Using the new Azure Dashboard favourites and tiles

The new Azure Portal represents a huge improvement over the old Classic Azure Portal in terms of User eXperience and performance.

If you were used to the old portal you’ll most probably have got to like the quirks and simplicity, but the new portal has a lot to offer and does a great job in providing a more customised and colourful end-user experience.

In this post I shall discuss some of the functionality that will make your Azure UX experience more productive and enjoyable.

Favourites sidebar

Favourites can be dragged up or down to your preferred position.

Favourites

The Portal sidebar at first seems like a cluttered mess, but what items appear on it is completely under your control.

The items on display can be removed (or added) by clicking on the the Browse option and navigating to the item you wish to add/ remove.

When the item in question is visible in the browse list, you can simply tick the star (to its right) to add as a favourite (see below) -the star is highlighted yellow to add as a favourite or cleared to remove from your favourites bar.

storage0-tb

The favourite will be placed at the bottom of your sidebar list, but you can order these simply by hovering your mouse pointer over them and dragging and dropping into position.

Once you have customized your menu to your satisfaction it is worth minimizing the favourites list by clicking on the minimize button just beneath the Microsoft Azure logo. This will hide (or display) the favourite titles leaving only the icons on your screen real estate.

Navigation bar

Your Azure experience will consist of many click-select-click-select operations and each time you will navigate further and further down the resource tree in order to make changes required to your resources. This could pose a problem when trying to step back up the tree if it wasn’t for the presence of the Menu Ribbon (found at the top of the Azure Portal). Every sub-menu that is selected will cause a new item to appear to the right of the ribbon (see below).

menu ribbon

In order to step or jump back one or more levels, simply click at that specific item on the tree. If the ribbon cannot fit all the item names on the screen, it will place the earlier ones into a drop down menu accessible by clicking the far left back-arrows item (as seen in the ribbon above).

Tiles

Tiles are cool right? Well they are even cooler when you can move them around and resize them (just like Windows 8-10).

tiles

In order to drag a tile somewhere else within the dashboard surface area you can either switch the dashboard into edit mode by clicking edit on the Portal Menu ribbon, or hover the mouse pointer over the tile you wish to move until its menu bar appears. Simply drag the tile to the position you desire (other tiles will automatically adjust their position to accommodate). You will probably get better mileage from laying the tiles to fit either a vertical or horizontal layout if you commonly use different screen orientations.

select tileFrom this menu it is also possible to remove the tile (by clicking the close cross) or by clicking the ellipses (three dots!) and selecting Unpin from dashboard option from its drop-down menu.

The ellipses menu option will also provide the ability to resize the tile but tile sizing is tile sensitive. In other-words specific tile types can only be resized to specific dimensions (or not at all). For instance, a Virtual Machine tile can be resized only to 1×1, 2×1 and 2×2 dimensions but subscription tiles cannot be resized at all. Once you have selected the tile dimensions from the ellipses drop down menu click the Done button at the top of the Azure Portal.

Newly created resources will be automatically added (by default) onto the Azure dashboard (unless you deselect that option on creation). If you have existing resources you wish to add to the dashboard, simply search for the one you want and select the ellipses option to its right in the resource list and select Pin to dashboard.

Theme

If you are not crazy about the default colours used in the Azure Portal you can easily change to another pre-defined theme by clicking the settings settings button on the Portal Menu ribbon. This will give you the option to select (currently) 1 of 4 themes, turn Animations on or off and enable or disable Toast notifications. Personally I like the default theme and I don’t really see any point in turning off animations or toast notifications, but you can if you want to…

History

microsoft azureIf you are busy making changes to different resources, one useful feature to assist navigation is the history recorder. It will remember the last 10 previous locations visited in the Azure Portal. These can be accessed by the drop-down list (located next to the Microsoft Azure logo). I think it is a shame that this list does not remove duplicates, nor is the list size (currently) configurable, but you may find it an easy way to travel around to commonly accessed resources and options.


Well that concludes my introductory post on the new Azure Portal UX, and if you have any other tips then I would really love to hear them!

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