I’ve always been tempted by icinga-web and like many of you have probably also done, I even used it… at least for a while. With each new release, my first impression of icinga-web is always, “Wow, these icinga-web developers are absolutely amazing!”. Yet for all it’s new web 2.0 goodness, I would eventually find myself inevitably returning to the Classic UI over time. First, because there was a particular view of something that I was used to or just preferred slightly more. Then eventually, click by click, I would slowly stop switching altogether and just use the Classic UI. Partly out of laziness, but mostly because moving between the two completely different visual styles always felt a bit too jarring.

When in the Classic UI, the one thing that I really missed about icinga-web and truly hankered for was the constant view of important events displayed at the top of the screen. For those not blessed with two monitors that can be dedicated to monitoring, constantly bouncing between the finer details of things such as a host’s extinfo and then back to the TAC for the broader view of what is going on can quickly make one feel like they are on one of those hamster wheels. A lot of effort for zero progress.

Perhaps what I’ve said so far feels all too familiar to you?

I thought it might, so I had a simple idea. Following in the fine tradition of the Three Virtues of a Programmer (Laziness, Impatience and Hubris) I decided that rather than my usual patches that just fix something that is already there, I was going to create something new. I was going to replace what was essentially dead space in the interface and make it a bit more useful.

At the same time, I wasn’t necessarily interested in creating a whole new look. I’m sure if I had, everyone would summarily reject it. So in a fit of insight I decided to give a nod to the great work that the icinga-web team does, while still also holding on to, however tenuously, the minimalistic feel of the Classic UI’s top.html with its tab looking graphic that has become so familiar. The result that you see today, is my conceptual blend of those two visuals.

Don’t get me wrong though, a similar feel to the look is all there is. The new tactical header was written without any reference to the code of its counterpart in the icinga-web. Perhaps that might be seen by some as some sort of oversight on my part, as I’m sure some people might expect it to work exactly the same. However, the point wasn’t to make it merely be a clone, but for it to stand on it’s own and for it to be as useful as possible in how it relates to the rest of the Classic UI.

I’m sure as we get feedback, there will be some modification and some fixes as well. Hey, I’m only human and the new tac header in its current form is just one person’s (my own) vision of how things can be. I can already think of a couple of things that I think might work even better.

However, this is where you come in. No, not that guy behind you, I mean YOU!

Not that long ago I was just a regular Icinga user with the occasional submission of a few patches here and there. Now I’ve made what I hope is a lasting mark that many people find very useful. The key point I want to make though, is that just like all of the things that get developed, it started out as a simple idea.

So if you have an idea, or any feedback really, let the Icinga Team know. Even if you can’t offer to code it yourself, that doesn’t make your ideas any less valuable and even something that you think is just a small idea can make a fairly decent impact to the benefit of everyone. Just log onto your new Icinga 1.4 installation and look at the top of your screen if you want to see the truth of that for yourself.

Happy monitoring!

Matthew Brooks