Product Update - Expression Engine
Written by Ben Culpin, Posted on October 20, 2019
(Last Updated: October 22, 2019)
One of the latest product updates in a line of changes sees major improvements to the Expression Engine interface.
First up we'll take a quick look at why we decided it was time for an overhaul of the previous engine and then run through some of the major changes.
What changes were needed?
- A simpler, more user-friendly display.
- Limiting the number of elements on the screen.
- An easier way to write (and view) long and complex expressions
- Easier access to help when needed.
- A way to view the 100+ functions we now offer - compared to the 34 when we first launched.
Our Expression Engine and the previous interface
Expressions are a means of enriching and attributing your data, making alterations to different fields within your product feed in order to improve the overall quality or functionality. As opposed to regular-expressions or regex, the WakeupData expression engine uses simpler, Excel-style formulas to allow users to make changes to their feed data.
As mentioned above, there are now hundreds of functions on offer in the expression engine, from text changes (capitalization, swapping and replacing characters) numeric calculations ( round numbers, find percentages) to split testing.
We'll outline below where there is thorough guidance on every function, plus examples of how they can be implemented.
For those familiar with the previous Expression Engine layout (pictured below), in this article we'll outline the changes involved and how they are all focused on bringing greater understanding, usability and control to our customers.
The new Expression Engine interface
Upon opening the Expression Engine, users are now greeted with a full screen display (see video above📽 ). This is designed to give a greater overview of expressions and minimize the other buttons displayed on the previous interface.
Alongside this, all users can add their own personal notes to any expressions and get improved understanding of available options from the field selection dropdown menus.
Three visual aids to help when testing
1. Color coded expressions
The new color-coding feature enables users to gain a visual overview of how their expression can be broken down into sections (image, below).
Function is expressed in purple.
Field is expressed in blue
Value is expressed in green
Text is expressed in red
When there is an error in an expression, the interface will locate the place of the error in the expression and highlight it in orange if possible
Parentheses also highlight displays which are connected, and if there is one that is missing (image, below).
2. When testing, the expression engine now shows shows the first 30 non-filtered and non-empty results
An immediate overview of results of the test on the feed.
3. Better display for test results
A more visual display which also gives specific reference to which input row the data is from.
More prominent function list and better error handling
Although the function list was available on the previous Expression Engine interface, we've now made it more prominent (video above). This allows any user to get a quick overview of what each of the 100+ functions can be used for with examples.
When writing a function or field ctrl+space will open a list of all available options (screenshot below). We've also made improvements to error handling, with the cursor now jumping straight to the place in your expression where the problem lies.
Expression examples for users
As shown in the video below, the 'examples' tab shows a list of possible common functions from start to finish (e.g: Adding brand to title, selecting sales price over list price, creating a detailed title, etc).
Each is now comprised of an explainer, outlining the Expression, an example of the imported data and output data, as well as a template expression to work from.
We've provided a whistle-stop tour of the Expression Engine updates. If you want to get a more complete overview of what has changed - including our new Field Conversions feature, please don't hesitate to book a meeting with one of our Customer Success Managers below.
In the coming weeks, keep your eyes out for more news and content in the latest of a long line of multiple Changes to the WakeupData platform.