Help tips

Dear Kettle fans,

We have to keep thinking about ways to improve usability of our software.  Over the last year we’ve been knee-deep into hard-core API design work of Kettle and now it’s time to put usability back at the top of the agenda.

One of the first things that hits you as a new user is that often you don’t know how to create a new hop between 2 steps.  Well, why don’t we tell these new users how to do it?  Well we do, however, the obnoxious tips dialogs is one of the first things that people click away apparently.

OK, so we tried, now let’s try harder.  Here’s what I had in mind: a user drops a second step onto the canvas and voila, a tool tip appears…

The advantage of using these tool tips is that the second your mouse leaves the tool tip area, or if you click anything or key in anything, the help tip is gone.  As such, it doesn’t slow you down at all.

What other ideas do you have?  Let us know and we’ll hack it in!

Until next time,

Matt

1 thought on “Help tips”

  1. One idea I had a while back as a nice to have feature would be an auto-arrangement / auto-linker. It’s no small thing but I’ll mention some of the pertinent concepts of it to see if it piques your interest:

    1. A stateful toolbar button to enter/exit “automatic layout” mode
    2. A grid background that steps would automatically snap into when dragging
    3. The ability to drag new steps onto existing hops to split them (instead of having to drop it into the canvas then drag it into the line) (Note it would be really spiffy if a good way of pushing the possibly crowded steps away to make room for the new one could be found)
    4. If a new step was not dropped on an existing hop, it would get a reasonable number of unconnected hops pointing in to it, with captions as appropriate. So a dummy step might have a single hop with the captions “connect to the previous step” while a Stream lookup step would have two hops labeled “Main data stream” and “Lookup stream”. The user could then drag the unconnected end of the hop onto the desired input step.
    5. For steps that normally have multiple outputs (e.g. Filter), output hops could be pointing out from it with true/false captions
    6. The captions could have a little X on them to easily delete the hop if it is unneeded

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