Let’s talk about WISP 2

What we’ve been doing since WISP launched…

Almost all updates have been QOL/maintenance for the last 6-12 months, while we’ve been working on our first major update. I first spoke about it briefly on my last blog post, a year ago:

“Due to the large nature of the job ahead, it’s likely this will open up a window for competitors to try and catch up with us.”

To some people, it can look like we haven’t been doing much over the last 6-12 months, because there isn’t much to talk about. But in that time we’ve expanded our team with a new developer who has almost exclusively worked in the background on WISP 2. There has been significant progress, and we’re almost ready to release it. This will be a free automatic update for all our customers.

For the most part, people don’t care about updates under the hood, so we haven’t made much noise about this update. As long as everything pretty much works, most people are a lot more interested in features and updates they can see and use. But now WISP 2 is close to release, this is a blog post to try and show what we’ve been working on and some things your customers might notice when WISP 2 rolls out.

It’s all about the details

We should be clear from the start, this is an update focused on details, not features. WISP launched with some rough edges, and this update is for details that you hopefully overlook when normally using the panel in the future.

For example, all pages load faster, all forms now always provide consistent context-relevant errors, and the panel is now fully localized. Contrast has been improved to help those with impaired sight. Every delete button has a confirmation warning that requires text input to confirm. We’ve swapped vague terms like “data vault” and “server action logs” to more consistent and sensible terms like “backups” and “audit logs”.

Remote install with realistic load times

Pages and padding have been thoughtfully condensed by hand to make better use of the screen space without cluttering. For example, the file manager no longer contains tools on the sidebar. They have been moved to the top and put in the context menu. We plan to add a directory tree-view alike Windows Explorer there in a future update.

UI improvements

The popular original Ptero-style sidebar has made a return. There was a reason it was popular; it’s intuitive. We’ve added some useful information like usage stats, and disk usage. The top navbar that WISP launched with is also still available – set your default layout in the admin area.

All information on the UI is shown real-time

The combined graphs on the server console page made things confusing, and hard to read. We replaced it with two separate graphs. There’s also now a tool-tip when you hover over graphs so they’re easy to read.

Original WISP graphs
New WISP graphs

We spent probably too much time working on making the graphs near real-time and easier to use. Now you can switch between time intervals to show usage over a period of between 1-5 minutes.

UX improvements

Our Minecraft version manager has been redesigned to be more reliable, with various new editions being added. We’re leveraging the WISP infrastructure to provide a much faster and more reliable experience, by serving cached and prebuilt resources privately.

This makes our service reliable in the case of an outage at Paper, Forge or Spigot etc. Additionally, in the case of Forge, it cuts install times down from ~5+ minutes to under 10 seconds.

Due to the popularity of this feature, and recent MC updates, we’re pre-releasing this feature within the next few weeks to all our users. Combining it with a game server using the image we shared the Java version will be automatically be selected on boot. Your customers don’t even need to think about it anymore. They just install what they want & start the server. There’s an option to override the automatic version on boot if needed. You can update the image URL to our one on any existing game server or egg without losing any data.

Following WISP 2, we plan to do a similarly major upgrade to the Minecraft mod pack manager. Details about this aren’t concrete, but we have some interesting ideas that we don’t want to share too much about this early. If things work out, our modpack manager would probably be ahead of companies that directly integrate/sponsor the modpack/launchers with a feature to automatically build a server for modpacks that only provide a client edition. I’m getting ahead of myself here though. We have some other things planned after WISP 2 that I can’t wait for us to start showing you.

Improved tooling

We’ve re-tooled a bunch of “invisible” things too. Like the entire user permission system, to pave way for advanced role-based access in the future. This will allow you to compartmentalize staff permissions for better operational security.

Wrapping things up

Like any product launch, we learnt a lot from the initial iteration of WISP and used those lessons to shape how we designed WISP 2. For the foreseeable future, we will be focusing on features updates. WISP 2 has taken a while, and I wanted to thank everyone who stuck with us while there was some unwarranted uncertainty and doubt about if we would ever release it. The team worked really hard on this update, we’re aiming to release it before October.