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We have a queue on our users' project page. And we want to introduce sequencing. Currently all actions that are applied are First In; First Out.

What is the best method for sequencing?

We have come up with a number of ways, but feel they each have their downfalls.

  1. Change the number in the sequence numberbox
  2. Dragging items
  3. Click up/down arrows

If possible also include an example of the method you believe is best.

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All of the above? –  LarsTech Oct 13 '11 at 17:40
    
See this question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/216/… –  Patrick McElhaney Oct 13 '11 at 21:52
    
I do believe Youtube's playlist editor (a great example) allows you to do 1&2 if not all of the above. –  Ben Brocka Oct 14 '11 at 15:07
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3 Answers

As long as the queue isn't too long (doesn't hold more items that can fit vertically on screen) then I say go for the drag & drop. Make sure you use some sort of grip on the side of each item to indicate that it's drag-able.

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How about a button that says something like "Set order", and then displays the message "Click actions in the desired order of execution (you can always change that)". The user clicks through the list, with an indication of the number of the current step ("Set step #7"). The order is reflected by numbers on the actions. When they click "done", actions are rearranged in the right order. From there, up/down arrows and drag & drop should work well for adjustments.

Letting them edit the numbers manually can turn into a major headache for everyone. Let's say I want to switch between steps 5 and 9. How do I go about it? If I type "9" in the box of the current 5, then for a second I have two steps number 9 and no step number 5. If I delete both values first, then for a second I have no steps 5 and 9. Of course it can all be solved if you make them enter a special "edit" mode with validation at the end, but it just makes everything much more cumbersome, and the complexity of your UI just went up a couple of notches.

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Personally, I like the up and down arrows approach, but then I am a techy, and I think this appeals to my understanding best. For none-technical people, I would suggest dragging, because it is most intuitive (IMO) - you pick up something and put it where it needs to go, and everythign else sorts itself out. I think you need to pick between these depending on your audience.

The sequence numbering is a bad idea. I think it is a difficult idea to interpret, even though it seems obvious. It is fine to show sequence numbers, but trying to reorder using them is not easy.

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