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We're celebrating this release with the arcade game Krull, and if you've seen the 1983 cult-classic movie it's based on, you know the plot is a little wild. In a world light-years beyond imagination, Prince Colwyn and his magical throwing weapon — the glaive — must battle slayers, traverse the Iron Desert on a fire mare, and work his way through the lair of the Widow of the Web to find the Black Fortress. Only there can he rescue his beloved Lyssa after penetrating an energy barrier and fighting the Beast with fireballs.
Almost as epic as that story, our Krull release features a redesigned Messaging screen for both our web and mobile platforms, enhancements for managing incidents, the ability to add collaboration channels to from our incident console, plus a ton of improvements for getting integrated with xMatters. There's also a new dashboard widget for monitoring incidents, an export option for the Post-Incident Report, and lots of other usability enhancements!
Before you dive in to learn about all the improvements, here are some important dates:
- Non-production environment access: Tuesday, January 26
- Production environment access: Tuesday, February 23 (enabled between 10:00-10:30am Pacific)
Krull Training Webinars
For a guided Krull tour — including tips and tricks — sign up for one of our free webinars.
As a special bonus we'll also give you a preview of an enhancement we're working on that's coming soon:
- Self-service settings — manage your company's system & security settings without a Support request
Our Community shrinks images for convenience but allows you to click on them for a closer look. See an image or animated GIF you like? Click it.
In a hurry? Here's an overview of this doc if you want to skip ahead to something awesome.
- Improved Messaging Interface
- Incident Management
New & Updated Workflows (and Triggers too!)
- New & Updated Steps
- Usability Enhancements
- xMatters REST API Enhancements
- New & Updated Workflows (and Triggers too!)
- User Experience
- Other Mobile Updates
- Early Access Program & Feature Delivery Update
Improved messaging interface
Messaging is a key part of our platform and every release includes improvements representing the feedback we get from our customers and the best practices we observe. For example, when you're dealing with a time-sensitive incident, you need to be able to react as quickly as possible — in this release, we've made it easier to find the messaging forms and scenarios you want to send.
New messaging landing page (web)
Availability: February 5, non-production environments
We've redesigned the Messaging section of our web user interface to display forms and scenarios in a full-screen list view. This allows you to easily navigate through your hierarchy of workflows, forms, and scenarios. You can use the search bar to quickly find messages with specific terms or keywords in their names or descriptions. Or, you can 'star' your most-frequently used forms and scenarios for ultimate quick-access from a curated list.
Form & scenario search (mobile)
We've also redesigned the Send screen in our mobile apps with new tabs so it's easier to view your workflows, forms, scenarios, and starred messages. You can find your scenarios and forms more quickly, too — the app now lets you search forms and scenarios, and you can also sort them alphabetically (ascending or descending):
In our last release, we introduced major new enhancements to support an adaptive approach to incident resolution. We continue to build on that work by adding new functionality to the xMatters Incident Management platform for managing resolvers, adding collaboration channels, and exporting Post-Incident Reports.
We've restyled and added new functionality to the Resolvers section of the Incident Console. It's now easier to see which groups are represented and what each user's engagement status is. With this cleaner design, actions to 'Notify' and 'Stop notifying' resolvers are available from an options menu, and you can move your cursor over a resolver's status to see the time they were notified or became engaged:
You can now dismiss resolvers from an incident. This is helpful for indicating which resolvers are no longer needed to actively engage in resolving the incident, and for keeping an accurate record of when and how long each resolver was engaged.
You can optionally add a note explaining why you're dismissing them, and it'll be appended to the Timeline record of when the resolver was dismissed:
Add resolvers without sending notifications
You can immediately add resolvers to an existing incident without sending them a notification by using the new Mark as Engaged option. This is useful when you've already got people working the incident and you simply want to add users to the list of engaged resolvers without making them stop what they're doing to acknowledge a message.
Try adding 'Role' labels to your resolvers describing their responsibilities in resolving the incident. This makes it easy to see what everyone is working on and why they're included in the incident resolution process.
If you want to show particular roles at the top of the list, you can drag and drop them into whichever order you like. You can also drag resolvers into an existing role if more than one resolver is working on the same thing:
With the initial release of xMatters Incident Management, you could automate the creation of collaboration channels as part of your custom incident resolution workflows. With this release, we begin the process of making it possible to manually add collaboration channels to an existing incident directly from the Incident Console, starting with Slack.
Add Slack & Microsoft Teams collaboration channels from the Incident Console
Anyone who has access to an incident in xMatters can add new or existing Slack & Microsoft Teams channels to an incident by clicking + Add in the Collaboration section of the Incident Console. This is useful for workflows that don't automatically create collaboration channels when initiating incidents — like the default xMatters Incident Management workflow.
When you add a collaboration channel, the specified name and description, plus a link to the channel, will be visible to everyone working on the incident.
Visibility into your incident response processes is a key aspect of continuous improvement and more effective incident response. In this release, we've added a new dashboard widget to help you identify opportunities for improvement, and we've enhanced the Post-Incident Report with export capabilities so you can share your insights with others.
Incidents by Severity dashboard widget
To help you identify ways to improve your incident response process, we've added a new Incidents by Severity widget to our Communication Center dashboard.
You can use the widget to monitor trends in the volume and severity of incidents over different periods — such as over the past 24 hours, the past 90 days, or at specific points in time. You also have the option to drill-through to the Incidents view to explore a graph's underlying data in more detail.
Post-Incident Report export
We've added an export option to the Post-Incident Report that you can use to create documents to share with stakeholders, or to save for your own records.
The Word export includes the full analysis, curated timeline, and any designated follow-up actions. It includes your logo by default, and you can easily make further styling or content edits using your preferred word processor before saving as a PDF for distribution.
Our goal for this release was to make it easier to get integrated with xMatters. We've approached it from all angles with easier installation, new triggers, signal diagnostics, data mapping steps, usability improvements, and more!
New & updated workflows (and triggers, too!)
In this release, we focused on simplifying the process of getting integrated with xMatters by making it easier to install and get flowing with our latest packaged workflows. Now, instead of having to download and import a .zip file, you can install packaged workflows directly from within xMatters — just select the workflow from the list of available templates, and then click 'Install'!
To ensure you're up and running quickly, each workflow contains a pre-built flow that creates an event when xMatters receives a signal from the external system via an HTTP request. You then have the option to use Flow Designer's powerful visual interface to further customize or enhance the workflow's functionality to meet your organization's specific needs.
We're hoping to roll out this simplified process to all our packaged integrations ASAP. For this release, it's available for the following workflows:
Google Cloud Operations Suite
Microsoft Azure Monitor
When an Azure monitoring alert sends a signal to xMatters, this integration triggers a flow to notify the correct engineers and blocks redundant information for faster incident resolution. You can extend it to automatically run remediation steps or enrich notifications with additional data from other systems.
When an alert rule in Prometheus detects a problem, this integration triggers a flow in xMatters. You can use this integration to relay critical system data to teams, using actionable notifications that allow them to tackle any issue.
When a CloudWatch Alarm condition is met, an SNS subscription generates a signal into xMatters. You can use this integration to automatically transfer key CloudWatch event data and insights throughout your system, and automate your resolution process.
When an alerting policy is triggered in AppDynamics, this integration sends an HTTP request to xMatters to trigger a flow. You can use this integration to send critical application performance data that helps your team analyze and optimize digital business performance in real time.
New App Triggers
All the steps used by these workflows are available from the Flow Designer palette. This means you can take advantage of the following new App Triggers in your new or existing flows:
- Google Cloud Incidents - Triggers a flow when it receives a signal from a Google Operations webhook. Outputs include information about the alerting policy that triggered the webhook.
- Microsoft Azure Alerts - Triggers a flow when it receives a signal from an Azure Alerts action group. Outputs include information about the alert rule that triggered the action group.
- Prometheus Alertmanager Alerts - Triggers a flow when it receives a signal from a Prometheus Alertmanager webhook. Outputs include information about the number of alerts and labels common to all sent alerts.
- AWS CloudWatch Alarms - Triggers a flow when it receives a signal from an AWS CloudWatch alarm. Outputs include information about the alarm and the regions affected.
- AppDynamics - Triggers a flow when it receives a signal from an AppDynamics webhook. Outputs include information about alerting policy that triggered the webhook.
Flow Designer is the user interface for our integration platform. Its goal is to provide an all-inclusive visual canvas that allows users of any technical ability across the enterprise to integrate and create incident resolution workflows with ease.
New & updated steps
As usual, this release includes several new steps for automating and streamlining your incident management processes. You can now add notes to an incident as part of your flows and easily assign severity or priority levels from a flow to an incident or event.
Add a note to an incident
xMatters already automatically adds many useful records to the Incident Timeline, which frees up the incident scribe to add notes about how resolution activities are going, like capturing additional details from conference calls, for example.
With this release, you now also have the option to include the Add Note to Incident step in your flows to enhance the Timeline with information about your automations, such as when a flow is triggered by an external signal, or to provide extra context from a particular event activity trigger.
Map to xMatters severity and priority values
We've added two new steps that let you 'map' values in the signal from an external system to xMatters event priority or incident severity levels. This is handy, because it means you don't need to worry about the parameters in incoming signals matching the values xMatters expects, and you don't have to write your own custom steps to match them up.
When you configure a Map Incident Severity or Map Event Priority step, you specify which expected incoming values should correspond to each xMatters incident severity or event priority level. You can then use the outputs from these steps to set the priority or severity in a connected step, such as the 'Create Event' or 'Initiate Incident' steps.
As you're getting integrated, it's helpful to check if incoming signals are being accepted, to see the information they contain, and to confirm they're behaving as you expect. We've added a new report that you can use as a handy diagnostic tool for setting up and monitoring the activity of your inbound signals.
The Signals report helps developers evaluate inbound signals. The report displays the payload for all signals handled by custom HTTP, app, and email triggers (and legacy inbound integrations), along with timestamps, status codes, and authentication details. Processed signals also include the outputs from the trigger and a link to the workflow that processed the signal so a developer can further evaluate each request in Flow Designer's Activity panel.
A key goal of Flow Designer, with its codeless drag-and-drop functionality, is to make it easy for anyone to set up an integrated toolchain. This means usability is the central theme for every new feature or enhancement we add — but also for making the things we already have in place even better. Here are a few of the usability improvements we've added to existing Flow Designer features.
Search flow variables
When you're configuring a step, you don't have to scroll through all of the variables and constants to find the one you're looking for — you can search for the one you want! Enter your search term and xMatters will filter the list:
New Custom step image library
The next time you select an image for one of your custom steps or HTTP triggers, you'll notice we've made the following improvements to the Image Library:
- Modern, streamlined design with a larger drag-and-drop surface for uploading images
- Custom icons at the top of the list, with the most recent images listed first
- Improved resolution of the default images included in the library
Improved shortcuts menu
We've reorganized the shortcuts menu in Flow Designer into sections so you can quickly hone-in on the task you're attempting to accomplish, like Get Around, Build Flows, or Select Steps:
xMatters REST API enhancements
We continually enhance our xMatters REST API calls to replace existing SOAP and older REST methods. These calls not only support customer integration needs, they're also the foundation for data access by our mobile clients, the web user interface, and other key xMatters services.
Assign users a phone PIN
When you create or modify users with the xMatters REST API, you have the option to programmatically set their phone PIN – that's a number they can enter into their phone to identify themselves when they call into xMatters to retrieve their messages. To do this, include the new
phonePin parameter in your request to Post /people.
You can learn more about the xMatters REST API in our online help.
User experience improvements
User experience is a major theme for many features in our quarterly releases, and this release is no exception. In this section, we'll review a couple of additional improvements we made for managing company policies and settings.
Updated password policy
We've updated our password policy so customers wanting to be compliant with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) best practices can require that their users' passwords not contain dictionary words, company or application names, or commonly-used passwords that can be easily guessed.
Sneak peek: Self-service system & security settings
Estimated availability: Early March
We're adding a new settings menu so customers can easily manage their own company settings without filing a Support request. From this new menu, you'll be able to do things like:
- Upload your company's logo
- Set up email and Caller ID display names
- Update your company's password policy settings
- Configure single sign-on (SAML)
Other mobile updates
We already mentioned some mobile updates above, but here's another one we think our Android users are going to want to hear about.
Privileged devices (Android)
Support for privileged devices is now available on the xMatters Android app. If you don't have permission to view privileged devices, you'll see the contact for those devices redacted (starred out) in other users' contact information in the app. Although you can't see or edit the contact information for these privileged devices, you can still add them as recipients to your messages — if you need to.
Early Access Program & Feature Delivery Update
The goal of our current delivery model for xMatters On-Demand is to balance feature delivery with customer change management processes. This means providing visibility into upcoming changes for customers that want it, while allowing other customers to have a more standard non-production environment that matches production.
If you aren't familiar with the current model, we release features only visible to admins/developers at a faster pace than the quarterly release process. These features should not impact end users until a customer provisions them into their workflow. Customers can opt their non-production environments into the Early Access Program to see features and functionality enhancements that impact end users before they're released on a quarterly basis. All customer non-production environments are updated two weeks prior to official quarterly production release to allow for testing and training on new features.
We regularly reevaluate and improve our deployment processes to ensure they reflect industry best practices and customer feedback. For more information about our deployment process, see our xMatters Deployment Process and Early Access article. We'll update that document whenever we make a change, and let you know about the change through other appropriate channels.
These are the main features for this release but be aware there are a number of other small changes and enhancements we're delivering to keep xMatters looking sharp. Detailed information and instructions for using these new features will be available in our online documentation.
We hope you enjoy this release — see you again soon!