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Right now I'm working on an interface for a web-based report application that manages logistic data of the companies registered by all the users of the website.

The functionality is basically the following:

You select which columns of data to display on your report. You select which filters you will apply for the report to be generated. You select in which format you want your report to be generated (be it Excel Document, PDF or plain HTML in the same page). You can either save the settings of your report and generate it or just generate it.

For the first two steps of the procedure you need to select through a series of linked dropdown menus and it is mandatory to select at least one column, but it is not mandatory to filter.

If you don't have to filter to generate the report, should you still give the user the 'Select all filters' option? Does it improve the understanding of the procedure or does it not contribute whatsoever, being perfectly clear that you should leave the second step blank?

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Hey, I sort of remember you from WAMT re: Ken Kellogg's questions! :-) – Rahul Sep 3 '10 at 23:32
If you could provide a screenshot or mockup of what you're talking about, that would help a lot. – Rahul Sep 3 '10 at 23:34
Yeah, I remember you too, we went to have dinner with some of the guys afterwards. And you're right, it would've been a good idea to add screenshots, next time I will do so. Right now I sadly do not have access to the newest version because of the day. – Pam Rdz Sep 4 '10 at 16:23
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Based on your description (as Rahul suggested, screenshots will be helpful) it sounds like if the user doesn't choose to filter, that means all the filters are selected, right?!

In that case, I would suggest you don't leave the filtering stage blank, but don't force the user to do anything active, simply show all the filters selected. This would give the best clarity of what's happening.

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That was really helpful, I agree with you. Thanks a lot – Pam Rdz Sep 4 '10 at 16:21

Ask your user :) When you try to generalize a UI flow somebody will always "feel" it was unnecessary to do so. If you have a very clear market segment, put up a poll on your web site and let your clients to give you their thoughts. Without looking at the exact data you are looking to display in your column, or how that data will actually be utilized by your end users, I don't think anybody can give you a correct answer. One thing should be respected: SIMPLICITY Take a look at this video

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Thanks for the link. Very helpful. – user708 Sep 6 '10 at 3:03

If all of the filter items along with the 'print' button do not fit on the screen without scrolling, I think there should be some text near enough to the print button to summarize the filter settings. Here you can show 'Select All'. For lengthy reports, this may also be an indication that this is not a good idea.

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