Knowledge16 CreatorCon

Mike KauffmanRecently, I had the opportunity to attend ServiceNow’s Knowledge 16 CreatorCon in Las Vegas. The 10th annual conference is considered the world’s largest that’s geared towards service management professionals using enterprise cloud services to change the way people work. Virteva was a proud sponsor of the annual event and I attended several breakout sessions, participated in hands-on interactive labs and listened to some great keynote speakers presenting very exciting things. Here is a glimpse of my perspective on the event…

The opening keynote speaker of the event was Fred Luddy, creator of ServiceNow where we were eager to hear the details of their latest release, Helsinki. He gave a broad overview of what’s new with ServiceNow’s latest release and dove into the more tech-driven side of what’s new with syntax editors, code writing and the Service Portal.

Helsinki has many exciting new features, but my favorite is the Service Portal which ServiceNow is also touting. Previously, clients would access ServiceNow through a webpage that showed easy-to-use tools and navigation. Access through the new Service Portal is similar as before, but the design is much simpler to create, and it incorporates the ability to customize websites for various departments or users so HR or Finance can have their own with just a few simple steps to set up.

Another feature they have expanded is the ability to create a wide variety of functions on the portal using scripts or other languages. Imagine you want to add a calendar widget to a website that is interactive and easy to navigate through the features. There are a lot of free scripts available via the internet and ServiceNow is now allowing you to add scripts directly to the Service Portal. For instance JQuery is a really popular Java script library and it’s free. Previously, it was clunky to program JQuery into ServiceNow, but with the new release it seems very easy and intuitive. Developers have always been able to create their own scripts for ServiceNow but the new release makes them easier to incorporate. In fact, ServiceNow has created over 90 pre-made widgets for you to use within the Service Portal that can be tweaked and customized.

Another breakout session I attended discussed best practices for querying a database. As ServiceNow analysts, we often need to call the database to recover information. In a session I attended, they showed us the methods commonly used today versus their best practices. We were able to benchmark our times to see proof of how much faster their way is. This was a game changer for us because we’ve never tried their method for querying the database. This is something new I can definitely apply right away and that is always exciting.

One let down was when Fred Luddy spoke about a new integration with GitHub. GitHub is a very impressive tool for versioning (source control). So, I can create one version, push it to GitHub then continue to work on version two without affecting previous versions. It’s very popular and ServiceNow now allows integrating with GitHub to pass code back and forth. The caveat with this is, (and because of this we probably won’t use this feature right away) it only works with what ServiceNow calls our ‘scoped applications’. Scoped applications were new with the Fuji rollout and a lot of people don’t use them. Most use global applications because they don’t require a separation into little departments. GitHub only works if you have your applications in their own scope, which not many people do so I find it useless at this time.

I wasn’t the only person who got their hopes up about this possible integration as there was an audible ‘Ugh!’ when we were told we can’t work with GitHub through global applications. I will be eagerly awaiting the update to GitHub that will allow me to use this versioning feature with global applications as well.

To demonstrate a cool feature, the speaker asked the audience to access a survey on our phone. The survey was cool, colorful and very interactive and we saw the results right away. We were then told the survey was completely developed on this Service Portal. ServiceNow has never really played nice with mobile devices, and I was so encouraged to see it work flawlessly on my phone that I texted a co-worker (either a total geek-out moment or too much coffee by 7:30 a.m.).

Another great update to Helsinki stems from the way that code is written in ServiceNow (currently in JavaScript). The standard for that JavaScript is called ECMA and Virteva has been using ECMA 3, which was originally written in 1999. At the CreatorCon, they announced that ECMA 5, the most current version, will now be allowed. This new syntax makes writing code easier, requires fewer characters and is faster. ECMA 5 is a big change from EMCA 3 and will provide a learning opportunity for the developers at Virteva.

Check out some other new features of Helsinki in a recent blog post done by my colleague, Matt Kaufman.

A Great Conference

ServiceNow’s Knowledge16 CreatorCon really had a lot to offer, and we were very busy the entire time. All of the breakout sessions and keynote speakers were engaging and interesting. There was even one session where I learned the architecture of ServiceNow. It was more of a history class on how ServiceNow was built and why things are named what they are. At the interactive hands-on lab I attended, I learned how to use Fix Scripts which is a way of creating one big script that can be saved and reused. For example, every new ServiceNow instance comes with a lot of demo data to help you understand and visualize how it works. To get rid of that, we had to create a huge script to delete everything we didn’t want. The script then had to be stored, copied and rerun every time we had a new customer. Now we can actually save the script as a record and pass it between any instance we want.

Because of the success we’ve already had with our current clients using Helsinki, as well as the enhancements I mentioned and many others, Virteva looks forward to rolling this out to all our clients going forward. It’s exciting to leave a technology conference bursting with new updates and changes, knowing you’ll be able to implement several new best practices immediately that will benefit your clients!

Overall it was a great conference with a lot to offer, including a party to close out the event. There is nothing better than going to a Las Vegas nightclub with nerds! As I’m sure you can imagine, only about 4 people had the nerve (or enough liquid courage!) to make it to the dance floor, but it was the perfect end to a great conference and I look forward to attending next year.