19 May 2020
The topology view is part of Red Hat OpenShift’s developer perspective, which takes a unique approach to providing an application-centric visual representation of projects. This could potentially help reduce stress for developers and provide them with a more insightful perspective to innovate. Here’s how we’ve approached improving the developer perspective as a user experience. This feature was chosen as a runner up for the Core77 awards(2020) in the interaction design category, and also won the community choice award.
Before diving deeper into the solution that the topology view brings to the table, let’s get better acquainted with the problem first.
As a common practice, developers could only look at all the components of their application together as a flat list. This wasn’t ideal for visual hierarchy, especially because a list flattens a significant factor of the components in the overall application structure.
Fragmented probing is the only practical way to understand the relationship between the two components. And due to the broken nature of the probe, the bigger picture is often thrown to the wind. This workflow further inflates the complexity of the already strenuous job of a developer.
With the topology view, developers have a more holistic view of their overall application structure. The goal here is to help boost efficiency by condensing complex task flows into simple visual interactions.
OpenShift’s alignment with the open source community and our customers’ willingness to participate in feedback conversations has allowed our team to engage with many developers over the years and gather insights into the developer mindset. The design team for the OpenShift developer perspective took what we believed are the most relevant insights and used them as a baseline for creating the interactions found today in the topology view. The three most important of those are:
Not being able to see immediate feedback for their actions has been an everyday struggle for developers on various platforms. This brings in an extra delay in their process as they have to take additional steps to validate their syntax before moving on to the next step. The topology view solves this problem with the following design approaches:
With every push to the production branch begins the anxiety of breaking the code. To ease developers of this worry, the operations must be made fail-soft — like Lego blocks, rather than failing with an error message, every interaction attempts to do something sensible even when presented with out-of-range inputs.
While writing the code for an application, a developer has to deal with manifestations of various kinds of information and data in the command-line interface.
The visual fatigue caused by the monotony of characters in code can very easily result in oversights that might be difficult to reverse later. Studies show that humans are much more responsive to visuals rather than abstract data. Translating the crucial data into perceivable and actionable visuals can save time for the developers. This allows them to identify the area that requires immediate interventions and take the appropriate actions with ease.
The topology view of the OpenShift developer perspective is a redefined approach to application development that demonstrates many possibilities of what the future could be like. It is a great example of how a thoughtful design approach, assisted by the combined power of containers, microservices, API-driven integration, and DevOps automation, is helping developers achieve more and with less time and stress.
By using context-based visualizations to assist the developer, the topology view interface frees up their time to focus on other tasks. This could very well be an onset of a more productive and innovative era in application development for cloud-native, microservice deployments. Besides making it easier for the developers, this simplification of tasks, and automation of the infrastructure managing and monitoring front, should also reflect positively on the developer experience, security, stability, and business value side.
Learn more about application development with OpenShift. To provide feedback, join our OpenShift Developer Experience Google Group to participate in discussions or attend our Office Hours Feedback session. Or, drop us an email with your comments about the OpenShift Console user experience.