OWB10g Paris : UI Improvements

Of course software vendor product teams products shots always show their UI configured in the most efficient way possible leading you to below that the development tool their pitching will be the greatest thing for your efficiency since Venti quadruple non-fat lattes. Many times, the actual product usually falls short and requires a significant curve to “grock” how the product designers thought that YOU would be going about your job. The OWB product team has experience with doing a significant rewrite of their GUI (9.0.3 to 9.2 was significantly different). If those OWB verterans thought that was significant, prepare to be shocked.

The OWB10gR2 GUI will delight those that have not used OWB before as it has embraced some UI paradigms of other IDEs. Those familiar with JDeveloper, JBuilder, NetBeans, etc. will have a much easier time learning OWB. The OWB product team has accomplished this by making two significant UI changes:

  • Smaller Fonts are pervasive through the product. : I dread having to return the OWB 10gR1 with it’s monstrous fonts that make displaying even the most simple of mappings difficult. This smaller fonts on dialogs, wizards, editors, and navigation are a great enhancement to the product. In the short list of features I would have submitted for the 10gR2 version of the product this would not have been on it. I am very thankful that I was not the one composing the shortlist; the smaller fonts make the entire product much more usable on the whole.
  • Dockable Panels throughout : The editors and OWB navigator have created a much improved display to support the real work that occurs in OWB. They have created a set of screens that allow the focus to be on the primary work at hand (process flow, mapping, table definition, etc) but allow for the peripheral, oft utilized parts of the definition available in a fast refreshing set of panels surrounding the main event. One panel display the properties for the objects highlighted thus eliminating MANY MANY redudant clicks and scrolls, and highlights, and drills to the attribute. Another panel displays a palette of objects that can be added to the process or mapping. The panels are dockable (make them float), and collapsable (running out of space quickly expand and collapse them).

While most of the benefit of their UI efforts are captured in the two major changes there are other beneficial UI changes. Overall the OWB feels like it is quicker, and more attuned to the work at hand. Birds Eye Views of your edited object, automatic layout buttons all add a certain refinement and really lead me to believe that OWB is really maturing into a robust comprehensive product. Of course, it must be for us BI consultants, ETL developers, architects, DBAs to spend entire days with our noses plugged to the screen.

This blog is part of the OWB Paris Early Review series which reviews and comments on several new Paris features.