Welcoming Wizards: Exploring the Magic of Custom Workspace Experiences

Using a fun, creative use-case, we will explore the power and potential of custom workspace experiences and how they can be used to meet the needs of any and every organization.


Yansa Labs specializes in building custom apps on the ServiceNow platform. To-date, we have 12 of our own apps on the store, as well as 100+ other applications that we’ve built for other companies. Because of this, I’ve had the unique opportunity to take a deep dive into various parts of the ServiceNow platform. One of those areas that has really piqued my interest is UI Builder and configurable workspaces. As Knowledge 2024 was approaching, I thought it would be fun to do a session that would showcase what can be accomplished with configurable workspaces. Thus the Welcoming Wizards application was born!

The goal for this article is to use the Welcoming Wizards application to demonstrate the power and potential of workspaces and how they can be used to meet the needs of any and every organization.

Pigwarts Academy of Wizards

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Pigwarts Academy of Wizards!

Pigwarts is a school that young wizards can come to to learn how to use magic. Lately, Pigwarts has been struggling to keep up with their influx of incoming students.

Once of the professors at the school, Professor McGottagill, decided it was time they revamp their student onboarding process. While doing her research, Professor McGottagill discovered a magical system that could help automate processes that were previously being handled through parchment paper and less-than-dependable owls. What magical system did she stumble across? ServiceNow!

Let’s take a look at the Welcoming Wizards application that was built to help Pigwarts automate their student onboarding process.

Welcoming Wizards Workspace

Professor McGottagill is in charge of overseeing the onboarding of all the incoming wizarding students. As the start of the new school year approaches, she goes to her Welcoming Wizards workspace to get an overview of the current state of the students and their assigned houses.

For context, every student is assigned a house, which is sort of like a sub-community within Pigwarts. Each house has its own common rooms, dorm rooms, sports teams, etc. that students in that house have access to. Each house also has its own passphrase, which the students will use to gain access to their common rooms and dorm rooms.

From the Welcoming Wizards workspace, Professor McGottagill can see:

  • The various Pigwarts houses (their points and passphrases)
  • How many students still need to be sent welcome letters
  • How many students need to acknowledge their acceptance into Pigwarts
  • The number of students in each house
  • The statuses of all student welcome letters
  • Students that are ready to be sorted into houses

Student Welcome Letters

When Professor McGottagill comes to her workspace, she can see that there are 3 students who haven’t received their welcome letters yet. Let’s have her send those welcome letters now.

Notice that when the button was clicked, the number of students who have yet to receive their welcome letters went down to 0 and the number of students with unacknowledged welcome letters went up to 3. That’s because those three students have all been sent their welcome letters but have yet to acknowledge their acceptance.

The “Send Welcome Letters” button sets a flag on the student records that indicates that the welcome letters are ready to be sent. That change to the flag triggers a flow from Flow Designer that will send an email with the welcome letters to each of those students.

If we open our email, we can see that Beary Potter has received his welcome letter. It contains some general information about his acceptance into Pigwarts and then provides him with a link that will take him to his acknowledgement form.

Once Beary acknowledges his acceptance into Pigwarts, he is taken to a page with a packing list for the upcoming school year.

When Professor McGottagill comes back to the Welcoming Wizards workspace, she can see the number of students that still have to open and acknowledge their welcome letters has gone down to 2. If she clicks on that number, she can see the list of students and their information. She can also select any number of those students and resend their welcome letters.

Sorting Wizarding Students

Once a student has acknowledged their acceptance into Pigwarts, like Beary has, they are ready to be sorted into houses. Professor McGottagill can see that there are a handful of students that are ready to be sorted. If she opens a student record, she will see the student’s information and be able to sort them into a house using the “Sorting Cat” custom component in the contextual side panel.

It can be a bit cumbersome to click into every student, sort them, save the record, and then come back to the list for the next student. To save her time, there is a button on the workspace home page that will allow her to sort the students one after another.

Once a student has been sorted, they will receive an email with a link to their student portal, where they can go to see their newly assigned house, their house standards statement, their house points, and the current passphrase that they can use to get into their house common rooms. They also have access to their packing list and their acceptance form, in case they need to refer back to them at any point.

Managing Pigwarts Houses

In addition to overseeing the new students, Professor McGottagill is also able to manage the Pigwarts houses from the Welcoming Wizards workspace.

Clicking on the house points will open the house record, allowing Professor McGottagill to manually set the passphrase or change the house points. She can also see the Wizarding Students assigned to this house.

Now it’s a bit of a pain to come into the house record itself to update the points and the passphrase, so the Welcoming Wizards application has a couple cool features baked into it to make both of those tasks a bit easier.

Managing House Points

The first feature helps with managing house points. As Professor McGottagill and the other faculty members are patrolling the corridors of Pigwarts, they may want to update house points quickly from their phone without having to go back to their workstation, log into their workspace, locate the house record, and then update the house points. Thanks to a nifty Scripted REST API, Professor McGottagill and the other faculty members can modify the house points directly from their phones using a custom Siri Shortcut.

Managing House Passphrases

The second feature helps with managing house passphrases. Once the students have been sorted into houses, it would be a good idea to set new house passphrases. Setting new passphrases will send an email to all the students in that house so that they know the new passphrase for getting into their house common rooms.

When Professor McGottagill clicks the button to generate a new passphrase, a request is sent to Open AI to generate a new passphrase based on that specific house. If she doesn’t like the new passphrase, she can either modify it directly from the modal, or generate another passphrase.

Because his house passphrase was changed, Beary will receive an email notifying him of the change.

Products and Tools Used

Now that we’ve gotten a good feel for how the Welcoming Wizards application and workspace work, let’s take a quick peek at the products and tools used in this application.

First and foremost, I used App Engine Studio (AES) to set up the app. Using AES, I had the basic app set up in no time. The nice thing about AES is that it is a great no-code tool for spinning up new apps.

From within AES, I whipped out a configurable workspace with UI Builder. I wouldn’t say UI Builder is a no-code tool, but it is low-code. With its drag-and-drop interface, you can put together a workspace pretty quickly. I then used the Next Experience Framework to create the sorting cat custom component. Custom components are a lot of fun to build, but they’re definitely pro-code, so be careful there.

Also using AES, I built some flows to handle the emails that needed to be sent to the students when certain conditions occurred within the app. Flow Designer can definitely be a no-code tool, but it’s also pretty easy to slip into some basic coding with it if the OOB actions don’t fit your needs. So I’d consider it to be both no-code and low-code because it can easily go either way.

Outside of AES, I built a Scripted REST API to work with my Siri shortcut for updating house points from my phone, and I used the Open AI API to build a Gen AI Utility Script Include. There are ways to use Gen AI in Flow Designer that are no-code, but I didn’t have access to any of that in my PDI, so I made my own.

Real World Application

Now I don’t want to imply that wizards and magic aren’t real (especially for those of you still waiting for a certain acceptance letter from a certain wizarding school), but now that you’ve seen the welcoming wizards experience in action, let’s talk about how this could be applied to more realistic scenarios.

Instead of wizarding students, you may have university students, employees, or contractors. Instead of Professor McGottagill and the other faculty at Pigwarts, you may have product owners or department managers. In any of these situations, you could use your own custom workspace to provide a more focused user experience.

If we look back at our Welcoming Wizards workspace, it’s not too far fetched to think of the houses as departments, office locations, or colleges within a university. You could have a custom experience that gives an overview of student enrollment or employee training. You would probably want some sort of utility to send welcome letters and onboarding materials. You may even need your own custom component to make possible a process that is uniquely yours. And similar to my Gen AI passphrase generator (which was just a silly little example), you could use Gen AI to summarize your next todo items or to give a summary of the latest activity.

Regardless of your company’s individual needs, custom workspace experiences have the potential to give you that fine-tuned experience you need.

Application Download

And with that, our mischief has been managed! If you want to explore the Welcoming Wizards application yourself, feel free to download the “Welcoming Wizards App File” below and import it into your PDI. The link to the “Sorting Cat” custom component is also listed below. Please keep in mind that this app is far from perfect and may not follow best-practices in every case. It was built very quickly and just for demo purposes, so set your expectations accordingly!

Welcoming Wizards App File (XML)

Custom Component Code