Someone asked in another thread about the choice of dashboards and FlexDash came up, so I thought I might as well create a separate thread to talk about the future of FD.
My assessment is that given the release of a new official dashboard it's completely futile to be developing FlexDash in its current state. Even if FD were the best dashboard in the universe it doesn't really matter: the number of users that are even interesting in looking at alternatives to the official dashboard is infinitesimal and the potential of having 3rd party widgets contributed is nil.
I think this is a good moment to thank all of you who have contributed to FD with testing, ideas, or simple encouragement! I would not have gotten as far without you! It has been a lot of fun and a lot of good learning! Plus a lot of banging my head against the limitations and idiosyncrasies of Node-RED...
Looking at FD as is stands, I believe it innovated in a number of ways:
- using modern JS technologies on the browser side, incl. Vue and Vuetify
- dynamic reloading of widgets (not having to restart Node-RED just to test a change in a widget)
- proper editor for writing custom widgets within the Node-RED editor (the "FD custom" widget)
- dynamic arrays of widgets allowing a dynamic number of sensors or equivalent to be displayed
- support for subflows allowing the bundling of UI elements with simple subflows such that instantiating a subflow automatically adds the UI
- automatic caching of values such that a new browser that connects gets up-to-date values automatically
- pop-up overlays with widgets that allow drill-down type of data to be shown on a dashboard tab
- visual editing of the dashboard layout within the Node-RED editor
(and probably some other stuff I forget right now )
The area that I still find quite unsatisfactory is data drill down, meaning, how to present data in the dashboard and let the user drill down into details and jump to related data. For example, you may have an array of temperature values displayed and you want to show more information when the user clicks on one of these values. It is currently possible to pop-up a chart with the historical data using FD. It's even possible to do it such that only the user that clicked sees that pop-up. But it becomes difficult to go much beyond that. Arguably at some point it's no longer a dashboard and more of a general web app, but it would be nice to be able to continue using widgets and link them to flows and nodes in NR. Food for thought and innovation...
To wrap this up: FlexDash as it stands is not going away but it is unlikely to continue on a path trying to replace the functionality offered by the official dashboards. It is likely to be less tightly integrated into NR 'cause implementing that takes more effort than the dashboard itself and ends up limiting the dashboard due to the limitations in Node-RED.
I'd love to hear the feedback and suggestion you, FlexDash supporters and users, may have!