Donnerstag, 23. Dezember 2010

GUI criticism

As a DBA, I'm not a big fan of Graphical User Interfaces.
From my point of view they too often hiding more information than they visualize.
As I am no GUI developer, please excuse me if I name some things not correct.

I'll show an example. Please take this screenshot. I do not own the tool myself but got this via email from a developer.

What can I see?
In the top left corner I see 3 tabs, the active one is Sessions. This shows me a table with one line highlighted (sid 160). Below that table, there is something I would assume as a sub-tab. Especially the borders of that tab makes me think so, as it's 'above' the 'Sessions' tab.
The sub-tab Waits is the active on. In it I see 2 Tables, Current Waits and Total Waits.
At the bottom I can find a line Last refresh. I'm glad I have any timestamp anywhere.

This is all really fine. But I'm still missing something:

  • In general, I'd like to know the statement which generates the data I can see here. In the topmost table, I assume it will query v$session, v$process and some others to get the informations. But what's the query exactly? Even small changes can mean something different. Do you see the column CPU in the first table? I can not even imagine it's origin.

  • Many tools provide the ability to spool all SQLs they generate into a file. But as they do not associate the SQL to the visual representation, it's still guesswork.

  • I can not see which columns I do not see! Is the AUDSID important? Most of the time I'd say no. Until I have to deal with auditing

  • I can not adapt the query according to my needs. In the Current Waits table - I assume based on v$session_wait I am often interested in the P1, P2 and P3 values (sometimes even raw - it depends). Sometimes also the change of SEQ# is of some interest. This rapidly forces me to go to the command line, or SQL-window if you want.

But there are also clever examples of some GUIs. The one I like most (as it helps both blind people and others) is Providing Textual Descriptions of Charts. It's still not the SQL, but at least the content of a graph in re-useable form.

I have only considered of any kind of query, yet. no DML or DDL operations at the moment. Maybe it's worth another post in the future ;-)
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