What do you think of the EntLib 5.0 configuration tool?

Hello again! It’s been a while, I know. I’ve been busy over the last few months with several projects, some of them software related, and one of them human – my son Jesse was born on 26 February 2010. Fun times!

Meanwhile, back in Redmond, the p&p team has been busy working on Enterprise Library 5.0 – see Grigori’s announcement for details on the beta. There’s a ton of new stuff in this release, but there’s one big new feature that hasn’t received a lot of attention that I’m keen to hear your perspectives on. The change is the biggest overhaul to the configuration tool since Enterprise Library was launched.

If you haven’t yet grabbed the EntLib 5.0 beta, here’s a “before” and “after” shot of the config tool:

Enterprise Library 4.1 config tool

Enterprise Library 5.0 (beta 1) config tool

The tool has been rebuilt from the ground up in response to some feedback and usability studies from the previous version of the tool. But is this a step in the right direction? I’d love to hear what you think. If you’ve downloaded EntLib 5.0 and tried out the tool, please share your thoughts on:

  1. First impressions. Is the tool easy to understand? Easy to find what you’re looking for? Easy to read existing configuration? Pretty?
  2. Ease of use for real life tasks. Rather than make up your own tasks, here are a few sample scenarios you might want to try:
    1. Configure the data access block with a SQL Server connection called “Audit” that points to a database called “Audit” on a server called “DB”
    2. Configure the logging block so that any log entries in the “Audit” category are written to both the Event Log and the Audit database (see above)
    3. Configure the validation block with a ruleset called “Email Address” that uses an appropriate regular expression for e-mail addresses
    4. Configure the policy injection block such that any calls to classes in the “MyCompany.Security” namespace are logged before and after the call using the “Audit” category (see above)
  3. Comparison with the old config tool. What do you like better in the new tool? What did you like better in the old tool? How do you rate your level of expertise using the old tool?

Keep in mind that I no longer work in the p&p team, so I can’t say how any of this feedback will be used (although I’m sure the team is listening!). However since I’ve invested so much time in Enterprise Library, both in leading the team and using the product on real projects I’m very interested to hear what you all think of the tool’s new direction.

Comments (7)
  1. Nikolay Popov, Bulgaria says:

    First I’d like to tank you for your and the p&p team efforts  to make this wonderful and so useful piece of software EntLib. I’ve used different pieces / blocks from it for many years and hope to do so in the future. I like very much the task /scenario based new config shell, I think it makes the complex task of configuring the blocks even easier.

    Thank you 🙂  

  2. I just took a look at the screenshots only and the second 5.0 screenshot comes off as a much more usable one. Hopefully it doesn’t get too unwieldy.

  3. CuttingEdge says:

    The biggest annoyance I have with the config tool of 4.1 is performance. Last week I was waiting for over 2 minutes after each keystroke in the type search text box of the validation configuration. I hope this is fixed (searching in background thread and stopping the search after a new keystroke could help).

  4. James says:

    The new interface feels more modern, but gets a bit overwhelming at times. I find my eyes doing much more "wandering" all over the screen, as opposed to focused in one area, looking for a particular setting. Perhaps with more frequent use, this will solve itself.

  5. Honestly, I find the 5.0 configuration tool a bit confusing and counter intuitive for most if not all .NET developers. It is just not aligned with most graphical interfaces that .NET developers use in their daily life.

  6. JB says:

    Both are pretty bad. Sorry, wish I could be more constructive.

  7. jason says:

    Looks like Tom is s@#$-stirring again. 🙂 Creating configuration tools is difficult at the best of times – and a general purpose configuration tool vastly more complex. In addition to hearing what people think of the Entlib 5.0 tool I would be interested in seeing what tools people think provide a good configuration management experience – especially where they are also general purpose and not specific to some pre-defined list of tasks.

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