February 13, 2017
- Column Visibility design documentation added to the Table View pattern
January 21, 2017
Design and documentation posted for:
Design and documentation posted for:
In the PatternFly Roadmap we outlined our future plans for PatternFly and laid out the goals for the PatternFly 4 release:
Today, we are excited to announce our first PatternFly 4 alpha release, PatternFly 4.0.0-alpha.2 (we had to skip 4.0.0-alpha.1 due to some known issues). This blog provides some highlights of the release, please check the release notes for PatternFly and Angular-PatternFly for further details.
The primary driver for the PatternFly 4 release is to enable Angular 2 development through the re-factor of our Angular 1.x directives into Angular 1.5+ components. These components can be used in a “downgraded” Angular 2 application. All directives have been converted to components, except the pfRemainingCharsCount, pfFocused, pfValidation, and pfFixedAccordion directives. We have provided a Angular 2 quickstart that can be used as a starting point for your own PatternFly Angular 2 applications.
With PatternFly 4, we’ve refactored our Angular modules to enable development of Angular-PatternFly applications without bringing in the jQuery dependency. To take advantage of this, include the patternfly-settings.js file from the PatternFly dependency, rather than patternfly.js. More details can be found in the associated Github Pull Request.
New common component work has landed in PatternFly 4 with the introduction of the Angular-PatternFly Table View component. The table view component leverages the angular-datables port of the datatables.net library we are using in PatternFly 4. It brings the highly requested table view pattern implementation to Angular. Check out the Angular-PatternFly docs for more details on using the table view in your Angular applications.
We’ve refactored the monolithic patternfly.js file into a number of separate source files with this PatternFly 4 release. The goal was to better enable developers to locate functionality and contribute to PatternFly. The individual files are still packaged into a single file at build time, mimicking the PatternFly 3 distribution, as such there is no migration step required in this regard for your applications.
The migration steps associated with the above changes are being tracked in PatternFly migration guide and Angular-PatternFly migration guide wiki pages. These migration guides are works in progress, please suggest any additions as you migrate your own applications.
We will follow up with additional PatternFly 4 alpha releases as we solidify our API and component changes. Once we are API stable and feature complete we will have a Beta release, followed by a final 4.0.0 release. We will continue with PatternFly 3 releases until PatternFly 4.0.0 is ready. After the 4.0.0 release, we do not plan to have anymore PatternFly 3 releases.
PatternFly 5 development has continued concurrent to the Patternfly 4 effort. We are planning a 5.0.0-alpha.1 release in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for blogs and announcements detailing what we’ve been up to with PatternFly 5.
The Column Visibility control enables users to define what columns are visible within a table. Column visibility helps users consume data by allowing the user to hide any data that doesn’t assist the user in completing his task. The control is represented as an icon button, that when clicked, displays a dropdown menu with multi-selection enabled where the user can select which columns are visible.
There are currently two variations of the table design:
The goal of this design is to define a position in the toolbar for the Column Visibility icon, so that the positioning is logical within the toolbar and consistent between the two table variations.
The Column Visibility component consists of the following elements:
When the user clicks the icon button, then the dropdown menu with multi-selection displays. The multi-selection is implemented as a list of checkboxes with column names for labels. The columns are listed in the same order that they appear in the table.
Within the toolbar of variation 1, the first two groups of controls affect content display—filters affect what contents display, and sort affects how the contents are listed. Controlling what columns display is closely related to controlling how contents are sorted in that they both affect how contents are presented and organized. Therefore, the Sort and Column Visibility controls are included in the same toolbar group.
When Sort and Column Visibility are displayed in the toolbar, the Column Visibility selection does not affect the options that are available in the Sort Selector. This allows the user to sort by a column that is not visible in the table.
In variation 2, where sort is controlled by clicking the column headers, the icon for controlling what columns display still displays in the same relative position in the toolbar. Except in this example, the icon is the only element it the toolbar group.
For variation 1 of the table design, the user might also have the option to toggle how the data is presented, whether as a table, list or card view. Given that the column visibility icon is available for the table view, when the user switches to another view (list or card), then the column visibility icon will no longer display in the toolbar. The goal in removing the icon, as opposed to disabling it, is to avoid unnecessary clutter within the toolbar by not including anything that isn’t actionable.
Toolbar for table view
Toolbar for card view
The UXD team has been hard at work churning out PatternFly releases at a regular cadence, steadily increasing the number of design patterns and design pattern implementations. In recent releases we introduced a number of changes aimed at simplifying the consumption and contribution processes for both designers and developers.
There are a number of ways we want to improve and scale out PatternFly that can’t be addressed without introducing breaking changes to the project. As such, we’ve had a series of planning meetings to address those concerns and build out a roadmap for our community to plan around and coordinate their efforts.
The PatternFly roadmap consists of two major releases over the course of the next year. In PatternFly 4, the first of these major releases, we will provide an immediate solution for developers looking to take advantage of PatternFly in their Angular 2 applications. PatternFly 5 will follow with a more complete strategy for scaling out PatternFly by taking a modular approach in both our pattern designs and implementations.
The goals for PatternFly 4 are primarily focused on modernizing the Angular-PatternFly project, and consist of:
Angular-PatternFly 4 will consist of a refactor of all our Angular directives as Angular 1.5 components. This is a comparatively simple re-factor and enables Angular 2 applications to consume our existing pattern implementations. Look for additional blog posts detailing how to build such Angular 2 applications as we roll out our initial Angular 1.5 components. This migration has the follow-on effect that all downstream applications will have to upgrade to Angular 1.5 to stay current with PatternFly releases.
In addition to this directive -> component refactor, we will introduce a number of dependency upgrades into Angular-PatternFly with this major release. Most notably we will update our ui-bootstrap dependency to the latest release, an update a number of developers have been asking for.
The Angular-PatternFly jQuery dependency will be made optional in this 4.0 release. Several of our pattern implementations will continue to be built around jQuery, but if an application doesn’t use those patterns, then the jQuery dependency will not be required.
It should be noted that these updates will result in some directive API changes, implying minor code changes in downstream applications. It is for this reason that we are incrementing the major version to 4 with this release.
The changes to our PatternFly “core” repository are less significant in the 4.0 release. They primarily involve breaking apart the “core” repo into one for CSS and one for the jQuery pattern implementations. Re-structuring the repositories in this manner puts the jQuery pattern implementations on an even level with the Angular-PatternFly implementations.
PatternFly consists of:
We will have an initial alpha release of the PatternFly and Angular-PatternFly projects in January. This first alpha is expected to be sufficiently complete to try it out in downstream applications. We will stabilize our APIs and implementations with follow-on alpha and beta releases, aiming to get to a final release a timely manner.
The scope of PatternFly 5 is much larger than the scope of PatternFly 4. With PatternFly 5, we are working to scale PatternFly in a number of areas:
The roadmap below covers how we’ve solved these challenges and are pushing PatternFly forward to power great user experiences through open source design.
We are using the atomic design system by Brad Frost to implement our modular design system for PatternFly 5. Implementing our CSS in such a modular fashion involves a full rewrite, which provides a good opportunity to adopt Bootstrap 4. We’ve also developed a set of CSS guidelines based on BEM to ensure we develop performant and maintainable CSS.
The PatternFly 4 work to move to Angular 1.5 components offers a useful stop gap, enabling Angular 2 development, but does not offer a suitable long term strategy. Nor does it address the requests to support React and other web UI frameworks. To understand what it means for PatternFly to support a web framework, let’s review our current deliverables.
PatternFly 3 and 4 deliverables consist of:
The behaviors associated with patterns are implemented as both jQuery plugins as well as Angular 1 directives/components. We could support Angular 2 and React by developing both Angular 2 components and React components, effectively doubling the number of behavior implementations we develop and support for each pattern. However, this is an approach that does not scale.
Instead, we are looking to web components as the solution to scale out our PatternFly framework support. We are focusing on the Custom Element specification in particular, and the corresponding polyfill. We will consider incorporating the remaining web component specifications into our solution in the future, after they have had a chance to mature.
Browser support for custom elements (when incorporating the polyfill), provide support for relatively current browser releases, and provides support for IE as far back as IE 10. This is acceptable for new applications, and applications that adopt modern browser support statements. We recognize that there are applications in production that will have an ongoing requirement to support older browsers for some time. We are recommending applications with such requirements stay on PatternFly 4, and wait to move to PatternFly 5 until their browser requirements are aligned with what is supported by PatternFly 5.
Support for internationalization and accessibility are increasingly requested features for PatternFly. However, retro-fitting those concerns into our existing framework has proven to be a difficult task. As such, we are baking solutions for these concerns into our web component development process to ensure the problem is solved from the get-go in PatternFly 5.
As recommended by the guidelines of the Atomic design system, we are employing a decision tree to formalize the criteria that prospective patterns will be evaluated against before including them in PatternFly. A draft of our decision tree is included below. Refer to Andres Galante’s blog post for more details of how we plan to apply the decision tree.
While PatternFly is built around Bootstrap, and Bootstrap is responsive, not all of our patterns are themselves responsive. With PatternFly 5 we will revisit mobile-relevant patterns and make sure they are indeed responsive and progressively enhanced, both in their design and implementation.
Additional style changes involve a move to the Overpass font, designing a new Typography system, and increasing the base type sizing. Read more about this in Kyle Baker’s blog post: Choosing the Best Font for Application Design.
Additionally we’ve had to revise the spacing of the entire library to accommodate the new modular design system and update the documentation and artifacts to reflect these new styling changes.
Work has already begun on PatternFly 5. The CSS rewrite is being done in a patternlab instance, check it out at http://www.PatternFly.org/patternfly-atomic/. Get involved with the CSS rewrite in the #css-army channel of the PatternFly slack.
Similarly, work has begun on the webcomponent effort, finalizing the details of our web component prototype. Check it out on github https://github.com/patternfly-webcomponents and get involved via the #webcomponents channel in our PatternFly slack.
Look for an initial alpha release with our PatternFly-core CSS (including our new style updates) and a few initial web components in the coming months.
While developing PatternFly 4 we will continue to do maintenance releases of PatternFly 3, and will continue with PatternFly 3 maintenance releases until the bulk of our community has had a chance to migrate to PatternFly 4. The migration of applications to PatternFly 4 is expected to be fairly straightforward.
Development of PatternFly 5 will take some time, with a potential delivery in late 2017/early 2018. During the development of PatternFly 5, we will continue to introduce support for new patterns and components in PatternFly 4. Once PatternFly 5 is released, we will continue to develop new patterns concurrently in both PatternFly 4 and PatternFly 5 until the web-component browser support story of our our downstream products allows us to consolidate our efforts on a single approach.
There are many opportunities to contribute to PatternFly as we push forward on this roadmap. Whether you’re a designer, or a developer, or even a writer, we encourage you to reach out to us and get involved in bringing this open source community project and help make it the project you need it to be!
The PatternFly team is working to define recommendations for the placement and functionality of syntax hints as they are used in forms.
This user story includes discovery and exploration around recommendations for globally universal field inputs; such as character counts, types of characters allowed, urls, and email addresses, just to name a few. The team will also define guidelines on syntax hints usage: When are they needed? In what scenarios would they distract a user from completing their task?
What is out of scope?
We’ve seen a lot of interesting questions come up on the PatternFly email list around syntax hints. This is a complex topic with lots of variables and we will address some of these issues in a later user story, for example:
While we won’t address every issue related to syntax hints, the solution in this user story should consider other design patterns for forms already in use, such as Errors and Validation, Field Level Help, and Form Field Layouts.
During our discussions and research, we found a few design solutions to consider:
Since we are in the early phase of exploring this topic, we’d love to hear your input. Do you have a preference for one of the three options above? What scenarios do you think we should use syntax hints?
Think about a design system as a tamagotchi. To keep it alive once your turn it on, you need to take care of it: keep it clean, feed it and make it sleep, almost like a living creature.
That’s why supporting and maintaining a design system can be more challenging than initially creating it. A smart strategy, really good rules and a lot of love and patience is the only way to guarantee long-term success.
“A critical part of design system maintenance is ensuring that UI patterns stay up to date, embrace evolving design and development best practices, and continue to address the real needs of the organization.” – Brad Frost
To govern the Vanilla Design System, the Canonical web team developed a fascinating decision tree and PatternFly took a similar approach.
The goal for PatternFly is to deliver a set of common and modular UI components. The goal of the PatternFly decision tree is to identify common components and that we have all the parts to build them.
To define what makes a component common, we chose to follow a simple general rule: if two or more projects using PatternFly are asking for the same component, then it’s considered common.
To determine whether or not a component is modular requires deconstructing the component into smaller blocks to understand the underlying structure of that component. That way we can ensure we are building reusable parts instead of reinventing the wheel every time we introduce a new pattern.
The three outcomes are for a pattern to be modified, added, or removed from the design system.
This process doesn’t only apply to new patterns. We are running our existing components through the decision tree.
“A design system needs ongoing maintenance, support, and tender loving care for it to truly thrive.” – Brad Frost
We will have be having regular assessments to make sure components stand the test of time and modify or remove them as needed.
Just like PatternFly, the decision tree is not set in stone. Both are living resources that will evolve as we care for them and give them love.
As you may have noticed, there is a new repository on the Patternfly Github page called patternfly-design.
The purpose of the repo is to house the designs and documentation for Patternfly and to be the center of design contributions going forward. Patternfly-design will address a number of issues with the old design contribution model and open up several possibilities for the future of design with Patternfly.
Previously, our design contributions were created and stored on Google Drive, which worked well for writing and adding graphics, but had several limitations. Google Drive’s default document sharing settings made viewing and collaboration difficult and reduced discovery of new content. Additionally, a fluid folder structure meant that new documents could be easily misplaced.
The new system of storing files on Github means that all Patternfly design documents are publicly viewable by contributors. Anyone can view, suggest edits to, and comment on designs without needing to be given file permissions. Comments and updates are tracked and available as well as past versions of designs, so it will now be possible to look back through the history of a design and view the changes it has undergone as well as the discussions surrounding those changes. New design documentation written in markdown will enable us to streamline the process of updating patternfly.org because we can now automatically generate web pages whenever a pattern is added or changed without the need for manual entry. Finally, the new system encourages contributors to make use of the powerful version control features provided by Git.
There are numerous reasons to use git with design work. First of all, your work is backed up so you never have to worry about spending hours re-creating a file that got corrupted, deleted, or otherwise lost. Second, older versions of files are easily retrievable just in case you decide that you really preferred the work you had yesterday and have long since overwritten. Lastly, the ability to create multiple branches of your projects removes the need for folders full of files with names like “Design v4 copy copy.psd”.
Because of all the benefits that Git brings, “Git for designers” guides are in no short supply on the internet now, and many of them do a good job of explaining the fundamental concepts behind version control systems. The guides tend not to prescribe workflow conventions, however, because every project using Git is organized in a different way and has different needs. In order to remove this final layer of haziness, we have put together some guides that outline the recommended patternfly-design workflows and repository conventions in a visual way that aligns well both with the way that many designers conceptualize things and with the highly structural nature of Git.
In addition to the graphical guides, the patternfly-design wiki contains a series of walkthroughs that provide step-by-step instructions for setting up your work environment, making a contribution, and working with multiple branches.
Hopefully all you Patternfliers will find these resources to be helpful and enlightening as we transition into this powerful new contribution process. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments, and your designs in the patternfly-design repo!
Typography in Application Design
Great application design relies on very limited use of graphical elements, the designer relies primarily on type to display data and establish the information hierarchy. PatternFly was designed to present clear, unobstructed content is critical to enable users to complete their tasks. Choosing the correct typeface and defining the right styles is not only important for users doing their job but it also is the primary element for setting the tone of the application.
Switching to Overpass
The current PatternFly typographical system is set on Open Sans, which was in the PatternFly beginnings an open project well maintained by Google. Google has since moved on and so have we. We chose to switch to Overpass because is important that we utilize the resources which have developed through open source methodologies. Red Hat has developed ‘Overpass’ as the corporate web typeface based on ‘Interstate’ which has set the tone as the brand standard. Overpass has been tested throughout Red Hat web properties and has been proven as a great alternative. It is time to make the switch.
There are many considerations when choosing the correct font specifically for application design such as: language coverage, weight variety, character shape, hinting, etc. Overpass has recently been extended to include two new weights and hinted to work great on low resolution screens. This will make the application content more accessible and allow the designers to continue relying on type as the primary way to establish the information hierarchy in our applications.
Moving to Overpass does have its challenges. The primary challenge is that it does not offer as much character coverage as Open Sans. To combat this we are mirroring the Red Hat web properties strategy of relying on a well tuned system font stack to display the correct characters for any language.
Making the transition
PatterFly is going through a period evolution. There is no better time to make this change then now. We are taking this opportunity to make changes to our designs which includes changing to Overpass as well as increasing the base sizing and spacing. This change is a substantial effort which we plan to roll out in the next major PatternFly release.