sessions running off that application that was just built, which is incredible and just so impossible, like Paul mentioned 10, 20 years ago. So, that really tends to be folks, Steve Jobs-ian a-ha moment, I think, for what Perspective is able to do and is doing.
Arnell: Yeah, that's excellent to point out. And you did mention people pulled out their mobile phones and used the camera to capture the QR code. We've talked about the web browser part, but Perspective also has the capability of leveraging the sensors on a mobile device, correct?
Ray: Yeah, absolutely. Almost everything I think we're able to tap into now, including you know, gyroscope location, photo uploads and taking and all the other sensors built in. So, right. I mean there again it's just a huge, what used to be maybe a barrier to entry or a very expensive equipment type procurement that would have to happen across multiple teams of departments, again, that's all baked in through our devices. So you get that out of the box.
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. Customers, have they found being able to do that, has it given them more capability on the plant floor?
Ray: Yeah, and that again, it's like we're seeing customers do really amazing things with the product, which is so exciting for us. You know, things like geo-fencing capabilities based on where the person is on the plant floor, or maybe they need to see different information a different screen pops up based on which piece of equipment they're next to, or they can leverage augmented reality and point their device at a tank and see through it and know what the levels are. What's in it, what's cooking, you can really get some pretty pretty unique data and insights out of the tool through these sensors.
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. So yeah, we've been talking about Perspective and how it's been for the Ignition platform. And so I'm just gonna touch upon how has updating the design to the Ignition platform, how has it been for our customers, where we're now moving it into this new user experience. And also especially that we came out with Quick Start to get people educated on the use. How has that been so far?
Paul: It seems pretty positive so far, to be honest, just kinda having more tools and making it more accessible for folks has sort of... And I think that kinda ties a little bit into maybe our sort of strategy with this. It's just kinda make it really easy for people to get their hands on and play around with, and then just let the product speak for itself. That seems to be kind of our approach to a lot of things, but it seems to work really well, just let people play around with it.
Arnell: Yeah, yeah, I think having that interaction with the tool and being able to play around with it and see what it can do, I think that serves people well.
Ray: Yeah, and pretty quickly when you start using Perspective, specifically with Ignition, you and the designer, I think what folks might have worried about in regards to maybe a barrier to entry, meaning, do I have to be a web dev to be able to you know, a front-end programmer to be able to use Perspective because it's a front-end web development tool. The answer's pretty obviously no, because we're building in such a way that we're kind of abstracting a lot of that out. You're not just in a code editor, you're in still a WYSIWYG environment. You're dragging components onto the board, art board, and you're building really data-dense applications really quickly, and like I mentioned kind of abstracting out that web development knowledge that you might need. So for example, like the property editor, that's just raw JSON on the back-end more or less, and with raw CSS styles, but you're not just in a text editor having to deal with that like a normal web developer would be. We're presenting it in a much more user-friendly way with that intention to make it just a better experience for our developers and more consistent with Vision and what folks are used to.
Arnell: No, I think that's excellent that we've been able to do that, and that kind of leads us into our next part here, Inductive University. And a lot of other content has done a great job in educating our users on using Ignition. When Perspective was first released, what has been the early feedback on its use?
Paul: Yeah, so when Perspective was first released, it's funny because Perspective kinda came out a little early. We kinda wanted to just get it out there and get some user feedback and kinda see what people were tryin’ to do with it, so we can kinda figure out where its development should lend itself. And so I remember trying to do a lot of documentation for it in the early beta, and then I've seen it progress over time. And so I can kinda speak from personal experience, I haven't used the software quite by myself. I see Perspective tried to... It's almost like Perspective was like a redo for visualization system, right. We developed Perspective with this idea of, "Okay, we know what people were trying to do with Vision. Let's make that better, right?" And so when people are trying to learn Perspective, there's a lot of similarities that people will find, things like bindings and property change grips, a lot of common things that folks used in Vision made their way over to Perspective. So there's parts that were very familiar, but then there's parts that were very foreign. And then we have these sort of web development ideas that we try to distill down and simplify a bit, but they still exist, so things like flex boxes and just kind of CSS in general, right?
Paul: So there's a bit of a learning curve there. Over time, I mean, documentations got better, more features and quality-of-life changes for the software have sort of been applied which makes it a lot easier for folks to pick up. As of now, I should say, modern day IU things are actual looking really positive. Last year, we released the "Building [in] Perspective” course which is kind of like a long case study/tutorial on getting started with Perspective. It's sort of designed to be used as a guide for folks that are switching over from Vision. And that's actually gotten a massive amount of feedback, which is saying something because IU already gets a lot of positive feedback. So just kind of this last year, it stood out quite a bit more. Kind of a fun little story. We have a gentleman in our company. His name is David Grussenmeyer, and he currently works with our university outreach right now. So we work with a lot of colleges, their engineering programs. They have automation programs, and we basically give them copies of Ignition and sort of like help them develop a small kind of curriculum for the Ignition side, so that way they don't spend too much time in the class focusing just on Ignition, but they can at least kinda start building a little SCADA system. And so he'd used to basically pick out a bunch of IU courses and then send that as kind of the curriculum, but now that we have Building [in] Perspective, he just sends that.
Paul: It's a more distilled, much simpler process, right. And there's less videos overall because it's more focused on just getting you started without giving, without adopting IU's current paradigm of a... I should say credential courses paradigm of each video being like its own topic in a vacuum. So no, people seem to like it. They seem to appreciate the extra guidance and learning the module, which makes me wanna do more stuff like that. And we've of course, we've also had folks trying to learn Perspective. We do have our Perspective training class which has gotten a lot of positive feedback as well. So folks have already gone to the core class and then take this more specialized course with our instruction team to get a little bit more insight on the ins and outs of Perspective.
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. Yeah, and in addition to the Perspective course that you talked about, we also wanted to touch upon again the design fundamentals, and so there was a course that was created in IU called Design Fundamentals and it ties into using Perspective. It kind of leads into it, giving it a prerequisite course into leading into Perspective, and Steve, you've had a good deal of work on that, can you speak more on that project and how it came about?
Steve: Yeah, so with the company, we've always had really good success with design-related content, like we've mentioned earlier, we've done webinars, we've done ICC sessions, things like that, and we've always gotten great feedback and customers have always wanted more, so this was kind of a way to get that up there for our customers and just for everybody in general, these new courses that we created, we call them elective studies, and the Design Fundamentals course is composed of all the basics that can help you build better interfaces. It can help you design better sell sheets for marketing, it's really all-encompassing and things like responsive design, visual hierarchy, typography design systems, so if you're wanting to get to that next level to, like we talked about earlier, where good design is kind of commonplace now for having a good software product, and if you wanna get to that next level. This was something that we wanted to put out there to help our customers get to that level and have them start to see these little simple changes that you can do, can make a whole bit of difference to your project or whatever you're trying to make.
Arnell: Yeah, and I think the great thing about that Design Fundamentals course is that it's just... It's not just for Perspective, but it gives you a good foundation on what to think about, what are their considerations, how to approach it. So I think overall, I think anyone would benefit from taking that in general, but I think it's great that we have that as a resource, and it's a good lead-in to how people can develop great HMIs, dashboards, screens or anything in general that design is related to. So as Perspective continues to improve and it is, we've had these release trains going on for the last two years, three years, I believe. What are your thoughts on it? On the adoption of a Perspective, do you feel like it's accelerating... Any thoughts on that?
Paul: Yeah, it really seems like it's been picking up a bit, a lot of folks were, we kind of said this in other avenues, but basically a lot of folks were holding out for a long-term support version of Ignition before they really kinda took the plunge and started messing around with Perspective not to say that we didn't have early adopters, we did, but it definitely seems like folks were kinda holding out a little bit intentionally, which makes sense, and I think you're gonna continue to see that sort of pattern continue over time. Again, I mentioned kinda working on documentation for Perspective way back when it was like in a beta, and then I look at it now and I see just how much it's matured, how much it's grown, how many new features it's added and how many quality-of-life things it's added, and it's kind of funny, the other day... So right now, 8.1.14, as of the time of this writing hasn't been released yet, that's something that's coming around the bend real soon here. And I remember working on some of the documentation for it, and I found a feature we added to Perspective that is really small in the grand scheme of things, but I'm gonna nerd out on it for a minute.
Paul: It's actually something I've been wanting for a long time. So it's this idea that basically alarms can have associated data, and then that associated data can now actually be shown on the built-in alarm table components and Perspective. And if you don't know what that means, that's okay, but if you know that means you probably think this is huge because associated data is one of the things that people kinda go all in on, and folks have been wanting a way to show that on our built-in components by, natively and Vision, just, it hasn't been in the cards, unfortunately for some time, but Perspective now has it. So we're not really at a point... We're still kinda working on it, I should say, but we're not necessarily... To me, it seems like a breakthrough because Perspective has done more than just trying to match feature parity, it's surpassed it. It's doing something that Vision couldn't, and it's doing it a bit better, and again, it's a small thing, but I got excited about it because just from talking to customers over the years and trying to teach them how to use the software, it's something that people have been wanting, and I think, again, five years from now, if you look in the future, you're gonna see more of that.
Paul: You know what I mean? You're gonna see more of these quality-of-life improvements, you're gonna see new features, not necessarily... Yeah, you'll see a big flash or big features, but I think you'll also see these smaller things that end up just making your life far more, or I should say, your applications far more useful or helpful or better incorporate other data that you want to show on these components. So again, I think the future looks pretty bright, and I think we're gonna... As a result, we're gonna see more people switching over to Perspective as time goes on.
Ray: Yeah, and I'll add that too, being a web-based module, it opens up the opportunity for our customers to develop their own modules much easier, I would say, than it used to be for Vision, for example, just because all the things we've talked about already, there's that lower barrier to entry and the bigger wealth of open source knowledge out there about building things in web tech, so anyone who maybe is hesitant to get in because it's lacking X or Y feature, folks can build those tools for themselves while we're ramping up our own components for things, as time goes on. There's just sort of that lower barrier to entry for everyone involved. So I think, again, that's gonna help push it forward and help larger companies adopt it in a much more unique way than we've seen before.
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. So we're nearing the end of our conversation, is there anything else that anyone wants to add? Any points they wanna make?
Steve: Yeah. I wanna make a point just about the design portion of this and that, the idea that good design can be accomplished by anyone, basically. You don't have to go to school for years to learn all the ins and outs of it, you can literally watch a YouTube video or watch a University video on the fundamentals, and that could bump your project up quite a bit in a small amount of time, so it's more about just being conscious about it and thinking about it as you're creating something and keeping your users in mind and how it will help them with this thing that you're making, instead of just getting all the data that someone asked for out there and throwing it on a screen, it's seeing what's the most important and figuring out the best use case for that specific problem.
Paul: If I could add to what Steve says there, yeah, you absolutely don't need to be an expert. I said it before, I'll say it again, my background is not in design, but just through working with Ray and Steve here over the past couple of years. I'm at a point where... I'm definitely not on their level, but I can spot like, "Oh, maybe I shouldn't do this 'cause it's convoluted or it's distracting or whatever." So it's just small things you can kinda pick up as you go over time, absolutely.
Ray: To add, we also have just so many additional ideas and big sort of features that are coming down the pipeline that we're really excited about, especially for the 8.2 release specifically, and just the stability of 8.1 and just sort of bumping up the performance behind Perspective and sort of rounding out its capabilities over time. We're super, super focused on that, so it's gonna just continue to get better, and now is maybe the time to jump in, start taking things around the designer and picking up some of these skills that we've talked about, both just in Perspective, generally and in design specifically for future application development. And we're also always hiring front-end developers and QA engineers on our team, we're pretty rapidly staffing up in the department, so I just wanted to put in the plug for that... Any folks are entry level or sort of veterans in the industry, front-end devs and QA and designers are always sorely needed on our team so we're looking into that, and so check out the careers page if you get a chance on [inductiveautomation.com].
Arnell: Alright, excellent, thank you, Ray. So as we wrap up this podcast, I wanted to reiterate that some of the things that we've talked about in this episode, so I invite you to go to inductiveautomation.com and go to our Resources page, look up all of our content, webinars, articles, and case studies to see how you can use Perspective. I also invite you to go to our Downloads page and download Ignition for free, and you have an unlimited trial to try it out and try out Quick Start to see how Perspective can work out for you. And also look at inductiveuniversity.com. I would recommend that you go register and take the courses there, it's completely free, has everything that you'll need to get up and running with Ignition. And also, as Paul mentioned, the Perspective class and also the Design Fundamentals courses that Steve has talked about. I'd like to thank everyone for joining me today; Steve, Ray, Paul, thank you again. This has been a great conversation regarding design and Perspective, thank you to our audience for joining us today. I wish everyone a great day and thank you.