Genii Weblog

What says "Sort me!" to you?

Thu 4 Nov 2004, 01:55 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
One of our oldest and most popular on-line samples for the Midas Rich Text LSX is called Walden (Dynamic Table Manipulation).  Go ahead and try it if you like.  In any case, while it is popular, the interface reflects my UI deficiencies, I'm afraid, and I wanted to clean it up a bit.  The easiest part to do and the hardest part to communicate in this demo is the sorting of the columns.  How do you get people to realize that they can sort the columns?  There are a number of ways, but there is an unusual twist in that this must be obviously a rich text table.  The current samples has an interface that looks like this:

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If you click on the arrows, that sorts the particular column in either ascending or descending order.  Some other choices might be the Notes view approach:

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which doesn't look bad when not sorted by this column, but looks sort of cheesy when sorted by this column:

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Some other options don't specify the direction:

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but how do you let the users know that they can sort either ascending or descending?  I could add code so that the button recognized whether it was currently sorted in ascending or descending order and switch, which would be good for the user but bad for demonstrating how simple the code is for doing a table sort:

Sub SortTable(rtTable As GeniiRTChunk, sort_column As Integer, SortNumeric, SortReverse)
   Call rtTable.SortByRow(sort_column, True, SortNumeric, SortReverse)
End Sub

So, what should I use?  Should I stick with the arrows?  Am I focusing on the wrong issues entirely?  Are there other things I could do to the demo to make it more clear what was possible with Midas, or is it fairly clear?  I'd certainly appreciate any feedback.

Copyright 2004 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

227.1. Graham Richards
(11/05/2004 09:26 AM)

Ben, if I was in your shoes, I'd keep the interface exactly like the Notes View sort options...users are familiar with them, and should recognize them automatically.