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Make paper lantern theme for WHM to stay consistent with cPanel.

Drumrocker365 shared this idea 5 years ago
In Progress

I was thinking it would be nice if there were a paper lantern theme for WHM, which would match the cPanel theme.

Best Answer
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Following up on my previous comment from 2 months ago - All three major frames in the WHM interface are now gone in v66. You should not be able to hit refresh to your heart's content.


There are further changes planned for WHM, however we're taking a break from the work for v68 to let WHM plugin developers have some time to update their integrations.


There's alot more information on https://blog.cpanel.com/whm-frames-have-left-the-building/

Comments (21)

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roughly speaking, this is what we have in mind as well.

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Please not, "paper lantern" is awfull at the moment!

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The same team that did Paper Lantern for the cpanel interface will be turning their attention to the WHM user interface in the near future. When they do, they'll keep this in mind!

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I despise paper lantern as well. That whole 'flat' UI design thing is actually (IMHO) a huge step backwards in web design. PLEASE if you do add PL to WHM do NOT remove the current interface. PL is not a very usable interface for many of us.

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PCZero wrote:

I despise paper lantern as well. That whole 'flat' UI design thing is actually (IMHO) a huge step backwards in web design. PLEASE if you do add PL to WHM do NOT remove the current interface. PL is not a very usable interface for many of us.
Any theme changes we make to WHM will be done side-by-side with the current X theme, similar to how we developed Paper Lantern.


Regarding usability of Paper Lantern, please provide us with details. We cannot address what we don't know about.


Thank you.

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We love paper lantern, lots of our customers have already adopted it. It's a great base. I'm quite surprised how themes can have both people who love them and people who hate them.

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Too true.

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I would like to hear what some simple 'quick win' kind of things we could do to improve the WHM experience and bring it a bit closer to Paper Lantern.

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The idea of bringing WHM closer to PL is in and of itself a no win situation IMHO.

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Here's an incremental improvement to the 'icons' section of the main page after login. (Not all of the icons are finished yet, obviously, so if you spot one that looks wrong, that's cause it hasn't been updated yet).

It's something small, but it's progress in the direction of bringing WHM in line with the new look-and-feel of the cPanel interface.

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@cPanelAdamF, I think that's a great start.

I don't see what the big fuss is over the flat iconery. The flat icons look nice and are a huge step-up in appearance. I feel as along as it's not impacting the overall load speed of WHM :insert thumbs up emoji here:. I've been using cPanel for many many years and I remember back when I first started using cPanel WHM how overwhelming it can get with all the options. You may want to include in the WHM platform so sort of guided walk through to highlight how to use WHM, for first time users with some sort of obvious check box to not pop up in the future, and when you roll out newly added features some sort of pop up. I'd imagine a great topic to highlight could be where admins can add their own WHM theme experience where if the flat icons is that annoying they could customize their own look and feel for their interests :-)

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Agreed re a guided tour of WHM. Definitely something we're interested in doing. For so many of our users, WHM is the first impression they have of the product (during the trial period, for example).

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Additionally I'd like to see on the main page, a dashboard of how the server is performing, where the memory is at, server loads, how many databases, status of the database, how many accounts there are, how many resellers, are there any issues that need my attention, which admins last logged in, a link to get more detailed information to server stats etc. Then show me all the group icons or a way to toggle to the icons. Give the users an option on what the user might want to see first.

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I love this idea. Too, the general request already exists here: https://features.cpanel.net/topic/improved-service-status-page

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Thanks @Benny.


I'll add my feedback there.

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I could not disagree more. The flat look and feel is very difficult to use for many of my users. There is so little differentiation between objects that it is hard to even see what each object does. Not to mention the change of naming convention for menu objects to absurd terms that have little meaning to real world users (stats -> metrics et al). Everything in the flat design runs together and it is very hard to use.


I also disagree 100% with adding more clutter to the main page. The main page should be clean and clear. Not muddled up with segments of data that should be displayed elsewhere. If you want to see info on databases, click databases, duh! It might be a good idea to allow each server owners to customize the UI so that the data that he wants to be displayed on the main page is there, but do not force all of us to have a cluttered interface because a handful of people are too lazy to click a link.

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There's no complaint there on allowing users to make their own UI changes, I couldn't agree more. Even an option in the interim allowing a user to choose which landing page the should see would be positive advancement.


:rolls eyes:


However I think your perspective is a bit skewed. You do realize you're using a GUI interface to manage your server and you can not get anymore lazier than that. If you think adding a bunch of metrics on a landing page to help give a user intel on what's going on from an at a glance view because they are "lazy" to click the links then you should probably just uninstall cpanel and stick with going old school and manage your server through SSH commands. I'm already lazy for using cPanel to begin with and if I'm not mistaking cPanel is designed to help administrators do their jobs a lot more efficiently. I don't need cPanel to manage a server it's makes managing a cluster of servers easier.

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Here's an updated screenshot of the new icon set. We've updated the layout a bit to go side-by-side for localization reasons (german has really long words and this sets us up for that better)

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Looking good.


  • Will this new theme be a separate X theme or will you be replacing the X theme with this one?
  • Is it possible to add a hoverable tool tip that can summarize what each of those icons purpose are.
  • I think a key feature could be to offer different viewing arrangements and allow a user to set which they prefer.

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Currently this is simply an update to the icons in the X theme. Not a brand new theme (though we'll be likely doing something akin to how we did Paper Lantern for WHM at some point in the future....opt-in for a while, then migration period)

Hoverable tool-tip? yes it's possible. That's a great simple next-iteration for this interface, actually.

re Configurable viewing arrangements - it's funny you should bring that up. My team and I were just discussing a few ideas for where we could go with the WHM interface and one of the notions was to be able to pick a 'workspace' (akin to Adobe Illustrator) for your use case. For example, something like a6396bba54068632e6fef8ef84771a14

Update: (I hit post too soon) -- So this is just a quick access menu that has the common lower-level navigation links in them suited for specific use-cases. Obviously these groups aren't final, nor are the links in them picked particularly well...but the idea is at least illustrated with them.

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We're starting to get more serious about the planning phase of this. What are some big important "Better get this right!" kinds of things you can think of which need to be there for this project to succeed?

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I just changed the status of this request to 'in progress'. Here's a bit more information than that...


We have broken ground on efforts to redesign WHM to bring it closer in line with what we've done with Paper Lantern. WHM is dramatically bigger interface (80 apps in cPanel, 260+ in WHM) so expect this work to take quite a few releases to get to fruition.


Some things you can expect:

  • The re-design of all graphics and iconography to a more modern look-and-feel. (This has already started happening in v62 in 2016)
  • The elimination of the use of frames in the WHM user interface (This work specifically is underway for v64 and v66)
  • The improvement of mobile-responsiveness across the board in the WHM user interface
  • The re-design of the WHM Command Menu (left sidebar navigation) and it's adoption in the cPanel end-user interface
  • The adoption of localization and other interface infrastructure established in the cPanel interface in WHM
  • The addition of the means to customize the WHM interface in similar ways to how the cPanel and Webmail user interfaces are customized


The order we tackle things in may change...and we may pause on this work to tackle an emergent opportunity or two that could pop up between now and the finish line...but that's roughly speaking the direction we're heading in.


This work will roll out slowly across multiple releases and we'll stay open to honest constructive feedback the entire time.


...oh, and if you're wondering, we're hoping to retire the 'paper lantern' name and just consider this as a project to make overall UX improvements across the product.

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Awesome, thanks to you and the cPanel team for the hard work! I'm really excited about the removal of frames - that's one of my biggest annoyances in WHM right now.

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The frames aren't going without a fight, trust me.

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Out of curiosity, why are the frames there in the first place, and why will it be such a pain to remove? It seems like a bit of a "strange" design to me. I understand if you don't have time to type out a detailed answer, but if you get the chance, I'd love to know.

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The design decision pre-dates me, so I'm not sure. Ever since their introduction, some apps inside WHM have grown to expect (or even rely) on the presence of frames for various reasons.


For example, the load averages found in the top navigation are actually refreshed by javascript which watches events in the left-frame for when to update itself. It's really bizarre and we're having to scrap-and-rewrite it to not care about frames.

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@Drumrocker365 The real challenge seems to be that while the WHM interface has received many coats of paint and modernized UI bits over the years, much of the underlying frame seems pretty much the same as it was eons ago. Web interface standards and UX expectations have evolved hugely since then, so it makes sense to me that the modernization effort will take time and a LOT of effort. Very excited to see that this is being tackled!

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EPIC.

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Wow, you aren't kidding! I've been a cPanel customer for "a long time" (in my mind), but really I've just been a customer for 2 or 3 years. I thought I'd seen a lot of changes, but that's pretty drastic! I see how the basic structure is the same though.

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It's really easy to forget that cPanel is >20 years old. The codebase itself isn't nearly that old but different areas of any project develop at different rates. In retrospect, it took us close to 3 years to get the cPanel end-user interface where it is today (paper lantern) and there's always much more to do than time will allow. The hardest part of my job is telling my team "no, we've got to move on" ;-)

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so my feedback for this change. first of all i think that paper lantern is still a massive failure UI wise (too much space, scrolling etc... ) so please do NOT do to WHM what you did with PL please.


what I dont want to see:


1)a change that favours mobile interface actions, if programming for mobile, please make sure it is not to the detriment of managing using a regular computer, I dont what things that take me 1 click now to take 3 or 4 clicks due to "mobile friendliness". I use cpanel on mobile in a pinch or when traveling, thats it and I think if you survey most admins,(actually why not create a survey on this one to figure out what everyone wants/needs/likes) they are using desktop or laptop or larger tablets to manage WHM. (I could be wrong though but honestly it takes twice as long to do something on mobile that it does on a computer.)


2) removal of the left management pane (sure you can make it css instead of an iframe but dont get rid of it)


3) a massive increase in space between all elements and icons etc.. (paper lantern has create about double the amount of scrolling that we used to have to do because of all the whitespace that exists between all the elements now.


what i DO want to see (or kept)


4) please do not remove the search feature or hide it so that you have to first click then search. The search feature is vital and should remain prominent near the top and easy to use.


5) please dont change the order of all the management options unless there really is a clear reason too.

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Thanks for this feedback, @ethical. I've got some replies below, but in general I know that larger UI changes can be disruptive and it's easy to be weary of them. We're intentionally proceeding very slowly through this so that we can remain open to concerns like yours.


Regarding mobile responsiveness

We have no intention of going 'mobile first' in our redesign effort and causing the desktop experience to suffer. WHM is simply too big and too capable to truly adopt mobile for all of it's use-cases. IN FACT, I'm willing to make calls like "this specific feature in WHM is not available on mobile at all." rather than create a terrible experience for desktop or mobile users.


Regarding the left nav

There's no chance of a removal of the left nav. It's far too well known and used for it to go away. Frequently I hear stories from users who say "It's muscle memory. I just know where to look or click." when I speak with them about the general navigation of WHM.


We are going to remove the FRAME that it sits in and relocate it onto every page of the user interface. Once this is done, you may very well not even notice anything as changed. That's the hope anyway.


I want to see a few changes in the left-nav, which I'm happy to talk about here:

  • Where possible, I would like to see groups consolidated down in an intelligent way. For example, I have always wondered why "Account Information", "Account Functions" and "Multi Account Functions" have to exist separately.
  • I want to see the merger of single-operation and batch-operation apps without loss of functionality. For example, we have already merged Account Functions » Terminate a User and Multi-Account Functions » Terminate Multiple Users down into just one feature capable of BOTH single and batch operations from the same interface. I want to see this trend continue where appropriate.
  • I want the left navigation to be sortable. It's currently intentionally sorted to keep the things you should do during setup of a server at the top. There's frequent requests on the feature request site for this to be user-adjustable. Sorting setup tasks first should simply be one option. Others might include: "alphabetical", and "most frequently used".


Regarding whitespace

When we adjusted the layout of the icons to move the labels next to the images, rather than below it, it did create considerable spacing between icons, and thus more scrolling. It also provided for far more room for the text translations of these features.


For non-english users, the 'side by side' layout of the icons prevents feature names from spilling out onto nearby elements, or from artificially becoming hyphenated. In some languages, the concept of hyphenation doesn't exist at all or causes loss in meaning entirely. As cPanel's popularity in non-english speaking areas of the world grows, we consider the side-by-side presentation here to stay.


Something else that contributed to the whitespace between elements on the page was our general adoption of the grid-system provided by Twitter Bootstrap. We standardized the margins, paddings and font-sizes by relying on Bootstrap's specifications rather than configuring it all ourselves. Some margins/paddings/font-sizes went up, others went down but the amount of custom layout code dropped dramatically.


In the past, we have considered creating a "compact" optional style. If there's enough interest from enough people, we may yet do that.


Regarding quick access to search

Great suggestion with this one. We'll do our best. I hear positive feedback about the "quick-search" we added in the top navigation of the cPanel end-user interface that's right in line with your suggestion!


Our current plan involves bringing that quick-search from the cPanel end-user interface into the WHM interface as well so that both interfaces have it's advantages.

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  • "I want to see the merger of single-operation and batch-operation apps without loss of functionality. For example, we have already merged Account Functions » Terminate a User and Multi-Account Functions » Terminate Multiple Users down into just one feature capable of BOTH single and batch operations from the same interface. I want to see this trend continue where appropriate."

I think you need to quit explaining this so much when you change it though. I'm sit of hitting redirection pages and having to wait. Even setting a cookie would be okay with me to avoid them after the first time. I mean when I want to terminate an account manually. I don't go clicking on icons. I click in search at top left and type in: "term". Changing the name or the group it's located in is not going to deter me from going there to wipe an account as long as you don't change the main defining feature of the name.


  • "I want the left navigation to be sortable. It's currently intentionally sorted to keep the things you should do during setup of a server at the top. There's frequent requests on the feature request site for this to be user-adjustable. Sorting setup tasks first should simply be one option. Others might include: "alphabetical", and "most frequently used"."

Doesn't even have to be sortable. Maybe after first 24 hours are up after install have a group called most used added near the top, could even figure out a way to display what menu group each originally comes from with their link gracefully as well. Not really an art person so I'll leave those ideas up to others. Then it could update that menu monthly, weekly, or daily on a cron settable in tweak settings?

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duly noted regarding how we deprecate/move features around. We're never quite sure how tolerant our user-base will be about moves or consolidations so we err on the side of caution and take it slow.


Having an optionally displayed "Most commonly used" section of the list is a great idea!

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Thanks Adam. appreciate the response. I am not sure you got what i meant on the whitespace issue, (i was referring to the area in PL such as editing or adding emails, or editing DNs zone entries, those pages are way to spread out in terms of space now) so if that can be kept in mind for similar areas on the WHM side of thigns that would be great.


makes sense about consolidating appropriate categories


I dont think sorting needs to be too high on the list really given that one can just type in the search function and get what they need pretty quickly.


thanks!

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In regard to the scrolling issue, it has not been so much of a problem

in all honesty. The icon theme groups and labels were waaaay more digestible

UI wise. Yes scrolling is a minor inconvenience, but I rather not have dated 90s UI. The spacing and categorization of the UI elements allows for more breathng room for the onlooker, especially a learner that needs to comitt things to muscle memory. A compact mode to minimize icon usage and more list elements would be a more practical approach.

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Lots of things happening with regards to this. I've updated https://features.cpanel.net/topic/make-paper-lantern-theme-for-whm-to-stay-consistent-with-cpanel with more details

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One thing that bothers me with the current UI. Multiple pages that could be combined into a single page with button actions. We literally have to navigate to each page for each function. A simple table grid with an ability to batch select items would be much appreicated.

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Totally agree. For example,under 'Account Information' it has 'List Suspended Accounts' and then under 'Account Function' it has 'Manage Account Suspension'. This is just one example of course. I think whoever initially deigned it had some method to it's madness and I can sort of see it. I suggest it all needs to be re-designed from scratch, because this issue of confusion will go on forever. Maybe cPanel need a UI designer to have a re-think about it.

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Absolutely agree with Tony and Coder4life. I know many admins will push back against any substantive rearrangement of the WHM interface - but a ground up redesign with some dedicated UX talent at the helm would definitely go a long way toward making the tool easier and more efficient to use.

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As an incremental update, last night's EDGE release (65.9999.120 or newer) has the first of two major changes in it in pursuit of eliminating the use of frames in WHM. You can't quite hit refresh and get the same page back yet, but that'll be the second merge my team is currently preparing.


Historically, frames have been a part of WHM since it's inception in cpanel 3, so we're having to fight quite a bit of bugs as a result of their removal (interfaces that assumed they had the whole frame to themselves tend to be really sloppy bad citizen when they now have to share)

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Following up on my previous comment from 2 months ago - All three major frames in the WHM interface are now gone in v66. You should not be able to hit refresh to your heart's content.


There are further changes planned for WHM, however we're taking a break from the work for v68 to let WHM plugin developers have some time to update their integrations.


There's alot more information on https://blog.cpanel.com/whm-frames-have-left-the-building/