Step 1: AppInsights interface walkthrough

Hello and welcome to the AppInsights support portal!  This set of “Getting Started” guides is intended to introduce new users to the basic functionality of AppInsights and the important features they should be familiar with.  If you’re completely new to our app or are simply looking to brush up on the basics, this is a great place to start.

AppInsights users have a tremendous amount of freedom in customizing the content and structure of their dashboards.  As a new user, there are a number of key elements of the user interface that will be most important in getting your dashboards up and running.

SERVICES PANEL

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Data is the most important element of your dashboard environment, and the Services Panel is where you’ll connect your key sources.  By clicking on this bright blue “+” button, you’ll be presented with an extensive selection of out-of-the-box service integrations that each offer a set of popular metrics (i.e. “Site Visitors” for Google Analytics”, “Tickets by Tag” for Zendesk, or “Leads Count” for Salesforce).

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The services panel also presents users with a set of custom data tools, like database connectors (Amazon RedShiftMySQL, and PostgreSQL), a Google Sheet integration, and the ability to select blank widgets that are then populated with a CSV upload or via API.

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Each of these data connectivity options will be explained more thoroughly in Step 2 of our Getting Started section.

NEW DASHBOARD

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You’ll want to have plenty of space to work with as you’re creating your new dashboards.  Each dashboard is composed of a 24x12 grid that can be organized according to your preferences.  While you’re not limited by the number of data streams, authentications, or widgets on a given dashboard, please note that each of our visualizations / widgets has minimum size requirements to prevent the distortion or illegibility of your data.

As a trial user, you’re automatically given access to our 20-dashboard plan which means you can create a bunch of new dashboards before you hit your limit.  Just hit the “New Dashboard” button at top right and select a blank dashboard, or select from one of our available templates which will populate an entire dashboard with metrics from a given service.

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SETTINGS

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Our settings menu is where you will leverage many of AppInsights's most important features.  Below is a breakdown of what can be accomplished within each menu option.

>>Dashboard settings
The “Dashboard Settings” menu can be used to rename your current dashboard, copy it for some other use, clear it of any widgets, or delete it entirely.  You can also create a share link for the current dashboard to be shared with a colleague or client (instructions here).

>>Dashboard collections
If you’re interested in creating groups of dashboards to share via share link, or to view them in Display Mode -- covered in more detail below -- the “Dashboard Collections” menu will allow you to do both.  Simply select the dashboards you would like to appear in your collection, enable the share link and any optional settings (password, auto-cycling) and hit the blue “Save Collection button.  You can now access this set of dashboards in view-only mode via share link, or by selecting the collection from the Display Mode drop down.

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>>Basic & Advanced Styling
While your data is important, it doesn’t hurt for your dashboards to look great as well!  For simple modifications like changing your background or adding your company logo, you’ll want to use our Basic Styling menu.  If you’d like to make advanced changes -- font, widget background color, adding borders, etc. -- you can make stylistic class and property changes from our Advanced Styling menu using the CSS stylesheet language.  For thorough instructions on how to leverage each of these styling options, follow the links below:

Basic Styling tutorial
Advanced Styling tutorial

>>Authentications
As your business changes, you may find that some of the data sources you were using initially are no longer relevant.  Deleting your authentications for any out-of-the-box integration connections -- or editing them if your credentials change -- can be managed using the “Authentications” menu.

Just choose which authentication you’d like to manage and whether you’d like to edit or delete the account.  Please note: if you have multiple users on your AppInsights account, any authentication change you make will impact all users that are accessing the dashboards.

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>>Alerts
Setting up alerts for your widgets ensures that you’re immediately notified when a goal is reached, or a KPI falls below an acceptable threshold.  Using the data stream identifier for your widget(s), you can set unique alert(s) based on a goal or threshold for your KPI.  There is no limit to the number of alerts you can set or the number of recipients for the notification.  Full instructions can be found in our Alerts tutorial.

>>IP Whitelisting
IP whitelisting can be used as a security precaution to ensure that only users attempting to access your AppInsights dashboard(s) from a specific IP (or set of IP’s) can gain access.  From the “IP Whitelisting” menu you can add multiple IP Addresses and given them unique descriptions for reference purposes.

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>>User Management
Depending on the number of additional users that can be added to your account -- determined by your plan type -- you can invite a number of your colleagues to access your AppInsights account.  When adding new users, you will be required to apply one of the following permission levels:

Owner -- same editing privileges as primary account admin
View & Edit -- full editing privileges but unable to invite additional users
View Only -- no editing or invitation privileges

For “view & edit” or “view only” users, an added level of security allows you to limit access to specific dashboards, or even specific authentications.  Just navigate to the “User Management” menu and begin sending invites to each colleague you want to access your dashboard(s).

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Full instructions in our User Management tutorial.

EDIT WIDGET SETTINGS

Anytime you deploy a new widget to your dashboard, it will appear in an un-configured state. This means you have not yet provided your credentials for the connected web service, or that you have not yet confirmed which of your connected accounts you would like to use to populate your widget (if you have two seperate Google Analytics accounts, for example).

Please note: custom data widgets will also appear in an un-configured state until you push or fetch data via our API or you upload a CSV spreadsheet with corresponding data stream tags.​

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To begin connecting your data, hover over the un-populated widget and you will be invited to “configure this widget”.  You can either select the gray gear icon at top right of the widget and select the “Edit Widget Settings” menu, or you can click the linked text to hop  directly to this menu.

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From the “Edit Widget Settings” menu  you can provide your credentials for a web service or select an existing one.  The “Edit Widget Settings” will also allow you to modify the structure of the data being retrieved by the widget (“Data Settings” tab), as well as the format of the visualization you’ve chosen to represent the data (“Widget Settings” tab).  Once you’ve made the desired changes to your data and widget settings, hit the blue “Save” button to return to your dashboard and view your populated widget.

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Please note: the options presented in our data and widget settings tabs will differ by data source, and by visualization.  With this in mind, we encourage users to experiment with the various settings that will impact the content and structure of your widgets.  If you’re having specific issues with the Edit Widget Settings menu, or your widget is returning “No Data”, please send a note to our support team.

DISPLAY MODE

The most basic presentation feature we offer, Display mode allows users to hide AppInsights menus for a larger dashboard view that is ideal for group viewing around a single monitor or screen.  If you’ve made the decision to hide the AppInsights dashboard header or footer -- see our Basic Styling tutorial -- these changes will be reflected in Display mode.  Hit the eye icon at top left of the dashboards to toggle Display mode on and off.

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TOGGLE DASHBOARDS

Regardless of the dashboard plan you’ve chosen, our hope is that you take full advantage of the space made available across all of your dashboards.  This means that you’ll be switching back and forth between your various dashboards quite frequently, particularly during the initial design / set-up phase.

To transition between your dashboard, hit the dropdown arrow pictured in the screenshot below and select which dashboard you’d like to view / edit.  Even if you haven’t visited your selected dashboard in some time, the AppInsights app will continue to update the data and keep the widgets current in your absence.

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To recap, here are some full-screen views of the AppInsights interface with each of these elements highlighted...

Standard View
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Display Mode
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Next >>
Step 2: Connecting your data

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