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UI element mixed review

So, tables have headers, and those headers are often clickable; click on the "Subject" column header in Thunderbird, and suddenly your mail is sorted by subject...  Same for date, sender, etc.  This is a common UI element.

Anyone else find themselves going to click on their most recently received message, missing just a little, and staring at all the mail you ever got that had no Subject: header?


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 12th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC)
Astonishingly little of my mail has no subject (header).
(Deleted comment)
May. 12th, 2005 05:17 pm (UTC)
I resort often by subject, author, or status (if I think there are some unread messages that I missed).

But it's easy in Eudora to see what I'm sorted by and resort. So it doesn't actually bother me.
May. 12th, 2005 03:21 pm (UTC)
Just about the only mail that I ever get without a header is spam, and I don't keep that.

However, I do find that particular UI "feature" rather annoying.
May. 12th, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC)
I use gnus. Never have this problem. :)

Actually, I don't much like that UI element, which I do see in various places. I would much rather have the header labels affect the processing in some way.

The real problem is that these tables don't have the same UI elements as spreadsheets, despite being the same thing.
May. 12th, 2005 05:14 pm (UTC)
Click... on email? Use the mouse for text? I'm confused and befuddled! (I still use emacs mh-rmail. Mmmm Me cave-girl email reader! Ug!)
May. 12th, 2005 06:49 pm (UTC)
I like the feature and use it regularly, and yes I do sometimes do that. Or staring at all mail from one person, or all mail with large attachments.

Worse, I usually react by clicking the header again, as if it were a toggle-switch... which causes it to resort-descending. Which is equally bewildering.
May. 12th, 2005 06:59 pm (UTC)
Ah, but if you use it regularly, then it does belong in such an easy-to-access spot. Half of my annoyance was predicated on the question, "How often do I use this thing *intentionally*?"

If there is a use-case for the feature as it is, then... it's time to get more creative. Like you said, clicking the header again sometimes feels as if it should be a toggle switch, go back to where I just came from. But that's not going to cut it either. Maybe the scrolling shouldn't be the whole header, but a region at the far right of the header. I'm imagining a little darker grey up/down triangle (diamond-shaped pattern) where you would click. Clicks on the rest of the header would be ignored.

On the other hand, this is unexpected behavior for the people who have used these anywhere else in the universe.

May. 12th, 2005 07:03 pm (UTC)
Actually, I kinda like the feature. If I accidentally click it I can undo or just click the date column to resort, and I use it often enough that I'm glad I don't have to go to a menu for it.

But if I really had to design it I would put a contextual menu on the column header, with all the things I could think of that you'd want to do to a column (sort, filter, export-unique-list, collapse/expand tree, etc) as well as a "Set default..." option that let me choose which of those actions happened when I clicked the column (including nothing at all).
May. 12th, 2005 11:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah, I do that all the time! If, for example, I'm trying to move all the mail from a client of mine into one folder, I'll sort by sender name and then select all of them.

And then I re-sort by subject, scroll until I see a highlight, and then add any replies of mine with a control-click. Then I move the whole wad into the client-specific folder.

(Using Thunderbird, BTW)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )