Is the product polished? We need your inputs

We launched last year knowing that Activepieces will remain unpolished for some time as we needed to focus on areas like creating more pieces, stabilizing the UI and the architecture.

Now, the time for a :sparkles: polished product has come and we’d like to know your perception of Activepieces from the polishing side.

@HoldYourWaffle said there are minor issues that make the product unpolished. Let’s discuss this more. Does Activepieces look polished to you? If not, what is forming this perception?

Every single opinion is important, please share yours!

Pretty polished to me, but needs the following:

  • Revert to auto-saved flow instance, not just published
  • Notes / documentation for flows
  • Updating pieces with mapping intact (where possible)
  • Renaming connections
  • Better roadmap/voting system for new pieces / piece updates
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I have been summoned.

To give some context on my perspective
I work for a school as a programmer, tasked with automating all their tedious manual labor. Because I will inevitably leave this job my main goal is to keep maintenance as low as possible, I effectively need to automate myself away. Giving non-technical colleagues the ability to automate and maintain their own workflows is a core part of this strategy, and in theory Activepieces fits the bill perfectly.

So where does this go wrong in practice?
I’ve been experimenting with how easy it is to set up simple workflows for non-technical users. So far this hasn’t been as successful as I had hoped, for three main reasons: lack of polishing, lack of documentation and abstraction leaks.
I have a lot to say about the latter two, but I’ll keep myself to polishing for now :stuck_out_tongue:

Enough foreplay, here’s the (partial) list of things I’ve encountered so far:
(Note: it’s very likely that there’s already topics on some of these, and probably one or two that have been fixed in the meantime.)

  1. There are a lot of small grammar/spelling/Capitalization issues across the product.
    This usually doesn’t hurt the experience, but over time it tends to sour the perception of the product significantly.
  2. Error handling is often suboptimal.
    Two concrete examples I wrote down were “Look in console” that time some connectors broke and a vague “Throws an error” message around the “Tables” input when a MySQL connection fails.
  3. There’s no way to edit/rename (database) connections.
  4. The “Webhook” trigger is not in the “Core” category.
  5. A “favorites” system for pieces would be sweet, since most people only use a tiny subset of them.
  6. Piece configuration and the test run console fight for very limited vertical screen space.
  7. There seems to be no way to cancel paused runs.
  8. The “Reset zoom” button uses a refresh icon.
  9. “Use as draft” in the Versions panel is odd to non-technical users who aren’t used to a “dev” and “production” version. My initial vibe was to suggest renaming it to “Revert”, but that’s not entirely accurate. Maybe this is just a teaching issue?
  10. Being able to label/name versions would be sweet.
  11. There’s no “Community” link at the top of the website.
  12. As mentioned earlier, comments are essential to keeping non-trivial flows maintainable.
  13. Google Sheets’ “Insert Row” piece has a question “Are the First row Headers?”.
    Wacky grammar aside, what does this mean? Why is it relevant for adding a new row?
    The description underneath (“If the first row is headers”) has a high “the floor here is made out of floor”-level :stuck_out_tongue:

I have a bunch more, but I’ve ran out of energy to translate them somewhat coherently for now :stuck_out_tongue:

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Wtf dude you can’t post 13 points altogether.

Just kidding :smile_cat:

There are a lot of small grammar/spelling/Capitalization issues across the product.

Can you give me an example or two? I know there are many of them but I’d like to know which ones you spot easily (in the pieces? on the app UI? or somewhere else)

There’s no way to edit/rename (database) connections.

So edit connection names in general, right?

A “favorites” system for pieces would be sweet, since most people only use a tiny subset of them.

Do you think showing you the most recently used pieces would help? Or do you think pinning pieces is the way to go? And why?

Piece configuration and the test run console fight for very limited vertical screen space.

@abuaboud will love you for this :stuck_out_tongue: do you have any suggestions to make it better?

There’s no “Community” link at the top of the website.

It’s under Resources, you don’t like this?


We’ll take your inputs seriously, and most of them align with our roadmap / vision of Activepieces. Thanks a lot for sharing, and keep these coming.

Hehe I’ll make sure to ping you 13 times separately in the future :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ll keep an eye out! Two that I can think of off the top of my head:

  1. Google Sheets’ “Insert Row” piece has a question “Are the First row Headers?”.
    (I’d suggest “Does the first row contain headers?”, though I’m not a native English speaker.)
  2. Google Docs’ “Edit template file” has a question “Varibles”.

Pretty much.

It’d help, but I’d prefer being able to pin pieces as well.
Most organizations use a very specific subset of pieces, constantly seeing pieces for integrations with software you don’t use is unnecessary clutter.

I’ve thought about it a bit, but didn’t manage to come up with a truly satisfactory solution (yet)

Ooooh that makes sense, not sure how I missed that…

Sounds great :smile:
I hope I’ll be able to actually contribute some things down the line once health issues subside.

I really like your approach to work.

Among the wishes, I would like to be able to see the time in 24 hours format.

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I constantly encounter problems with the scroll bar on the right on the small laptop screen (13.3). Although it would seem that the product is literally sharpened for small monitors and this is its feature.

There is no scroll bar at all:

There’s a point here:

Or just a thin strip:

The scroll bar is one of the most frequently used elements in the interface. It seems to me that everything would be more convenient if it were ordinary, like this one:

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Speaking of scrollbars, this YAML format (looks nice) but has become a little frustrating to work with when testing automations with 1-2 line outputs. I don’t know what the change did, but I can’t select text properly anymore without the damn scrollbars getting engaged in these short outputs and also the text seems more annoying to select generally - the first click shouldn’t highlight, only a double click should. It has become so much of a hassle, I’ve given up trying to copy / select anything when it comes to 1-line outputs. Please fix the bug, or add the option to toggle JSON (as @Bram suggested), thanks.

image

And this was just after I started praising AP’s polish lol.

Agreed on #3, I have been asking about it for a while, even got a decent number of upvotes here from the community: [Feature] Rename Connections - AP Team? - but no reply from any of the AP team :frowning:

#5 is a great idea. A favourites panel or hub would be sweet.

That’s a lie…one thing that is not polished…is the two-finger scroll/panning trackpad gesture on my Macbook - navigating within a flow. I want it to function similar to the click/grab-and-pan gesture (within a flow), but for some weird reason, the two finger scroll does some weird visual stuff and doesn’t pan smoothly (which is an understatement). It’s quite annoying and almost unusable actually as a scrolling/panning method.

I’ve learned to avoid using the trackpad gesture, but it would make a big difference for day-to-day usability if this was fixed.

The best way I can describe it is laggy with a motion blur, instead of the smooth real-time panning when clicking and dragging.

We’ll check what practices other products do in this regard!

Now I understand the scrollbar issue. I saw it in a screenshot before and it puzzled me, I thought the scrollbar is technically hidden. But it looks like it gets MUCH smaller in smaller screens so people don’t see it. We’ll work on a fix for this for sure!

In the first screenshot, where is the scrollbar though? It’s a smaller list so it should show up but I see nothing. Can you tell me more about this?

Sometimes it does not appear at all when you click on the Core tab. There is no way to scroll at all, even with the mouse wheel.

For me, the key areas that need improvement for Activepieces to feel like a polished product are:

  1. Updating pieces: The need to rebuild flows due to outdated pieces is a significant pain point and definitly feels unpolished. Implementing the solution suggested in this thread would be a great start.

  2. Some small UI/usage enhancements:

    • Allow copying variables from one piece to another
    • Implement undo/redo functionality (Ctrl+Z changes)
    • Enable dragging and dropping flows into folders, rather than using the 3-dot menu
    • I don’t like all the “locked” things cluttering my cloud envoirement. I don’t want to ‘unlock’ the settings or admin console.
    • To add to this, I already referred 15/5 users, I think the gift icon can stop jumping around.
    • I may have some additions to this list soon, I’ll keep track of the small frustrations I have.
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Solid list, I agree! @Dennis

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From the Discord:

Dealing with files is really confusing right now. Are they links? Are they (binary) text? Both, sometimes? It’s not entirely clear, and although I managed to sort of figure it out based on how I expect things to be programmed in the back, it’s another prime example of an abstraction leak.

I first experienced it when trying to copy a Google Docs file, convert it to PDF and then use it as a Gmail attachment. This feels like a fairly simple common task, but ended up very frustrating, even as a technical user.

I’m still working on writing out some more coherent thoughts and constructive suggestions on this, Abdul asked if I could put it here in the meantime.

For the Google Drive “Read File” option, if a bit more information could be added to the output instead of just the URL (for example), that would be great.

Also side note: how long are the “Read File” cloud.activepieces.com links valid for?

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This is another big one for me: the flow of data quickly becomes unmanageable, especially for non-technical users. I’d like to see things like local variables and (global) constants, for example to share a Google Drive folder ID across flows.

Flow-scoped storage tasks can be (ab)used as local variables, but it’s often tedious and/or counter-intuitive to use. (For example, using the result of a “Put” task as an input for something else.) I’d love to see a dedicated system for this that’s easier to manage, maintain and takes up less valuable screen real estate.

(Again, I’m still working on formulating some more coherent thoughts and suggestions!)

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As a bit of extra perspective: the concept of a file being (stored at) a URL is often alien to non-technical users. They’re used to files being “a thing” that they can just throw around, expecting the recipient to just be able to deal with it.

This leads into another concept I’ve dunked in the Discord a while back (abstracting JSON/YAML as a piece’s “values”), but I (again) still need to write a more coherent proposal for it…

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True, I guess a note like “File accessible at the following link:” might help

Even so, file name and file type should be available in the output at the very least.

1 Like