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.
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.
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.
- Resizable columns
- Movable columns
- Easier sorting
- Fullscreen view
- Faster rendering
- Selecting multiple individual documents from the table directly
- And much more...
The new Document Explorer can be accessed from Advanced Settings under Document Explorer or classic view, by disabling
doc_table: legacy switch.