Operation logos

I'm working on creating symbols associated with operations to appear in the Operation History panels. This is an idea that arose from my desk research posted last month. My hope is that it will give users additional clarity

Here's my first iteration on those symbols, which I tried to keep as simple and consistent as possible.

If anyone has feedback, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!


Dear @zoecooper
your icons/logos are very straightforward and clear to me, thanks for the ideas! Love that split/join-symbols! For "add column based on value" and "add column by fetching urls" I like the variant with rectangles more as it is closer to the "column management" symbols. Sure, it is about values, but I understand it primarily as a column-based approach.


What if we embraced the concept of "matching" for reconciling? In other earlier programs, a lookup or match or recon was signified by a pair of binocular scopes, but we might also choose "matching" 2 pairs of things also, like jigsaw puzzle pieces, for instance.
Reconciling is a complex thing, but the essence of it is very simple. Ideally, I'd go for something simple for the concept of "matching".

My wildly stupid quick unsymmetrical hack (with unfilled white, maybe blue filled to look better perhaps, anyways...an idea)

1 Like

I like your idea @thadguidry, I think the representation of matching as points and arrows is too complex to be identifiable in a small logo. Yours could be turned into something distinctive, that users will be able to quickly associate with reconciliation.

Given that a lot of our operations are quite complex and hard to explain with a quick sketch, I think we should generally try to aim our icons to be easily learnable rather than being understandable out of the blue. Of course, the more the relationship to the operation is intuitive, the easier this learning process will be.

Glad you liked it. Btw, It could be simplified to only 1 nodule ball instead of 2. But the 2 version quickly was recognized as a matching puzzle piece, dunno.

Thank you Thad, that's very helpful. What do you think about an image like this one, pehaps?

I felt that my version with a solid square or rectangle with a good border had a stronger visual appeal towards the concept of matching. Your version evokes to me more of a “matching towards a final completion” because of the missing pieces to complete the puzzle.

Okay, that makes sense. I've sketched a few ideas:

1 Like

Hmm, thinking more about sizing and clarity now.

If we had to have this as an SVG and we scaled down for an icon in some area of OpenRefine where it might only be 20 or 25px, then my worry would be about clearly seeing it's a matching pair of puzzle pieces. Which one of those versions do you think would still look cleanly? Maybe top one with it's more contrast?

Hmm... what if instead we had a capital R (for reconcile) as the puzzle itself? Where left and right sides come together to make the R complete? kinda like an F on the left piece, and the curved top part of R and it's right leg on the right piece ? What might that look like nicely drawn? My worry again here is that of scaling and making the pieces still look puzzle-like.

Given the size and complexity constraints, I experimented with paring down the types of logos. I'm working out establishing a balance between complexity (too many logos are too small to read) and oversimplification. The types of operations have been broken down into six categories, and I'm working on one logo per category.

  1. reconciliation
  2. wikibase extension
  3. column management
  4. row management
  5. reshaping
  6. deriving new data

Here are a few of my sketches. Any thoughts?

Any way you could make the Wikibase logo just a bit less "piano key" looking? Perhaps wider spacing or thicker lines, dunno.

I am not sure what you mean by "management" of columns and rows.
Are these supposed to be where 1 of them is chosen and then users will see them in the Undo/Redo History for changes to any column or row? (column add, rename, delete || row add, delete, what else?) If I had to pick 1 icon for Row management, I'd double put the white and black horizontal boxes over/under each other and make that the single icon. Same goes for Column management, have the white and black box a bit closer to each other and make them a single icon. Would there be a border box around those icons?

"deriving new data" - I always think of "new" being some kinda of -<={* shiny thing *}=>- Or :heavy_plus_sign: plus sign when a click is needed to add something new. If this is to signify that an operation Added Some New Object?, then I think :heavy_plus_sign: plus would work better? An alternative might be overlay of a + plus sign on top of a a mini grid icon? Here's my 10 second hack in Paint (cut aways are great when you need clarity for overlaying iconography) :

Hmm, "reshaping". That means changing from 1 shape to another? Changing a Text date type to a Date data type? Things like that? If I had to pick, perhaps that first one where the white circle changes to a black circle? The arrow shows that there's some kind of time passing or movement or change event. I like the use of arrow there for that reason. Maybe the circle could really change shape? circle --> triangle ?

"reconcile" - Just a checkmark inside a box really stands strongly as something "completed". And a lot less so for "reconciling". I'd worry about that choice of an icon because it might be confusing to see in Operation History and a user might think more immediately that something was "Done. Completed."

Hi @thadguidry, after some workshopping with Antonin, we decided to make use an icon based on the new Wikibase Logo.

Here's a screenshot:
Screenshot 2024-04-18 at 11.05.06 AM

1 Like

Hi all,

Happy to share new iteration of the icons. These will appear next to each operation in the operation history panel, and next to each operation in the dropdown menus.

I didn't want to make the categories too broad, but also wanted each operation to remain legible to users.

Would love to hear your feedback!

Screenshot 2024-04-18 at 12.26.46 PM

The multi valued cell join/split almost seem like they are opposing their intent?
Reverse them? Arrows going / splitting apart from each other. Arrows going / joining towards each other.

Column and row reorder seem opposites of their intent also?

Hmm, the column addition with paratheses lacks the feeling of "column"... maybe incorporate the vertical rectangle iconography from your other column management icons somehow?

Text transform could grow on me however. Somehow the ellipsis gives that "menu" feeling of doing "more" which is exactly what transform can accomplish; "lots of things - more"

The only ones that feel I need some tweaking might be the Fill down / Blank down. Something fits well, but then something doesn't. Hmm, maybe it's the sizing or detailing within them? Maybe the connecting lines need to be bolder? Or maybe it's the top left dark square that's always there and throwing me off where I don't get it's significance enough - feels like it's almost representing some record "key" against a column of values or just some weird connected nodes? Maybe remove that top corner box? dunno. Just something about those 3 together, cluttered, very thinly connected.

I like what you are trying to do with the key value columnize... but it somehow misses the point of a "key" value. Hmm, that one might be hard to get into some decent iconography. In fact, I almost feel like that blank down icon is more like a "key" value with it's solid dark box connected to 2 white value boxes. Anyways, that's an idea perhaps? Make "a small box -> into 2 columns" rather than your 2 columns on top of a dark row?

The 2 recon icons are growing on me. 2 circles overlapped (they also subtly look like a pair of binocular scopes reconing at you! lololol). I like them, both the solid and dotted circles icons. Let's keep them!

I like them a lot better!

I don't know if we are at that stage already, but eventually I think it would be good to have a "polishing" pass to make them fit into the same visual language (with consistent corner style, line width). A little bit more like the icons of this tool that @thadguidry shared earlier:

Also, for some of them (primarily star, flag) I think they could be aligned to the icons we currently use in the tool. Because those would need vectorizing I have opened an issue about that:

I have the feeling that this sort of task is one which requires a pretty specific set of skills which we don't really have in the team, so I am wondering how to reach out to other communities where people might like giving a hand. I know there are people on Commons active in vectorization of logos, perhaps that's one possible avenue.

Actually, I have all those skills (Inkscape, Gimp, etc. - little known fact, I moved to California in my early 20's trying to get my foot in the door as a 3D artist - but was very hard in early '90s, and my dreams quickly faded) but I'm now very lazy in retirement and really want to pull in more contributors. I think it's important to keep growing our OpenRefine community wider.

So big :+1: on opening issues and labeling with "help needed" and asking other communities where artists might hang out!

Thanks for your input, I've incorporated changes here: