Tab order - how to escape from a grid that uses tabs

30 Sep 2009 - 11:17am
4 years ago
8 replies
686 reads
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Limit new row creation to one empty row.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 4:12 AM, Chris Collingridge <
ccollingridge at googlemail.com> wrote:

> An interesting question has come up on one of our products, and I'd
> be interested to hear if anyone has (a) come across this before, (b)
> got any references offering advice, or (c) just has a idea.
>
> We have a grid - hosted within a dialog that contains other controls
> - in which the tab key moves the focus along the row to allow data
> entry. When you get to the end of a row, hitting tab creates a new
> row in the grid.
>
> This interaction is already very well understood by our users and
> extensively used for fast data entry. The question has arisen though
> - how to get the focus out of the grid so that you can access the
> other controls? Should we just rely on access keys to enable that?
> Obviously tab will just continue to move through the grid infinitely
> (more or less) ,creating new rows all the time.
>
> Cheers,
> Chris.
> ________________________________________________________________
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Comments

30 Sep 2009 - 11:36am
bminihan
2007

One thing you could try...

If you tab off the end of a row with data in it, create a new row.
However, if you tab off the end of a row with NO data in it, tab out of the
control.

The premise being that you only want one empty row at a time.

Another option could be adding a small "jump out" button after the last
column, which you could hit SPACE or ENTER on, to exit the control and put
the focus on the next thing outside the grid. Something like this:

[cell] TAB
[cell] TAB
[jumpout btn (diagonal arrow?)] SPACE
==> Exit grid

Bryan Minihan

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Chris
Collingridge
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 9:13 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Tab order - how to escape from a grid that uses tabs

An interesting question has come up on one of our products, and I'd
be interested to hear if anyone has (a) come across this before, (b)
got any references offering advice, or (c) just has a idea.

We have a grid - hosted within a dialog that contains other controls
- in which the tab key moves the focus along the row to allow data
entry. When you get to the end of a row, hitting tab creates a new
row in the grid.

This interaction is already very well understood by our users and
extensively used for fast data entry. The question has arisen though
- how to get the focus out of the grid so that you can access the
other controls? Should we just rely on access keys to enable that?
Obviously tab will just continue to move through the grid infinitely
(more or less) ,creating new rows all the time.

Cheers,
Chris.
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

30 Sep 2009 - 11:54am
David Lambert
2009

1 Oleh. Tab at the end of an empty row would spit you out to the
next control in the tab order.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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30 Sep 2009 - 2:53pm
Nils-Erik Gustafsson
2009

Are you using arrow keys inside the cells? Perhaps the vertical arrows
would be perceived as a natural way to quickly move vertically through
a column of cells and "bail out" when reaching the top or bottom
cell? User testing is always the best way to find out, especially
when your users have developed habits, as you describe.

The Escape-key might be another possibility...

Good luck! (And let us know how the story ends. ;-)

Nils-Erik

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30 Sep 2009 - 5:29pm
Christopher Rider
2009

I'd expect the escape key to get me out of this mode, but it's a
little ambiguous where the focus should land. On the next control? On
the table itself?

Agreed with the others that tabbing off the end of the empty row
should also take me out of this mode.

You might also want to consider how designers have solved analogous
problems. In MS Word automatic bullet lists, for example, CRTL-Z
deletes the last bullet, as does hitting return/enter on an empty
bullet.

Other things to consider:

* What happens to the empty row when the user exits this mode?
* When do you create the empty row - when the user tabs out of the
last cell or when the user enters data in the first empty cell?

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1 Oct 2009 - 5:47am
Anonymous

Thanks for all the responses - very useful.

To answer a couple of the questions:

A new row is created when you hit tab in the last cell of what is
currently the last row, with the focus then being in the first cell
of the new row.

If the user does not complete a row, it is discarded when the dialog
is closed, so this extra blank row will just be ignored.

The grid also pre-populates with values from above where it can - so
the first two cells are filled in automatically as they gain focus
(they can be overtyped). So the new row is never actually empty.
However the values that change most often - located at the end of the
row - are not pre-populated, as that is very unlikely to make sense.

So we've decided to follow the suggestion made to jump out of the
grid if you tab out of the last cell in the row if it is blank. If it
is not blank then a new row will be created as previously. We'll try
this out with a few power users prior to release to make sure there
are no unexpected consequences.

Thanks once again for the input!

Cheers,
Chris

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Oct 2009 - 4:36am
r32soul
2009

Actually there are some more things to consider!

1. Is this a web app? If it's a web app, I don't think you should
tab outside of the grid. Unless there is a specific need for the
requirement.

Web app is associated with primary navigation menu, and browser
controls, so tab outside the grid, and you have to consider where
does it tab to, and is it even necessary for users to do that.

2. If it's a desktop app, and you mentioned other controls in the
grid, how many controls are there? Are there sub-controls within the
control? If there aren't too many, then what's then reasoning to
tab out of the grid to the controls?

Once users tab out of the grid and to the controls, what's the next
interaction? Enter key to return a response? Do users still need to
mouse over to get further interaction?

Obviously, I'm just looking at it from a view that I have no idea
what the application looks like, and how detail and complex this
application is.

Just my 2 cents.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Oct 2009 - 10:07am
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

When to create the new row.

This behavior, suggested by Chris Rider, handles expectations better, I
think: "create the empty row - when the user enters data in the first empty
cell". Or tabs out of the any formerly empty cell in the formerly empty row,
I might add.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 10:47 PM, Chris Collingridge <
ccollingridge at googlemail.com> wrote:

>
> A new row is created when you hit tab in the last cell of what is
> currently the last row, with the focus then being in the first cell
> of the new row.
>
>

1 Oct 2009 - 4:59pm
Kim van Poelgeest
2009

Your solution might work well, depending on the number of fields you
have to TAB through to (the number of cells on a row). It can be very
frustrating to cycle even through more than two empty cells just to
leave a TAB order.

Consider the proposition. When would a user want to TAB out of the
data entry field? Most likely when finished entering data, so what
would feel most natural is hitting ENTER / RETURN. I don't see why
you wouldn't keep such a suggestion appearing each time or
continuously with a live suggestion once you reach the end of a each
row or logical sequence, or only just once after leaving the first
row.

I think I would try that if I hadn't worked with the app before and
if I didn't feel that it would actually send the data and leave the
page.

But I would be interested in what would be the result of the first
tests.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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