At Librato, we rely heavily on our own product in day to day engineering activities. It’s fair to say that even if we’re not our own biggest customer, we’re certainly our own harshest critic. That’s why today, we’re thrilled to share with you something we’ve been working on for some time now, a complete UI-replacement to our venerable time-series analysis platform.
It’s tempting in announcements like these to describe the things we build in terms of the features they provide. But Spaces really is so much more than an assortment of highly-requested features; it’s the manifestation of years of experience working with and thinking about metrics and time-series data. We put a monumental amount of thought and effort into the design of Spaces and we couldn’t be more excited to show it to you today.
We didn’t just want to build something great; we wanted to use something great. And the result, we think, is the first step towards the finest interface in the world today for analyzing and displaying time-series data. Lets take a look at Spaces from the top down.
Say Hello to Spaces
Spaces was designed to easily create and display elegant arrangements of related data. Because Spaces has us thinking about metrics differently, you’ll notice that many of the primitives are named differently. Dashboards are now encompassed by spaces, or, if you prefer, workspaces, and instruments have become charts. Spaces is grid-based and uses a light theme by default (don't panic: a dark theme will also be available soon). You can place and resize individual charts by dragging them around and adjusting their resize-corners. If you resize the browser window, your charts will resize themselves to preserve their relative sizes and locations.
This grid-aligned arrangement of charts is your primary interface in Spaces. Spaces are designed to make it easy to enlarge important or intricate metrics like service latency, while scaling down metrics with a static or linear tendency like disk utilization.
Less Digging; More...Data-ing
In Spaces we’ve made building and editing charts faster - much faster. Without leaving the space, you can easily create and modify charts inline. This includes manipulating metrics, events, annotations, chart axis labels, titles, and more.
If you select Edit Chart from a chart menu, or add a new chart to your space by clicking the plus symbol in the upper right-hand corner, we'll slide-up the chart editor, which automatically shares the current space's time-window and dynamic-source settings. You can dismiss the chart editor by clicking the up-arrow in the upper left. In Spaces, you're never more than a click away from your currently selected space.
Effortless Chart Crafting
We think you'll agree the new chart-editor is a joy to work with. Quickly filter your available metrics by entering a few keywords, and then either check them to add them to the chart, or click the orange composite button to embed them in a composite metric definition.
Once you've added some metrics to the chart, you can quickly select all of them, and use the header buttons to set attributes like the source and display summarization functions for all of them at the same time. The new attributes menu -- accessed via the menu icon to the right of each metric -- allows you to set per-metric attributes like custom colors, and unit labels. In the new chart-editor, metrics practically fall into charts.
Let’s Talk Y-Axis
Context changes everything, and in the world of time-series data, the Y-axis is the embodiment of context. We thought a lot about how we wanted the Y-axis to behave in Spaces, and we're pretty happy with the result. In Spaces, you can add a Y-axis label from the workspace chart-attributes menu, or from within the chart editor.
By default, every metric you add to a chart will share the Y-axis, but it's easy to give any individual metric its own Y-axis by checking show on separate axis in the metric's attributes. Any metrics with a Y-axis label in common will share the same Y-axis.
Speaking of Context...
Mousing-over any chart in the workspace will bring up a tooltip legend and a cursor-tracking line on the chart. The line will be mirrored in every chart on the workspace so you can easily correlate data across charts, regardless of relative differences in chart size.
The tooltip legend has been dramatically improved to transparently provide rich context no matter how many hundreds of sources the chart might depict. You can sort the legend by the highest or lowest valued source, or alphabetically by source name in ascending or descending order. Clicking the magnifying glass in the legend even allows you to filter sources by name.
Organizing metric data is critically important but rarely easy, which is why we're making it easy to reuse as much of your current configuration as possible in Spaces. This includes providing you the ability to import your existing Metrics dashboards into spaces by selecting import legacy dashboard from the Librato menu in the top left.
You can favorite both your often-used workspaces, as well as the dynamic sources you find especially useful by clicking the star icon that appears next to these elements in the UI. We've also recently announced improvements to Composite Metrics, which allow them to be saved, packaged, reused and alerted upon.
Just the Beginning
Spaces is the future of our platform, but this is just the beginning of the transition. Right now, a few features that currently exist in our production Metrics platform (like the dark-theme) are yet to be implemented in Spaces.
Others are partially implemented (you can use persistent composites in Spaces but not create them), or aren’t working quite as well as we’d like (we’re still tuning performance for spaces with really large numbers of charts). We've made Spaces available to our existing customers, in parallel with our current Metrics UI, so you have ample time to get to love Spaces and give us feedback on what you think can be improved.
More Visualization Types to Come
Spaces was designed to provide multiple types of visualizations. Already available are improved versions of the line and stacked graphs you are used to, with “Big Number” displays, bullet charts, and more coming soon.
Come Give Spaces a Try
If Spaces was nothing more than the mere collection of features we’ve outlined above, it would already be the most powerful metrics analysis system available today, but the only way to fully grasp the scope and breadth of Spaces is to use it for yourself. Throughout the interface, you’ll notice the countless details we could never fully cover in an announcement (the technical minutiae like how we colorize multiple streams from the same source on the same chart, or that you can now seek forward and back in time without resorting to the use of custom time windows) that truly make Spaces the tool we want to use for ourselves.
We’re extremely excited to begin the transition to Spaces. To get started just click the new Spaces button we’ve added to your top-level nav. Keep in mind that Spaces is still a beta interface that we’ll be continually improving based on your feedback. It’s a bit early to rely on Spaces for your critical production use, but we’d love for you to jump in, import some of your Metrics dashboards and let us know what you think.
If you haven't tried Librato yet, sign up for your free account now to see our beta UI in action.