Kirix Strata Beta 5 Now Available | Data and the Web

Data and the Web

Kirix Strata Beta 5 Now Available

It's been a while since the last beta download was released, but the time has been well spent cleaning up bugs and creating some fairly time-intensive features. There are two big changes, both related to the GUI…

Kirix Strata Link Bar

All Your Links Are Belong To Us

We've been working hard on the concepts of “links” in Strata. In a normal web browser, a link is merely a pointer to a URL. In a data browser, you also want to be able to point to things like HTML tables, Oracle database tables, a CSV file on a network drive and, of course, traditional URLs. The holy grail, of course, is when you can also start “refreshing” these data links so that you always have the latest data to work with.

We don't have the refreshable links just yet, but we do have the very first incarnation of our Links/Bookmarks Toolbar. It's not perfect yet, but we'll be making it even better in the next week.

A few of the bigger known issues:

  • You cannot yet drag a link from the URL bar directly to the Link Toolbar. For now, to create a link, you need to use the “Star” icon next to the URL. However, note that you can drag items from your Project Tree into the Link Toolbar to create shortcuts to tables, queries, scripts, etc.
  • You can create a Folder on the Link Toolbar by right-clicking and selecting “New Folder.” You can then drag individual links into the Folder — but you need to drag it into the white “drop” area for this to work.
  • The right-click menus have been disabled within the folders, which means you can't delete links, move links or create subfolders.

We're glad to finally have this feature in the software. We hope that, despite the rough edges, you'll find them as useful as we do.

Virtual Mr. Potato Head

So you have this thing called a data browser that does both a lot of “data” stuff and a lot of “web” stuff. Unfortunately, when you have all this functionality that traverses these different genres, you have a lot of classic interface elements that are just askin' to be squeezed in. But, alas and alack, if you just combine everything, you end up with a large, flaming ball of complexity. A lot of very worthy interface candidates end up fighting for a limited supply of screen real estate.

But design limitations aren't necessarily a bad thing. In the end, we've tried to make some choices that provided the best bang for the buck. However, we're still tweaking things… so if you have some ideas for improvement, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Here are the main areas we changed around:

Navigation Toolbar

The top toolbar is now used primarily for navigation. Your standard browser controls are on the left, you can search with the find box on the right and you can switch your views by toggling the icon on the far right.

File/Links Toolbar Combo

The second toolbar is mainly used for links and bookmarks, as discussed above. However, we also added in the most common elements for working with files and tables, like you'd encounter in a spreadsheet. This includes the new/open/save icons along with buttons for standard data operations (sorting, create calculated fields, etc).

Status Bar

We've redesigned this to provide a bit more space so we could include easy access to the various “panels” in the software. This area makes it easy to toggle on/off the project tree, the column list, marks, etc.

We're still rounding things out a bit; here are a few of the known issues:

  • Please avoid turning toolbars on/off in the View menu or you'll get a very bad display bug which requires a bit of monkeying around to undo.
  • In the status bar, we've added a “format” panel; however, this is just a placeholder at the moment. The wiring hasn't been hooked up just yet.
  • In the status bar, the toggling doesn't always work correctly.
  • Some of the icons need to be re-worked for clarity.

So, please go ahead and download the new version and let us know what you think via our forums or feedback form. It's really, really appreciated. Thanks!

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Data and the Web is a blog by Kirix about accessing and working with data, wherever it is located. We have a particular fondness for data usability, ad hoc analysis, mashups, web APIs and, of course, playing around with our data browser.