I didn't yet see the new extjs4 gui interface but i suspect it must be great as you have concerns of ergonomy and the details along with good ideas.
With different tools, it's sometimes better/adapted to have a different tab in the browser for each of these tools, ie one browser tab/windows for the opennode gui management, one browser tab/windows for a monitoring solution, one browser tab/windows for the gui of network attached storage solution and so on...
And there are some times when it's also convenient to mix contexts in a whole environement so one browser tab/windows for quite some different needs but complement themselves in a given goal. This approach would correspond some kind of a general "supervision dashboard" for central management displayed differently depending of the rights and responsability of each person. This is also convenient for a new comer who is given all his environement at his fingertips in one shot which correspond to a better human organization.
So, this dashboard is about integration. When we talk about integration, there are software integration and visual integration. Software integration is generally the hardest stuff. Here i'm talking of visual integration of different piece of software. Here again, visual integration can be split in 2 subjects : adapting visual appearance with a skin and usability through layout organization. Here i'm talking about usability through layout organization as even if having the same skin for all software used is very nice, we also have better things to do i suppose (it's not like if it were to build our website).
So, based on his rights, the user would access to defined additional areas into Opennode management interface. Now, how does it look or how would the new areas be managed ? I don't expose all the ideas here to keep things simple so here is an easy introduction as an invitation to discuss. Basically, when people want a visual integration, here is what is usually followed :
- iframe wrapper
- direct link with template modifications of the external software (beginning with header and footer modifications)
- frameless visual integration that grabs the output of the external software and displays it inside your template
(Or for those who want and like detailed explanations, for literature here is a reference => http://www.jfusion.org/docs/doku.php?id=visual_integration;guide
In the purpose i'm suggesting, these approachs have constraints, limitations on researched added values and sometimes hard to achieve. So i'm suggesting default entries along a portal approach :
1. Default entries
Let's have a look on icinga gui for example http://web.demo.icinga.org/icinga-web/
. On the left, you have a navigation panel. This panel can slide on the left to disappear and be asked to appear again. This panel also have vertical collapsible lists to organize its content.
If we consider Opennode gui could be organized this way, depending of his rights, a user would see a collapsible entry for Opennode management, another one for storage management (to a remote openmediavault for example), another one for monitoring management (icinga for example), another one for security management (AlienVault or OpenVas as examples) and so on, you get the idea. On the right you have a portal window acting like a web browser which encapsulate the corresponding software.
2. Portal approach
This part concern the personalized dasboard. A given user has access to some entries we talked about. He also have access to his own dashboard in which he can decide of the number of portlets (portal window) he wants to be displayed in this space. In particular, the portlets corresponding to the entries he has access to. This is useful for a wide screen with a high resolution or even better in a multiscreen configuration as the browser would be scaled to these screens and the user could configure the portlets size to automatically corresponds to his different screens (and taking into account if the left sliding navigation panel is visible or not). This is just an example, the added value is the user have personalization at hands to adapt his portal the way he wants to be on a daily basis and benefit in particular of the maximum informations under his eyes (software events and notifications included) without always changing of screen which also optimize action behaviour and so decrease unecessary consuming navigation activity. You can tell that the user can open different browser windows but this has drawbacks, is less confortable and drives to more manipulations. Another point is a portal dashboard can be saved into a given configuration/template which could be share among users.
I have several others ideas but this is the base of my proposition.