Galaga (Oct/Nov 2019) Release Overview

The information in this article is the intellectual property of xMatters and is intended only for use with xMatters products by xMatters customers and their employees. Further, this intellectual property is proprietary and must not be reused or resold.

Fighter captured? No problem! With this release, you can easily create workflows to get your starship out from that boss' tractor beam and acquire the dual-fighter capabilities you need to take down the forces threatening humankind! We're celebrating this release with Galaga, one of the greatest arcade games of all time, applauded for its gameplay, innovation, and addictive nature.

While our new Workflows UI makes it easier for individuals and service teams to manage their incident management processes, our enhancements to Flow Designer allow users of all levels of technical ability across the enterprise to integrate and build incident resolution workflows with ease. Other big enhancements in Galaga include a new Historical On-Call report, messaging improvements for service teams, new additions to the xMatters REST API and our mobile platforms, plus a lot, lot more.

Before you dive in to learn about all the improvements, here are some important dates:

  • Non-production environment access: Tuesday, October 29
  • Production environment access: Tuesday, November 12 (enabled between 10:00-10:30am Pacific)

Future feature release

As a special bonus we'll also give you a sneak peek at enhancements we're working on for a future release:

  • Libraries - create libraries of common or useful code functions to use in your flow steps.
  • Recipient selector improvements - search and select multiple recipients at the same time.

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.

Jump ahead

In a hurry? Here's an overview of this doc if you want to skip ahead to something awesome:

Workflows

Hey, who moved the cheese?!? We recently announced that we'd be making some pretty big changes in this release, including new naming conventions and an improved web user interface for managing your processes. So yes, we’ve moved the cheese, and we think you’re really going to like the new changes!  

Introducing 'Workflows'

Starting at the top of our UI, the Developer tab is now Workflows. With recent and ongoing enhancements to our integration platform - such as our new Flow Designer UI - you don’t need to be a developer to integrate with other applications and build automated toolchains. The xMatters integration platform makes building incident management workflows accessible to users with all levels of coding experience.

This change also reflects that we’ve renamed communication plans “workflows” to better represent their capabilities, and to make it more intuitive to work with the underlying components of Flow Designer.

workflows-tab.png

New workflows UI

You can create workflows in different ways: by starting with one of our built-in or downloadable templates, or by creating your own custom workflow from scratch. It shouldn’t matter how you create them – when you go to manage your workflows, they should all be easily accessible from one location in xMatters. And that’s exactly what we’ve done with this new interface.

The new UI facilitates the management of workflows by combining (formerly-known-as) communication plans and built-in integrations into a single view. A filter for 'Editable' or 'All' allows you to easily switch between an enterprise-wide view of your workflows and just those that are accessible and editable by you:

workflows-filter.png

Reordering workflows

The order of your workflows still determines how their message forms are organized on the Messaging tab. To change the order of your workflows, you need to be in the 'All' workflows view, since you’re arranging the entire list of workflows and not just the subset of ones editable by you. Once you select 'All' you can drag your workflows to new positions in the list:

workflows-change-order.png

Workflow Templates

The Workflow Templates screen (previously known as “Integrations” or the "Integration Directory") allows you to access a directory of pre-built templates that you can install in your environment to quickly integrate other systems such as New Relic, Cherwell, and MS teams into your workflows. Templates for different products have different installation methods: some are built right into xMatters and have a streamlined configuration process, while others are available from our website as downloadable packages that you can import.

We’ve added new Create Workflow screens to help guide you through the installation process when you select a template from the directory. These screens have instructions specific to the installation method of the product you select, and they provide helpful links where you can get more detailed information to help you get set up:

create-workflows.png

Workflow Templates widget

We’ve also updated the former “Integrations” widget to be in line with our new terminology. You can add the Workflow Templates widget to your Communication Center dashboard for quick access to our available templates:

workflows-widget.png

Renaming workflows on import

While we were focused on usability improvements for installing workflows, we thought it would be a great time to optimize the import process. We’re very pleased to announce that you can import a workflow with a simple drag and drop, and if the workflow's name matches one in your system (which typically happens if you're working with an exported workflow), you can now easily rename it as part of the import process!

import-workflow.png

Change is good!

As you’ve just seen, change can be good. Our new Workflows UI retains (and improves on) the previous functionality of the former Communication Plan Builder, and its new naming conventions better reflect our customers’ IT processes. We call that a win-win!

Where will the cheese move next?

We've made a lot of investment recently into developing Flow Designer, a new user interface for our integration platform. And we're not done yet! As you'll see in the following section, we're making many additional updates to Flow Designer that will change the way you integrate using xMatters.

Flow Designer

Flow Designer is the newest user interface for our integration platform. The goal of Flow Designer is to provide an all-inclusive interface that allows users of all levels of technical ability across the enterprise to integrate and create incident resolution workflows with ease.

End-to-end integration support

The initial release of Flow Designer didn't include all the functionality of our integration platform's original user interface, the Integration Builder. We're now working on incorporating that remaining functionality into Flow Designer so that it includes full end-to-end integration support. We're also making it possible for you to access your existing integrations in Flow Designer so you have the option to convert them into flows and take advantage of the benefits that Flow Designer has to offer.

Access flow components: endpoints & constants

When we rolled out Flow Designer, you could use endpoints and constants in your steps, but their controls remained in the Integration Builder. We've now incorporated these Components for managing integration behaviors into Flow Designer and our new Workflows UI. As shown below, there's several ways you can access them, depending on where you're working in the Workflows UI.

At the highest level, you can access endpoints and constants from the Flows tab of a workflow:

components-flows-tab.png

When you're in Flow Designer, the Components menu is available at the top of the canvas:

components-canvas.png

And finally, when you're configuring a step, you can manage your constants by clicking Edit in the sidebar:

components-step-config.png

Convert email integrations to email triggers

For customers that haven't already converted their legacy email integrations into flows, you'll be happy to know we've done the work for you! Your existing email integrations will automatically convert to flows when you first view the canvas representing the form for which email integration was enabled.

The flow for your legacy email integration consists of an Email trigger combined with an xMatters Create Event step:

email-integration.png

The combination of these two steps in Flow Designer maintains the functionality of email integrations by initiating an event when xMatters receives a form initiation email, with properties from your email integration properly mapped to the appropriate inputs of the Create Event step.

Take advantage of flows!

The great thing about having your email integration converted to Flow Designer is that you now have the option to include other steps in your flow before or after you trigger the event. For example, you could send an email to first open a ticket in a service desk and start a chat room, and then map the ticket number and chat room link to properties on your form so they're included in the notification.

You could then further extend your flow by passing information about the event into other systems downstream in the flow. For example, you could post the conference bridge number for the event in the chat room you created in a previous step:

email-integration-flow.png

Access & edit legacy inbound integrations

Email integrations aren't the only legacy integrations that we've been working on making available in Flow Designer - we've also been migrating over all of your inbound integrations.

You'll now find triggers for your 'Create a new xMatters event' and 'Transform content to create a new xMatters event' inbound integrations on the flow canvas for their associated forms. Since 'Run a script' integrations aren't associated with a form, you'll find their triggers on a canvas that's named after the integration.

You can open the trigger's configuration screen and edit its settings by:

  • Changing its label on the canvas
  • Choosing a different run location
  • Updating the authentication method or credentials
  • Editing its script
  • Enabling or disabling it

inbound-deprecated-edit.png

Why is my inbound integration deprecated?

You'll notice that your legacy inbound integrations are labeled as deprecated on the Flow Designer canvas and in the Integration Builder, but don't worry - they'll still continue to function. We've labeled them this way because with the new Flow Designer UI there's new - and we think better - options for these triggers that you'll probably want to start taking advantage of.

inbound-deprecated.png

Go with the flow!

While the basic functionality of your inbound integrations hasn't changed, converting them into HTTP triggers in Flow Designer lets you do things like:

  • Break big blocks of code into discrete steps that are reusable by anyone in your organization.
  • Change a step in one place and have it automatically updated wherever it's being used.
  • Share steps across the enterprise to drive consistency and repeatability in your incident resolution processes.
  • Convert the inbound payload into outbound steps so you can easily map the information into our steps.
  • Enrich incoming signals with state or configuration information from other systems to help on-call resources decide what to do when an incident occurs.
  • Kick off a series of actions without manual intervention, and without initiating an xMatters event if that suits your processes.
  • See at-a-glance exactly which part of your process is having a problem if something goes wrong.

Once the Galaga Release is live in production, our new step-by-step guide for converting inbound integrations to flows will be available to fully outline the benefits and options for converting your deprecated triggers to flows.

HTTP trigger: additional authentication methods

Now that HTTP triggers have been in the wild for some time and you've had a chance to put them through their paces, it's time to ratchet up security and provide the full range of authentication methods supported for inbound integrations (which you'll also need if you convert your legacy integrations to flows):

http-auth-definition.png

These include the following:

  • URL Authentication. The least secure method of authentication because anyone with access to the URL can initiate the trigger.
  • Basic Authentication. Stores the user credentials of an xMatters user in the calling system to initiate the trigger. If the user resets their password, the system must be updated with the new password.
  • API Key. Uses randomly generated credentials to initiate the trigger via basic authentication. The API key and secret cannot be used to log on to the xMatters interface. (Note: We've expanded the capabilities of our API Key authentication method; for more information, see API key & secret enhancements.)
  • OAuth. Requires you to provide OAuth credentials of an xMatters user to initiate the trigger.
  • Allow all methods. Allows any of the listed authentication methods to initiate the trigger.

When you define an HTTP trigger, you select the type of authentication method that the trigger uses. This method is displayed in a read-only view in the step configuration. When you select Allow all methods, any properly authenticated request can trigger the flow, and the user configuring the step can toggle through the authentication details for each of the available methods:

HTTP_auth_methods.gif

Sneak peek: shared libraries

Another integration component we're working on transitioning to Flow Designer in an upcoming release is Shared Libraries (or "Libraries", as they'll be called in the new UI). You can use this feature to create a library of common or useful code functions to use in your steps. If you need to update a function later, you can modify it in a single location, and it'll be updated wherever it's being used.

One of the cool new ways we're expanding this feature in Flow Designer is the ability to select the libraries you want to use and to give them customized reference names, which you can then use to require them in your script. Here's a preliminary design of what this might look like:

shared-libraries.png

New Flow Designer steps

As usual, this release includes a number of new built-in steps for some of the common tools used in incident management workflows (this time we're bringing you BMC Remedy ITSM and Jira Server). We've also added four new steps to the Tools tab that take advantage of the xMatters endpoint to look up information or take action in your xMatters deployment, and a new Utilities step for sending outbound webhooks.

Event steps

We've added two new Event steps to the Tools tab in Flow Designer. You can use these new steps to find and terminate up to 50 events at a time in xMatters.

Get Events

The Get Events step allows you to get the event IDs of the 50 most recent events in xMatters that match search criteria such as status, priority, or the value of an event property. You can combine search criteria to narrow your results or add multiple status or priority values to broaden the search.

For example, if you wanted to return up to 50 of the most recent high or medium priority events related to a help desk ticket so that you could then terminate them using the (spoiler alert!) Terminate Events step, you could configure the Get Events step as shown in the following screenshot:

get-events-step.png

The event IDs are returned as an output of the Get Events step, along with the number of matching event IDs that were returned, and the total number of events found that match the search criteria (i.e., while the 50 most recent event IDs are returned, more than 50 events might match the criteria).

Terminate Events

You can use the Terminate Events step to terminate up to 50 events using their event IDs. You can use the Get Events step earlier in the flow to retrieve the IDs for the events you want to terminate:

terminate-events.png

When you terminate events in xMatters, event processing stops and cannot be resumed, all active notifications are canceled, and responses to existing notifications are rejected.

xMatters lookup steps

You'll notice that the Tools tab has a new Find in xMatters section that includes steps for looking up an xMatters user or finding out the value a user has for a particular property.

Find User

The Find User step lets you look up the ID and target name of an xMatters user based on the value of a custom field or attribute. For example, you could look up the user with the value "Rigel" in a Team Lead field:

find-user-config.png

The outputs of the Find User step provide the unique identifier (UUID) and target name of the first user that matches the search criteria. You can then use the output from this step downstream in your flow, such as to set that person as the recipient of a connected xMatters Create Event step.

Find user property value

You can use the Find User Property Value step to look up the value of a custom field or attribute based on the ID and target name of an xMatters user. For example, you could look up what value "Jira SD ID" stores for user mmcbride. Outputs of this step include the value of the specified custom field or attribute. 

find-user-property-value-config.png

New built-in steps

Flow Designer includes built-in steps for many of the common tools used in incident management workflows, and we're adding new steps all the time. In this release, we added the following new steps to the Apps tab in the Flow Designer palette:

bmc-create-incident.png BMC Remedy ITSM Create Incident - automatically create a new incident in BMC Remedy.
bmc-update-incident.png BMC Remedy ITSM Update Incident - automatically update an existing incident record and information changes.
bmc-remedy-add-note2.png BMC Remedy Add Note - automatically add a note to an incident, either as an internal comment or as a public comment visible to the customer, adding information from the trigger and previous steps in the flow.
jira-create-issue.png Jira Server Create Issue - automatically create a new issue in Jira Server.
jira-update-issue.png Jira Server Update Issue - automatically update an existing issue record as information changes.
jira-server-add-comment2.png Jira Server Add Comment - automatically add a comment to an issue record, either as an internal comment or as a published comment visible to the customer, adding information from the signal source or previous steps in the flow.

New utility step: Webhook

As we worked through upping Flow Designer's game to include all of the Integration Builder's functionality, we needed a way to replace an outbound integration's action of "Send a webhook". We knew we could do it with a step, but we figured we could do it even better than simply like-for-like replacing the Integration Builder's functionality.

Enter our new "Webhook" step available in the Tools tab of the palette:

webhook.png

Not only will it replace the old outbound integration behavior in our next release, it can be used right now to handcraft your own webhooks with a simple drag-and-drop interface to build out JSON, XML, or any other payload you like:

webhook-config.png

Authentication usability improvements

We've made a couple security-related usability improvements that should make your life a bit easier for setting up and initiating triggers in Flow Designer. These include redefining the purpose of workflow "access" permissions, the ability to initiate email triggers from any email address, and updates to API keys and secrets that make it easier for customers using service accounts to send requests into xMatters.

Access permission changes

Want to allow someone to initiate a flow, but don't really want to give them the keys to your workflow? Not a problem! We've updated email trigger and HTTP trigger permissions so that users can still initiate flows even if they don't have access permissions to the communication plan.

We've also updated the "Access Permissions" setting in the web user interface to read "Editor Permissions" instead. This better reflects the purpose of this control, which is to specify which users have edit capabilities to workflow.

Initiate email triggers from any email address

When we introduced Email triggers in Flow Designer, we implemented the same type of authentication as our legacy email integrations - that the sender email address of the initiation email must be registered to a user in xMatters, and the associated user's authentication is used to initiate the trigger.

This authentication method is restrictive for some of our users because their third-party email provider changes the format of their sender address and it's not recognized by xMatters (this could happen due to spam filtering, or when the provider includes routing information in the address). Also, some customers would like for anyone with the initiation email to be able to initiate an email trigger.

Send from any email

To address this, we've equipped email triggers with a new Send from any email authentication option. You can select this option to allow any sender address to initiate an email trigger - it doesn't have to be registered to a user in xMatters. When you configure the trigger with this option, you select a user in your system to use to authenticate incoming requests:

email-authentication.png

Send from an xMatters email device

Being able to initiate an email trigger from any email address is helpful when you're setting up and testing a flow, but when you're ready to move to production, you may want to switch back to our previous form of authentication. This more secure method is available from the Authentication Method drop-down as Send from an xMatters email device.

We've also updated this option to accept requests from an email device registered to more than one user in xMatters, which is useful if you share one email address across all members of a group.

Sneak peek: API key & secret enhancements

We're expanding the capabilities of our API Key authentication method to make life easier for customers wanting to use service accounts to send requests into xMatters. Now when you create an API key and secret for a user, you can use the same credentials to:

  • trigger any flow in Flow Designer
  • initiate any inbound integration 
  • submit a request to the xMatters REST API

This means you no longer need to create API key and secret pairs for the same user (unless you want to, of course). We'll be building on this feature shortly with the ability to add and manage multiple keys for each service account you maintain - so stay tuned!

Run location

Flow Designer gives you the ability to create workflows that combine steps that execute in different run locations - either behind the firewall, or in the cloud. This means your workflow can easily communicate with internally-hosted systems like Jira Server or Splunk and talk to cloud-based systems like Slack or ServiceNow. And the big news this release is that you can now also run HTTP triggers on the xMatters Agent. Read on for the details!

HTTP trigger support for xMatters Agent

It's now possible to run HTTP triggers on the xMatters Agent. This is great news for organizations with hybrid cloud environments, because it means they can now have inbound triggers listening for requests behind their firewall.

With this latest enhancement, applications on your on-premise systems can initiate a flow by posting an HTTP request to any of your installed xMatters Agents. If you've got custom or built-in steps running locally behind your firewall, you can also enrich the signal with additional information from your local system before creating an event in xMatters.

Hide run location tab for cloud-only steps

When you define a custom step, you specify where that step can run - in the Cloud, on the xMatters Agent, or "Both". For the latter two options, the Run Location tab of the step configuration includes settings or information an end user needs when setting up their step.

But including the Run Location tab for cloud-only steps just adds extra clicks as a user checks over their step configuration, since there's nothing for them to actually do on this tab. To streamline the configuration process, we've now hidden the Run Location tab on cloud-only steps.

Other Flow Designer Updates

Thought we must be done telling you about our Flow Designer work in this release? Not so fast: we've got a bunch of other great enhancements and features for you! These include being able to use the xMatters endpoint in your custom steps, viewing the outputs of a step as you're configuring it, and changing step ownership. We also wrapped up a couple of great features that were first introduced in the Frogger Release.

xMatters endpoint for custom steps

The xMatters endpoint is now available as an Endpoint Type for custom steps. This pre-configured endpoint represents the base URL to target your xMatters deployment (and the xMatters REST API) with web requests from within Flow Designer:

xMatters-endpoint.png

This means you can now include custom steps in your workflows to look up information or take action in your xMatters deployment (just like our new Get and Terminate events and xMatters lookup steps). The authentication of the request uses the credentials of the user triggering the flow. For more information, see our online help about the xMatters endpoint.

Outputs tab for all steps

When you drag a new step onto the canvas and open its configuration screen, it would be great if you could easily see what the step's outputs are. To give you more at-a-glance context about the information a step can contribute to your flow, we've updated the configuration screens of steps on the canvas to include an Outputs tab.

That means you can quickly understand what information the step generates and how you might use it further downstream in your flow - just click the tab to see a step's available outputs:

step-outputs.png

Reassign ownership of steps

The Usage Permissions screen for custom steps and HTTP triggers now includes an 'Ownership' tab, where you can change the owner of the step.

This is helpful if you want to reassign ownership so that you can pass on development and maintenance responsibility for the step to someone else in your organization. It's also useful for when the original step owner is no longer part of the organization and a person supervisor or company supervisor wants to reassign responsibility of the step to another user.

reassign-owner.png

Note: Assigning a different owner to a step removes access permissions from the current owner. So if it's your step and you still want to be able to edit or use it, be sure to assign yourself access permissions first.

Step sharing by roles

In the Frogger release, we introduced new step sharing capabilities that allowed you to specify which users or groups could use or edit a custom step or HTTP trigger. In this release, we've expanded step sharing to include roles, and we've improved the usability of configuring usage permissions.

As shown below, when you create a new step or HTTP trigger, it's available only to the step owner (it's not shared). To make the step accessible to all, you can assign permissions to a new "All Users" type. This is useful if you'd like a step to be available for all users to use, while adding a limited number of other users, groups, or roles that can edit the step's settings. Later, you can decide to remove the All Users option and assign use permissions to specific users, groups, or roles.

step-sharing-roles.gif

Recipients are organized by their level of usage permissions, so you'll see all the recipients who have the higher-level edit permission at the top of the list, followed by those with lower-level use permissions.

If you decide to revoke usage permissions for a recipient (by clicking the 'x' next to their name and removing them from the list), they'll be prevented from adding or editing the step further. While this won't break or remove the step from any of their flows, they'll be unable to change the step's settings from the canvas.

HTTP trigger versioning

Our versioning system now also extends to HTTP trigger steps. This is great because it means you can adapt your HTTP triggers to meet the constantly changing needs of the real world without disrupting your flows. Like custom steps, you can have multiple versions of an HTTP trigger deployed while others are still in development or have been deprecated and scheduled for withdrawal. For more information about versioning, see Manage step versions.

Deprecate and withdraw steps

Our step versioning system now allows you to phase out and remove older steps as newer ones become available, using the following additional lifecycle stages:

  • Deprecated - still available for sharing but scheduled for withdrawal. The planned withdrawal date is displayed as a warning to users on the step configuration screen.
  • Withdrawn - no longer available for use in flows and will cause errors when the step executes.

What happens when I deprecate a step?

When you deprecate a version of a step, flows can continue to use that version, but it will no longer be available from the palette. The configuration screen for a deprecated version displays a recommendation to update to a newer version, and you can optionally set a withdrawal date. Setting a planned withdrawal date lets users know how long they have to update to a newer version before the version they're currently using stops working and their flow breaks:

deprecated-step.png

But you're not done yet!

Versions are not automatically withdrawn on the planned withdrawal date. To withdraw a version, you must manually change its current state in the step configuration to "Withdrawn":

withdraw-step.png

Reporting

Whether you're dealing with a customer-facing incident, digital service downtime, or unmanaged responses to critical issues, the reporting capabilities of xMatters provide insights and visibility across your business. In this release, we introduce our new Historical On Call report and add enhancements to the All Events report.

Historical On Call report

Availability: Now available in non-production environments; coming soon to EAP and production

Our new Historical On Call report (available on the Groups tab) makes it easy for administrators to extract and download information for on-call users in their organization, which they can then use for their compensation and planning processes.  

The report includes 'From' and 'To' fields that allow you to export up to 100 days of on-call data to a spreadsheet file. The date selectors allow you to go as far back as data availability and your pricing plan allow:

historical-on-call-report-mvp.png

More goodness coming soon...

Over time, we'll be adding the following filters to allow you to narrow down the subset of on-call data that's included in the report:

  • Group Selector. Include data from just the groups you supervise or all of the groups that you have access to in xMatters.
  • Escalations. Choose a subset of data based on escalation criteria.
    • Include all escalations. Include data from all escalations in your report.
    • Filter by escalation position. Limit the report to a maximum number of on-call positions (for example, '2' positions includes primary and secondary on-call members).
    • Filter by escalation time. Limit the report to a maximum escalation delay in minutes (for example, '30' includes on-call information for the first 30 minutes of escalation delay).
  • Temporary absences and replacements. Select to exclude data about temporary absences and replacements (which don't have any on-call time) from your report.

All Events report updates

The All Events report gives you a window into past events, providing you with access to more of your xMatters data to support root cause analyses, address compliance requirements, and other important processes. In this release, we made several updates to the All Events report, including a column selector for quickly adjusting what's visible in the report, new data and filters, an exportable report in a new multi-tabbed format, and permissions updates for viewing events in the report.

Columns selector

The All Events report now includes a handy 'Columns' selector that you can use to easily adjust which columns are displayed in the report.

As shown below, column names in the selector's drop-down list reflect the order your columns are displayed in the table. Any unselected columns are listed alphabetically at the bottom of the the list, and when you select a column to include in the report, it's added at the right side of the table:

column-picker-widget2.gif

We'll remember you settings for column visibility and order, so make yourself a nice cozy nest in this report, and we'll keep it ready for you.

We think you'll find this feature incredibly useful as we continue to add columns for the new types of data we're adding to the All Events report, like source and form, and targeted recipients. And we think this feature will pair quite nicely with a new export we are working on.

Event source & form

Need more context about your past events? The Overview tab of the All Events report now includes the source (the custom or built-in workflow) and form used to create the event:

all-events-source-form.png

Filter by targeted recipients

We've added a new filter to the All Events report that lets you look up events based on who the targeted recipients were, like all the events that targeted the Web Application team:

targeted-recipients-filter.png

Multi-tabbed export for delivery details

You now have the option to export user delivery details to a multi-tabbed .csv file. This is useful if you'd like to perform additional analysis of your users' notification delivery information, such as their site, when they were notified, if they were notified as part of a group, their response, and from which device they responded.  If you've got the appropriate permissions, the report also includes the values of users' custom fields and attributes.

To export the report, just click the Export button at the top right corner of the report and select a download location:

all-events-export.png

Any filters that you apply to the report in the web user interface - such as sorting or rearranging columns - are preserved in the exported file:

all-event-export-delivery-details.png

The new multi-tabbed format of the report moves higher level event details to their own data sheet, which means you can more easily set up filters and pivot tables with your event detail information.

View events permissions updates

A particular user's view of the All Events report can be different depending on the unique combination of permissions that make up their roles in xMatters. For example, different levels of access can control whether a user sees every event, the events they initiated, just the events where they were notified, or a combination of the above. In this release, we added a new permission to better support a service team's view of events data, and we revised the permissions of which roles can see system-side events.

View events where targeted

We've added a new permission that displays events where a user was identified as a direct target, or was in a top-level targeted groups. This is useful for users that need a view of the Recent Events report that's tailored to their specific service teams. For more information about these permissions and adding them to an existing or custom role, contact xMatters Support.

Revised permissions to view system events

We've revised the permissions for system events to reduce noise and contribute to a streamlined view of the All Events report that shows users only the actual signals that matter to them for keeping their digital services running.

Events that xMatters generates and sends notifications for when someone forgets their password, makes a voice recording, or responds with a non-recognized response, as well as notifications for device validations, temporary replacements, user and data upload jobs, EPIC notifications, and system messages are now only visible to Company Supervisors and Company Administrators

Messaging

Messaging is our business and every release includes improvements representing the feedback we get from our customers and the best practices we observe. This release includes usability improvements to our form properties to better support enterprise service teams' messaging needs.

Improved messaging and subscriptions for service teams

Enterprise service teams support hundreds - even thousands - of nodes, clusters, and configuration items across many systems and locations. When you're dealing with large datasets, you don't want to be spinning your wheels trying to find what you're looking for, and you definitely don't want to be selecting items one at a time. As you'll see below, we've made enhancements to our list, combo box, and hierarchy properties so that service teams can efficiently select items when they're sending messages and setting up subscriptions.

Lists

When working with large list properties, you can easily select items that match 'one or more of' your search criteria. Just use the search filter to find all the items that match each criteria, adding them to the list as you go. Your selected values are added to the message or subscription form, where you can still make additional edits if you need to:

list-properties-customers.gif

For a quick and easy way to select just the items that contain a single term when you're creating subscriptions, you can use the 'contains' filter:

List-property-contains.gif

Combo boxes

For combo boxes that allow you to select one item from a long list of values, you can now search for the exact value that you're after:

 combo-box.gif

Hierarchy properties

Hierarchy properties can be especially challenging to work with when you're setting up subscriptions because their data is organized into nested tiers. But with the search and selection enhancements that we've made, it's now a total breeze to select multiple items at the same time from a list of hierarchy properties.

hierarcy-properties-subscriptions.gif

Note: As part of our work we cleaned up some of the older filters, like 'starts with' and 'ends with', that weren't being used by any of these property types.

Sneak peek: recipient selector improvements

We're also in the process of revamping the Recipients selector on message and subscription forms to make it easier for you to search for and select multiple recipients at the same time. We've got some other great improvements for this feature in the works too, but for now here's a high-level peek at our new design:

recipient-selector.png

Mobile

The theme for mobile in this release is support for our end users - like the DevOps teams down in the trenches - to more effectively perform their on-call duties.

Mobile-Only User Role

Some of our customers prefer to contact their users exclusively using push messages on the xMatters mobile app. Whether they have internal policies or just agree with us that our mobile apps are the absolute best way to stay connected, they don't want their users to be able to add other device types to their accounts.

As part of the Galaga Release, we're adding a new Mobile-Only Standard User role to xMatters that companies can assign to their users. Users with this role can do things like view their schedule, maintain their profile, create subscriptions, and send messages, but they're not able to add any other device types to their account other than the xMatters mobile app.

My Schedule shift info (iOS)

You can now tap any shift on the My Schedule screen to see who's on call, if anyone is absent, who's covering as a temporary replacement, and what the shift escalations are:

mobile-shift-info2.png

Duplicate event

Earlier this year in our Enduro Release, we added the ability to terminate and suspend events from the iOS mobile app. In this release, we expand on these event management capabilities by also allowing users to duplicate an event from the app:

duplicate-event.png

Duplicating an event allows users in the field to quickly copy an existing event, modify some of its properties, and resend it. This saves them time because they can make minor adjustments to an event and resend it without manually adding recipients, setting property values, and specifying devices.

More accurate group search (iOS)

The app now returns groups that match all of your search criteria. In other words, it's been updated to use AND instead of OR when multiple search terms are provided (for example: searching for "Database Admin" returns the Database Admins group, but not the Administrators group).

Support for iOS 13

Lucky number 13! Or, is it unlucky number 13? Either way, the xMatters iOS app now supports Apple's latest mobile update. Make sure you update your iPhone or iPad to the latest version to stay on top of all the new platform security features.

Get all push notifications (iOS)

We've updated our mobile app to be consistent with the Android platform so that it continues to display all your push notifications - even after an event has been resolved. For example, in the past the iOS app would remove the notification and push notifications after the message expiry was reached. This meant that if something happened overnight, our Android users were informed about it, but our iOS users were none-the-wiser! 

View all scenarios (iOS & Android)

Message forms can have one or more scenarios associated with them. A scenario is a version of the form that has some of its values predefined so that the message sender can quickly send a message for specific situations without having to determine the values of every property of the form.

For users in the field, it's vital that they can access all their scenarios from the mobile app, which for enterprise customers could be up into the hundreds. However, the exact number doesn't matter because we've updated our iOS and Android platforms so that mobile users now have access to all the same scenarios that are available in the web user interface.

Improved phone number validation (iOS & Android)

They keep making new phone numbers! We've updated our mobile apps to accept the newest phone number formats, so you shouldn't see any validation errors when you add a newly-minted number into xMatters.

Forgot password workflow (Android)

The xMatters mobile app is a popular way for our customers to receive notifications and stay connected when they're in the wild... until they can't remember their password, that is! Users out in the field or away from a computer should have the ability to reset their own passwords from the mobile app, so they can regain access their xMatters accounts without requiring assistance from a supervisor or administrator.

In this release, our Android platform gets the Forget Password workflow we introduced to iOS in the Frogger release, which allows users to easily reset their own password from their mobile device:

Android-password-reset.png

Integrations and Development

As you've seen above, we've been laying the groundwork for some big cheese movements in our integration platform with the new Flow Designer UI. But that's not everything we've been up to! This section describes some additional updates we've made to the xMatters Agent, the Integration Directory (AKA 'Workflow Templates'), and a TON of updates to the xMatters REST API.

xMatters Agent: Windows Server 2016

The xMatters Agent is a service you can install on a local system to process workflow logic behind your company firewall. This allows systems behind your firewall to trigger and enrich events in xMatters and enables integrations to communicate with systems that cannot be accessed externally.

If your local system runs on Windows Server, then you'll be happy to hear that we've updated the xMatters Agent to support Windows Server 2016:

xAgents-Windows-Server-2016.png

For more information about installing the xMatters Agent on Windows Server 2016 systems, see Download and install the xMatters Agent.

Still on Windows Server 2012?
Don't worry - any xMatters Agents you installed using our previous Windows Server 2012 download will continue to function as usual after this update.

Integration Directory

Pssst... in case you didn't hear, the Integration Directory is now called Workflow Templates. Our library of workflow templates streamlines the work required to integrate your tools with pre-built workflows that are easy to find, configure, and manage. Besides the new naming convention, the main enhancement this release includes is an update to our existing ServiceNow packaged workflow.

servicenow.png

ServiceNow
The latest version of the xMatters application for ServiceNow - certified with Kingston, London, and now New York - is available from the ServiceNow Store. For upgrade or installation instructions, feature and update descriptions, and a list of issues addressed in recent releases, see the integration guide.

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.

In this release, we provide ways to access and manage information about workflows, like integration activity logs and form layouts. We've exposed more data related to event filtering and suppressions, added new endpoints for creating and managing dynamic teams, as well as improved some of our existing endpoints.

New Endpoints

Get event suppressions
Event Flood Control reduces the number of events that are generated in xMatters when you experience a flood or event storm from one or more of your systems. This feature compares incoming event requests to recent events and suppresses correlated events that occur in too close succession to one another.

With the following new endpoint, you can now use the xMatters REST API to retrieve the records of any suppressions for a particular event:

  • GET /event-suppressions?event={eventId} - Returns records of suppressions related to an event, including information on the parent event and the event flood control rule (filter) that resulted in the suppression.

You also have the option to embed suppressions when you're using Get events or Get an event; for example: GET /events?embed=suppressions or GET /events/{eventId}?embed=suppressions 

Dynamic teams
We've enhanced the xMatters REST API with new endpoints that you can use to create and manage dynamic teams:

You also have the option to embed a dynamic team's supervisors and observers with the response; for example: GET /dynamic-teams?embed=supervisors,observers.

Dynamic team members
We've also added an endpoint that you can use to look up the members of dynamic teams:

Get form sections
If you're wanting to know more about a particular message form - like which properties it includes - then you'll be interested in the following endpoint to look up information about the sections in your form layout:

You can now use this endpoint to return information for the Conference Bridge, Recipients, Devices, Handling, and Custom sections of your form layout. Since the custom section is how you add properties to a form, the information returned in the custom section object includes a list of all the properties used on your form.

Add and modify communication plan properties
The xMatters REST API previously gave you the ability to get information about the properties in your communication plans. The following new endpoints now let you add and modify properties as well:

Get integration logs
The xMatters REST API now includes an endpoint that you can use to retrieve the Activity Stream logs for an inbound or outbound integration, to help with debugging issues with integrations or flow steps:

  • GET /integrations/{integrationId}/logs - returns all the Activity Stream logs for an inbound or outbound integration, including integrations created when you add a built-in workflow or an event activity trigger in Flow Designer.

You also have the option to embed the most recent 100 logs associated with each integration when you're requesting a list of integrations for a workflow; for example: GET /plans/{planId}/integrations?integrationType=INBOUND_WEBHOOK&deployed=true&embed=logs

Delete shared libraries
In previous releases, we added the ability to GET and POST shared libraries from the xMatters REST API. In this release, we follow that up with the ability to DELETE shared libraries:

Delete a site
It's now possible to programmatically delete a site with the xMatters REST API using the following new endpoint:

You can identify the site using either the site name (the targetName field) or its unique identifier (the id field). You can't delete a site if it's the default site or if it's in use by any users or groups.

Other Updates

Support for sender overrides in event trigger
Sender overrides allow you to override the Caller ID and Display name settings for a notification. By setting the sender information to meaningful values, you can help recipients identify that the notification has been sent from xMatters, and help prevent messages from being marked as spam or junk mail. You now have the option to use sender overrides when you use the xMatters REST API to trigger an event by sending a POST request to the inbound integration URL.

Find users using explicit search parameters
You can now use the GET /people endpoint to search for a specific user using the explicit query parameters:

  • firstName
  • lastName
  • targetName
  • webLogin
  • phoneNumber
  • email

Each of these queries performs an exact match search. Combining these parameters cumulatively narrows down your search results, and they can be used with propertyName/propertyValue to perform more specific searches.

More specific user search when specifying properties and site
Interested in searching for users based on the value they're assigned for a custom field or attribute AND their site location? The GET /people endpoint now narrows your search when you specify a propertyName / propertyValue pair and the  site query parameter.

For example, GET people?propertyName=First%20Aid&propertyValue=CPR&site=Seattle returns users that have a custom field or attribute named "First Aid" with the value "CPR" who are located in Seattle. (Previously, this query would return a larger selection of users who had first aid CPR certification OR were at the Seattle site.)

Get Groups supervisors
It's now possible to embed group supervisor information when you query for multiple groups at the same time. The next time you're using GET /groups, just embed supervisors to return a paginated list of each group's supervisors (for example: GET /groups?embed=supervisors)

Response option translations
Do you have messages and responses configured in more than one language? If you're interested in retrieving response options based on a user's preferred language, you can now include translations when you embed responseOptions with your request to GET /events or GET /plans:

This returns the configured translations for each response option, including a two-letter code that indicates the language of each response.

Events or audits after and before
You can now use the at parameter for GET /events and GET /audits to search for historical data after and before specific points in time. For example, the following query would return events that occurred after 8 am on Jan 27, 2018, but before 8 am on June 30, 2018:

GET /events?at=2018-11-02T08:00:00.000Z&after=2018-01-27T08:00:00.000Z&before=2018-06-30T08:00:00.000Z 

How is this different than 'from' and 'to'? If you'd like your query to return objects inclusive of the start and end times, you can use the at parameter with 'from' and 'to' instead (for example, from=2018-01-27T08:00:00.000Z&to=2018-06-30T08:00:00.000Z brings back any events initiated at or past 8 am on Jan 27, 2018 up to and including 8 am on June 30, 2018.)

Sort audits
We've added the ability to sort audit records by their creation timestamp, which makes it easier to look up the most recent record. You can use the sortOrder parameter to sort audits in either 'ASCENDING' or 'DESCENDING' order - if you don't specify which, they'll be sorted in ascending order.

What's next?

Over the next quarter we’ll be focused on making improvements to some of our existing REST web services. We want to improve the discoverability for some objects, for example, discovering which Sites are available when creating users. We’ll also be making improvements to support other modes of authentication, as well as more incremental additions to triggering events.

You can learn more about the xMatters REST API in our online help.

Scheduling

Nobody does on-call scheduling like xMatters. We've long had the most advanced on-call schedule system on the market, with schedule recurrences, escalations, holiday schedules, automated rotations, temporary replacements, drag-and-drop functionality, and other key features to run your enterprise smoothly. In this release, we address a customer request for the option to require users to set a replacement for when they're away.

Required replacements for temporary absences

For some companies, it's simply not an option to have nobody on call because everyone in a group is away, and no replacements have been set. The good news for these companies is that it's now possible to require users to set a replacement when they're going to be absent. We've added a new Replacements Required setting to the Company Details screen so that administrators can enable this rule:

temporary-absences-required-setting.png

When enabled, instead of having the option to select a replacement, users must select their replacement before they can save their temporary absence (you'll notice that the Save button below is greyed-out because no replacement has been set):

temporary-absences-required.png

Note: Temporary absences without a replacement scheduled prior to this setting being enabled will continue to function without a replacement.

Other Product Updates

Wow, you must be putting away a lot of coffee if you have the stamina to make it this far! As with every release, we always find a way to pack in a few extra features for our customers. We think you'll find these useful:

EPIC Data Sync: preserve device status & optional area codes

The EPIC data synchronization tool allows you to manage users in an external system and have them automatically updated in xMatters. In this release, we made the following updates to the EPIC data sync process:

  • Preserve device status. If you've marked a device as deactivated in your external system, they'll no longer be reset to 'Active' when they're synced with xMatters.
  • Optional area codes. Believe it or not, there's some places where you don't need to dial an area code with a phone number! To support this, we've made it so area codes are no longer required for phone numbers.

User Upload welcome emails

Our User Upload feature now includes the option to send a welcome message to the users in an upload job, to let them know about their new account and provide them with helpful information and links to resources for getting started in xMatters. You'll see a new Welcome Message drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the report, with options to either send a default message, or to customize the message:

send-welcome-message.png

Here's what the default message looks like (note that if your company has a customized logo, it will appear in place of the xMatters logos):

welcome-message.png

Customize the message

For a more personal approach, you have the option to customize the subject, message, and signature of the default welcome email. For example:

  • Email subject: Let them know the email isn't spam and help them find it more easily in their inbox.
  • Message: Provide additional information that might not be covered by the default message.
  • Signature: Use a more personal sign-off to let your users know who invited them.

The screenshot below is what you'll see when you choose the customize message option. Click Preview Message to confirm you're happy with your message before you hit Send:

customize-welcome-message.png

New in-country SMS numbers

We've identified two additional 'hot spots' and have added in-country SMS codes for Argentina and Italy... ¡Hola! Ciao! This brings our grand total to 38 countries. See the complete list of countries that we currently support.

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 communication plan. 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 On-Demand 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.

 

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1 Comments

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    Don Clark

    Just a quick note to let you know that we've had to temporarily roll back the Historical On-Call report due to some issues we identified with the data. The teams are working on it as we speak and we'll have more information shortly. 

    Stay tuned to this space and we'll update you as soon as we can.

    Edited by Don Clark
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