This Threekit best practice article is all about self-maintenance. Customers are often excited about the potential of using a tool like Threekit; however, to ensure long-term use and ROI, there should be considerations about upkeep over the lifetime of using it. Some customers utilize an agency or partner to manage this task, and others do all of the work inhouse. We spoke with David Phillips, a Senior Software Engineer at Threekit, about self-maintenance considerations and best practices. We hope you find the content of this article helpful regardless of if you’re kicking off a new project, or just trying to improve your operations.
Hi David, thanks for taking the time to talk about self-maintenance best practices. Before we get started, could you tell us about your background and role at Threekit?
David: I originally studied biology before switching over to computer science. Then working on virtual biology simulation software got me interested in 3D graphics and game engines. That brought me to Threekit where I've spent the last 6 years working on our visual product configuration platform and using it to build out solutions for clients.
When it comes to Threekit, what does it mean to self-maintain? What needs to be maintained?
David: Self-maintenance encompasses the activities you might undertake with your project after initial implementation and delivery by Threekit. There is no action needed to “keep things running”, but you may want to make modifications to aspects of your implementation, such as:
- Adding new products
- Changing the options available for existing products
- Tweaking visual assets for improved quality or performance
- Adding access tokens for embedding configurators on additional domains
- Exploring/testing new platform features which you might consider augmenting your implementation with
These are often small-scale, documented and/or exploratory efforts that don’t necessarily warrant engaging professional services to do for you.
What skills or expertise are necessary for a customer to self-maintain Threekit?
David: For general Threekit platform administration, I would refer users to our knowledge base here. The knowledge base will help admins get their bearings and understand a lot of the basic tasks involved in setting up product configurations and visuals. Beyond that, what skillsets are required depend on what needs to be maintained. For example, if there is ongoing work on visual assets, a 3D artist background would be ideal. And if you need to make frontend integration changes to align with changes you make to your catalog and visual assets in the Threekit platform (ex. adding a new UI component connecting to a new product option, or embedding your existing product configurator in a new website), then you'd want someone with a web development background.
If a customer does not want to or feel they can self-maintain, what are their options for making changes or if issues arise in the future?
David: Threekit has a growing network of implementation partners with the expertise and flexibility to support our customers’ various needs across various engagements. Feel free to browse our partner list at https://partners.threekit.com/, and speak with your Threekit account team for recommendations and introductions.
What are important things to consider before/during implementation that may affect ability to self-maintain?
David: Knowing what will need to be self-maintained, and how, can affect some decision-making during the design and implementation of a project. Often there are things that could be designed/built in several different ways, and a need for self-maintenance can affect that decision. Thus, it is important for the project team to be aware of and discuss the need for self-maintenance and the trade-offs. For an oversimplified example, if you have a product that has an option for its paint color, and you need to easily modify the set of colors available from time to time in the future, you'd want to ensure a design and workflow that makes those changes simple. On the other hand, if you know the set of colors will never change, that might lend itself to a faster, simplified implementation.
If you do have plans for self-maintaining post-implementation, you would want to make sure you have sufficient discussions and/or handoff documentation from the implementation team regarding any specific workflows to make your desired changes (ex. "to add another product in a given product category, take the following steps...").
Could you share some general best practices for managing changes in a post-launch environment?
David: The general development workflow we recommend is to make and test out changes on your preview org (https://preview.threekit.com). For testing integrations, you can set up an integration environment that points to this preview org, for example to confirm your platform changes are coming through correctly in your website, or to build out new integration code/UI to go along with changes you make in your org. Once happy with your changes, you can initiate an org migration to copy those changes over to your production org (https://admin-fts.threekit.com).
Keep in mind that migrations can take some time and updates will incrementally appear in the destination org. You would want to work with your initial implementation team to align on the considerations and workflow for safe and effective migrations into your production environment. This may involve bringing your site down for maintenance until migration and smoke testing are complete, or approaches that involve migrating new copies/versions of catalog items and assets, and only switching your integrations over to pull these new versions once everything is migrated and smoke tested.
How does a customer make sure they’re always aware of, and utilizing, the newest features released by Threekit?
David: Although larger features are delivered on a quarterly release cycle, bug fixes and minor enhancements still occur from time to time throughout the year. To track various feature and bugfix releases, you can refer to release notes here - you can check in periodically, review recent changes, and see if anything catches your eye that may benefit your setup or workflow. Upcoming releases and maintenance windows can also be found at our Threekit Status page. Lastly, platform updates are visible in the notifications area of your org (the "?" in the upper right - see image below). You can click on the notification and Select “Product Updates” to see recent platform updates:
If a customer is encountering issues and needs technical support, what steps should they take for a smooth and timely resolution?
David: Depending on the nature of the issue, there are a few resources available:
- Issue with platform service availability: Threekit Status
- Sign up to receive notifications directly to your inbox regarding platform availability or issues, upcoming maintenance, and new releases.
- Problems with the Threekit platform: Threekit Support
- Support access is required. If you can’t login and password reset doesn’t work, contact the customer success team at email@example.com.
- Unsure how to accomplish certain tasks or how to use parts of the platform: General Documentation
Customers may want to pull analytics to see how things are going and adjust their strategy - is that possible?
David: It is in a limited capacity. At the time of this interview, it’s possible to pull player views as well as render usage by heading to the "Analytics" section:
We’ve also been listening to customer feedback and understand customers want more. Threekit is looking to provide detailed self-service metrics in the coming releases. We encourage you to keep an eye out for the latest product release info in your inbox and in the Threekit Community.
Thank you for speaking with us today, David!
David: It's been a pleasure, thanks for having me.