There has been recent discussion around UI enhancements with the goal of streamlining visual flow design. Please consider the following enhancements and concepts for proposed solutions. Do you have any objections? If so, please share your thoughts and ideas for alternate solutions to streamline visual flow design in NiFi's GUI.

Enhancement 1
Enable quicker, more efficient access to both known and not yet known processors.

Issue
The current interaction of dropping a processor on the graph and being prompted with a dialog helps a user who does not know exactly which one they need. However, as the number of processors increase, the current methods of finding what you need become increasingly difficult. And for those users who know exactly what processor they want, routine interaction with the dialog becomes rather cumbersome.

Concept for Proposed Solution
Present logical groupings of processors to the user. Ideas include usage-generated categories like ‘recent’ and ‘popular,’ along with categories such as those defined by the Enterprise Integration Patterns (e.g., mediate, route, transform) and perhaps further subcategories if applicable. These options would be accessible from the main UI as well as the add processor dialog.

Other ideas include 'pinning' processors you routinely use for quick access, setting a default drag-n-drop processor, and assigning keyboard shortcuts to quickly add a favorite to the graph.

Design decisions made here could also serve as a model for placing other elements onto the graph such as templates.

Enhancement 2
Provide visual distinction to processor types.

Issue
When viewing a flow on the graph, all processor blocks look the same. As a result, users must rely on processor names alone to interpret what they are doing and how the given flow is working together.

Concept for Proposed Solution
Introduce some combination of iconography, unique styling, and more descriptive labeling to processor blocks. As mentioned earlier, looking to the Enterprise Integration Patterns could provide cues for visually distinct icons and labeling. Unique styling could occur at various zoom levels and/or screen resolution to better respond to user needs.

Enhancement 3
Give users the choice to be prompted immediately with a configuration dialog after they place a processor, draw a connection, etc. on the graph.

Issue
Currently there is inconsistency with the interaction. Place a processor - nothing. Draw a connection - configuration dialog pops up.

Concept for Proposed Solution
Part 1 - Decide on a consistent default behavior. Part 2 - Provide the user the ability to reverse the behavior. One thought is to include a toggle in each configuration dialog giving the user control over the behavior while in context. Additionally, there could be a user preferences area where they could make global changes. A user preferences area could come into play with potential solutions proposed in Enhancement 1 as well.

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Rob