13. Mar. 2017 by Marek
Retrospective releases have always been focused on some major features that have proudly been added to the suite of functionality revolving around logs searching and monitoring. Unfortunately, the bigger the features, the greater the time required to implement them whilst maintaining the desired high quality. We’ve realized that more does not always mean better and very often improvements in several little things could be more beneficial than adding one killer feature. Therefore, after just three months since the last release, we can proudly present Retrospective 4.1.0. This release focuses on polishing the previous features and adds a few new little cherries on top. If you liked release 4.0.0 than the refinements provided in 4.1.0 should simply make your day. Let’s dive into the little goodies served in 4.1.0.
Time search criteria offered so far by Retrospective is a really powerful and useful tool. Unfortunately before release 4.1.0 it was not possible to use time based filtering on a data that was already fetched to Retrospective in a search or monitoring session. This was quite limiting, thus, we decided to change it in 4.1.0. Now fully fledged local time filters can be used to narrow the accumulated data to the window that is in the point of interest. This can make your life a lot easier if you need to analyze different smaller pieces of a larger chunk of accumulated data.
We also started to encounter more and more situations in which log levels containing non-alphanumeric chars are used. Previously, Retrospective was optimized to make the log identification as fast as possible. The optimization of the identification process was built on the assumption that only alphanumeric chars can appear in the log levels. Release 4.1.0 brings more flexibility here by not only allowing for non-alphanumeric chars in the log levels but also allowing for deciding whether log levels can be surrounded by alphanumeric chars or not. Of course allowing for non-alphanumeric chars and/or surrounding by alphanumeric chars disables some log level identification optimizations but we made sure that the identification process still has a decent performance in such situations.
Retrospective is all about performing several things at once. So typically you have one tab for searching some remote servers, another tab for monitoring a deployment process and a third tab in which you make the deployment yourself using the awesome SSH Console. So far it has often been hard to say when new data arrives to the tabs that are currently out of focus. Thus, we’ve added another little goodie that you should definitely like. In 4.1.0 all non-active monitoring tabs are showing a counter value that is representing the number of log entries that have arrived to the tab since the last time the tab was active. No more hectic switching between tabs to check if the data is already available there. Now you will be notified about the changes as soon as they appear without any additional effort from your side.
The new release also brings some cool improvements in the SSH Console department. In other popular terminals, you may be used to using your mouse wheel inside console applications such as less or mcedit to scroll the data on the screen. You will not have to change this habit after grabbing 4.1.0, because this feature is now fully supported in our SSH Console. It’s often a lot more efficient to just navigate through the data using the mouse wheel instead of the keyboard. So the new mouse wheel support is another thingy that squeezes out some more efficiency while performing your daily tasks. The next SSH Console improvement is a support for word jumping inside the Bash shell. Often, when you type a command, you suddenly realize that you made a typo several words before. In 4.1.0 you can use combination of ALT+F and ALT+B key shortcuts to jump the cursor to the next or the previous word in the command like. This allows for quick fixing of any typo that tries to annoy you. Unfortunately the ALT+F shortcut does not work on Windows or Linux due to a collision with some other key shortcuts in Retrospective. Thankfully, ALT+B works on all platforms.
Lately the work-life balance is increasingly being emphasized. Research shows that you can be more productive at work if you give yourself some time for relaxing and simply take a breath between tackling your daily responsibilities at work. And what can be more relaxing than having a quick game of Tetris. In 4.1.0 we took this into account and improved SSH Console to the point in which typical ncurses games, such as a(href='http://blahg.res0l.net/2009/01/bastet-bastard-tetris/') Bastet - a simple Tetris clone, can be played without any problems. Now you can have a relaxing break without even going outside of the Retrospective environment.
In Release 4.1.0 we also added a support for date formats involving micro and nano seconds. Unfortunately we were not able to increase the time precision above the millisecond level, but at least the micro and/or nano seconds digits can be properly evicted so they do not clutter the contents of the Data column in the Result Table. And of course if you are interested in these digits, you can always look them up in the Details pane at the bottom of the Result Table.
In the time frame of 4.1.0, besides adding new, handy features, we’ve also focused on hunting down as many bugs as we could. The 4.1.0 release notes contain the main bugs that were fixed! Some bugs were related to the SWT platform that we use (e.g. some annoying random NPE appearing on MAC), some were related to the UI code (e.g. problems with cloning an inactive tab) and some were buried deeply in our Core components (e.g. awk problems in some variants of searching log files containing binary characters). So it’s definitely worth grabbing 4.1.0 not only feature-wise but also bug-remedy-wise.
As you can see, maybe there was not one single killer feature (of course beside the support for Tetris inside SSH Console) that we’ve focused on in 4.1.0, but there were definitely a lot of little things that were added or improved. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details and 4.1.0 gives serious attention to many details that simply make a difference. Thus, there’s no room for second thoughts – you simply need to reach for Retrospective 4.1.0. As soon as you install it, you’ll quickly notice a better experience while searching, monitoring and hacking around in the SSH Console. Give it a try and you will have no regrets!