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FreeNAS 11.2 new GUI suggestions and discussion thread

Ericloewe

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As promised, I'm opening this thread to discuss the new GUI, which has reached decent usability in FreeNAS 11.1-BETA1.

Due to the history this topic has with useful discussions being derailed, this thread will be more closely moderated than is typical. That means that off-topic posts or otherwise unproductive posts will be summarily deleted.
That includes the following topics/lines of reasoning:
  • Why is a new GUI needed? - Lots of reasons, this has been discussed to death.
  • Corral's GUI was so much better, use that! - The framework was abandoned. It was dead before Corral's own demise.
  • It is so horrible that I won't give constructive criticism! - Extremely unhelpful.
  • The general layout is the same as the old GUI! - It's going to stay like that at first. More structural changes will be considered after the new GUI can function as a replacement for the old one, but the priority is to get this foundation done.
Remember, if you encounter bugs, report them at https://bugs.freenas.org/projects/freenas (try to look for tickets that match your problem first, though).

Edit:

Just adding that the title has been updated to reflect the fact that 11.2 is the version of interest when it comes to the new GUI. 11.1's version is very outdated.
 
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Ericloewe

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Some basic information about the new GUI off the top of my head:

  • User-defined themes will not be available in 11.1, but are in the works
  • Several predefined themes are included in 11.1, so try playing around with a few to see what works best for you
  • It should be feature complete around 11.2
  • Jails management uses iocage instead of warden (or at least it's supposed to - there are a few bug reports open on that one), so the two GUIs have effectively separate sets of jails.
 

Fran Aquino

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I'm OK with the new GUI in general, I think it deserved a full makeover. My main objection with it is that 'oh man look at all that wasted screen space' feeling.
 
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Ericloewe

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Yes, I think some of the wasted space is currently being addressed, particularly for landscape resolutions.
 

nemisisak

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I havent used the new gui yet but I prefer function over form which I think the majority of uers will agree with.
The new gui should seek to limit the amount of clicks, especially for regularly performed tasks.
Information hovers would also be nice to help less experianced users navigate and understand what they are looking at.
Everything should be scaleable so that everything adjusts to your browser size (within reason).
Adustable reporting page e.g. I have a 10 disk pool plus my boot drive = 11. Therefore I have 55 separate graphs in my disk reporting page! While more is always better than less, maybe some sort of summary/consolidation, with the option to delve deeper if needed.
The CPU reporting page is summarised however again it would be nice to break down to a per core basis to graphicaly identify single threaded bottlenecks.
Also black, because who doesnt like black!
 

Ericloewe

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Adustable reporting page e.g. I have a 10 disk pool plus my boot drive = 11. Therefore I have 55 separate graphs in my disk reporting page! While more is always better than less, maybe some sort of summary/consolidation, with the option to delve deeper if needed.
Reporting was one of the first things to see massive changes, check it out.
 

brando56894

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I just updated to the latest nightly and it looks a lot more refined than it did a few days ago, the shark theme looks great.
 

Ericloewe

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Oh, an important note: 11.1 and the nightlies either diverged yesterday or will very soon. I'm not sure how that affects the new GUI, yet.
 

danb35

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Just installed RC1. The new UI looks quite a bit better than the old. Color themes are nice, I guess. There is lots of wasted space. One place is in the System Information widget--it looks like it's triple-spaced.
upload_2017-11-1_6-27-49.png

...and because of that, the two widgets that appear on the same row are also a lot taller than they need to be.

The reporting graphs look quite a bit more modern, and the ability to mouse over them for details at any specific time is nice. Three issues I'm seeing with them:
  • The Y-axis units aren't always indicated (sometimes they're shown in the graph title, but they aren't marked along the axis itself), and are sometimes very unclear--the CPU usage graph, for example, is labeled with values of 0-6000. A range of 0-100 would be assumed to be %; even 0-600 could be % for all six cores combined, but I have no idea what 0-6000 represents.
  • Related to the first, some of the Y-axis units appear poorly-chosen. ARC size, for example, is apparently shown in bytes--though, again, as the units aren't labeled, I can only guess at this. It's currently reading 1907600217.6, and I have no idea how that .6 of a byte would be used.
  • When you mouse over the graph, the detail is shown to far too high a precision. CPU usage, for example, is indicated to 6 significant digits, while memory is shown to 17. I'd think three significant digits, like 640 KB, should be enough for anyone.
 
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Stilez

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I'm OK with the new GUI in general, I think it deserved a full makeover. My main objection with it is that 'oh man look at all that wasted screen space' feeling.
Add me to the list of people where the wasted space is a major issue (30" 2560x1600 monitor). I like dense information (a "compact" or "very compact" format) that shows a lot on one page in a smaller font, rather than needing to endlessly drop into shell for important information or scroll/click repeatedly between multiple pages. This isn't just about minor info which *should* be ignored or in a sub-page, but basic pool/dataset info.

It's also an issue that when looking at current status of the NAS and its activity, the only information available outside CLI netstat/iostat/zfs stats is via the GUI graphs, but they are pretty large (in screen size), very limited (in what can be seen) and inflexible; you also can't see them all easily at one time as one would a dashboard. Although nicely improved, they still feel outdated and increasingly unfit for purpose in the era of FreeNAS 11 and I don't find them helpful.

In terms of concrete UI enhancements for these issues, I'd like to see these things, which would make a huge difference to usability and enjoyment. I've ranked them 0-5 to give an idea of importance+value:
  1. Layout + font options needed (5): A compact + very compact option for the styling (GUI layout), with the option of a custom font scale separately (for text readability: some people with poor vision may want compact layout but need larger than usual font). This might be a significant issue keeping people on the older UI, looking at how often it's mentioned as the only or first comment in previous replies on this thread.
  2. Table columns + selection (4): The ability to customise the displayed tables columns (and a larger range of data columns for those who want to see additional data), so people with narrow screens can choose to see fewer columns but those with larger displays are not prevented from seeing more (and can choose just those exact columns useful to them).
  3. Table layouts + shell window size remembered across usage (5): Tables should remember their number of rows + sort order + column widths, and the GUI shell should remember its last size, because it's likely the same preference will be wanted next time it's opened. (I shouldn't have to constantly click 3 or 4 times to get columns visible or a larger number of rows *every* time I navigate to the snapshots tab, or continually resize the shell window every time I need it, for example, to be able to use them efficiently!).
  4. Popup form sizes (3): Much like table layouts, for popup config forms - they should probably remember their size. Perhaps a discreet "pin" icon that means "remember this form's layout"? The main issue here is textarea fields, where I constantly want to tell the UI "give me a large textarea please, so I can see the actual text in it properly!"
  5. Text fields - put them next to prompts not below them (4): Reported previously but worth mentioning. Form text fields are currently below their prompt but other fields are to the right of the prompt. This makes them disjoint - the data field isn't as immediately linked to the prompt for the eye. On all but very small monitors, "next to" would be far better - more can be seen on a screen, they are more visually linked, and the wasted space is smaller. (Example: Network: config page). Not a huge issue but rating it as 4 because it's so visually disruptive and takes considerably more effort to follow the new UI forms visually as a result.
  6. Live + detailed tabular format reporting pages (5): A page that gives me collated useful stats updated every X seconds. The graphs are useful but there's so much more to the fine running of a NAS, and graphs aren't always the best way to see it. Also the amount of data is very limited. Think of CLI tools that update the page (iostat, netstat, zfs stats, etc) - that'll give an idea. For example, in testing I might want to see stats for data I/O per sec at a pool/dataset level not a device level, or data written+errors/collisions for each interface. Other people might want different stats. I'd like to see an AJAX powered "tabular stats" page where one can choose the entities to report on and the info to see for them, a refresh interval, and the layout can be given a name + saved for easy reuse. That would be very useful indeed. (I appreciate this is a new feature but it would be a really helpful and valuable administrator addition to enhance the new UI)
  7. Consistent use of buttons vs. menus for actions (2): For example, in 11.0-U4 the "volumes" tab uses a dropdown menu for actions but the "services" tab uses individual buttons for actions. (Individual buttons are easier and more clear to the user)
  8. Persistent menu expansion if needed (or submenus optionally shown in smaller font) (3): Right now you have to click a menu to get to any submenu. It's useful to have the option (especially with landscape displays) to have the first level of subitems permanently expanded or at least remembering their expanded/collapsed state. Right now when I go back and forth between pages I use a lot (such as "snapshots/volumes" and "services->SMB"), I have to constantly re-expand the menus I frequently use, every time.
  9. Volumes page (5): The volumes page is a real pain and a retrograde step compared to the older UI. I cannot manage my pools through it. Pools and datasets/zvols are interspersed in logical order with no visual guide when we're at a new pool, and no indication of nesting structure - just a flat list. Completely useless for management. Then, within the table, some data applies only to pools, some only to datasets/zvols (for example a pool has a health status+scrub time, a dataset has a compression/dedup status) so they don't even necessarily have the same data requirements. But there is no visual distinction made between pools and datasets/zvols, or their nesting, and important data needed(*) isn't shown or accessible (see "table columns" above). I'd like to see pools separated by a short space visually (or boxed around), nesting made clear, and a different background colour/style for pools, as a visual cue that this is a different pool we're looking at, and that the rows below are its contents.
    (*) examples of "at a glance" useful storage info for me, includes compression type/dedup enabled, last scrub time+error count, whether snapshots enabled+count, metadata/copies, saved space stats, and filesystem root ownership+perms. "Actions" on the right should include useful tasks such as view detailed ZFS history + properties for the pool/dataset/zvol, take manual snapshot, and view its live stats/reporting graphs. Right now new UI only shows 2 things - size in bytes, and "yes/no" health status. I need better info to effectively administer a pool and its datasets!
  10. Disks tab essential (5): I use this a *lot* in FreeNAS. I need a disk-based view as well as a pool-based view, because I need a view that shows what disks are in there and their models/serials/vdev groupings/status (active, spare, offline etc). As a home lab/home user, I don';t just put disks in and forget about them. I may need to repurpose disks and see how I'm using them in my NAS. So I need the GUI to let me work with the disks themselves, not just a view of the pools logically spread across them.
  11. Log viewer (3): Reported previously but worth mentioning. Some kind of basic log viewer for the system+service logs (live/static, with simple search/filter). It's a really incongruous omission to have a GUI operated NAS that, as soon as there's any issue, the user needs CLI and is required to have CLI-fu, to see what the logs say. This would be a new feature rather than new-GUI specific, but the thread invites "GUI suggestions".

Apart from the last item, these are really the main blocks to usability (for me). Apart from that it's looking pretty good, especially for a pre-alpha development version. It's come a very long way from the initial 11.0 release, kudos to all.

Hope this helps :)
 
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Chris Moore

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Yes, I think some of the wasted space is currently being addressed, particularly for landscape resolutions.
Is there a place to look at it without having to install it?
Is it working well enough to put on a production server?

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I537 using Tapatalk
 

nemisisak

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Is there a place to look at it without having to install it?
Is it working well enough to put on a production server?

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I537 using Tapatalk
Youtube videos or google images. Failing that you can install on a VM and have a much better play.
In terms of 11.1 this is RC so not quite ready for production.
 

danb35

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In terms of 11.1 this is RC so not quite ready for production.
...and I wouldn't (and haven't) put it on a production server either. But with that said, I haven't seen many complaints with 11.1-BETA, so I'd expect it's pretty safe.
 

Ericloewe

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Yeah, it's decently stable, more so than 11.0-BETA, which was reasonably unproblematic. Not for production, but it's usable.
 

danb35

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Should suggestions/concerns that don't rise to the level of actual bugs be confined to this thread, or should we file bugs about them as well?
 

Ericloewe

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Let's keep less obvious bug reports for later, after some discussion, at least for now.
 

Stilez

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Just a heads up, One of the GUI developers is going to review this thread. Keep the ideas coming!
That's very heartening. Will try!

(There is a slight risk of too many minor points and obscuring bigger ones. If everything's wanted, they could be rated as major/minor/blocking for the user posting them, which might be helpful. Otherwise, how would the devs like it done and what level of input here?)
 

Stilez

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Yes, I think some of the wasted space is currently being addressed, particularly for landscape resolutions.
Is there a place to look at it without having to install it?
Seeing this comment, I've taken and attached a screenshot from 11.0-U4 showing both UIs "Volumes" tab. I've included in the same attachment, a screenshot of your above post for comparison, to show how this forum and its fonts appear on the same browser window and to the same scale.

(It's hard to gauge the new UI element sizes from the thumbnail alone: instead open the image fully so the forum post looks true-to-life and comfortably sized, then the UI fonts and elements will appear comparably sized and as they actually render)

There is no playing with fonts or sizes, what the screenshot shows is exactly how both UIs and the forum rendered, and the comparative sizes of screen elements. It's on the same browser and session, same browser window, on a 2560x1600 30" monitor - the extra screen size manifests as extra pixels not larger scaling, so the small fonts stay small and large ones stay large. With that size screen there *should* be excess space to the edges (or else it wouldn't fit on more common monitor sizes from 1280 x 768 to 1920 x 1080 HD). You can see this to the right of the old UI screenshot. But compare the content of the two, and it's clear how poorly the space is being used in the new UI. This is what I notice when I use the two UIs side by side.:

  • Old UI shows all 3 pools and their datasets (3 x "HEALTHY") in half a screen on this monitor.
    New UI
    can barely fit 2 pools in the entire window. It needed well over twice as much screen vertically to do it - the entire of a 2560 x 1600 display.
  • Old UI makes clear the pool + dataset hierarchy.
    New UI it's impossible to distinguish the pool + dataset hierarchy visually. In fact you have to look hard to be clear visually which are pools and which aren't.
  • Old UI fits in far more useful information about the volumes in each table row, for administrating the NAS.
    New UI has just 3 pieces of very basic data on each entry - and they're in big font. In fact 2 of the columns are virtually useless because when you're reading a 10 digit number you need unit abbreviations or punctuation to do it without counting digits manually ("size = 25967993193909" is a hopeless way to display sizes). The other is just "heathy" or not.
  • Old UI fits a toolbar above the main tab content and also latest messages as a footer below.
    New UI
    doesn't do so. Yet even with that advantage of removing two panels, it's still worse off for space usage.
  • Big wasted space in the banner and between the banner and the rows.
  • Big wasted space between the rows
  • Big wasted space between columns
  • Plenty of room for useful admin info, but almost none is making use of it.
  • Noticeably much bigger fonts that, for me, just take up extra space but add nothing. (Compare the new IU font to the old UI font, which already used larger fonts than this forum). People's font size preferences vary. It's not hard to provide font size as a UI option, and that would probably be better all round. But if people are generally OK with the font sizes on this forum, then that suggests the UI fonts are too large because the new UI uses *far* larger font sizes than fonts people are known to be comfortable with.

That's basically the space issue. As sysadmins of a decent NAS, people are likely to want more info on sight (and will often prioritise "good infomation quickly to hand and visible at a glance" over many other UI features in everyday use), but this isn't giving it, yet anyway.

FreeNAS_screenshots_2.png
 
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MatthewSteinhoff

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Feb 2, 2016
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The new Reporting presentation is a giant leap backwards. Being unable to zoom out to see when the problem I'm noticing started is an obstacle to success. The inability to view historical data (days, weeks and months) hinders capacity planning, too. (The new GUI for pfSense has the same problem: the inability to see historical data.)

I'll also second pretty much everything @Stilez and others have noted above.

Cheers,
Matt
 
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