|UI, RapidMiner||18 Sep 2009|
|Approaching Vega (Episode V: Making cool things from place holders) by Simon Fischer||Comment (0)|
RapidMiner 5 comes with a docking framework that allows you to select and move around user interface components in order to design the interface according to your needs. Earlier versions of RapidMiner used to present process results in multiple tabs, simply displaying empty space when no results were generated yet. Since every result tab is a freely movable UI component in RM 5, there is no component which would fill up the free space when no result tabs are present - the UI would simply collapse and neighbouring components would take over the free space. This would clearly be ugly, so we started by adding an empty component serving as a place holder reserving space where new results would be added.
It quickly became clear that having the largest part of the result perspective filled with empty space is not particularly less ugly, so we decided to fill it up with something useful. What would be more obvious than to give a new home to the result history? What do you mean, you don't know the result history? Everyone should know the result history. Well. Admittedly, the old result history did not make it into the top ten of RapidMiner's usability charts, but it has always been a nice feature that noone used.
For RM 5, we designed a completly new result history which looks like this:
As you see, the result history presents an entry for each process execution and lists all results, each presented as a thumbnail or textual represenation. Thus, you can go back in time, look at the results produced by earlier versions of your process, possibly re-open them, compare performances, and restore the particular process version if you find it performing better. Having this history readily available, provides terrific assistance for rapid process design.
This way, what was originally intended to be a place holder became one of my favourite RM 5 features.