Good or bad looks: does it matter?

Computers in general and software in particular have always been a hobby of mine, almost a passion. I’ve been playing with them since the days of the ZX-81 Sinclair “computer”. I (ab)used a Commodore 64 until it literaly fell apart and worked on exotic old machine such as thoses with 2MB of ram and a 80286.

Those where the days when GUIs would make their entrance. It was way back when I was still studying (…hard to become a “beer expert”) and when animals could still talk.

It was a time when me and my friends looked down on software that was too shiny and/or had too much “bling”. In those days, because CPU power was very limited, that was pretty much the same as bloated software.

I’m explaining this background information to you so that you understand why the Kettle GUI called Spoon is as minimalistic as possible. If you don’t see 10 different views and +50 widgets in there its because I don’t want to have that in my software. All too often when working in IDEs like Eclipse I find myself clicking away as many views I don’t need as possible. I like my software clean with a nice overview. Information overload is not a good thing, although it can look impressive at times.

This is what version 2.4.0 looked like:

However, lately while building the 2.5.0 version, we got a few questions from the community to add some graphics, add some color, just to make Spoon look “more professional”. It all started because I replaced the core objects tree with a new ExpandBar SWT widget. Some folks in the community really like the extra images, others really hate them, some others probably couldn’t care less.
What about you? Which version do you like best? And does it really matter?

Without extra graphics:


Until next time,

P.S. Just to make this clear, I added an option to turn off the graphics because I think that after 5 minutes they seriously get in the way 😉

10 thoughts on “Good or bad looks: does it matter?”

  1. Personnaly i like (specially the logo in the bottom :-).
    But i understand that for some people it’s too “colored”.
    Maybe it should make sens to choose color as options.

    Anyway thanks for your efforts

  2. I like your last proposal but WITHOUT the Big Kettle logo. I know I use Kettle I needn’t to see this logo all the day!

  3. Im all about minimalistic in a feng shui way, it should look NICE, its our workplace.
    And on usability, I think the big arrows should be easier to click on than the plus signs.

  4. I think we’ll let the unbranded expandbar version become the default for version 2.5.0. It’s so much easier to navigate that way and the branding seems to annoy some people. It’s also nice that it doesn’t use up any more space vs. 2.4.0.

    In following versions I would like to add more tabs in the top level: Shared objects (repository and shared connections, cluster schemas, slave servers & partition schemas) and much more.

    Thanks for all the feedback!

  5. Hi Matt

    This is kangkan from India.Writing for the first time to you.

    I have been using PCI for the last 6 months. I been a nice to see a open source ETL tool having so many features, although i believe there is still long way to go to be at par with the market leaders.And regarding the UI i strongly feel that it needs a complete makeover so as to look like Informatica,datastage or watever.Right now it looks very primitive.

    Please look into this matter to make it look more professional.


  6. Hi kangkan,

    Fortunately many people have a different opinion.
    I don’t mind that our software is looking primitive, I’m actually proud of it.
    It was designed that way. If you want to have hundreds of buttons in a single windows, look elsewhere. Only in very rare conditions these types of GUIs are functional.

    We will be reworking the whole icon set “soon”. However, I will make it look like Datastage, Informatica and OWB when hell freezes over.

    Listen, we have hundreds of people from India asking questions out on the forum, probably tens of thousands using it.
    And yet, not a single contributor on our project. Since anyone is welcome to contribute anything, why is that?

    Why do you think it’s OK to come complaining over here for something you don’t pay for or even don’t contribute to? Now who is being unproffesional Kangkan?

    I suggest that until you have any real comments on the functionality of Kettle you leave my blog the hell alone.


  7. HI Matt

    I think I offended you in some way or other in my last comment on your blog.May be I shouldn’t have compared PCI with others. Everybody has their own style and I really appreciate yours .I understand that better functionality and performance is more important than look. I really apologize to you if I offended you in any way.

    I think you got me wrong. I was not here to complain. It was just a suggestion. And because i am taking a lot of interest in KETTLE in particular and pentaho in general , i sent you a comment out of my enthusiasm. It is great to know that you are going to change the Icons sets soon.

    Regarding the contribution to PCI project, i am really looking forward to it.

    Anyways thanks for you feedback and hope you understand my point.

    And I hope you won’t mind me commenting on your blog in future 🙂


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