For a while now, I've had that burning curiosity to do more than just the bit of hacking around with SignalR that I'd previously done. I wanted to actually start building something with it. If you're not familiar with it, SignalR is a:
...library for ASP.NET developers that makes developing real-time web functionality easy.
No need to make AJAX requests to send requests to the server. No need to make AJAX requests to make polling-style requests to the server for updates. SignalR handles the approach used to maintain the communication channel between the client browser and the server, depending on the functionality supported by the browser. It also handles the nuts and bolts of how to broadcast out to any connected clients.
Enter the DashboardIn the dev room I work in, we've had a large screen showing a dashboard of metrics for years - evolving over time as we realize the value of new metrics. I decided that a great learning project to work on in my spare time would be to create a real-time web-based replacement (the original one was a WPF app). I'm a big fan of giving visibility of relevant and timely, high-level application metrics to the business. Current CI build broken? Show it. Recent system error rates? Show it. How many stories do the test team have left to accept? Show it. That ability to take a quick glance, and get a quick feel for the current state of play across a wide area of the business, is invaluable. It's also handy to have things flash and/or play a sound, when there's something of particular importance to flag up.
From a technical perspective, I set myself a number of goals I wanted to achieve:
- a centralised dashboard accessible across all areas of the business (it's an ASP.NET MVC 5 web app...job done!)
- no matter how many clients are connected to the dashboard, I don't want to increase the load on the systems/services that the dashboard is drawing data from
- create an dashboard framework that's easy to extend, with some demo dashboard components so hopefully others interested in the technology can find it useful, and better still, put it to use in their own environments