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I'm building a tool that runs on a text-based console. It's an application-specific proxy server, relaying data (generally, queries) from a small handful of clients to a hardware device, and the data from that device (generally, query responses) back to the clients.

As a sort of realtime status indication, I'm showing the packet counts to/from each device. This tells the user whether or not the data has made it from clients to the proxy server, and whether or not the hardware device has responded and packets have been sent back to the client.

One bit of trouble I'm having is disambiguating the direction in which data is traveling. I wrote the tool, and even I'm confused by my own table so I'm hoping for some suggestions.

Here's the output I have now:

x32-proxy v1.0.0 - Copyright © 2018, AudioPump, Inc.
Upstream X32: 10.0.1.165:10023
Listening: [::]:10023

Clients
------------------------------------------------
address            port   packets-tx  packets-rx
-----------------  -----  ----------  ----------
::ffff:10.0.1.209  49549  13,722      2,590
::ffff:10.0.9.121  49549  15,322      5,312

The packets-tx column is intended to indicate the number of packets from the proxy to the client. The packets-rx column is intended to indicate the number of packets from the client to the proxy.

My initial thought was to swap the order of the columns, since there will usually be a packet from the client to the proxy (and on to the device) before there will be a packet from the device, through the proxy, and back to the client. But, most things use the TX/RX ordering.

How can I clear up this confusion for my users? (Or, is this a non-issue?)

  • What are you're character set limitations? Is it full UTF-8? – Bryce Howitson Oct 15 '18 at 18:10
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I would suggest up/down arrows since those correlate to send and receive for most people. Depending on your character set, there are likely several available

Otherwise I'd make up arrows <- TX -> or -> RX <- but those are less obvious than ⬆⬇

1

It looks like you're just trying to put too much information in the table headers.

The fact that the table is displaying TX/RX ordered packets sent to and received from a proxy client (if I got that right from your question) should be communicated in the table title.

Make the title descriptive or add description for the table and the table headers can simply be sent and received.

Sent and received best describe the columns and their relation to each other. If sent and received aren't technical enough, use whatever terms best describe the difference between the numbers like outgoing and incoming. Table headers may need to be read by users repeatedly so they should be as short and clear as possible.

Sent and received is also good because it includes order, you naturally have to send something in order to receive something.

x32-proxy v1.0.0 - Copyright © 2018, AudioPump, Inc.
Upstream X32: 10.0.1.165:10023
Listening: [::]:10023

TX/RX Ordered Packets Sent To and Received From Proxy Client
------------------------------------------------
address            port   sent        received
-----------------  -----  ----------  ----------
::ffff:10.0.1.209  49549  13,722      2,590
::ffff:10.0.9.121  49549  15,322      5,312
  • @Brad Or even "To proxy" and "From proxy" as headings. – TripeHound Oct 16 '18 at 14:06

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