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Ryan Dagit

Why building an admin panel should be in your first sprint

By Agile, DevelopmentOne Comment

Overlooking small aspects is the nature of starting a software development project. From how much time a feature will take to the Mythical Man Month Mistake; eventually a team runs into all of these. One area that’s commonly forgotten and can make a big difference in the performance of an application is the admin panel. In my opinion, few features are as important and useful as an admin panel. More often than not, developers and project managers don’t take the time to plan, design, and implement. Often, projects can run over because of this. With a little up front work, you can cut this friction down dramatically and help your company drive revenue faster.

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Insight into user behavior:

What is an admin panel you may ask? It’s an admin-specific platform in an application that allows for access and manipulation of data within the user interface of the site. The admin panel can help user-related functions, such as providing insight into user behavior, dealing with profiles that violate the site’s terms and conditions, and tracking transactions. But you should know that admin sites are not just limited to user-related tasks.

A well-built admin panel can be turned into a dashboard to either display business metrics and analytics without the viewer writing a single bit of code, or to export weekly data which can be used to create reports. Add to the list that any QA member of the team will love an admin panel for the ease it gives them in verifying data, quickly entering or deleting data, and determining if an issue is in the frontend or the backend. Functioning without an admin panel can lead to a lack of insight into your data, and add greater difficulty for the testing team.

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Examples of Web Frameworks

Most web frameworks have plugin libraries that make the creation of an admin panel much easier. For example, PHP/Laravel has LaraAdmin (https://laraadmin.com/), Ruby/Rails has ActiveAdmin (https://activeadmin.info/)and my favorite backend framework, Django (https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/1.11/ref/contrib/admin/), has an admin panel by default!

this VVVV is a pic of a dashboard modification of the Django admin panel to provide some analytical functionality

This is a pic of a dashboard modification of the Django admin panel to provide some analytical functionality

Limitations:

While out-of-the-box admin panels are wonderful, we have to work around some limitations. Most plug-and-play admin panels accomplish two goals: to manipulate data and to display data. These are crucial parts of any data-driven apps.

Can we push it further? Yes we can! Your customer doesn’t need to see a graph of quarterly earnings or the number of visits of repeat customers, but I bet you do.

How about the average purchase per transaction? If these metrics appeal to you, I suggest expanding the limited admin panel functionality to include business analytics. There are other sites out there that can build admin panels, but they may not have the custom features your team needs.

Final Thoughts:

A well-built admin panel will increase productivity, give insight into data, and help you catch bugs; adding up to greater revenue for your business. By investing in the admin panel early, you are going to build your application much more efficiently and allow your team to do what they need to make your business grow.

Do you need help building our your next admin control panel? Our expert backend teams are happy to help! Contact us at  info@bytelion.com.

Providing enterprise solutions with the Raspberry Pi

By Tips & Tutorials, ToolsNo Comments

In the business world, it’s common to hear “think outside the box” when tackling a new problem, yet most companies are still throwing old technology at the issue. What if I told you to forget the box and start thinking inside the Pi? That’s right; we’re talking about a Raspberry Pi. This microcontroller has over 10 million units sold, yet it remains underutilized in the business world.

Let’s talk about a few enterprise uses for this awesome micro-computer and share some example projects that you can accomplish as an entrepreneur!  

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Why Pi?

Aside from the fact that Pi’s are incredibly affordable and energy efficient, there are an unlimited number of projects that users can create using their Raspberry Pi. For more reasons why the Raspberry Pi rocks check out this blog by ZDNet.

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#1 In the Warehouse – Bridging the Gap Between Actions & Data

Raspberry Pi’s excel at bridging the gap between physical, human tasks and the need to collect and analyze data.

Collecting Data

Imagine your company has a warehouse that performs repetitive tasks. Day after day, workers create hundreds of batches of the same product. There are many problems inherent in an environment like that. For example, if the operator of the warehouse wanted to know how many batches a worker creates, as well as how long each batch takes to complete, then he or she would need to have each employee maintain a tally for the completion of each batch and record the start and stop time. By forcing the worker to shift focus momentarily, it could slow down their productivity.

Now, add a long day and a late night to the employee’s shift and see how easy it is for an employee to forget to tally, or write the incorrect time on the log. The metrics are completely skewed. Even considering a perfect employee who never makes mistakes, those metrics still have to be manually entered into a spreadsheet to perform analytics, adding to your company’s overhead and wasting precious time.

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A Raspberry Pi solution could involve a simple button for each set of batches.  Workers could press a button when they start making the product, and again upon completion. Now there are electronic records for how many items created, and how long it took to make each batch. The workers no longer need to concern themselves with keeping track of time or tallies or continue to enter data manually. By utilizing a raspberry pi, the operator does not have to worry about a decrease in productivity. Instead, the data is immediately available for analytics.

Many warehouses use Raspberry Pis. Check out this story Book-Wrangling at Wordery with a Raspberry Pi to see an excellent example of how a Pi can change your business!

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#2 Thin Client:

Does your company rely primarily on cloud computing? Save costs on powerful machines by using a Raspberry Pi as a thin client to access your cloud servers! Similar to a website, which acts as a user interface for a server that handles the intensive computation, a thin client can reduce the cost of hardware that your team needs if your company utilizes cloud computing to do the heavy lifting.

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#3 Server monitoring:

Set up a Raspberry Pi to monitor your web servers! Most web-monitoring services just make HTTP requests to the URLs you specify and look for that sweet, 200 status. Why can’t you do the same? You could make a request to each server once an hour. Then use IFTTT to send your team an email when a server responds to anything other than a 200!

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Creating Your Supply and Talent Chain

If you are going to implement a Raspberry Pi-based (or an equivalent such as an Arduino board) solution, it is important that you understand what this investment includes.  You should be aware that your company will need to purchase various supplies to support this development.  Those purchases include tools, training, and most importantly, spare parts!  In addition,  you need to invest in the training of your team. The training should be in both Linux and any programming language you need to build your applications, though Raspberry Pi prefers Python.  The barrier to entry is relatively low to prototype, but when it comes to production, you need to approach the task in a controlled manner.

Final Thoughts:

These are just a few examples of Raspberry Pi projects that you can use for your enterprise. Maybe your company isn’t ready to go into full on production with Raspberry Pis. Nonetheless, these projects present interesting, yet enriching team-building exercises that could unite your staff. If you have the time, allow your developers to get down and dirty into the world of microcontrollers. They will love it, and most importantly,  it could bring tremendous value to your business!  

Do you need help getting started with programming or building a Raspberry Pi prototype?
Feel free to reach out to us on twitter:@bytelion