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Workflow visibility improvements in the pipeline

Posted by: Chris Rucinski

January 12, 2018

With the next release of Workspace along the way, the team would like to share some of the exciting improvements that we’re working on for the Workspace editor. As workflows get larger and more complicated, labels within the workflows can become difficult to read and connection lines hard to follow. We’ve made a few adjustments to the canvas behaviour to make workflows clearer to read and easier to work with.

Goodbye master ports, hello pin buttons

One area where new users have difficulty is when they’re viewing input and output ports. In Workspace 4.0, this is a three step process:

  1. Hovering over the operation to display the master ports
  2. Hovering over a master port button to display a port rack
  3. Ports are now accessible

We’re removing master ports entirely to simplify the process down to two steps. When the mouse cursor hovers over an operation, both input and output port racks will be shown immediately. To keep port racks open for a longer duration, we’ve added pin buttons that are located above port racks that become coloured when toggled to on.

Workspace 4.0 Workspace 5.0

You may have also noticed new round button with a gear icon on the edge of the operation where the master ports were located. These are operation indicators to easily identify operations that have additional properties such as configurable script operations or polymorphic operations. These indicators also act as shortcut buttons which can be clicked on to bring up the appropriate dialog window.

Port labels have learned to flip

Workflows are commonly laid out in a consistent left to right flow as suggested by the graphical arrow boxes. Unfortunately, unless operations are spread very far apart, the port rack labels usually overlap with one another making them difficult to read. A really neat feature that we’ve added is that Workspace will be able to preempt these situations and flip port labels to the opposite side of the orange port graphic to avoid labels from overlapping entirely. With the port labels out of the way, it is much easier to trace connections. This new feature can be a bit jarring at first, but we’re hoping that the benefits to readability will be worth adjusting to.

Workspace 4.0 Workspace 5.0

The port labels can also flip when forming connections!

Workspace 4.0 Workspace 5.0

Racks can be held open by connections

Another neat feature that we’ve added is a the ability to hold port racks open by hovering the mouse cursor over a connection line. This is especially useful when operations are aligned vertically causing the ports to overlap with one another such as operation a and b as shown in the animation below. By hovering over a connection, it is possible to have an unobscured view of the source and destination port racks.

Workspace 4.0 Workspace 5.0

Tidier workflows

Another small improvement to reduce occurrences of overlapping labels is that Workspace will instantly hide all unpinned racks when the mouse cursor move to another operation.

Workspace 4.0 Workspace 5.0

We hope you’re as excited by these improvements as we are! We understand that making user interface changes in software can at times be difficult to adjust to. Our aim is to avoid making drastic changes so that our users don’t have to relearn actions that are already known. It’s a tricky balancing act and we would be really glad to hear from you if you have any feedback.