An alternative to Transfer boxes

20 Oct 2008 - 10:23am
5 years ago
3 replies
649 reads
Charusmitha Ram
2008

Transfer boxes have been around for a long time and is a classic UI control
for multi-selecting items and creating/building lists. However, it has a
very bloated UI and a cumbersome interaction. Are there variations or
alternatives to transfer boxes to perform multiselect functions? Online
Examples?
Thanks.
----------------------------------------------------------
Smitha Ram
Senior Interaction Designer
Thomson Reuters | www.thomsonreuters.com
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Comments

20 Oct 2008 - 1:37pm
Chauncey Wilson
2007

You can also use a multi-select list box to choose the items for a
list. The list box that includes check boxes for each item seems
simpler, but if you have lots of items in the list, can require as
much or more scrolling as the transfer box. It also has the
disadvantage of hiding items that are in the visible portion of the
list. If you use this method then you should include a counter near
the label that indicates how many items are selected. There is also a
problem when you have a checkbox that there can be two types of
selection (checkbox and normal list item selection). That can create
some usasbility problems as well. The transfer box does clearly show
what is in the "created list" whereas that is not so easily
discernable in the multi-select list box. Both the transfer box and
the multi-select list can create problems. One of the questions I
would ask is how often will people use the transfer facility and how
many items do you expect them to move into the new list? You could
also use a drag and drop approach like some card sorting tools, but
that can be laborious if you allow only single item moves (though some
transfer boxes do allow drag and drop though very, very few people
will use the drag and drop facility).

Another question to ask about moving items from a source to a target
list is what proportion of the items do people generally move. If
they often move many items, you might have a feature to exclude
selected items and move the large number of unselected items.

Somewhere at home, I have several other approaches to move items from
a source to a target list. It is probably buried. I seem to recall
that an old book, GUI design for Dummies has a discussion of this
(from Windows 95 or so) when this type of widget was gaining
popularity. If you have a lot of items in the single-list chooser,
you can add a filter.

Chauncey

On Mon, Oct 20, 2008 at 11:23 AM, Charusmitha Ram <smitharam at gmail.com> wrote:
> Transfer boxes have been around for a long time and is a classic UI control
> for multi-selecting items and creating/building lists. However, it has a
> very bloated UI and a cumbersome interaction. Are there variations or
> alternatives to transfer boxes to perform multiselect functions? Online
> Examples?
> Thanks.
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> Smitha Ram
> Senior Interaction Designer
> Thomson Reuters | www.thomsonreuters.com
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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20 Oct 2008 - 1:55pm
DampeS8N
2008

A better attack for this problem is to reevaluate why you think you
need this idiom. Odds are good that if you seek an alternative, you
may have locked yourself into the idiom.

If you think the user is going to have trouble with it, use something
else.

If you need to scroll the select box, you should rethink your choice.
It would depend on WHAT you want to do, but let us assume you are
building a list from 30 or so items.

If you show all the items, with as much information as possible,
then float selected items to the top, and remember it, you can keep
most of the swaps users make at the front of the list where they can
toggle quickly.

If this isn't appropriate, do something else.

It really depends on the context. There really isn't something you
can just point to and say, "This is always better." because a
multi-select box of 10 items where all 10 are visible still beats
everything else. However, 50 items is another story, and 1000 items
needs search-ability.

It all depends.

Will

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20 Oct 2008 - 3:43pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Dissatisfied with transfer boxes, I designed a similar solution that
takes less clicks and doesn't rely on the standard list box widget. I
created two lists using HTML and scripted it such that clicking on an
item in one list immediately transferred it to the other list. A
little arrow would appear beside an item on rollover to indicate the
action. The assumption of this design is that the user isn't likely to
be selecting a large number of sequential items, as you can't shift-
click to select multiples.

Best,
Jack

On Mon, Oct 20, 2008 at 11:23 AM, Charusmitha Ram
<smitharam at gmail.com> wrote:
> Transfer boxes have been around for a long time and is a classic UI
> control
> for multi-selecting items and creating/building lists. However, it
> has a
> very bloated UI and a cumbersome interaction. Are there variations or
> alternatives to transfer boxes to perform multiselect functions?
> Online
> Examples?
> Thanks.

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

Things should be as simple as possible,
but no simpler.

- Albert Einstein

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