Multiple-Column Sorting Controls
Original Publication Date: 2001-Feb-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-19
Multiple-Column Sorting Controls When sorting data in a table (also called a spreadsheet or grid) in a user interface, it is useful to let the user control the sequence of columns, called a "sorting sequence," that can be used to sort the rows. When equal values are found in the first column in the sorting sequence, the corresponding values in the next column in the sorting sequence are tested. If they are also equal, the next column in the sorting sequence is tested, and so forth, until the end of the sorting sequence is reached or unequal values are found that are compared to order the rows. In addition, each column in the sorting sequence may be designated as ascending or descending. This is called the direction designation. When unequal values are found, an ascending designation orders the lesser value first, and a descending designation orders the lesser value second. This situation in a user interface corresponds to the ORDER BY clause in an SQL query, where multiple columns can be specified as ASC or DESC, such as "ORDER BY Dept ASC, Salary DESC." Especially for viewing the results of large SQL queries, users expect the same kind of flexible multiple-column sorting that SQL provides.