With Checkmk 2.0 we will be introducing a new user experience. The innovation release 2.0i1, which is available as of today, already has aspects of this to gather early feedback.
Many things have changed, so we wanted to share some insights into the new user experience.
Next week, we will add a link here to a survey on the new user interface. Thus, please come back - we really want your feedback here, so that we can make Checkmk 2.0 a success.
Our UI has grown rather complex over the years. We have thus fundamentally redesigned the navigation to make it easier and faster for normal users to learn Checkmk. At the same time, we do not want to make life more difficult for experienced users but rather help them navigate through Checkmk even more efficiently. Nevertheless, every fundamental usability change will require some ‘getting used to’ from existing users.
The new navigation includes a number of elements that are outlined below.
The Navigation Bar (Navbar) and the Sidebar
Checkmk has for many years relied on a vertical navigation offered by the Sidebar . This provided powerful customization options and so called Snapins for specific use cases but had the disadvantage that it required quite frequent scrolling. In the new design we have split this concept into two different elements:
- The Navbar: a thin vertical column on the left will be the primary means to navigate through Checkmk and its different views
- The Sidebar: the place where you can constantly display key operations data - such as currently displayed in the tactical overview - that you want to see most of the time and not only when you are on a dashboard . The initial default place for the sidebar is on the right side.
The current Sidebar , however, still contains navigation elements, that will not yet have a replacement in the Navbar in Checkmk 2.0, such as Bookmarks , Tree of Folders etc. In addition, experienced users might need some time to get accustomed to the new UI. As such, the Sidebar will remain fully functional with all Snapins in Version 2.0 and you also have the option to place the Sidebar directly next to the Navbar , i.e. on the left side, should you so desire. At the bottom of the Navbar is a Sidebar icon with which you can switch the Sidebar on or off.
Clustering the navigation on the Navbar in three main Elements
We have split the Navbar navigation in three elements to strike a good balance between the size of the menus that each of the elements will open and the need for existing users to easily find the entries they are looking for.
In addition, we have changed some names to move away from very Checkmk-specific terminology to names that are more intuitive. The three Navbar elements are as follows:
- Set-up: The former WATO module, including the same functionality as before
- Monitor: The former Views module
- Customize: A new module containing elements that one could find in Views -> Edit
Split-up of “Rules”, new Search functionality
A powerful concept of Checkmk is the concept of rules. But again, many were sorted in a rather Checkmk-specific manner. As such, one would, for example, need to understand how a certain system was monitored (e.g. via a special agent) to understand where to find a rule. More experienced users typically do not navigate to the rules directly but use the Search function for the rules.
One of the most prominent changes we have made in the new UI is to arrange the rules into more intuitive categories for new users and to move these categories upwards by a level in the menu structure. Thus in the Set-up menu (former WATO ) you will now see many more entries, that shall guide a new users faster to the rule he or she is looking for.
This will certainly take some time getting used to for existing users. However, to make it even better and not worse for existing users, we have included a new Search function for the entire Set-up (formerly WATO ) module. This now comprises of search functions that were previously distributed in different places (e.g. rule search, global settings search, host search). In addition, it will be further expanded to include further elements in the Set-up menu.
Similarly the Monitor menu also contains a search functionality. This is identical to the former Quick Search (and will be expanded till the final release of Checkmk 2.0 to also search for Labels ).
Show more and Show less
Checkmk has a lot of functionality that many power users require on a daily basis. However, more casual users do not need many of these functionalities and showing them all makes the learning curve and navigation more complex for these users. As such, each menu now has a show more and show less button in the top right corner. Based on the experience of our consultants, we have predefined what we consider to be in the one or the other category. That definition can be fine-tuned in the coming weeks with your feedback (see UX survey on top)
Icons per topic vs. Icons per Entry in the mega-menus
The three mega-menus of the Navbar still contain many options to select from. In our prior user surveys, e.g. at the last conference, users were split as to whether they would prefer a rather clean mega-menu with icons only for the major topics or whether they would prefer a potentially more memorable mega-menu where each entry contains an icon, that over time can be identified quicker by the eye due to color and form.
As such, we have opted to offer both choices to users. The topics can be configured with an icon and desired sorting to enable users to customize the menus.
Dark Theme and Light Theme
As before, Checkmk comes with a Dark Theme and a Light Theme. The former Classic Theme will no longer be offered as part of Checkmk 2.0. As such, we will listen even more carefully regarding any concerns users might have in fine-tuning these themes for the final 2.0 release. Both themes are not fully styled yet, and as you will see, the Light Theme still has a number of places with styling errors. Nevertheless we wanted to get the concept and coloring out early to get your feedback.
The User menu is where to make UI changes
The Navbar contains a further menu entry called User , which has options relevant for configuring the UI.
- Quick toggles: Change from the Dark Theme to the Light Theme with a single click. Similarly, switch the Sidebar from left to right and vice versa with a single click.
Edit profile: Here is where you can set the other aforementioned UI settings, that is
i) decide the show less/show more default or whether to enforce show more everywhere (e.g. for power users),
ii) decide, if the mega-menu entries shall have icons per topic or per individual entry. This menu will be further simplified towards the 2.0
To improve the navigation, we have also introduced bread crumbs, to help users understand in which parts of the navigation they currently are.
Further planned changes
There are elements of the new UX, that have not yet made it into the Innovation Release but will be introduced with the Beta Phase. These include improved Dashboarding and select features for very large installations.
How to give feedback?
Please send general feedback, feedback on the new UX, and bug reports to this dedicated mail address: feedback-2.0 at checkmk.com
All mails to this address will be used to improve the 2.0 and are completely free of charge.
Furthermore, please fill in the UX survey, which we will later link in here.
And last, but not least, also use the feedback category in this forum with the tag user-interface . Our community manager Faye will monitor the posts and collect your feedback and direct our devs for clarifications and discussions to the respective posts.
How to try it
The innovation releases are only build for the Checkmk Enterprise Editions. There will be also a build for the Checkmk Enterprise Free Edition available shortly, which you can also use to try it out. Go to checkmk.com/download to get it.
On Wednesday 11 November, 6pm (CET), there will be a community call, where Mathias Kettner will share some words about the new UX and we will be answering questions. More information here.