The support for this product is really frustrating

I’m getting frustrated with the number of questions I feel I ask on the site and never get responses for. I’m not sure if it is because the questions are too specific, too complex, or if they are possible bugs. It is starting to lead me away from advising the full implementation of grafana into my corporation’s RT analytics studies and towards something with better support. I like the ease of use for the end user that grafana provides but there are simple specifications I either do not know how to implement or are not available currently. I also can’t seem to find any sort of comprehensive documentation on many of the features of the application, for example the specifics of how to implement dynamic nested variables.

I currently am trying to work through these two issues:

  1. Template Variable in opentsdb metric
  2. Having trouble getting nested variables to work together
  3. Do downsampled queries change as time progresses?
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If you are using it in a corporate environment then I would have thought there was a good argument for paying for support.

I’ve been in the same situation as you for a month, the support and the community are totally dead unless you’re “Enterprise” (Which also has a price too high, about 7000 euros, to only fix BUGs or help you in things that should be basic and be in the documentation)

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My company is currently looking at OSI Pi as an alternative so there is definitely the possibility of paying for support if the support offered was worth paying for.

This is exactly the issue. Simple documentation misunderstandings/lack of documentation or small bug fixes shouldn’t require a paid support account.

Who do you think should pay for that to be done?

However, from the other point of view, what’s the point of writing and
releasing Open Source software if people can’t get it to work?

I am also having a frustrating time with a fresh installation of Grafana 6.1.3
on Debian 9 - I can create a data source and Grafan tells me that it’s
working, but I cannot then create any query to use the data.

I’ve opened a ticket about this yesterday but so far had no responses, which
surprises me for something so basic to getting the thing going.

Antony.

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If grafana wants to start charging for the application that is fine but it shouldn’t be expected that if a user wants to actually be able to use the open source application successfully and get basic help for simple queries (there is very little information on how to actually use the regex features with regards to series overrides, queries and the like, I also have no idea what specific tag or filter options there are with metric queries and I do not believe there is documentation on their use as far as I have seen) that they pay for an enterprise account. My company has no issue paying for support but if the support is to enable a simple feature/report a bug, it becomes an issue of whether the platform being used is worth it for the long haul.

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Just because a company has open sourced its software does not mean that you have a right to expect free support from the company. It is up to the community to provide free support. Having started using Grafana a little while ago I have been trying to do my bit as a member of the community to give a little help to others, within the limits of my knowldege, unfortunately there do not seem to be very many users willing to do that. @pooh and @damienclark if you get it going will you be here providing support for others?

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I have no issue posting my solutions to my issues but I do not believe I have much to offer as a data scientist, NOT a developer.

Help for users getting started does not need a developer, it needs a user who has got it up and running.
If you don’t think people like yourself can provide support, who do you expect to provide free support then?

You’re derailing the discussion. This post is to mention the frustration that I, and clearly others, are having with this platform and not being able to receive any help without having access to an enterprise account.

To answer your question, I have no issue helping others where I can however as an edge case user using opentsdb and mssql, I am limited in how I can help since my experience does not seem to be the norm compared to others and what they are trying to use grafana for.

Personally I provide quite a bit of support on various mailing lists (eg:
Squid, MailScanner, Asterisk, SpamAssassin, Devuan, Icinga) and I also write
up wiki articles when I work out how to do something that is not entirely
obvious or intuitive.

I also write up wiki articles when I find things which are non-intuitive, and
these are often sarcastic observations on whatever the programmer was thinking
when s/he decided to do it like that. They’re still helpful for people who
get caught out by such things, because they’re not just rants about how badly
something is done - they’re guides on what you have to do even if it isn’t
obvious.

I do not think it reasonable to expect people to buy a commercial support
contract just in order to get software installed and working at a basic level.
It’s okay to expect people to pay €$£50 or so for a book which guides them
through the basics (and I don’t mind whether that book is written by the
creators of the software or by people who just use it and can write).

For me “paid support” means getting bespoke changes to the software, advanced
training on doing unusual things, or priority assistance within an SLA.

One of the biggest problems with expecting “the community” to respond to
questions about “how do I get this thing to do X?” is that often the
developers are the only ones who know - unless they’ve documented it and the
people who’ve read the documentation can point others in the right
direction…

Right now a fresh installation of Grafana 6.1.3 contains a help system which
points users wanting to understand Dashboards at a Youtube video made in 2015
and bearing very little resemblance to the current interface.

Antony.

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I entirely agree it is frustrating that there are not better docs or free support.
What do others think should be done about it and by whom?

I look to projects such as Apache, Icinga and Squid (all of which I use
happily, and two of which I contribute to the support lists for), which
provide sufficient free documentation to go with the freely-available software
that a newcomer can install it, get it working, and do basic things with it.

All those projects also provide paid consultancy/support contracts, where
people can sponsor new features to be developed, pay for assistance with
unusual configurations, or get timely help where SLAs are a factor.

My opinion is that if a developer implements something in an application, they
should simultaneously document how to make use of it, and if the organisation
behind a project as complex as Grafana (or Icinga, Apache, or Squid - they’re
all pretty big pieces of software with multiple aspects of functionaility)
produces videos telling newcomers how to use a feature, those should be
refreshed when the user interface changes significantly.

If refreshing a video presentation is too much effort (which I can quite
understand), then just rely on written documentation instead.

I fail to understand the purpose behind producing open source software without
similarly open documentation, though - it suggests that the developers don’t
really want the software to be freely-available, and in the end this restricts
the number of knowledgeable non-developers who can help with questions on a
support forum, because so few people have worked out for themselves how to get
the thing working.

I’d be very interested to hear additional opinions on this topic; it would be
good to get things improved one way or another.

Antony.

OK, so you think Grafana.com should be supplying more documentation and support?

I don’t know precisely what your definition of “support” is.

I certainly think that grafana.com, who create the software, should provide
sufficient documentation, kept up to date with the current version, to enable
people to install it and get it working at a basic level.

For me, right now, that’s not working.

(See ticket / forum entry / message 16169 for details)

I regard open source software as a bootstrap process - you create some
software, you release it to the world, you document how to make it work, and
you let the people who try it out and think it’s wonderful spread the word for
you (and some of them implement it commercially and then pay you for training
/ support / features / expertise).

Without that initial step - providing enough information for anyone to get it
working at a basic level - you lose potential advocates, writers who will
spread the word, and potential paying customers.

If you want everyone to pay for training, documentation and features, then
just release your software under a proprietary licence and make it clear.

Otherwise I think two groups suffer from releasing open source software without
functional documentation:

  1. potential users, who get frustrated and use something else instead, even if
    what you’ve produced is actually quite good

  2. the business behind the project, which loses advocates, fails to get good
    publicity, and ultimately fails to get payment (in whatever form - donations,
    contributions, support contracts, training fees).

Antony.

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It would be interesting to hear from someone on the team about this.

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I am a software developer (well more the manager now) and documenting what you write is a skill that seems to have disappeared from the skill set of developers. I am constantly hounding my team to write a little, document a little. They say either “my code is self documenting as it is so obvious” or “its not finished yet and I will document it when it is finished”. I point out that Windows is not finished yet either.

Writing good documentation is a skill, takes lots of effort, a really good HTML editor, maintenance of the hyperlinks (how many times have you clicked on a link to download 'the answer; and found it is a dead link) and good writing skills.

Commercial companies like mine employ full-time staff to do this who are good at it. As the code library grows, maintaining documentation is an amazingly hard task.

I love Grafana, can understand peoples frustration, but can also imagine the developers thinking along the lines of “all my hard work you guys are using for free and you only grumble about the 1% that is not working”

This is a community support forum, it can be frustrating sometimes, and we’re all part of it.

If you are a paying customer, this is not the channel for this kind of complaint.

Since the project is open source, if grafana.com prices are high or they’re not fixing you problems, you can always pay someone else to fix things for you.