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From Alan Jackoway <al...@cloudera.com>
Subject Re: Nifi UI Enhancements
Date Fri, 04 Sep 2015 22:45:45 GMT
Hello,

I think that icons and opening the properties when you drop a processor (at
least as an option) are both very good ideas. For the icons NiFi might have
to deal with a little bit of licensing, but I'm sure we can figure that
out. I think it should be somewhat easy for NiFi to provide some standard
icons.

I personally like the big boxes because I'm often interested in the numbers
they contain, but since NiFi already has a zoom tool, I think an all-icon
view when you zoom out far enough or some other kind of condensed view
would make a lot of sense. In our deployment, we use process groups pretty
heavily to augment the zooming, so I definitely understand how the UI can
get overwhelmed by processors.

Do you have specific ideas on how to improve the processor selector? The
filtering usually works for me, but I can see what you're saying about it
getting harder as the project expands. Here are two ideas off the top of my
head:
* Set favorite processors explicitly, and pin them to the top.
* Sort processors based on things like "most commonly used", "last used",
and "type/icon" (tying in with your previous idea).

Alan

On Sat, Sep 5, 2015 at 12:03 AM, Rick Braddy <rbraddy@softnas.com> wrote:

> Good point.
>
>
>
> I was not suggesting the generic processor picker be done away with at
> all, as it’s very functional, just adding a more convenient way to drag and
> drop processors that are most commonly used onto the canvas and adding an
> iconic representation to processors.
>
>
>
> Rick
>
>
>
> *From:* Ian Ragsdale [mailto:ian.ragsdale@gmail.com]
> *Sent:* Friday, September 04, 2015 3:48 PM
> *To:* users@nifi.apache.org
> *Subject:* Re: Nifi UI Enhancements
>
>
>
> Another way to look at silence is a lack of disagreement. :) I haven't yet
> used NiFi enough to have these things become annoyances, but I can't
> disagree with any of those general suggestions.
>
>
>
> A 2x2 grid of processors down the side that would let you choose the
> processor type *before* dragging it onto the canvas sounds great to me,
> assuming that the processors have distinctive icons. I think there would
> likely still be a need for the processor picker, but the common use case
> where you know exactly what you want to add could definitely be sped up.
>
>
>
> - Ian
>
>
>
> On Sep 4, 2015, at 4:37 PM, Rick Braddy <rbraddy@softnas.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> Okay.  Looks like I’m the only one who thinks this is an issue…
>
>
>
> Onward.
>
>
>
> *From:* Rick Braddy [mailto:rbraddy@softnas.com <rbraddy@softnas.com>]
> *Sent:* Wednesday, September 02, 2015 11:23 PM
> *To:* users@nifi.apache.org
> *Subject:* Nifi UI Enhancements
>
>
>
> After using Nifi for some weeks now, I have an enhancement request to
> recommend for the UI that I believe will dramatically improve the usability.
>
>
>
> Before I jump into the problems, let me say this about the UI.  It’s very
> intuitive, easy to learn and consistent.  It’s also very clean and
> attractive from an appearance standpoint.  As described below, there are
> some areas that are becoming tedious with dozens of processors today, and
> that will become acute from a usability perspective if untreated.
>
>
>
> *The Challenges*
>
>
>
> *Issue #1 – Processors take too much time to select and configure
> initially*
>
>
>
> Overall, the Nifi UI is fantastic from an ease of use perspective;
> however, there is one area that’s problematic and that will become
> increasingly challenging… adding new processor blocks and choosing the
> processor type.
>
>
>
> The primary issue stems from the lengthy list of processors to scroll
> through and pick from.  The filter cloud is helpful, but with time even
> this mechanism is reaching its limits, as the number of processors
> continues to grow with the success of the project.
>
>
>
> There needs to be an easier, more productive way to simply drag and drop
> processors to the canvass.
>
>
>
> *Issue #2 – Processor blocks all look the same instead of being more
> visually distinct and easily recognizable by function*
>
>
>
> Our brains are wired for rapid pattern recognition of images, text takes
> more cycle of higher-level reasoning to interpret.
>
>
>
> Because processor blocks are shown, by default, with their I/O statistics
> and textual names, they all kind of look the same.  This “runtime view” is
> great for troubleshooting or monitoring, but not as useful when building
> complex data flows.  An “iconic view” would provide an easier way to
> visualize the structure and intent behind each graph and its flows,
> especially when developing the flows.
>
>
>
> Additionally, an icon representing each type of processor block would make
> it much faster and easier to recognize what that processor block does,
> versus having to read and interpret each one individually (especially for
> complex graphs).  Processors that handle files could be represented by a
> “file” icon, Hadoop by a Hadoop icon, HTTP by a globe icon, etc.
>
>
>
> *#3  - When dropping a new processor, open its Properties dialog
> automatically (to avoid right-click, then “Configure” and choose tab steps)*
>
>
>
> Every time a new processor is dropped onto the canvass, we must go through
> the process to select its type.  Then, the dialog closes and we’re usually
> left with an incomplete processor with errors.  We know that most
> processors require some initial Property configuration, so why not just
> proceed to that dialog after choosing the processor type, so can finish
> configuring it, then apply so we have a processor that’s ready to integrate?
>
>
>
> *Potential Solutions*
>
>
>
> Visio has a great model for addressing #1 that I would propose as a
> starting point for resolving this issue – use of a “tool palette” that
> snaps into place on the left side of the canvass.  Each group of tools
> (e.g., file-related processors, Hadoop processors, HTTP processors, etc.)
> would be grouped together within a toolbox area, with an icon representing
> each tool/processor with a brief description of each tool.
>
>
>
> As with Visio, the user would open up several commonly used toolboxes and
> then just drag and drop a tool from the toolbox directly onto the canvass,
> with no need to select the processor type (each processor is shown as a
> unique type in its toolbox).  This approach is very familiar to Visio users
> and other tools that operate in a similar manner with object drag and
> drop.  Scrolling through lengthy lists is time-consuming and becomes
> tedious when developing large graphs.
>
>
>
> Once processors have icons associated with them, several things become
> much easier:
>
>
>
> 1.       The toolboxes are much easier to create, leveraging each
> processors inherent icon representation
>
> 2.       The runtime view (current view) could simply have each
> processor’s icon shown (either in the white space to left of “5 mins” or in
> the border area)
>
> 3.       If a purely iconic view were added at some future point, then a
> clear “as built” drawing of the data flow would make the graphs even more
> self-documenting and obvious
>
>
>
> Lastly, when the generic processor is dragged onto the canvass (as it is
> today), and a processor type is selected, it would be very easy to proceed
> next to the Property dialog (if there are any mandatory properties that
> must be configured before first use), reducing the number of clicks
> required to get a processor up and running.
>
>
>
> I believe a usability study with target users would likely reveal the
> above (or similar) conclusions.  In order for Nifi to scale with dozens or
> even hundreds more processors, it’s clear that something has to give, as
> the current method of choosing processor type has about run its course from
> a usability standpoint IMHO.
>
>
>
> Hope that’s helpful.
>
>
>
> Rick
>
>
>

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