OpenSearch Dashboards: Community Insights

Thu, Jun 01, 2023 · Aparna Sundar

In February of 2023, the OpenSearch Project conducted user interviews with seven OpenSearch community members about their experience using OpenSearch Dashboards. These community members were selected because they responded to a call for participants in one of our community meetings. We wanted to recruit OpenSearch community members who regularly created dashboards so that we could explore user pain points and frustrations. Dashboards are typically created by OpenSearch users who either consume the dashboards themselves or who create dashboards that are consumed by other users (that is, dashboard consumers).

The study participants contextualized OpenSearch as a developer tool and highlighted the need to simplify things for OpenSearch users who attempt to “just create dashboards.” The participants noted that they struggled with the usability of dashboards, found the dashboard offerings limited, and shared frustrations with learnability, discoverability, and the complexity of integrating with their platform’s UI. They shared other frustrations regarding documentation, dashboard creation, sharing, anomaly detection, and usage of space on dashboards.

While some participants called out the importance of setting up the index templates correctly for an improved downstream experience, others highlighted frustrations with this step in dashboard creation as being distinct from the experience of creating dashboards with other tools. Participants also noted the benefits of creating standards in the encoding and permissions processes.

Participants in this study called out many inconsistencies and deficiencies in the visualization functionality in OpenSearch. This included color coding, interchangeability of charts, filter application, and zooming in and out of a chart. Given the range of dashboard creator needs, participants expect OpenSearch to streamline dashboard creation and, in addition, provide enhanced functionality in order to maximize usage of OpenSearch Dashboards. Ultimately, participants want to have a quick and easy way to set up the basic essentials in a dashboard and then make sure the dashboarding process is part of the automation (that is, a continuous integration and delivery [CI/CD] pipeline).

When asked what their ideal dashboard experience would be, we obtained a variety of responses that indicated deficiencies in the current OpenSearch Dashboards experience. Participants wanted basic abilities stemming from a need for increased usability, simplicity, and a confidence in knowing that what they were seeing in dashboards helped them solve their immediate business problem. Some other participants were more aspirational in sharing what they would want in an ideal dashboard experience and described a need for automated visualizations based on common data structures that can be identified in the user’s data.

We are currently reviewing and consolidating all feedback. Further studies are taking place over the course of the next few months, and we encourage you to participate. Our roadmap is completely driven by community members, like you. If you are interested, please join our bi-weekly community meetings to hear about opportunities for future studies, or sign up here. Thanks so much for reading, and we look forward to continued input from the OpenSearch community!