Let’s get familiar with its UI and components!
In our last article, we saw how to sign up with GCP and prepare our environment. Once that is done we are ready to head to https://console.cloud.google.com, the URL of GCP Dashboard, the core of the Web Experience provided by Google Cloud Platform
Assuming you have already created a project (if you haven’t, I’ll show you how to soon in the next article), or more, you will be welcome with a similar screen:
For this example, I will be using a simple project that was part of one of my previous talks. This project uses App Engine, BigQuery, Cloud Functions, Cloud Storage, ML Apis and other services.
Let’s see what is going on, starting from the main content that we see at the centre of the page and slowly going up to the headers:
The body of the page contains several different customizable widgets that provide information, reports, stats and help related to the current project and GCP in general (what you will see might differ according to your project and your settings). Each one of them offers you a contextual menu that allows you to either get to the related documentation or to hide the widget:
almost all of them provide at the bottom a navigation button that will lead you to the related service, some of them will offer additional choices according to their content, like editing the chart or adding a different one.
Let’s now give them a quick glance, one by one:
- Project info — it specifies the basic information related to the current project, like name, ID, number.
- Resources — it lists the main resources/components used in the project.
- Trace — if Stackdriver Trace is enabled, it provides the latest trace data.
- Getting started — it links to quick tutorials of the most common operations.
- App Engine — it shows a graph related to the usage of one instance of App Engine, by default it’s count/sec, but you can specify different parameters for the main graph or add a new one.
- APIs — a graph showing the requests per second to the APIs used by the project.
- Google Cloud Platform Status — as the name implies it reports the status of GCP services, in the unlikely scenario that some outage occurs.
- Billing — it shows an estimate of the charges related to this project in the current period.
- Error reporting — it shows the last 24 hours errors collected by Stackdriver error reporting.
- News — It aggregates the feeds of news related to GCP and Cloud in general.
- Documentation — Hot links to GCP documentation.
Moving up from the main content, we notice a bar with 2 tabs (Dashboard, Activity) and Customise
Dashboard is the default selected tab, which shows all the widgets we just went through, while the Customise buttons allow us to quickly edit them:
you will notice that in Customise mode all the widgets will have a quick toggle in their corner and other widgets that weren’t present before will be offered (greyed out, in the example image Compute Engine and SQL). Once you’re happy with your changes, pressing the Done button that replaced Customise will finalize them.
The other tab, Activity, will instead list all the events happening across all the services part of your project, with the related options to filter them on the right-hand side:
Proceeding with yet one more level up, we reach the main menu bar:
- Navigation menu — it expands and lists all the most relevant GCP component grouped by category, more on this later.
- Navigation link to the Dashboard — useful if you’re in a product’s page and you want to quickly navigate back.
- Project selector — it will display a pop-up window allowing you to select the current project.
- Search bar — it allows you to search full text among the products, services and functionalities offered by GCP.
- Cloud Shell — this button provides command-line access to a virtual machine instance in a terminal window that opens in the web console, more on this later.
- Send Feedback — it will display a pop-up window containing a form to share issues or ideas.
- Help — it shows a contextual pop-up window with articles and support options.
- Notifications — it will aggregate and notify about relevant events regarding your project and account.
- Settings — it allows you to set your project preferences, keyboard shortcuts, a direct link to tools downloads.
- Google Account — as it’s easy to guess it shows information related to the account with which you’re currently logged in, allowing you to log out or add other accounts.
Clicking on the Navigation (Hamburger) Menu, opens up a world of possibilities, which can admittedly feel overwhelming at a first glance, but it becomes less scary if we start looking at it at a higher level, understanding what each group does.
The first section contains elements common to the whole project:
- Marketplace — where you can find components, prepackaged solutions, VMs, Images, Data Sets.
- Billing details.
- API & Services — where you can enable and manage which ones you want to add to your project (many have to be explicitly enabled before you’re able to use them).
- Support — with different ways to reach out to get help (chat, phone, community).
- IAM & admin — a crucial part of every project, Identity Access Management, Encrypted Key & secrets store, Roles management, Audit.
(I plan on doing an article on this soon)
- Getting started — another way to get to the starting tutorials.
- Security — it partially overlaps with IAM & admin, but it also aggregates security capabilities on a networking & VPC side.
COMPUTE — This section collects all the Computing options offered by GCP from classical fully managed VMs (Compute Engine), to totally serverless (Cloud Functions, Cloud Run), passing through its offering of PaaS (App Engine) and container management & orchestration system with GKE.
STORAGE — In this section, we can find all the different storage options present in GCP. We range from simple buckets (Storage) to classical SQL Instances (MySql, PostgreSQL, SQL Server), horizontally scalable SQL DBs (Spanner), NoSQL databases, Wide Column DB (BigTable), In Memory store.
NETWORKING — as the name suggests, here we have aggregated all the options relative to Networking, from VPC/VPN settings, firewall and security rules, to Load balancing and Content Delivery Network configuration for our project.
STACKDRIVER — here we find collected a suite of tools to extensively monitor, debug, profile, trace and log our code, our instances, our services in isolation or in an aggregated fashion.
TOOLS — in this section we find on a side tools and services that help you develop and organise your code, like a deployment agent, a CI/CD Pipeline, a source code repository or a registry for your containers, and on the other side a group of services to work in concert with other components of your project, like a cloud scheduler or an asynchronous batch task manager.
BIG DATA — in this section we can find the products related to the transformation, ingestion, and processing of big datasets, working in convert to cover all the steps of this lifecycle. It’s probable you might have heard about BigQuery, the core product in this purview, but there are other similarly great elements for more specific scenarios like IoT Core for the Internet of Things or Genomics.
Pub/Sub and Dataflow are often used in conjunction with other GCP components (also outside of this section) to orchestrate and collate data.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE — last but certainly not the least we find the products related to AI & ML in GCP. It’s great how GCP offers tools that cover the full spectrum of complexity and use cases in Machine Learning, from ready to use APIs, to Tensorflow support, with intermediate and easy to use solutions like AutoML and tools to prepare your data to be ingested (Data Labelling).
The last thing I’d like to discuss is Cloud Shell.
When you press the button, your personal Admin Machine will be instantiated and you’ll connect to it.
You will have terminal access to a command-line Linux environment, with persistent storage (5 Gb) from which you can manage all your cloud resources.
The most common development tools are pre-installed (Java, Go, Python, Node.JS, PHP, Ruby…the overview on the official page doesn’t mention it but also .NET Core is included, Yay!) as well as the most used admin tools like Docker, Kubernetes, MySql.
The Cloud Shell Environment is a docker container, there is a default, Google maintained one, but it’s possible to specify a different one if you fancy so.
Cloud Shell also includes a few nice treats, like a Web Preview for your services:
and an online visual code editor which can make your life much easier if you’re not practical with VIM:
I hope that with this overview I have given you a broad idea of what is going on in the central hub of GCP, making it a tad bit less scary, so that it might be a little easier to look for what you might be interested in.
As always, you can reach out to me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TetsuoRyuu, for suggestions, feedback, critics or even just a quick chat, my DM Inbox is always open.