Browse Prior Art Database

Highly Controllable and Visible Inline Multi-Column Sorting Controls

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000013431D
Original Publication Date: 2000-Sep-17
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-18
Document File: 5 page(s) / 100K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Disclosed below is an invention that lets users simultaneously sort multiple columns in a table. The method for doing this is dynamic, visual, and inline with the rest of the table GUI. Many GUI tables today let users directly sort an entire table based on a single column, which is a powerful table manipulator. Sorting shuffles the rows around to make them more meaningful, useful to work with, or to aid one in finding items in the table. However, with large tables potentially 1,000s of rows long and 10s of columns wide, sorting needs to be more sophisticated yet remain relatively easy to use, modify, and access. This invention is to provide visible inline controls for users to simultaneously sort multiple columns of a table. This will let users of large complex tables full of a rich set of multi-variate data, which is a common scenario with many Tivoli products (e.g. TEC, End Point Mgr, Notice Groups, etc.), to easily optimize and fine tune their tabular work area. Another problem this invention solves is to make multi-column sorting easier to control, modify, and access. To do this the sort controls are made highly accessible by being placed inline with the rest of the UI instead of less accessible via the alternative of a setup dialog, which in reality would make the multi-column sorts more cumbersome to manipulate. Placing the multi-column sort controls directly and visibly accessible within a table, as the industry has done for single column sorts, makes it easier for users to try out different types of sorts and to rapidly customize their tabular displays. Following is a step-by-step example that shows how the inline multi-column sorting works. The advantages are ease of sorting, ease of access to the sorting, and the resulting optimized work area for the user.

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Highly Controllable and Visible Inline Multi-Column Sorting Controls

Disclosed below is an invention that lets users simultaneously sort multiple columns in a table. The method for doing this is dynamic, visual, and inline with the rest of the table GUI.

Many GUI tables today let users directly sort an entire table based on a single column, which is a powerful table manipulator. Sorting shuffles the rows around to make them more meaningful, useful to work with, or to aid one in finding items in the table. However, with large tables potentially 1,000s of rows long and 10s of columns wide, sorting needs to be more sophisticated yet remain relatively easy to use, modify, and access. This invention is to provide visible inline controls for users to simultaneously sort multiple columns of a table. This will let users of large complex tables full of a rich set of multi-variate data, which is a common scenario with many Tivoli products (e.g. TEC, End Point Mgr, Notice Groups, etc.), to easily optimize and fine tune their tabular work area.

Another problem this invention solves is to make multi-column sorting easier to control, modify, and access. To do this the sort controls are made highly accessible by being placed inline with the rest of the UI instead of less accessible via the alternative of a setup dialog, which in reality would make the multi-column sorts more cumbersome to manipulate. Placing the multi-column sort controls directly and visibly accessible within a table, as the industry has done for single column sorts, makes it easier for users to try out different types of sorts and to rapidly customize their tabular displays.

Following is a step-by-step example that shows how the inline multi-column sorting works. The advantages are ease of sorting, ease of access to the sorting, and the resulting optimized work area for the user.

Figure 1 below shows a selection table that is currently unsorted. The current sorting mode is for simple single column sorts, so the user could click on any column header to do such a simple sort at this point.

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Figure 1 - Unsorted Table

If the user wants to initiate a multiple-column sort he or she could enter an "Advanced Sorting" mode. Figure 2 below shows the sort pop-up menu after the user has brought it up and selected "Advanced Sorting". Another option might be to load a previously saved sort (e.g., "Load Sort...").

Figure 2 - Pop-up Menu with "Advanced Sorting" Enabled

After entering the multi-column sort mode the user can then interactively start sorting multiple columns. Figure 3 below shows how the multi-column sort controls could appear on each column header to give affordances for manipulation and an indication of the current multi-column sort mode. It also shows how the two most common directions of a sort, ascending and descending, could have analogous directional buttons display as the user rolls over one of these sort controls with his or her mouse pointer.

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