Tweaks for Better Usability - The Monitor Options

Version: Deadline 8.0

Introduction - A Quality of Life Thing

As we saw previously in our overview of Monitor Layouts, the Deadline Monitor application is immensely customizable. In fact, with all the available options it is easy to miss the inconspicuous settings here and there that could improve your experience when using the Monitor. That’s why today we’re going to shine the spotlight on the Monitor Options, an area that can be used to change some aspects of the Monitor’s behavior.

The Monitor Options can be opened on Windows and Linux by clicking on the Tools menu and selecting Options. On Mac OS X, select DeadlineMonitor and then Preferences. You can also open these settings from the main toolbar in the Monitor.

This will bring up the Monitor Options window:

In this post we will explore the different options on this page and demonstrate how they can be useful. Since these options are saved with your roaming user profile for your operating system, they allow you to make the Monitor’s behavior cater to your own preferences. We’ll look for tweaks we can apply to save time, reduce clutter, and even improve performance.

Job List Options

The Job List options allow you to change the look and behavior of the Jobs Panel.

The Enable Drag & Drop Dependencies option turns on a slick way of quickly setting dependencies for a Job. With the option enabled, a Job can be clicked and dragged onto another Job in the Jobs panel to link them together. When doing this, you are prompted to make either Job dependent of the other and choose whether or not to overwrite previously set dependencies. The animation below shows how you can link two Jobs in this way.

By examining the Job Dependency View panel, we can see that the Jobs are now linked.

The image below demonstrates the effects of turning on the Change Color Of Jobs That Accumulate Errors and Show Task States In Job Progress Bar options. The “Erroneous Job” below has accumulated errors and shows up as a different color than the other queued Job below. Also notice that the progress bars show the ratio of completed, rendering, queued, and pending tasks.

Lastly, the Group Single Job Batches setting determines whether or not batches with single Jobs in them show up as groups in the Jobs panel. It can be helpful to turn this option off if you are using an application whose submitter always submits Jobs as a batch (even if they contain only a single Job). Below we can see a side-by-side comparison of the Jobs panel with single Job batches grouped and ungrouped, respectively. (I have added a graphic on each side to elicit the desired emotional response from you, the reader. They are not normally visible in the Monitor.)

Task List Options

The Task List options allow you to change the look and behavior of the Tasks Panel.

The options here allow you to change what happens when you double click on a Task. This enables you to do many useful things without leaving the Tasks panel. For instance, I have set configured these options to do the following:

  • I set the Rendering Task Double-click Behavior to Connect to Slave Log so that while a task is rendering I can check in on the Task’s output in real time by viewing the Slave log.
  • I set the Completed Task Double-click Behavior to View Image so that I can look over finished Tasks at a glance by peeking at the rendered image.
  • I set the Failed Task Double-click Behavior to View Reports so that I can diagnose what went wrong by viewing a failed Task’s error reports.

Of course, your own preferences may differ from these.

Enabling the Change Color Of Tasks That Accumulate Errors option causes Tasks that encountered errors to change color, as shown below.

Miscellaneous Options

There are a handful of other options available in the aptly named Miscellaneous section.

If while using Deadline Monitor you find yourself often switching to Super User mode, you may choose to check the Start In Super User Mode to save yourself the trouble. Note that if there is a Super User password, you will be asked to enter it when the Monitor starts up.

The option to Stream Job Logs from Pulse is available as an alternative to reading Job reports directly from the Repository. This can improve the performance of viewing Job reports if you are connected to the Repository through a high latency network such as a Virtual Private Network hosted in another country.

Turning on the Enable Slave Pinging option will allow the Monitor to periodically ping each Slave on the Repository. The result of the ping is shown in the “Ping” column of the Slaves Panel. This information is helpful to determine the state of a Slave that hasn’t updated its status on the Repository in a little while. Since pinging Slaves creates additional traffic on the network, you may wish to use this option sparingly. In the Slaves panel below we can see the ping results, as well as the Slave statuses and when they were last updated.

The options to Show House Cleaning, Repository Repair and Pending Job Scan Updates in the Status Bar toggle displays of the last time those maintenance operations were performed on the connected Repository. These appear in the Status Bar at the bottom of the Monitor interface and can be used as quick indicators that things are running smoothly. If it has been at least 10 minutes since the last maintenance operation, the indicators will switch to an alarming red color.

In the image above we can see that the maintenance operations haven’t been performed in over a week. This is a pretty clear indication that something is not peachy keen on the Repository. This should alert the Monitor user to check that Pulse and/or Slaves are running, connected to the Repository, and are able to perform maintenance operations. See the House Cleaning Documentation for more information.

Finally, the Search History Length determines how many past search terms can be shown in the drop-down of the search box on various Monitor panels. For example, setting this value to 20 means that the drop-down will contain at most 20 items corresponding to your most recent search queries on this panel. The image below shows the search terms that I used over the course of gathering screenshots for this blog post. (These are completely real and are in no way cooked up on the fly for the purpose of illustration.)

Wrapping Up

This takes us to the end of what is available in the Monitor Options. I hope that this overview brought up some ideas that you will find helpful. But the options for customization don’t stop here. We will explore other areas in future Deadline Feature Blog posts, but in the meantime I encourage you to explore the other option pages accessible through the Deadline Monitor and see what else you can find.