Dec 12th, 2021: [en] New Document Explorer in Discover

Why a new Document Explorer?

Discover was built with the intention to explore and search documents in Elasticsearch. As such, every document is displayed as a row in the table. This document table is a focal point of the Discover app. The current table has served us long and well, but it has its limitations. We wanted to provide a better experience for our users, that would help them explore their data more easily.

How we thought about this

Elastic has its own component library - called the EUI. Its purpose is to provide standardized components for use across Kibana and other Elastic products.

When it became clear we needed a better table view, we turned to the EUI team for help.

At the time, there was no component that would fit Discover’s use-case, but it was clear there was enough demand for the new component, coming from several different teams. When we started thinking about the new component, a few things became obvious:

  • we already had two similar table components, which take data in a very specific format; however data in Kibana comes from many sources in many formats
  • the new data grid should be 100% agnostic of the data source, data types, and raw data itself
  • the new data grid should focus on toolbar functionality and UX, how cells are rendered, and how data in cells can be explored further through actions and the expansion popover.

A few months later, a new EUI component called DataGrid was born.

How we implemented it in Discover

Once the component was ready, Discover had to transition from the existing data table to the new table. Since this is such a centrepoint of the Discover app, we needed to take a calculated approach. We decided to release the new table behind a switch in the Advanced Setting. That way, our users could try out the new table, while we continued gathering feedback and implementing the missing bits. And since this was such a big change, we’ve decided to give it a dedicated name - and so Document Explorer was born.

Highlights of the new Document Explorer

  • Resizable columns
  • Movable columns
  • Easier sorting
  • Fullscreen view
  • Pagination
  • Faster rendering
  • Selecting multiple individual documents from the table directly
  • And much more...

When is it available?

The new Document Explorer can be accessed from Advanced Settings under Document Explorer or classic view, by disabling doc_table: legacy switch.

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Does it support multiline fields?

Legacy discover nicely shows multiline messages (after increasing truncate.maxHeight to 1200).
So I can view our multiline formatted long messages without a problem.

Explorer seems to stick to single line, with no way to show more.

Example of „old” view I love and need (although I would love to manage column widths sometimes)…


This is currently not supported, but it is our highest priority and is actively being worked on.

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Here’s the issue to track the progress:


I like the Document Explorer view, however it would be nice if the pop-up details view could be customized. Specifically, it would be nice to be able to change the width. Alternatively, it would be great if it could be docked across the bottom instead of on the side.

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