We’re living in an age of beautiful application design. It took years to get to this point, but online designers finally understand how to take full advantage of web browsers and modern web technologies to create innovative and uniquely creative interfaces, blending the best of interactive art and utility. There are a myriad of examples we can look to for inspiration in our daily lives.
Graphite is not one of them.
Don’t get me wrong—I love Graphite. It is a fantastically flexible and functional tool for building graphs and dashboards. It’s ugly, but in a way that belies the beauty of its API underpinning. It exposes a wealth of functionality in a sane and intuitive manner. Virtually every feature found in the rendering API is available within the Graphite user interface without becoming cumbersome or confusing. Considering the extent of this feature set, this is a laudable accomplishment on its own.
That the Graphite UI resembles something out of Redmond, Washington circa 2000 is merely an aesthetic speed bump on our journey to graphing mastery. And while most of your dashboards will be run in a third-party application or built by embedding graphs in your own web pages, there’s a very good chance that for ad hoc graph prototyping or metrics introspection, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat the simplicity of the original Graphite interface.
Much of this chapter is devoted to learning how to navigate the Graphite UI and getting up to speed on ...